By Adelheid Voskuhl
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Additional resources for Androids in the Enlightenment: Mechanics, Artisans, and Cultures of the Self
Animal, machine, God, and spirit—these entities and their philosophical analyses served as foils to discuss what it meant to be human, and it is not least for this reason that automata proved to be such persistent ﬁgures in these debates. I am dealing with objects and ideas around them that have broad meanings and are widely known. Few objects are so replete with meaning as automata are and have absorbed so many connotations over the past two centuries. Automaton-Making in the Eighteenth Century The eighteenth century was an unusually proliﬁc period in the history of automaton-making, and the automata made during this period 35.
The relationship between man and animal, and the metaphysical spin-offs of this question, had been at the center of French philosophy ever since Descartes had given the problem a foundation in the early seventeenth century. Coski, “Condillac,” 57. Mike Lynch and Harry Collins pick up this theme in a special issue of Science, Technology, and Human Values on humans, animals, and machines in 1998 and emphasize likewise its Cartesian origins. Lynch and Collins, “Humans, Animals, and Machines,” 371–72.
59 As his musical clocks became increasingly complicated and elaborate, they received attention from wealthy and inﬂuential people. 60 In 1785 Johann Gottfried’s son Friedrich was born. He became an apprentice with a clock-maker in Dresden and traveled from 1803 to 1805 through Germany, France, Switzerland, and Austria. He spent considerable time in Vienna and studied music there, as well as mechanics and acoustics. When he returned to his father, his technical and musical training were a major asset to his father’s workshop, and he became his father’s closest assistant.