Wittgenstein (was Re: PGP/MIME)

Robert J. Hansen rjh at sixdemonbag.org
Thu Feb 2 20:46:10 CET 2012

On 2/2/12 2:03 PM, Avi wrote:
> OK, I'm sorry, but when someone drops Wittgenstein—on topic—on a 
> list about cryptography, there needs to be some recognition of 
> that.

Oh, Wittgenstein's wonderful.  I have a quote from him on a Post-It on
my monitor:

	"What makes a subject difficult to understand ... is not
	 that some special instruction about abstruse things is
	 necessary to understand it.  Rather it is the contrast
	 between the understanding of the subject and what most
	 people want to see. ... *The things that are most obvious
	 can become the most difficult to understand.*"

One of the hardest challenges I face with this stuff is figuring out
what I want something to be or mean, and then saying "okay, now I need
to try and prove that wrong, so that along the way I might find out
what's right."  It's tough, but I've found it to be an effective way
of increasing understanding.

One of the hardest things in the human situation is discovering what
we want and why we want it.  Wrestling with it, though, makes us
better human beings -- and ultimately better engineers, too.

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