Re: What Is a Machine?

From: Herheim Aaste (
Date: Wed Feb 28 1996 - 22:28:05 GMT

         To most people it would be a contradiction to say
that a machine has a mind or that human beings are machines.
I suppose that was what lead to the search for the
definitions of mind and machine in the first place.

People have said different things, e.g. that
machines are devices made by human beings, that they have
spesific uses etc.

I'll start with myself: I do (for some reason)
believe that I have a mind (and not just a brain..) This
notion is probably a culturally imposed "truth" by which I
define myself. And if I think about it, this mind is
certainly something that is "man-made" through socialization
and everyday interaction. If I had been born, brought up and
educated in a different culture I might not even have the
academic-cultural background to engage in this discussion!

Further,I don't really believe that human beings
have many "original! thoughts,- all we've got is an enormous
pool of information, knowledge and experiences that we can
mix together and get some semi-original output from,- but
all this is "given" to us from the world by which we are
surrounded,- so my mind is made (even if unintentionally) by
the social world around me, and would therefore by some
people's definition qualify as a machine....

So I guess my conclusion is that there is no contradiction
between something both being a machine and having a mind
because the mind IS a machine! (But only if you believe that
a machine is defined by being man-made) If you believe that
a human organism is a machine, I should think that the mind
would be a part of this and could still be defined as a

But I do not believe that we could ever find out what a mind
really is (it would be too complex for us to understand) and
even if we did we would not be able to "construct" one
because it is not made out of "substances" we know...
Is it a contradiction to believe that my mind to some extent
is a machine but not believe that this particular machine
could ever be understood or reproduced?

Confused! Aaste Herheim

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