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Re: to what extent is the gnu project philosophical?

From: Jason Self
Subject: Re: to what extent is the gnu project philosophical?
Date: Sat, 02 Nov 2019 09:17:26 -0700

On Sat, 2019-11-02 at 10:08 +0100, Andreas Enge wrote:
> There is a misunderstanding: My understanding of the question was to
> discuss how the relationship between the FSF and GNU should be
> organised *in the future*, and how we should reasonably split the
> roles between the FSF and us, the GNU project. While the past and
> current situation can certainly inform and inspire us, we may also
> think of changes. So this is a public discussion following the call
> by the FSF to think about the relationship between the two:

That question is out there although if you check Andy Wingo's original
message it didn't seem to be called out. His question in this
particular thread was something different:

> So my question is: is GNU fundamentally about producing coherent,
> empowering free software systems, or is it fundamentally about
> developing and propagating an inspiring, liberatory philosophy?
> The answer to this question bears upon the future organization of 
> the GNU project. If you consider GNU to be essentially a kind of 
> moral beacon ... On the other hand if you think that GNU needs to
> focus on software production...
> If the work of GNU is fundamentally philosophical...

This seems more an existential question about the nature of GNU itself
and as he says bears on the future organization of GNU itself, not
about external relationships.

The historical information is relevant within that context to show
that the GNU Project has always been a fundamentally philosophical
project that makes the software as a means to an end in the pursuit of
the underlying social, ethical, political, and moral issues that RMS
has talked about for all these years and was never solely a technical

Even if the topic of this thread were to change to be about the
relationship between the GNU Project and the FSF, and not be about the
existential nature of GNU itself, my position would be that the GNU
Project should retain its focus on those social, ethical, political,
and moral issues regardless of how the relationship with the FSF works
in the future and not have the focus split off to a third party (the
FSF or anyone else.) For one, they aren't mutually exclusive: Both FSF
and GNU can both be dedicated to those underlying social, ethical,
political, and moral issues. FSF can do it more generally and the GNU
Project can do it within its scope of developing an operating system.
And for two: A software project that focuses only on the technical
aspect of making an operating system would likely make different
decisions if they're being made in the context of those social,
ethical, political, and moral issues than if those decisions were made
without that foundation and decided purely on other matters, like
technical or other matters. I can think of some technical decisions
within GCC that would have played out differently if the GNU Project
didn't have those social, ethical, political, and moral issues as its
primary focus.

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