Wired Bodies. New Perspectives on the Machine-Organism Analogy

edited by Nicole Dalia Cilia and Luca Tonetti
Roma: CNR Edizioni, 2017
ISBN – 978 88 8080 236 5

The machine-organism analogy has played a pivotal role in the history of Western philosophy and science. Notwithstanding its apparent simplicity, it hides complex epistemological issues about the status of both organism and machine and the nature of their interaction. What is the real object of this analogy: organisms as a whole, their parts or, rather, bodily functions? How can the machine serve as a model for interpreting biological phenomena, cognitive processes, or more broadly the social and cultural transformations of the relations between individuals, and between individuals and the environments in which they live? 

Wired Bodies. New Perspectives on the Machine-Organism Analogy provides the reader with some of the latest perspectives on this vast debate, addressing three major topics: 1) the development of a ‘mechanistic’ framework in medicine and biology; 2) the methodological issues underlying the use of ‘simulation’ in cognitive science; 3) the interaction between humans and machines according to 20th-century epistemology.
I.    Mechanistic view into trouble
  • SIMONE GUIDI, Mechanism “Prehistory” and the Strange Case of Cureau de La Chambre
  • LUCA TONETTI, Machines and Diseases: Giorgio Baglivi and his Mechanistic Physiopathology
  • ALESSANDRA PASSARIELLO, Early Organicism and its Juggling Machines: Further from Nature, closer to Organisms
  • MATTIA DELLA ROCCA, From Brains as Machines to Machines as Brains. A short Historical and Epistemological Reflection on the Simulation and “Reverse Engineering” of the Central Nervous System
II.   Understanding by building. The use of simulation in cognitive science
  • NICOLE DALIA CILIA, Understand me or Duplicate me? Levels of Explanation in Artificial Methodology
  • GIUSEPPE BOCCIGNONE, Take another Little Piece of my Heart: A Note on Bridging Cognition and Emotions
  • VALENTINA TROMBETTA, The Role of Emotions and Intrinsic Motivations on Decision-making: A Comparison between Natural and Artificial Systems
  • FRANCESCO BIANCHINI, The Synthetic Approach and the Evolution of Cognition
III.  Beyond the bodily boundaries: how do machines extend the bodies and their world?
  • FIORENZA LUPI, The Organism, Maker of Machines
  • ELISA BINDA, Towards a Philosophy of Interaction. The Relation between Organism, Technique and Environment in Gilbert Simondon
  • FRANCESCO RESTUCCIA, Mixed Systems and Interplay. Norbert Wiener Meets Walter Benjamin
  • FRANCESCO DE BEI, Only Connect. The Contribution of Michael Tomasello to the Machine-Organism Symbiosis