Order in Multiplicity: Homonymy in the Philosophy of Aristotle

By Christopher Shields | Go to book overview
Save to active project

7
The Meaning of Life

7. 1 THE TOOL

The right sort of large firm might advertise an especially useful android for sale on the open market. machine. Presumably the Tool cannot produce (or reproduce?) human offspring? We might, in short, wish to probe the easy assurance that the Tool is not alive.

Some are surprisingly comfortableWhat makes this android especially useful, the advertisement proclaims, is its amazing lifelikeness. According to the firm's publicity agents, the androids in this line 'think, speak, and act like humans -- except better, and, needless to say, faster'. Perhaps to assuage concerns about the propriety of buying and owning such a creature, the firm names their product the Tool and closes its announcement with the assurance, 'The Tool is essential for commodious living: it performs any domestic task you like with alacrity; indeed, it fulfils every human function but life itself.'

Before buying, we might look beyond the declamations of the advertising hype to determine whether the Tool in fact engages in the full range of characteristically human activities. It thinks. Is the Tool conscious? It speaks. Could the Tool conduct my lectures for me? It acts. Does the Tool consider what is good for itself and devise strategies for reaching its desired ends? It is a mostly silicon-based with the judgement that the Tool is not alive. After all, the Tool is a mechanism. Indeed, the Tool is a programmable mechanism. It was developed in the laboratory for a definite purpose; its physical states were contrived by conscious designers to enable it to serve that purpose; and it may be turned off at night to conserve its batteries. Of course it might pass a sort of Turing test for life -- but that just illustrates the bankruptcy of the Turing test. The case is merely a sophisticated variant on a simpler case, where our intuitions are not so muddy.1 If after showing you my garden, I reveal that the tulips are in fact powered by small internal machines designed to make them gradually larger and to have them open at the appropriate times, you might

____________________
1
The case of the mechanical flower is adapted from Ziff. See n. 2.

-176-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Order in Multiplicity: Homonymy in the Philosophy of Aristotle
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 290

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?