This is pretty good. Is there any online source with a complete
version available?


On Thu, Feb 5, 2009 at 7:32 AM, Kim Jones <> wrote:
> Trans. Kim Jones (extract only)
> 1.1 Mechanist Philosophies
> 1.1.1 Different types of Mechanism
> I distinguish the following mechanist hypotheses:
> Some machines can behave as thinking beings (living, conscious etc.)
> Some machines can think (living beings, conscious beings, have a private
> life etc.) (STR-MEC)
> I am a machine (or - you are a machine, or again - human beings are
> machines) (IND-MEC)
> By replacing "machine" by "digital machine" one obtains the corresponding
> digital theses.
> The behaviourist digital mechanism BEH-DIG-MEC corresponds largely to that
> of Turing in his 1950 article. In the same way, the strong digital mechanism
> STR-DIG-MEC corresponds to what is called in the literature the strong
> artificial intelligence thesis (strong AI).
> In this work I am exclusively interested in indexical and digital mechanism
> (IND-DIG-MEC or just IDM). "Digitality" necessitates Church's Thesis, which
> is why the digital aspect is explained in its turn in the second part.
> There, I will show how a procedure, due essentially to Goedel, permits an
> indexical treatment of machines in general.
> Proposition:
> IND-MEC => STR-MEC => BEH-MEC, and
> (with or without the hypothesis of digitality)
> Reasoning:  One admits that humans know how to think (conscious beings,
> having private lives etc.) In this case IND-MEC entails STR-MEC and STR-MEC
> entails BEH-MEC. That BEH-MEC does not entail STR-MEC is supported by
> Weizenbaum (1976) (see also Gunderson {footnote 1} 1971). STR-MEC does not
> entail IND-MEC, since the fact that machines are able to think does not
> entail that they alone are able to think. It is conceivable that machines
> are able to think without we ourselves being machines. Wang (1974) presents
> a similar reasoning. Nevertheless, numerous philosophers make implicit use
> of an opposing opinion: STR-MEC => IND-MEC, see for example Arsac 1987.
> {Footnote 1: Gunderson 1971 criticises the Turing Test. The Turing Test is a
> test for BEH-MEC. Simply put, a machine (hidden) passes the test if it is
> able to pass itself off as a human being during a "conversation" by means of
> a computer keyboard terminal.}
> 1.1.2 Mechanist Philosophy: Historical Summary
> Contemporary digital mechanist philosophy is due in large measure to
> Descartes and Hobbes {footnote 2} (see Rogow 1986, Bernhardt 1989).
> Descartes wanted to distinguish Man from the animals. He argues that the
> animal, as much as Man's body (including the brain), is a machine. He
> understood by this a finite assembly of of material components
> that unequivocally determine the behaviour of the whole. Descartes surmises
> that the soul is not mechanical. In separating the soul from the body in
> this way, and thus the mind from matter, he is the originator of the dualist
> position, widely encompassed by the philosophy of mind. One speaks of
> Cartesian Dualism.
> There follows three arguments that Descartes presented in favour of his
> distinction of man from the animal-as-machine (We note that this distinction
> entails the negation of IND-MEC.)
> {footnote 2: One can detect some mechanist affirmations or questions
> among (pre and post-Socratic, though not necessarily
> materialist) philosophers, from Greek antiquity (cf Timaeus and Plato, see
> also Odifreddi 1989). Among Chinese philosophers, for example Lao-Tzu, a
> certain monk is admired for having passed off his "automated" servants as
> flesh and blood beings. Among Hindu philosophers for example, in the
> "Questions to the King Milinda", the human body is compared to the chariot,
> and the human mind is compared to the different parts of the chariot,
> similar to Hume's (1739) manner of tackling the problem of identity with his
> boat. The temptation to set up artefacts in the image of Man is also a
> component of several myths, (for ex. the Golem in Jewish culture, see for
> ex. Breton 1990). It is no exaggeration to maintain that the very idea of
> mechanism appears wherever and whenever machines themselves are developed.}
> 1) Animals are not endowed with reason and cannot engage in linguistic
> communication
> This argument is losing credibility since language and reason seem more
> accessible to today's machines than for example, emotion which is communally
> allowed in the case of certain animals (see for ex. Lévy 1987). Here
> Descartes takes Aristotle's position which asserts that Man is a "reasoning
> animal".
> 2) Machines are finite beings. A finite being cannot conceive of the
> infinite. Now, I am able (said Descartes) to conceive of the infinite. Thus
> I am not a machine.
>  This argument against IND-MEC brings into relief two fundamental questions:
> a) Can man conceive of infinity?
> b) Can a machine conceive of infinity?
> Question a) differentiates Hobbes' point of view from Descartes'. Hobbes
> surmises that he cannot in effect conceive of infinity.
> 3) A machine can only carry out particular tasks, as it turns out, those
> tasks for which it was constructed. In effect, Descartes is saying:
