The only known story of Descartes' fabled animatronic daughter* is that of her destruction:

Queen Christina summoned Descartes to Sweden to consult him on growing political and religious conflict. The philosopher dreaded this trip, for fear that "thoughts as well as waters" would soon freeze over.


Descartes set sail with the mechanical Francine, whom he kept hidden in his cabin. One stormy night, the crew discovered Descartes’ android and, in confusion and fear, threw her overboard.

*Descartes' alleged creation of a mechanical copy of his deceased five-year-old daughter Francine is also an act of constructing a body from isolated parts, handcrafted by a higher being—in this case, Descartes himself. In his philosophical work L'homme Machine, he compares human life and the body to machinery, separated only by the existence of a soul that is regulated by the pineal gland. Considered by many cultures as a kind of third eye for spiritual vision, the pineal gland for Descartes was a mainline to God that channeled human nature into the body and provided animation with what he called "animal spirits."



In Empedocles' treatise On Nature, the ancient Greek philosopher presents his ideas about the origins of life. He cites water as a primordial material and force from which new life springs as it converges with earth. Empedocles also gives an epic description of newly formed and dismembered human parts that roam the shore. These parts search for one another to gradually assemble a body—water, earth, air, and fire form all matter from which these parts are made. In a peculiar final step, the gods bestow the human spark by lighting a fire within the eye’s pupil.