Why Philosophy Majors Should Learn to Code

So you're a philosophy major. What does coding have to do with you?

  • Both programming and philosophy involve taking large problems, which are too big to really think about all at once, and breaking them up into smaller problems so you can solve them more easily.
  • Both also fundamentally involve thinking in abstractions: taking specific ideas or goals and finding the general principles behind them. 
  • As software developers spend a lot of time thinking about “programming well,” Dahl believes Aristotle’s advice would be: “to not focus primarily on the external rules that can help teams build good software, but to focus more on the internal habits and practices that make individuals and teams excellent.”  
  • The engineer asks ‘how can I build that?’ the scientist asks ‘how does it work?’ and the philosopher asks ‘do you want fries with that?’ 
  • "Philosophy wasn’t much different [than coding]— you had to use language, you had to break problems down, you had to think systematically about a multitude of edge cases that the professor could use to destroy your theories. You had to be simple and concise yet discover the truth about some aspect of the world. It was all the same skills as programming, just an entirely different use of them."