Eric Stevens wrote:
> On 31 May 2006 16:38:25 -0700, "Tom McDonald" <kiltmac@xxxxxxxxx>
> >Eric Stevens wrote:
> >> On Wed, 31 May 2006 10:38:29 GMT, "Alan Crozier"
> >> <name1.name2@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> >> >> >When asked "What is jazz?" Louis Armstrong replied, "Man, if you
> >> >> >gotta ask you'll never know." Discuss the epistemological implications
> >> >> >of this statement.
> >> >>
> >> >> It sounds rather like some people's idea of archaeology. :-)
> >> >
> >> >
> >> >Exactly. Jazz is what jazz musicians play. Archaeology is what
> >> >archaeologists do. They know it but they can't necessarily define it.
> >> Which suggests they have never really thought about the question.
> >> Either that, or they have thought about it and don't like the
> >> answer. :-)
> >> >Remember that "define" means "to set limits" and not everybody likes to
> >> >be restricted by limits.
> >> Which suggests that potentially the limits are wider than whatever it
> >> is people are doing at the present.
> >> >
> >> >You are a good case in point ;-)
> >> Only to a point. I'm happy to set limits as to what is and what isn't
> >> archaeology. Its just that my limits seem to be wider than many would
> >> prefer.
> >> What seems to have emerged is the fact that I define archaeology in
> >> terms of the objectives while others prefer to define it in terms of
> >> techniques.
> >Define engineering.
> I'm not inclined to set limits to what is and what isn't engineering
> except in the very broadest of terms.
So you don't know what 'engineering' is. Huh.
> In fact, I am aware of a number of different definitions of
> engineering, none of which have stood for more than a year or two. The
> oldest 'modern' definition is from the era of Leonardo da Vinci who
> was regarded as an engineer.
> Up to the mid 19th century engineering consisted of 'military'
> engineering (fortifications and the like) and 'civil' engineering
> which encompassed buildings, canals, bridges etc. The Institution of
> Mechanical Engineers was formed in England in 1847 as a result of the
> 'civils' refusing to recognise mechanical engineering as proper
> engineering. As I have already described, there was a time when
> chemical engineering was not regarded as proper engineering. Ditto for
> software engineering. Now there bio-engineers (how is your hip joint?)
> and nano-engineers who play around with stuff which can only be
> manipulated at the atomic level.
> These days rigid definitions of what it is that makes an engineer
> lasts no longer than a subaltern in the battle of the Somme.
> The one I like best was stated many years ago by a New Zealand
> lecturer in French literature who had a french locomotive driving
> certificate. He related 'engineer' in english to 'Ingénieur' in french
> which in turn he related to ingenuity. I think he had the right of it.
> On that basis, an 'engineer' is someone who exercises ingenuity in a
> manner which directly impacts on the physical world.
So artists are engineers. So are archaeologists. Beavers might also be
engineers, although this is cute to the point of triteness. I am an
engineer when I write an award-winning article for the newspaper.
Sorry, Eric. This is not adequate.
> allow software
> engineers to pass (just) through this hoop in that what they do has an
> immediate effect on the physical world as soon as someone pushes the
> 'go' button.
> Before someone gets wound up about materials, mathematics etc, I
> should say that these are just some of the tools of the trade and
> their specialised investigation in detail is 'engineering science'
> which is a major subset of engineering.
But an engineer must know mathematics, for instance. Therefore, a
discussion of string theory should be of professional interest to
engineers, without further connection to engineering. If not, why not?