Actor and the Spectator, The

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1975 edition

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Actor and the Spectator, The

Foundations of the Theory of Human Action

Beck, Lewis White

Can a machine think? More pointedly, if I am a machine, can I think? Beck answers these questions by analyzing two clusters of metaphors – one of which dramatizes human beings as spontaneous agents (actors), and the other sees them as observers attempting to explain causally their own behavior and that of the actor (spectators). Using a hypothetical scene with two spectators, each explaining an action, and each representing a different way of viewing the world, Beck points up the central philosophical problems raised by the varieties of ways in which we explain our own actions and those of others.

“[F]ull of insights and fruitful suggestions.” – Stephan Körner, TLS