Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

To contact me about organizing, email me at rpwolff750@gmail.com




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Friday, December 23, 2011

SWIFT'S TURING MACHINE

Herewith as passage from Book II, Chapter III of Gulliver's Travels, the voyage to Brobdingnag, wherein Swift anticipates Alan Turing's famous thought experiment.  I especially like the use of "although" in the first sentence!

"The king, although he be as learned a person as any in his dominions, had been educated in the study of philosophy, and particularly mathematics; yet when he observed my shape exactly, and saw me walk erect, before I began to speak, conceived I might be a piece of clock-work (which is in that country arrived to a very great perfection) contrived by some ingenious artist. But when he heard my voice, and found what I delivered to be regular and rational, he could not conceal his astonishment. He was by no means satisfied with the relation I gave him of the manner I came into his kingdom, but thought it a story concerted between Glumdalclitch and her father, who had taught me a set of words to make me sell at a better price. Upon this imagination, he put several other questions to me, and still received rational answers: no otherwise defective than by a foreign accent, and an imperfect knowledge in the language, with some rustic phrases which I had learned at the farmer's house, and did not suit the polite style of a court."

4 comments:

Andrew Lionel Blais said...

Interesting example of how ideas always have antecedents. BTW, Google has 41,000 hits on "alan turing gulliver's travels." Perhaps it is because I stand in Turing's shadow, but it seems obvious that if you want to know whether something has a mind, is conscious, and so on, you keep on asking it questions until you're satisfied one way or the other. This is, after all, how we make the cut between "idiot" and "smart guy", or "might as well be a machine" and "has a good mind".

High Arka said...

Irony burns so sweet.

(Are you trying to tell this one you don't really exist?)

Andrew Lionel Blais said...

ALB?

Andrew Lionel Blais said...

Better yet.