20.233 Jeux, Esprit, Science

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 3 Oct 2006 06:25:31 +0100

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 20, No. 233.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Tue, 03 Oct 2006 06:16:30 +0100
         From: lachance_at_chass.utoronto.ca
         Subject: Jeux, Esprit, Science

Dear Willard,

Some time ago (within the last calendar year), I suggested that the
philosophical explorations of Bernard Suits into the nature of game
playing might offer a worthy analogy of the types of activities involved
in humanist computing. I offer here a quotation from the passage that I
had in mind. Its value for me is less in its deployment of the categories
of "will" and "necessity" and more in the value it places on "lusory

To play a game is to attempt to achieve a specific state of affairs
(prelusory goal), using only means permitted by rules (lusory means),
where the rules prohibit use of more efficient in favour of less efficient
means (constitutive rules), and where the rules are accepted just because
they make possible such activity (lusory attitude). I also offer the
following simpler and, so to speak, portable version of the above: playing
a game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles.
<cit>Bernard Suits. The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia.
Toronto: Univeristy of Toronto Press, 1978. p. 41</cit>

By analogy, humanist computing has two vectors of influence aligned along
two questions: which material can be the subject of which games and which
games can be applied to which material. Such symmetry is of course
dialectical if one considers that the preparation of material as partaking
of game play.

Which material? -- how is humanist computing positioned to support work
beyond (to the side of) the core linguistic focus? how does its work on
the "word" relate to work on other signs?

Which games? is humanist computing in a position to export or import
methods to and from less word-based areas of activity? can (should)
humanist computing be able to abstract its knowlege structures and apply
them to objects other than the signs of natural languages?

Is the principle game of humanist computing, translation?
Received on Tue Oct 03 2006 - 01:50:52 EDT

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