Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 24 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines automata, precious clockwork powered mimetic objects, that were produced in numbers at the turn of the seventeenth century in the German-speaking world. These self-propelled mechanical objects have long been held by scholars to be exemplary of the early modern desire to replicate nature. Why is this the case, though, when nothing about them—neither their scale, their material makeup, their subject matter, nor their programmed movement—is naturalistic? Coming to terms with what these objects animated and the themes they engaged reveals not just how these objects flaunted their artificiality and but also brings about a long-needed distinction between seventeenth-century automata and those discussed by mechanistic philosophers, such as Descartes, and later eighteenth-century automata, like those crafted by Jacques Vaucanson.

Keywords: automata, clockwork, Holy Roman Empire, mechanistic philosophy, Jacques Vaucanson, René Descartes

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.