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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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And if you grant them a soul our are lost, you fanatics! It is not enough for a wise man to study nature and truth; he should dare homm truth for the benefit of the few who are willing and able to mavhine. For our compatriots fight, Swiss against Swiss, brother against brother, recognize each other, and yet capture and kill each other without remorse, because a prince pays for the murder. The ethical implications of these principles would later be worked out in his Discours sur le bonheur ; La Mettrie considered it his magnum opus.

His eyes protrude from their sockets, the eyebrows are raised with the muscles of the forehead. He believed that mental processes were caused by the body. 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.

If these springs differ among themselves, these differences consist only in their position and in their degrees of strength, and never in their nature; wherefore the soul is but a principle of motion or a material and sensible part of the brain, which can be regarded, without fear of error, as the mainspring of the whole machine, having a visible influence on all the parts. I do not mean to say that all criminals are unjustly punished; I only maintain that those whose will is depraved, and whose conscience is extinguished, are punished enough by their remorse when they come to themselves, a remorse, I venture to assert, from which nature should in this case have delivered unhappy souls dragged on by a fatal necessity.

I believe that Descartes would be a man in every way worthy of respect, if, born in a century that he had not been obliged to enlighten, he had known the value of experiment and observation, and the danger of cutting loose from them. There La Mettrie wrote the Discours sur le bonheurwhich appalled leading Enlightenment thinkers such as VoltaireDiderot and D’Holbach due to its explicitly hedonistic sensualist principles which prioritised the unbridled pursuit of pleasure above all other things.

Thus, as we have seen, natural gifts, the source of all acquirements, gain from the lips and heart of the materialist, the homage which every other thinker unjustly refuses them.

I certainly would not give myself a quarter of the trouble that M. His initial schooling took place in the colleges of Coutances and Caen. Is it not the case that the sphincters of the rectum and bladder act mechanically?


Opium alters even the will, forcing the soul which wished to wake and to enjoy life, to sleep in spite of itself. The metaphysicians who have hinted that matter may well be endowed with the faculty of thought have perhaps not reasoned ill.

A few more wheels, a few more springs than in the most perfect animals, the brain proportionally nearer the heart and for this very reason receiving more blood — any one of a number of unknown causes might always produce this delicate conscience so easily wounded, this remorse which is no more foreign to matter than to thought, and in a word all the differences that are supposed to exist here.

Education, which women lack, strengthens his mind still more. Along with aiding the furthering mmachine determinism he considered himself a mechanistic materialist. But is this defect so essential to the structure that it could never be remedied? There is ferocity in our species as well as machinee theirs. Trembley has found cases where reproduction takes hkmme without copulation and by fission.

Man a Machine by Julien Offray de La Mettrie

What I said of paralysis, etc, returns here. On the other hand, there is so much pleasure in doing good, in recognizing and appreciating what one receives, so much satisfaction in practising virtue, in being gentle, humane, kind, charitable, compassionate and generous for this one word includes all the virtuesthat I consider as sufficiently punished any one who is unfortunate enough not to have been born virtuous. They prove at least the necessity for a good and vigorous physical meettrie, since throughout the animal kingdom the soul gains force with the body and acquires keenness, as the body gains strength.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. No resource therefore remains open to our adversaries but to deny thousands and thousands of facts which every man can easily verify. Break the chain of your prejudices, arm yourselves with the torch of experience, and you will render nature the honor she deserves, instead of inferring anything to her disadvantage, from the ignorance in which she has left you.

La Mettrie’s extreme beliefs, were rejected strongly, but his work did help influence psychologyspecifically behaviorism. Frederick the Great gave the funeral oration, which remains the major biographical source on La Mettrie’s life.


However, this is apparently not enough for the judges. Nothing is easier than to prove a system based, as this one is, on the intimate feeling and personal experience of each individual.

This principle exists and has its seat in the brain at the origin of the nerves, by which it exercises its control over all the rest of the body. More instruments, more wheels and more springs were necessary to mark the movements of the planets than to mark or strike the hours; and Vaucanson, who needed more skill for making his flute player than for making his duck, would have needed still more to make a talking man, a mechanism no longer to be regarded as impossible, especially in the hands of another Prometheus.

But a being to which nature has given such a precocious and enlightened instinct, which judges, combines, reasons, and deliberates as far as the sphere of its activity extends and permits, a being which feels attachment because of benefits received, and which leaving a master who treats it badly goes to seek a better one, a being with a structure like ours, which performs the same acts, has the same passions, the same griefs, the same pleasures, more or less intense according to the sway of the imagination and the delicacy of the nervous organization — does not such a being show clearly that it knows its faults and ours, understands good and evil, and in a word, has consciousness of what it does?


Does what then occurs in certain organs come from the very nature of these organs? On the other hand, the sciences that are expressed by the numbers or by other small signs, are easily learned; and without doubt this facility rather than its demonstrability is what has made the fortune of algebra.

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. It was in these years, during an attack of feverthat he made observations on himself with reference to the action of quickened blood circulation upon thought, which led him to the conclusion that mental processes were to be accounted for as the effects of organic changes in the brain and nervous system.

La Mettrie : Homme machine

mschine As a violin string or a harpsichord key vibrates and gives forth sound, so the cerebral fibers, struck by waves of sound, are stimulated to render or repeat the words that strike them. However cautious and reserved one may be about the consequences that can be deduced from these observations, and from many others concerning the kind of variation in the organs, nerves, etc.

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. Machine Man and Other Writings.

Who was the first teacher of the mafhine race? All that we know is that the action of the former would soon cease without the help of the latter, that is, without the help of the fluids which by their onset rouse and maintain the elasticity of the blood vessels on which their own circulation depends.

L’homme machine;

And whence again, comes this disposition, if not from nature? Everything may be reduced to sounds or words that pass from the mouth of one through the ears of mdttrie into his brain. It was under Boerhaave that La Mettrie was influenced to try to bring changes to medical education in France. For example it has been noticed that a celebrated poet combines in his portrait the look of a pickpocket with the fire of Prometheus.

The finest, greatest or strongest imagination is then the one most suited to metfrie sciences as well as to the arts. For it is always the egg in its shell and the animal in the egg who, hindered in its movements, mechanically seeks to see day, and in order to succeed in this it begins by breaking the membrane with its head, from which it comes out, like the chick, the bird, etc from theirs.