How Granny's Wisdom and Foucault's Social Control Can Make You a Better Problem Solver
As a developer, problem-solving is the bread and butter of your job. Whether you're fixing a bug or building a new feature, you need to use your noggin to come up with solutions. But hold up, cowboy, problem-solving is not just about being a tech genius. It's also a philosophical activity that involves thinking outside the box, being creative, and considering the ethical implications of your work.
Modern philosophers like Zizek, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Arendt, and Foucault can help you improve your problem-solving skills. Let's break down their ideas in a way that even your granny can understand.
First up, we have Slavoj Zizek. This dude is all about questioning everything. Like, why are you approaching the problem in a certain way? Are there other ways you could look at it? It's like when your granny insists that the sky is green, and you're like, "Hold on a minute, Granny, let's look at the facts here."
Zizek is often associated with the idea of "the radical questioning of the existing order." He believes that we should never take the status quo for granted and that we should always question the way things are. In other words, we should challenge our assumptions and beliefs about the world.
One of Zizek's key concepts is the "parallax view." This idea suggests that there are multiple ways of looking at a situation, and these different perspectives are often in tension with each other. Zizek argues that we should embrace this tension and use it to generate new ideas and solutions.
For example, let's say you're trying to solve a problem with your code, but you're stuck because you're only considering one perspective. Zizek would suggest that you try to look at the problem from multiple angles, including perspectives that might seem contradictory. By doing so, you may be able to find a solution that you never would have thought of otherwise.
Zizek is also known for his use of psychoanalysis in philosophy. He believes that our desires and unconscious drives play a crucial role in shaping our behavior and beliefs. By exploring our subconscious, we can gain a better understanding of ourselves and the world around us.
So, in short, Zizek encourages us to challenge the status quo, embrace multiple perspectives, and explore our subconscious desires in order to be better problem solvers.
Next, we have Ludwig Wittgenstein. He's all about the power of language. In other words, the words we use can either help us solve problems or make things even more complicated. It's like when you're trying to explain to your boss why the app crashed, but they don't understand the tech lingo you're using. Keep it simple, stupid!
One of Wittgenstein's central ideas is the importance of language in shaping our understanding of the world. He believed that the way we use language not only reflects but also creates our worldview. In other words, the words we use to describe a problem can affect how we approach solving it.
For example, let's say you're working on a programming project, and you're trying to fix a bug. How you describe the bug to yourself and your team can impact how you go about fixing it. If you use imprecise or unclear language, you may end up wasting time and effort on the wrong things. But if you use clear and precise language, you can focus your efforts on the root cause of the problem and come up with a more effective solution.
Another key idea in Wittgenstein's philosophy is the concept of language games. A language game is a way of using language in a specific context or situation. Different language games have different rules and conventions, and understanding these rules is crucial for understanding the meaning of the language.
In the context of problem-solving, this means that we need to be aware of the language game we are playing when we approach a problem. Are we using technical jargon or plain language? Are we communicating with other developers or with end-users? By being aware of the language game we are playing, we can adjust our approach and communication to better solve the problem.
Finally, Wittgenstein also believed that language is inherently ambiguous and that meaning is often context-dependent. This means that we need to be aware of the context in which we are using language and the possible interpretations that others may have. By being aware of these ambiguities, we can avoid misunderstandings and communicate more effectively.
In conclusion, Wittgenstein's ideas about language and language games can help us be better problem solvers by emphasizing the importance of clear and precise language, understanding the context in which we are communicating, and being aware of the potential for ambiguity and multiple interpretations.
Then there's Martin Heidegger, who believes that our understanding of the world is shaped by our experiences. To solve problems, we need to get into the nitty-gritty of the context in which they arise. It's like when you're trying to fix your grandma's broken lamp, but you can't figure out how it works until you take it apart and see what's going on inside.
And that's important for us developers to remember. It's like, you can't just blame the tools you use for your problems. You gotta think about how those tools are affecting the way you think and the way you see the problem.
It's kinda like how a carpenter can't just blame their hammer when they accidentally hit their thumb. They gotta think about how they're holding the hammer, how hard they're swinging it, and all that jazz.
So, when you're coding away and you're feeling stuck, don't just blame your computer. Take a step back, think about how you're approaching the problem, and try to see it from a different angle.
Hannah Arendt emphasizes responsibility and avoiding simplistic solutions to complex problems. In other words, don't take shortcuts and embrace the challenge. It's like when you're baking a cake and you decide to just dump all the ingredients in at once instead of following the recipe. It might be quicker, but the end result is a hot mess.
Hannah Arendt was a philosopher who famously said, "thinking is the hardest work there is, which is the probable reason why so few engage in it." As developers, we can definitely relate to this sentiment. We spend countless hours wrangling with code, trying to solve complex problems, and debugging our way through issues. But sometimes, we get so caught up in the technical details that we forget to step back and think about the bigger picture.
That's where Hannah Arendt's ideas about problem-solving come in. Arendt believed that in order to solve problems, we need to approach them from multiple perspectives. She called this "thinking without a banister," which basically means being willing to explore different angles and possibilities, even if they seem contradictory or unconventional.
For developers, this means stepping back from the code and thinking about the problem from the user's perspective, or from a business perspective. It means being open to feedback and new ideas, and being willing to experiment and iterate until we find the best solution.
Now, I know what you're thinking - "Great, more thinking! Just what I needed!" But don't worry, I have a joke that might help lighten the mood:
Why did the developer break up with his girlfriend?
Because he didn't know how to "commit" to a relationship!
Okay, okay, I know it's cheesy, but hopefully it gave you a chuckle. And who knows, maybe it will inspire you to approach your next coding problem with a fresh perspective, and think like Hannah Arendt - without a banister.
Last but not least, we have Michel Foucault, who's all about the relationship between power, knowledge, and social control. He wants us to be aware of the bigger picture and the social implications of our work. It's like when you're coding a website, and you realize that the color scheme you chose might be problematic for users with color blindness. Oops, time to make some changes!
See, Foucault was all about power and how it's embedded in everything we do. He believed that power isn't just something that the government or the boss man has, but it's something that's woven into the fabric of society. And that means that the problems we face as developers aren't just technical problems - they're also problems of power and control.
Now, I know what you're thinking. "What does that even mean? I just want to write some code and get my paycheck." But hear me out. Think about how decisions get made in your company. Who has the power to decide what gets worked on? Who gets to set the priorities and the deadlines? Those decisions are all about power, my friend.
So, as developers, we need to be aware of the power structures that we're working within. We need to think critically about who has the power to make decisions, and how we can work within those structures to make things better.
And hey, if you're feeling stuck, just remember - you're not alone. The struggle for power and control is something that we all face, whether we're coding away or just trying to survive in this crazy world. But if we work together and stay aware of the forces at play, we can make some real progress.
In conclusion, philosophy can help you be a better problem solver by encouraging you to question assumptions, use clear language, consider context, embrace challenges, and be socially responsible. Now go out there and fix those bugs like the boss you are!.