The view that man is a machine was very common in the age of Enlightenment. Most famous for this view was Julien Offray de La Mettrie’s book L’homme machine, despite its actual content about problems of dualism. The debates on the man-machine were carried out on the most fundamental levels, attacking the other camp’s core concepts: materialistic arguments against theories of an immaterial soul or an immaterial mind, materialistic deism and atheism against god.
My prime concerns are not the fundamental and metaphysical consequences of the view that man is a machine or that man can be a machine, but concern a meta-theoretical interest. What does it mean to describe man as a machine? What reasons are there behind matching man and machine? My goal is to show, firstly, that René Descartes anticipates a model in order to explain the human body and, secondly, to show that the Cartesian man-machine model carries a certain creative aspect. Likewise, I would like to contribute with peculiarities of Cartesian philosophy to a characterisation of models in science.