the programmer language,

Jun 22, 2014
On dogma

Two weeks ago I published some thoughts about Apple's latest programming language explaining why it let me down through a seemingly contrived analogy. In that post I derived some arguments from a dogmatic principle I hold, namely:

All corporations, big or small, have a moral imperative to advance the state of the art of their industry. The bigger the corporation, the more absolute resources it is expected to dedicate to that end. This makes leading corporations in a given industry very likely to direct the most significant paradigm shifts in it.

A few people asked me on Twitter why I hold that principle. I replied and told them that it is a dogma, so there is no why. A dogma is the belief in an axiom, a self-evident proposition. It cannot be derived from other logical propositions. Other propositions may stem from it though.

One of them promptly dismissed the claim as untruthy, to be ignored, as soon as he read the word dogma. Let me explain why I think dogma is not a bad thing by definition, and why it should not be a reason to sistematically dismiss an argument.

Dogma and belief systems

Back in college I used to have very interesting discussions with my friend Cuauhtémoc. We were both majoring in Political Science at that time. Even though we held quite different cosmovisions, we were able to inspect the differences in our respective political points of view very calmly, using what we knew about philosophy and history of political thought.

By deconstructing our arguments to understand why we had a specific opinion on a subject, we almost invariably reached the roots of our respective belief systems -- their axioms. In our case, the conflicting axiom from which all the completely different world views stemmed was almost always the following: I believed that the individual should prevail over the group, and he believed exactly the opposite.

And we knew that we had reached our dogmatic axioms because we could no longer answer the question: why?

In conclusion, any belief system needs a set of axioms, or dogmatic propositions. Those are the very root of it. And they can't be judged truthy or falsy, they can just be believed or not.

Dogma is not a matter of truth -- it is a matter of faith. In my opinion, that doesn't make it dismissable as myth, but rather useful to understand the logical roots of our reasoning.