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Recensione a N. D. Cilia, L. Tonetti (eds.), Wired Bodies. New Perspectives on the Machine-Organ Analogy (CNR Edizioni 2017)

Miriam Aiello

Wired Bodies. New Perspectives on the Machine-Organ Analogy is a collective work, grounded on the long-standing experience of the reading group “Eco-evolution and cognition” (ECOEVOCOG) based since 2012 at Sapienza University of Rome and stimulated in particular by a series of meetings on “Machine and organism” organised in 2016.

As suggested in the Introduction, the fundamental idea enlivening the work is that the Machine-Organ Analogy (for the sake of brevity: MOA) had played a pivotal role into both philosophy and science, inasmuch as it implies - and even disguises - «complex epistemological issues» linked to the nature of the interaction between organism and machinic representations (p. 14). The underlying idea is that the explicative fruitfulness of the analogy has a dynamical core, since the terms tied up through the analogy are prone to be conceptualised in very different and variable ways over time. It is almost self-evident indeed that the term ‘analogy’ itself expresses only a specific kind of relationship, but it does not force the terms of the relationship into any firm and once-and-for-all identity. Analogously and therefore, to inquire into the history and the conceptual nature of MOA implies to deal with an outstanding rate of «plasticity» (p. 15). Wired Bodies is precisely a conveyor of such a plasticity. In fact, as the Editors suggest, this collective work aims at providing the reader not so much with a historical reconstruction of the MOA, but rather with a useful insight on the most fruitful areas for an interdisciplinary view of the issues raised on by the MOA, with particular concern to its multiple adaptation in contemporary frameworks of cognitive sciences.

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