Human Nature in “Bicentennial Man” and Plato’s View

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Overview of the movie

Isaac Asimov (scientist, anthropologist, and philosopher) writer of Bicentennial Man thought of this Robotic subject further beyond the mere joy of amazing possibilities of computer technology. In this movie, an android severing at Mr. Martin searches for his self identity, friendship, love, desires and finally, humanity. Andrew (named by his master), is designed to be a household servant. As the time passes by he learns that he is more than just a machine. Unlike his fellow robots he had a distinct character, will and feelings.

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Due to the upgrades in technology, he gets his developed facial expression, then a human-like skin, then even a proper functioning central nervous system. But in spite of all these changes the fact he was robot didn’t changed. So he sets out on a journey to become recognized as fully human. He’s even willing to pay the ultimate human price i.e. death.

Overall, BICENTENNIAL MAN is a great movie that shows what makes us human and shows how a Robot who is aware with creativeness, thoughtfulness and awareness unlike other robots, and wants to be more than he is. This is a great film about life, humanity and relationships. The love for one’s family and trying to better oneself through both serving others and learning with others about oneself. As Andrew lives on past the lives of his original family, he stays close to Portia (granddaughter of Little Miss and look-alike). The robots and sci-fi is just a character but the main motive of the movie is to explore ourselves more as humans and wonder about our existence. Andrew played by the brilliant fantastic Robin Williams is absolutely delightful. Robin is a superb actor and I totally love this film.

Hobbes view

Hobbes was convinced that human beings and their minds were fully material. Later on he came to think that even God was a kind of material being. Hobbes, however, was a materialist. Thomas Hobbes theory regarding materialism says that the only thing that exists is matter or energy. All things are formed of material and all phenomena (including mind) are the consequences of material interactions. He said that, “I can explain all the workings of the mind using only material resources“. That extremely concludes that he believed all factors were made up of matter. Matter is the only substance, and reality is identical with the actually occurring states of energy and matter. Hobbes intended to produce a different philosophical system connecting his materialist account of human nature to his moral and political theory.

The kind of perception in which person think that processes such as thought and life are really nothing more than physical and chemical processes are called reductionism. Reductionism is the idea that we can completely understand one kind of reality in terms of another kind. Reductionists take what seems to be one thing and argue that it is really something else Hobbes, in particular, claimed that although the mind seems to be an immaterial entity, it is really nothing more than a physical, material thing. However, his materialism gives rise to a set of perceptions, imagination, and desires that contribute to the state of nature.

In the movie Bicentennial Man the robot Andrew (a machine) is a physical object which is made of the matter and his master i.e. Mr. Martin is also a physical objects, which is also made of the same matter as the robot Andrew. According to Hobbes, sophisticated machine’s i.e. (both human and robot) functions and activities can be described and explained in purely mechanistic terms. In that sense there is no difference between Mr. Martin and the robot Andrew. Thomas Hobbes felt that we can explain all human activities, including our mental activities, as working much like those of a machine: and as the movie Bicentennial Man the robot has also got the capacity to think as that of the human so there is no difference between them along with desire operating according to chains of cause and effect, action and reaction. He begins by telling us that the human body is like a machine, as machines, human beings pursue their own self-interest relentlessly, mechanically avoiding pain and pursuing pleasure.

Plato’s view

Plato was one of the first to argue that the systematic use of our reason can show us the best way to live. Plato argues that if we truly understand human nature we can find “individual happiness and social stability. Plato also emphasized the social aspect of human nature. We are not self-sufficient, we need others, and we benefit from our social interactions, from other person’s talents, aptitudes, and friendship.

Plato thought that there are both immaterial part (soul) and material body i.e. he was a dualist, and it is the soul that knows the forms. He believed that the immaterial mind (soul) exists before birth and after death also. Thus he believed that the immaterial mind attains knowledge of the forms, as opposed to the senses. Needless to say, he referred that human beings should care about soul rather than their body.

Plato believed that humans were rational, social animals, and he referred our nature with our souls and ability to reason (think) rather than our bodies. He referred that only human beings have ability to think (reason). He denied that other beings had reason or intelligence in the movie Bicentennial Man the robot Andrew (a machine) could also think and was very creative. He was very obedient to his master and could think what was good and not. So, this movie clearly justifies that human beings are not the only creatures who have the ability to think. Andrew, a robot also could think and have ability to think and reasoning. In this case, Plato theory was opposed or inappropriate.

Materialist view

One of the famous materialists, Rene Descartes explained that there is a material world and that bodies do really exist. Descartes denied that animals had reason or intelligence. He argued that animals did not lack sensations or perceptions, but these could be explained mechanistically. Whereas humans had a soul, or mind, and were able to feel pain and anxiety, animals by virtue of not having a soul could not feel pain or anxiety. If animals showed signs of distress then this was to protect the body from damage, but the innate state needed for them to suffer was absent.

One of the deepest and most lasting legacies of Descartes’ philosophy is his thesis that mind and body are really distincta thesis now called “”mind-body dualism.”” He reaches this conclusion by arguing that the nature of the mind is completely different from that of the body, and therefore it is possible for one to exist without the other.

In philosophy of mind, dualism is a set of perspective about the affair between mind and matter, which begins with the petition that mental phantasm are, in some ways, non-physical Descartes was the first to clearly classify the mind with consciousness and self-awareness and to differentiate this from the brain, which was the seat of intelligence. Dualism is the theory that involves mind and body or mind and brain are, in some sense, thoroughly different types of thing. So, relating it to robots, robots also have physical properties but it doesn’t have mental properties as it lacks consciousness and intentions. So the saying immaterial mind within Material body by dualists can be perfectly implied to robots as they don’t have spiritual mind but it does have a physical body of its own. So, I think it is not possible for a robot like Andrew to be considered as human because after all Andrew is a creation of the human. It can imitate like a human being but never can be one. Emotion and artificial intelligence are two different things. Intelligence is programmed in robot, so no wonder they are sharp and perform works far better than human but they would not be feeling pain or enjoyment as that of the human. One of the basic charactertics of human is to have his/her own identity, soul, mind and perspective which a robot does not have no matter what a robot upgrades about itself it will always be a robot as it won’t have a soul and mind of its own naturally.

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Human Nature in "Bicentennial Man" and Plato’s View. (2019, Sep 18). Retrieved from