Self-Recognition and Countermemory

Philosophy Today 33 (4):302-317 (1989)
Eric Steinhart
William Paterson University of New Jersey
I use concepts from Foucault's analysis of the human condition to investigate how we recognize or fail to recognize ourselves in machines like computers. Human beings are traditionally defined as "rational animals" or as "thinking things". I examine how this self-conception determines our use of computing machines as logical mirrors in which we both hope and fear to see our truest selves. I examine two analogies: (1) how we think of computers as if they were human (self-projection) and (2) how we think of humans as if they were computers (self-reflection). I interpret the humanization of computers and the computerization of humans as ways that thought tries to master its own freedom by thinking of itself metaphorically in terms of something else.
Keywords Foucault  computers
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DOI 10.5840/philtoday19893342
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