Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
AI NarrativesA History of Imaginative Thinking about Intelligent Machines$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Stephen Cave, Kanta Dihal, and Sarah Dillon

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198846666

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198846666.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 30 July 2021

The Android of Albertus Magnus

The Android of Albertus Magnus

A Legend of Artificial Being

(p.72) 3 The Android of Albertus Magnus
AI Narratives

Minsoo Kang

Ben Halliburton

Oxford University Press

In medieval and early modern writings, there is a cluster of stories concerning an artificial construct in the shape of a human body or a head that is animated for the purpose of divination, associated with such figures as Gerbert of Aurillac, Robert Grosseteste, Albertus Magnus, and Roger Bacon. Among them, the Albertus legends have been retold numerous times in interesting variations that provide insight into the changing attitudes towards intellectual magic. Given the fact that the wondrous object is described as being able to converse and even reason, its nature as a kind of medieval AI has made it an object of interest in recent books on AI, robotics, and posthumanity. In this article, the major appearances of Albertus’s speaking statue/head story will be examined in detail to show that the explanation for the wonder moved from astrology to demonic agency, as well as to pure mechanics.

Keywords:   Albertus Magnus, oracular head, magic, divination, idolatry, android, Gabriel Naudé, Alonso Tostado

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .