Subject: Re: First-class symbols (Re: Why is Scheme not a Lisp?)
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Sat, 16 Mar 2002 21:05:37 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Erann Gat
| "You guys"?  I'm a Common Lisper, remember?  Well, maybe I'm an
| ex-Common-Lisper, but I'm definitely not a Schemer.

  I am not so sure about that.  I think some of your unhappiness with
  Common Lisp comes from a Scheme-like mindset.  The same goes for Paul
  Graham.  I found a somewhat apt quote the other day: "After a year of
  therapy, my psychiatrist said to me: 'Maybe life isn't for everyone'"
  (credited to Larry Brown).

| Show me something I can do with a Common Lisp symbol that it would take
| more than a few lines of code to do in Scheme.

  But that is _so_ not the point.  As Kent has belabored, the whole purpose
  of a language is to gove people a common frame of reference, a way of
  naming things that makes it possible to talk about them.  It is quite
  amazing that you still do not understand this.  A few lines of code is
  precisely what we do _not_ want.  A simple, named concept is what this is
  all about.

| > | What do you see as the value (in the economic sense) of a symbol in the
| > | Lisp sense of the word?
| > 
| >   The same value I see in a word: _meaning_.  Scheme symbols lack meaning.
| >   They are names, but they name -- nothing.  Some people think words are
| >   just names, too, that the _only_ property a word has is its spelling
| >   (some of the more "creative" spellers not even that), and each word has
| >   meaning only according to the person you ask.  That looks like a Scheme
| >   view to me.  I believe a saner approach is to consider a word to have a
| >   life of its own, independent of the individual user, but created as a
| >   community effort as a common reference intended both to carry meaning and
| >   to facilitate communication and understanding.  Some people believe that
| >   words give us the ability to think abstractly about ideas that are far
| >   too complex to grasp concretely, even ideas that have no concrete meaning.
| OK, that's fine, but it sounds more like a philosophical argument (or an
| aesthetic one, or a pedagogical one) than a practical one to me.  I find
| this ironic because it's usually the Scheme peopl who make those kinds of
| arguments, where Common Lisp (I thought) is supposed to be the Lisp for
| practical people who want to dispense with the philosophy and just get
| work done.

  Do you even understand your own question, Erann?  What kind of answer
  would you expect?  Fucking stupid troll.

| So I still don't see why this is a big deal.

  I think you never will and that it is a waste of time to try to tell you.

  You would look much better as an ex-Schemer than an ex-Common Lisper.

  In a fight against something, the fight has value, victory has none.
  In a fight for something, the fight is a loss, victory merely relief.