3.1201 programming by e-mail; European philosophy (101)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Thu, 22 Mar 90 19:50:30 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 1201. Thursday, 22 Mar 1990.

(1) Date: Thu, 22 Mar 90 07:10:27 EST (46 lines)
From: "Eric Johnson DSU, Madison, SD 57042" <ERIC@SDNET>
Subject: E-mail course in programming

(2) Date: Wed, 21 Mar 90 13:07:10 EST (35 lines)
From: Mark Sacks <AP02@LIVERPOOL.AC.UK>
Subject: European philosophers - Note

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 90 07:10:27 EST
From: "Eric Johnson DSU, Madison, SD 57042" <ERIC@SDNET>
Subject: E-mail course in programming

My thanks to those who have replied to me that they are
interested in taking a course in PROGRAMMING FOR THE HUMANITIES
via e-mail. If others are interested, please let me know.

Several kinds of questions have been raised. Bob Kraft asked
about the rationale for the languages taught. I said the course
would be an "introduction to programming in BASIC or SNOBOL4 or
Icon for applications in the humanities such as analysis of texts,
arranging data from research, and formatting for printing and
desktop publishing." My idea was to use a language that is
available at little or no cost: most microcomputer users have
BASIC, and there is a public domain version of SNOBOL4 and of Icon
for MS-DOS. Because humanists who are interested in programming
might know a little about BASIC, I thought that would be a place
to start. The course would then move on to more powerful
languages that are not much more trouble to code: SNOBOL4 and Icon.

As with other kinds of distant learning, there would be the
problem of the identity of the person doing the course work. Because
computer centers know the identity of the userids, and because users
are not allowed to permit others to use their ids, there is perhaps
less concern about work done for an e-mail course than that done for
a traditional correspondence course (although this remains a concern
for my administration).

If there is sufficient interest, and if the course were offered by
my university, Dakota State University would grant the credit.
Whether another university would accept credit for e-mail courses
would have to be determined by each university.

The course would be a gread deal of work to teach (about like
writing a book on the subject, plus providing written answers to

Whatever the difficulties, teaching a course (such as PROGRAMMING
FOR THE HUMANITIES) on e-mail seems like a good idea. I would like
to know more about what others think. Please send comments directly
to me, or to HUMANIST.

Eric Johnson
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------47----
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 90 13:07:10 EST
From: Mark Sacks <AP02@LIVERPOOL.AC.UK>
Subject: European philosophers - Note

Postscript to posting on the EUROPEAN PHILOSOPHY CONFERENCE

Our posting, as formulated, perhaps suggests that the concentration on
analytic philosophers at the conference is meant to be exclusive
and isolationist. This is unfortunately misleading. The over-all
aim is precisely to make moves towards some sort of (much needed)
pluralism: Since Europe contains so much philosophical variety,
it seems a pity that some of the melting of these ideas should
not be carried out on the premises.

Since there are already links between analytic philosophers in a
variety of European countries, the strategy is to fortify those
links - worthwhile in themselves - in the hope that they will
also lead us fruitfully to other philosophers, and into other
traditions. We are, so to speak, digging from the analytic end in
the hope of completing a chunnel, rather than sinking deeper into

The idea *is*, however, to pursue common ground with traditional
clarity and rigour, with due attention to the fact that often
what feels like appropriate jargon to one group might
nevertheless be obscure to the uninitiated in some other group.
This commitment to clarity and rigour seems worthwhile at the
outset, even if some mean to argue us out of it - to get us to
kick away the ladder.

I hope this helps to avoid misunderstanding.

Liverpool University