Who Is the Author of Spamlet?


Suppose Dr. Frankenstein designs and constructs a monster, Spakesheare, which thereupon sits up and writes out a play, Spamlet. Who is the author of Spamlet? To a Darwinian, this new element in the cascade of cranes is simply the latest in a long history, and we should recognize that the boundary between authors and their artifacts should be just as penetrable as all the other boundaries in the cascade. When Richard Dawkins (1982) notes that the beaver’s dam is as much a part of the beaver phenotype—its extended phenotype—as its teeth and its fur, he sets the stage for the further observation that the boundaries of a human author are exactly as amenable to extension. In fact, we have known this for centuries and have carpentered various semi-stable conventions for dealing with the products of Rubens, of Rubens’s studio, of Rubens’s various students. Wherever there can be a helping hand, we can raise the question of just who is helping whom, what is creator and what is creation.

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Philosopher Daniel Dennett's Book Intuition Pumps