Machine and Organism

Dublin Core

Description

Canguilhem inverts the normal scientific question--what is the mechanism underlying this organic process?--and asks how machines are organic. He traces the history of the relationships between organism and machine from the ancient Greek political sense, in which a slave was an animated machine, through the Enlightenment, which took up the concept of machine as a scientific model only after machines began to resemble organisms, i.e. automata moving themselves from internally stored energy. He argues that for a universe to be mechanical is not for it to be purposeless but for it precisely to be dominated by a purpose, while by contrast natural beings are multi-purposive and multi-directional.

Publisher

In Canguilhem. La connaissance de la vie. Paris: Hachette, 1952. 124-159.

Date

08/01/2017

Contributor

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Citation

Canguilhem, Georges, “Machine and Organism,” Legacies of the Enlightenment, accessed June 22, 2024, http://enlightenmentlegacies.org/items/show/84.