The computer age has, accidentally, brought with it, concealed below decks, a renewed vitalist philosophy. The machine age, the late nineteenth century that is, thought of all organisms as at least analogous and frequently much more than merely analogous with mechanical devices like the typewriter, or the elevator. Full of moving parts these were nevertheless conceivable only as static objects, and most importantly they were conceivable only as visualized objects. When we visualize a machine it must be stable, arrested though it may be in some stage of its process or cycle, and we represent its dynamism as a sequence of such static images. One could not attribute a subjectivity to such things without considerable dishonesty.

The modern computer, however, contains almost no moving parts, yet is conceivable solely in terms of its inner processes, the currents in its channels. These processes are of the utmost abstraction, and barely visualizable (unless it is in terms of signs), so its essence is not something that can be depicted, but only entertained as a conceptual model, a chain of logical operations which we contemplate in time during processing, rather than taking in as a complete synchronic image. Indeed, when considering the operation of computers we are engaged in a task not at all unlike that of considering the subjectivity of other minds. Thus, it is with difficulty that we avoid attributing subjectivity to the microchip. The surprising consequence is that far from bringing us to the verge of a further reductionist outburst, computers have catalysed a massive and overwhelming revival of sentimentalist anthropomorphism.