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developerWorks: Guide to Python Introspection

Dec 23, 2002, 08:30 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Patrick K. O'Brien)

"In everyday life, introspection is the act of self-examination. Introspection refers to the examination of one's own thoughts, feelings, motivations, and actions. The great philosopher Socrates spent much of his life in self-examination, encouraging his fellow Athenians to do the same. He even claimed that, for him, 'the unexamined life is not worth living...'

"In computer programming, introspection refers to the ability to examine something to determine what it is, what it knows, and what it is capable of doing. Introspection gives programmers a great deal of flexibility and control. Once you've worked with a programming language that supports introspection, you may similarly feel that "the unexamined object is not worth instantiating."

"This article introduces the introspection capabilities of the Python programming language. Python's support for introspection runs deep and wide throughout the language. In fact, it would be hard to imagine Python without its introspection features. By the end of this article you should be very comfortable poking inside the hearts and souls of your own Python objects..."

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