- May 2022
However, what if we replace “ human face ” in this decisive quotewith “interface,” that is, the interface between man and apparatus?
This wording seems quite profound.
It means that by creating a personification of our tools, we can more easily communicate with them.
Do people personify their computers? I remember in the late 80s and early 90s computer workstations, especially in university settings, having personified names.
Link this to the personification of rocks w.r.t. talking rocks and oral traditions.
In a word thatKleist borrows from Kant: a “midwifery of thought.”45
- Immanuel Kant, Metaphysik der Sitten, Zweiter Teil, II. Ethische Methodenlehre, 1st Section, §50: “He is the midwife of his thoughts,” on the teacher-student relationship.
a constellation already described in 1805 by Heinrich von Kleist in his fascinat-ing analysis of the “Midwifery of Thought”: “If you want to know something and cannotfind it through meditation, I advise you, my dear, clever friend, to speak about it withthe next acquaintance who bumps into you.” 43 The positive tension that such a conversa-tion immediately elicits through the expectations of the Other obliges one to producenew thought in the conversation. The idea develops during speech. There, the sheeravailability of such a counterpart, who must do nothing further (i.e., offer additionalstimulus through keen contradiction of the speaker) is already enough; “There is a specialsource of excitement, for him who speaks, in the human face across from him; and agaze which already announces a half-expressed thought to be understood often givesexpression to the entire other half.”44
- Heinrich von Kleist, “Ü ber die allm ä hliche Verfertigung der Gedanken beim Reden,” in Sämtliche Werke und Briefe. Zweiter Band, ed. Helmut Sembdner (M ü nchen: dtv, 1805/2001), 319 – 324, at 319.
- Ibid., 320.
in 1805 Heinrich von Kleist noted that one can use conversation with another person, even when that person is silent, to come up with solutions or ideas they may not have done on their own.
This phenomena is borne out in modern practices like the so-called "rubber duck debugging", where a programmer can talk to any imagined listener, often framed as a rubber duck sitting on their desk, and talk through the problem in their code. Invariably, talking through all the steps of the problem will often result in the person realizing what the problem is and allow them to fix it.
This method of verbal "conversation" obviously was a tool which indigenous oral cultures frequently used despite the fact that they didn't have literacy as a tool to fall back on.
- tools for thought
- Immanuel Kant
- rubber duck debugging
- human face
- midwifery of thought
- user interface
- Heinrich von Kleist
- conversations with the text
- talking rocks
- orality vs. literacy
- Dec 2020
The idea that speaking out loud and thinking are closely related isn’t new. It emerged in Ancient Greece and Rome, in the work of such great orators as Marcus Tullius Cicero. But perhaps the most intriguing modern development of the idea appeared in the essay ‘On the Gradual Formation of Thoughts During Speech’ (1805) by the German writer Heinrich von Kleist.
Some of this is at play with the idea of "rubber ducking" as a means of debugging programs