I sat on my computer for a full day, trying my best to improve my artificial intelligence solution to solve the 2048 game. The darkness fell upon the day and as I lie with my partner in bed, my partner loudly wondered how could it be that I derive pleasure spending days in front of the computer looking at dull lines of code. To her, the lines hold no beauty nor a whisper of a thrill. Then we moved on to talk about the normal anxieties of life, about death, about existence and the meaning of it. “It’s funny people try to answers to questions of why when we don’t even know the answer to the most basic question of all – what is the meaning of our existence” she exclaimed. As usual, I disagreed: “We are likely to never know for certain the source of our existence, but that does not mean we can’t make some discoveries about the nature of our universe”, and to refer to our earlier conversation I added “that is actually why I find computer science so interesting!”
I think my partner’s wonder is a common one, how could writing some lines, pressing enter, and enjoying the great result of 42 on a black and white screen compare to a nice stroll in the park, a hug, or a dance?! It’s a fair thought and the truth is, it cannot. All of these things are great for their own reasons. So while I will not try to compare it to these great activities, perhaps I could explain why I find computer science to be a thrill and a wonder.
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Moving to Germany I knew I must learn German. Must is a strong word perhaps. Most locals, in Berlin at the very least, speak English pretty well. So while it is not a must for handling daily matters, it is still crucial if one intends to fully integrate into German society and understand the cultural intricacies. Few months of German classes are far from enough to actually start speaking proper German. Yet, this time provided me with enough insight to make some plausible claims about the strong ties between the German language to the cognition of a German-speaking man or woman.
Thought and Language
Before we get to the details of German we first need to establish what is the link between thought and Language, a highly debatable discussion in Philosophy, Linguistic and certain fields of Science.
One way to approach language is to look at it as a representation of our thoughts. With this approach, our thoughts, or rather our entire cognitive array is independent and mirrors something that exists either physically, in potential, or as an idea. Language comes into play as a tool of communication, and using it we can transfer the meaning behind one’s thoughts to another. It does not, however, play a role in shaping the cognition of its speakers, it is quite plainly a tool at our disposal. Phew, alright, that is slightly condensed for this topic, but an example will do a better job explaining this.
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