[Newbies] What was first: the chicken or the egg?

Michael Doherty rmdoherty at gmail.com
Thu Jun 29 11:56:01 UTC 2006

> In Squeak, what was first: VM or image?
> It is said the Squeak VM is created by itself, but how to run the first
image file?
> And how to creat the first image file?

Something always needs to start things off. Although we're still trying to
figure out the exact spark that created life itself, I always liked the idea
of a homunculus as the "unknowable prime actor".

>From Wikipedia: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homunculus>

The concept of a homunculus (Latin for "little man", sometimes spelled
"homonculus," plural "homunculi") is often used to illustrate the
functioning of a system. In the scientific sense of an unknowable prime
actor, it can be viewed as an entity or agent.
The term homunculus was later used in the discussion of conception and
birth. In 1694, Nicolas Hartsoeker discovered "animalcules" in the sperm of
humans and other animals. Some claimed that the sperm was in fact a "little
man" (homunculus) that was placed inside a woman for growth into a child;
these later became known as the spermists. This is not as silly as it sounds
today, and neatly explained many of the mysteries of conception (for
instance, why it takes two). However it was later pointed out that if the
sperm was a homunculus, identical in all but size to an adult, then the
homunculus must have sperm of its own. This led to a reductio ad absurdum,
with a chain of homunculi "all the way down".

Today the term is used in a number of ways to describe systems that are
thought of as being run by a "little man" inside. For instance, the
homunculus continues to be considered as one of the major theories on the
origin of consciousness, that there is a part (or process) in the brain
whose purpose is to be "you". The homunculus is often invoked in cybernetics
as well, for similar reasons.
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