CFP: What is a “Machine”?

Submission deadline: August 31, 2020

Topic areas


Mechanical artefacts are not the only items one might refer to by the term “machine”; there must be conversely room for every dimension of experience, from the human body to the “machina mundi”, from the mechanical natural laws to the social machine. In all these cases, the word “machine” has played a pivotal role.

Nevertheless, in the field of engineering, the concept of machine is not univocal, since there are several interpretations concerning which features make a machine of an artefact, in order to distinguish “machines” from mere tools (and one goes, there, from the “simple machines”, starting from which statics arose, to the pendulum impinging on classical mechanics, from the heat machines to the digital ones, which inspired thermodynamics, cybernetics and informatics, to finally come to contemporary “intelligent” machines). That said, it is clear that much more is yet to be discussed, both theoretically and epistemologically.

The concept of “machine” has so accompanied and profoundly marked what we are used to call “culture”, until the point that it represents the very cornerstone in the inquiry about the history of civilisation, as well as a mandatory task of the genealogical analysis of technique and technology.

This is the thematic and theoretical framework motivating us in the presentation of the first Call for Papers of our journal Mechané. We welcome submissions in: English, Italian, German, French and Spanish. They should preferentially address the main them starting from the following subjects:

  • Ontological and taxonomic questions concerning the notion of “machine”, to wit, the distinction between the concept of machine and those of artefact, medium and tool;

  • The history of machines as it relates with the history of science and the history of culture;

  • The importance of the concept of machine along the history of philosophy;

  • The special contribution of philosophy and of philosophical anthropology to the study of machines;

  • The epistemological role of machines and their influence on the nexus science-technology;

  • The problem of machine from the point of view of labour;

  • Anthropological impact and effects of machines on one social field or more;

  • The role of machines in contemporary society, with a special focus on the usage of machines in art and aesthetics, in medicine and in the ludic dimension;

  • Meaning and relevance of the “mechanical” metaphor in the history of culture.

We gladly accept studies from any area of philosophical interest, such as phenomenology, hermeneutics, history and critique of culture, analytical philosophy and aesthetics.

All interested people are pleased to submit a short abstract (up to 500 words) to the e-mail address: Potential authors have also to declare for which section they are presenting their own paper. The deadline for the presentation of the abstracts is April 15, 2020. Final submissions should not overcome 40 000 characters (including spaces) and must be received by August 31, 2020. Manuscripts undergo a double blind review.

Supporting material

Add supporting material (slides, programs, etc.)