Samuel Butler (novelist)  

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"Surely if a machine is able to reproduce another machine systematically, we may say that it has a reproductive system. What is a reproductive system, if it be not a system for reproduction? And how few of the machines are there which have not been produced systematically by other machines? But it is man that makes them do so. Yes; but is it not insects that make many of the plants reproductive, and would not whole families of plants die out if their fertilisation was not effected by a class of agents utterly foreign to themselves? Does anyone say that the red clover has no reproductive system because the humble bee (and the humble bee only) must aid and abet it before it can reproduce? No one. The humble bee is a part of the reproductive system of the clover. Each one of ourselves has sprung from minute animalcules whose entity was entirely distinct from our own, and which acted after their kind with no thought or heed of what we might think about it. These little creatures are part of our own reproductive system; then why not we part of that of the machines?" --Erewhon, see also Darwin among the Machines

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Samuel Butler (4 or 5 December 1835 – 18 June 1902) was an iconoclastic Victorian author who published a variety of works. Two of his most famous pieces are the Utopian satire Erewhon and a semi-autobiographical novel published posthumously, The Way of All Flesh. He is also known for examining Christian orthodoxy, substantive studies of evolutionary thought, studies of Italian art, and works of literary history and criticism. Butler also made prose translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey which remain in use to this day.

Erewhon revealed Butler's long interest in Darwin's theories of biological evolution. In 1863, four years after Darwin published On the Origin of Species, Butler published a letter captioned "Darwin among the Machines", comparing human evolution to machine evolution, prophesying that machines would eventually replace man in the supremacy of the earth: "In the course of ages we shall find ourselves the inferior race." The letter raises many of the themes now debated by proponents of the technological singularity, i. e. that computers evolve much faster than humans and that we are racing towards an unknowable future through explosive technological change.

Bibliography

  • The Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ (1865)
  • Erewhon (1872)
  • The Fair Haven (1873)
  • Life and Habit (1877)
  • Evolution Old and New (1879)
  • Unconscious Memory (1880)
  • Luck and Cunning (1887)
  • The Deadlock in Darwinism (1890
  • Alps and Sanctuaries of Piedmont and the Canton Ticino (1881)
  • The Authoress of the Odyssey (1897)
  • Shakespeare's Sonnets, reconsidered and in part re-arranged (1900)
  • Erewhon Revisited (1901)

posthumously:

  • The Way of all Flesh (1903)
  • The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912)
  • Butleriana (1932)
  • Letters between Samuel Butler and Miss Savage (1933)





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Samuel Butler (novelist)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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