Chapter

Introduction: The Sistine Gap

Jessica Riskin

in Genesis Redux

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print August 2007 | ISBN: 9780226720807
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226720838 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226720838.003.0001
Introduction: The Sistine Gap

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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

Chapter.  13659 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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