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Reckoning with MatterCalculating Machines, Innovation, and Thinking About Thinking from Pascal to Babbage$
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Matthew L. Jones

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226411460

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226411637.001.0001

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Calculating Machines, Creativity, and Humility from Leibniz to Turing

Calculating Machines, Creativity, and Humility from Leibniz to Turing

(p.212) 6 Calculating Machines, Creativity, and Humility from Leibniz to Turing
Reckoning with Matter

Matthew L. Jones

University of Chicago Press

Philosophers in the eighteenth century did not see machines capable of arithmetic as threatening the distinctiveness of human reasoning. Despite famous claims by Hobbes and Leibniz, calculation was not generally thought to capture much of human reasoning and its creative potential. From the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, calculating machines provided grounds for reflecting upon the originality thought to be distinctive to human beings. Makers of calculating machines who opined on their philosophical significance saw themselves as contributing less toward an atheist materialism than toward a refined conception of human beings, the nature of the material world, and their distance from the creator.

Keywords:   calculating machines, eighteenth century, nineteenth century, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Charles Babbage, Alan Turing, philosophy of mathematics, originality, genius, collective invention

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