What Is Man?
"What Is Man?", published by Mark Twain in 1906, is a dialogue between a young man and an older man jaded to the world. The title refers to Psalm 8-4, which begins 'what is man, that you are mindful of him...'.
It involves ideas of destiny and free will, as well as of psychological egoism. The Old Man asserted that the human being is merely a machine, and nothing more. The Young Man objects, and asks him to go into particulars and furnish his reasons for his position.
The work appears to be a genuine and an earnest debate of his opinions about human nature, rather than satirical. Twain held views similar to that of the old man prior to writing 'What is Man?'. However, he seems to have varied in his opinions of human freedom.
Isaac Asimov apparently had in mind this story when he wrote "... That Thou Art Mindful of Him", since Asimov's title is from the same Bible verse, and two of Asimov's robots debate the same subject.
- What Is Man? at Project Gutenberg
- What Is Man? and Other Philosophical Writings, University of California Press, 1973.
- Twain, Mark (Author), Paul Baender (Editor) What Is Man? and Other Philosophical Writings 1973 UCP ISBN 978-0-520-01621-7, Introduction p4 ff
- in Asimov, Isaac.The bicentennial man and other stories Doubleday 1976
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