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Monads and Machines

  • Pauline Phemister
Chapter
Part of the The New Synthese Historical Library book series (SYNL, volume 67)

Abstract

Pauline Phemister raises a number of queries and problems concerning the distinction between living and non-living machines. Leibniz contends that the presence of the dominating monad “in” the mass that comprises the organic body gives rise to the animal or corporeal substance that exists as a living, unified entity. From pre-formed seeds, the organic body of this corporeal substance comes into existence as a living machine that is also a machine in the least of its parts and whose organizational structure and internal complexity sustains and preserves it as a biological entity. However, if, granting pre-formation, physiological functions are explicable solely by appeal to the mechanism of the body, what need is there for the dominating monad? Conversely, how can Leibniz rule out pre-formation in bodies we normally presume to be inanimate and as lacking dominating monads? Examination of common defining characteristics of living machines – self-motion, self-repair, nutrition, reproduction and inner complexity – brings into focus some of the difficulties and limitations attached to the use of such empirical data to distinguish living from non-living machines.

Keywords

Active Force Organic Body Dead Force External Thing Plastic Nature 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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