> "Since, in the case that reason is a universal instrument that participates
> in every sort of encounter, these organs need a certain particular
> disposition for each and every action; from this comes the idea that it is
> morally impossible that a machine might possess sufficient diversity such
> that it might act in every living occurrence in the same way that our reason
> assists our actions (Descartes, "1953", page 165).
> The idea of a universal machine had nevertheless crossed the mind of Raymond
> Lulle (1302) whom Descartes had studied. This same idea will reappear with
> Leibnitz, culminating in the work of Turing, and this will be explained in
> the second part.
> La Mettrie will rehash Descartes' animal-as-machine for the purpose of
> extending it to Man (La Mettrie 1748, see also Gunderson 1971).
> In parallel with Descartes, Hobbes himself develops the mechanist hypothesis
> (Rogow 1986). On can date Hobbes' motivation toward mechanism from the time
> of his discovery of geometry. Having been particularly impressed by the fact
> that he might have been convinced by a *finite communication* based on
> logical geometrical reasoning, Hobbes conceives of the mechanistic character
> of thinking. He then thinks that it should be possible to reduce thinking to
> addition and subtraction. (see Webb 1980). He is thus very close to the
> *functionalist* position in the philosophy of mind: that the additions and
> multiplications might be realisable by a *telegraphic network* , a
> *hydraulic system*, an *electromagnetic device* , or even *a windmill*, a
> *catapult* or a *calculating device* (ordinateur), citing Searle's
> enumeration (Searle 1984). Thought is thereby reduced to operations not
> necessarily equipment-dependent, and to the constituent matter employed to
> realise these operations. La Mettrie, after his own fashion, argues in
> something like the same sense:
> "Thus a Soul of mud, discovering in the twinkling of an eye, the relations
> and the consequences of an infinity of ideas difficult to conceive, would be
> preferable evidently to an ignorant and stupid Soul, which might be made of
> all the more precious Elements" (La Mettrie 1748).
> Similarly, Lafitte engages us on the subject of Babbage, precursor of 19th
> century information processing, to which we will return in the second part:
> "For Babbage, all machines being a composition of different organs linked
> together in a complex manner, the important thing to fix is less the very
> form of the organs than the sequencing of their functions, which relates to
> organic linkages that cause the ensemble to function." (Lafitte 1930).
> Differing with Descartes, Hobbes concludes that it is not possible that Man
> - whom he considers to be a finite being - might conceive of the infinite.
> Hobbes' motivation, being finitist and indexical (human thought is
> mechanisable) is therefore opposed to Descartes' animal-as-machine and is,
> in this sense, much closer to the contemporary motivation in the direction
> of artificial intelligence. Soon I will return to the relation existing
> between mechanism and functionalism.
> 1.1.3 What is a machine?
> Given the familiar connotations of the word "machine" - locomotives,
> electric kettles, automobiles, computers, microscopes, dish-washers, sewing
> machines, rice-cookers, time-pieces, mechanism may well seem grotesque.
> Even if machines are considered to be artefacts of exclusively human
> construction, in other words artificial, the concept of the machine is
> difficult to define. Lafitte, in 1911 argues that just such a definition can
> only be made in vain:
> "To claim to be able to define the concept of a machine is to suppose that
> the science of machines has come about, or that it might one day come about
> in all it's perfection. Other than what is chimerically-speaking, to assign
> limits to the development of mechanical forms, is to suppose in the first
> place an entire and complete knowledge of the character of every individual
> present and future mechanism, followed by the perfection of a measuring
> instrument capable of situating each into a definitive category according to
> their ensemble of characteristics. But, this again implicitly admits to a
> massive division of sorts, conforming to those contours we can cleanly
> envisage and having no link whatsoever with other bodies." (see also further
> on 2.3)
> Similarly, La Mettrie, in "Man as Machine" writes:
> "Man is a Machine so composed that it is frankly impossible to initially get
> a clear idea of it and consequently to arrive at a definition"
> What Hobbes and Descartes have in common is that a machine is a locally
> finite being. Its global behaviour is determined by the behaviour of its
> elementary constituents, these being finite in number at each instant (call
> this the "digital aspect"). The number of components can nonetheless grow
> according to the work performed by the machine.
> (to be cont.)
> K
> Email:
> Web:
> Phone:
> (612) 9389 4239  or  0431 723 001
> >

Hector Zenil                  

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