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Genesis ReduxEssays in the History and Philosophy of Artificial Life$
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Jessica Riskin

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780226720807

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226720838.001.0001

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Introduction: The Sistine Gap

Introduction: The Sistine Gap

(p.1) 1 Introduction: The Sistine Gap
Genesis Redux

Jessica Riskin

University of Chicago Press

This book is about a long tradition of attempts to sound the Sistine gap. It discusses the efforts to simulate life in machinery, to synthesize life out of material parts, and to measure living beings against inanimate mechanisms. A historical approach to artificial life is also presented. The chapter then contributes to the current conventions regarding the nature of animal life, sentience, and human cognition. Moreover, the book is divided into three parts. Part 1 explores the efforts to connect intellect with matter, souls with mechanisms, magic with engineering. Part 2 emphasizes the importance of interactions within living beings, among the distributed parts of the complex systems that comprise them. Part 3 concentrates on the exchanges between creatures and the outside world, and on attempts to understand life in terms of these exchanges. Finally, an overview of the chapters included in this book is given.

Keywords:   artificial life, Sistine gap, animal life, sentience, human cognition, living beings, souls

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