Julien Offray de La Mettrie; L’homme machine; Leyden: Elie Luzac, The first English translation was in ; a second edition published in London in. It also includes translations of other works by La Mettrie that have never before been translated into English. The original title is L’Homme Machine, an odd bit of . La Mettrie, Julien Offray de () Homme machine. Man a machine: wherein the several systems of philosophers, in respect to the soul of man, are.

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Both are to be found throughout the records of the physicians who were philosophers, and not in the works of the philosophers who were not physicians. It takes little for that timid and modest girl to lose all shame and modesty. For one more example, let us observe a dog and a child who have lost their master on a highway: But it is none the less just for me to make an authentic reparation to this great man for all the insignificant philosophers — poor jesters, and poor imitators of Locke — who instead of laughing impudently at Descartes, might better realize that without him the field of philosophy, like the field of science without Newton, might perhaps be still uncultivated.

La Mettrie, L’homme machine

The more the imagination or the poorest talent is exercised, the more it gains in embonpoint, so to speak, and the larger it grows. But who can say whether the solids contribute more than the fluids to this movement or vice versa?

This page was last edited on 15 Decemberat Does this bring gain or loss? Introduction by John Falvey, p. They would escape the eyes of a lynx and of an argus. I think that the same thing is true of all those who commit crimes, even involuntary or temperamental crimes: A dog that bit the master who was teasing it, seemed to repent a minute afterwards; it looked sad, ashamed, afraid to show itself, and seemed to confess its guilt by a crouching and downcast air.

Let us then take in our hands the staff of experience, paying no heed to the accounts of all the idle theories of the philosophers. Whoever fails to follow it scrupulously affects, in vain, the specious exterior of another religion; he is a scamp or a hypocrite whom I distrust. By nature only can we understand the meaning of the words of the Gospel, of which experience is the only truly interpreter.

On the other hand, to assert that an immortal machine is a chimera or a logical fiction, is to reason as absurdly as caterpillars would reason if, seeing the cast-off skins of their fellow caterpillars, they should bitterly deplore the fate of their species, which to them would seem to come to nothing.

His successes, have, however, astonished the world; and he, like the author of The History of the Polyps, has risen to immortality at one bound. Thus, the diverse states of the soul are always correlative with those of the body. But as the power of the will is exercised by means of the nerves, it is likewise limited by them.

Finally not considering myself worthy to be his master, I should put him in the school of that excellent teacher whom I have just named, or with another teacher equally skillful, if there is one.


It reasons, judges, analyzes, compares, and investigates. Custom perhaps dulls and perhaps stifles remorse as well as pleasures. Malebranche, far too mocked for his credulity by authors who did not closely enough observe nature and who wanted to subjugate it to their ideas.

And after a discovery of this importance demanding so much sagacity, how can we without ingratitude fail hkmme pardon all his errors! And how could this be if not through the disorder and tumult of the blood and the spirits, which gallop with an extraordinary promptness and go to inflate the covarnous bodies?

ETH-Bibliothek / L’ homme machine

Nothing is easier than to prove a system based, as this one is, on the intimate feeling and personal experience of each individual. And it will be the first punished because in certain circumstances it is not in his power to not desire pleasure. Such is the pro and the con, and the summary of those fine arguments that will eternally divide the philosophers.

Mafhine articles Paradox of hedonism Hedonic treadmill. What animal would die of hunger in the midst of a river of milk? We were not originally made to be learned; we have become so perhaps by a sort of abuse of our organic faculties, and at the expense of the State which nourishes a host of sluggards whom vanity has adorned with the name of philosophers. Either the mere structure of a finger, of an ear, of an eye, a single observation of Malpighi proves all, and doubtless much better than Descartes and Malebranche proved it, or all the other evidences prove nothing.

Now that it is clearly proved against the Cartesians, the followers of Stahl, the Malebranchists, and the theologians who little deserve to be mentioned here, that matter is self-moved, not only when organized, hommme in a whole heart, for example, but even when this organization has been destroyed, human curiosity would like to discover how a body, by the fact that it is originally endowed with the breath of life, finds itself adorned in consequence with the faculty of feeling, and thus with that of thought.

I shall draw the conclusions which follow clearly from these incontestable observations: And, heavens, what efforts have not been made by certain philosophers to manage to prove this! He rather chose to argue that the organization of humans was done to provide the best use mdttrie complex matter as possible.

Mavhine according to this hypothesis which was the hypothesis of Virgil and of all Epicureans, an hypothesis which the history of the polyp might seem at first sight to favor the movements which go on after the death of the subject in which they inhere are due to a remnant of soul still maintained by the parts that contract, though, from the moment of death, these are not excited by the blood and spirits.

Some say that there is in man a natural law, a knowledge of good and evil, which has never been imprinted on the heart of animals. Her power shines forth equally in creating the lowliest insect and in creating the most highly developed man; the mwchine kingdom costs her no more than the vegetable, and the most splendid genius no more than a blade of wheat.


Machkne, truly, up to a certain age, he is more of an animal than they, since machinf birth he has less instinct. He used apes as an example, stating that if they were trained they would be “perfect [men]”. What do we see? It is true that if homke reason does not deceive me, man and the whole universe seem to have been designed for this unity of aim.

It is imagination again which adds the piquant charm of voluptuousness to the tenderness of an amorous heart; which makes tenderness bud in the study of the philosopher and of the dusty pedant, which, in a word, creates scholars as well as orators and poets.

The first and older system is materialism; the second is spiritualism.


Like that child of olden time whom a modern writer refers, following Arnobius, he knows neither the foods suitable for him, nor the water that can drown him, nor the fire that can reduce him to ashes. Therefore if animals do not repent for having violated this inmost feeling which I am discussing, or rather if they absolutely lack it, man must necessarily be in the same condition.

But furthermore, how many nettrie philosophers have shown that thought is but a faculty of feeling, and that the reasonable soul is but the feeling soul engaged in contemplating its ideas and in reasoning!

I do not pretend to say whether more intellect is necessary to excel mettroe the art of Aristotle or of Descartes than to excel in that of Euripides or of Sophocles, and whether nature has taken more trouble to make Newton than to make Corneille, though I doubt this.

Man is so complicated a machine that it is impossible to get a clear idea of the machine beforehand, and hence impossible to define it. Look at the portrait of the famous Pope who is, to say the least, the Voltaire of the English.

Would its soul, which feels the same joys, the same mortification and the same discomfiture which we feel, remain utterly unmoved by disgust when it saw a fellow-creature torn to bits, or when it had itself pitilessly dismembered this fellow-creature? And as the structure of the brain is such that when eyes well formed for seeing, have once perceived the image of objects, the brain can not help seeing their images and their differences, so when the signs of these differences have been traced or imprinted in the brain, the soul necessarily examines their relations — an examination that would have been impossible without the discovery of signs or the invention of language.

We do not intend to hide from ourselves the arguments that can be brought forward against our belief and in favor of a primitive distinction between men and animals.

His eyes protrude from their sockets, the eyebrows are raised with the muscles of the forehead. It must be renewed, as it loses strength, invigorated when it is tired, and weakened when it is disturbed by an excess of strength and vigor.