General critique of mechanism (III)

The general critique of mechanism is that no machine can exist for itself, whereas both contemplative activity and life both exist for their own sake. This difference is manifested in the fact that a machine that truly modeled contemplative activity or life would be badly formed and even absurd.

The critique applies even in the case of a machine that might pass the Turing test, and even develops the idea of such a machine. Aristotle noted that if looms could run on their own, there would be no need for slaves. He was more right than he knew, since he isolated the upper limit of the possible development of a machine, namely as the ideal and perfect slave Рa being that could execute all tasks we might put it to and yet would have no existence-for-itself. The Turing machine fitted with the requisite tools would not be human by a true application of the same logic that falsely proved Dred Scott was not human; and this is in part because it would not be conscious in the way our consciousness can act for its own sake or be alive in the way any living thing exists for itself.

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