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Legitimating The Machine: The Epistemological Foundation Of Technological Metaphor In The Natural Philosophy Of René Descartes

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on how the machine metaphor is used to figure the cognitive activity of natural philosophy, how it shapes its nature and aims. It begins with Descartes? philosophy of analogy in scientific method. Then it examines some concrete applications of analogies in physics. These analogies are then contextualized in terms of Descartes? wider philosophy of knowledge, where technological images come to represent some aspects of scientific activity. The chapter argues that these images also shape the orientation of natural knowledge. It then turns to more properly epistemological aspects, regarding Descartes? theory of perception and how analogical thinking fits into this. The chapter also focuses on Treatise on Man, Descartes? most extraordinary deployment of mechanical metaphor. Finally, it focuses on some aspects of the machine as a system of representation: how certain technocultural sources inform Descartes? techniques of visualization and pictorial representation.

Keywords: epistemological aspects; machine metaphor; natural knowledge; natural philosophy; philosophy of analogy; philosophy of knowledge; René Descartes; theory of perception; Treatise on Man; visualization



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