Moxons Master
Moxon's Master


Moxon's Master

Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

Classical prose

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Moxon's Master by Ambrose Bierce  "ARE you serious?—do you really believe that a machine thinks?" I got no immediate reply; Moxon was apparently intent upon the coals in the grate, touching them deftly here and there with the fire-poker till they signified a sense of his attention by a brighter glow. For several weeks I had been observing in him a growing habit of delay in answering even the most trivial of commonplace questions. His air, however, was that of preoccupation rather than deliberation: one might have said that he had "something on his mind." Presently he said: "What is a 'machine'? The word has been variously defined. Here is one definition from a popular dictionary: 'Any instrument or organization by which power is applied and made effective, or a desired effect produced.' Well, then, is not a man a machine? And you will admit that he thinks—or thinks he thinks." "If you do not wish to answer my question," I said, rather testily, "why not...