There's no ghost in this machine
I make my own mistakes
We seem like skeletons with bonehead beliefs
History's been crucified
Humans supernaturalized
We hope we're not alone
Exploded stars and space debris
Taught itself to make some things like us
Was that all?
What was there before the bang?
How did nothing come to end at once?

Let's ask the atheists, the astronauts
The mystics of the amazon
The priests, the cults, the witches, the pope
The crystal ball, the fear of God
The tarot cards, the dowsing rod
Theologians, alchemists, black magicians, physicists say
"No," say, "We don't know"

Cults arise from ego
Sick with poltergeists and demons

Tune your TV to the snow
Watch the first thing ever known, it's always on
When nothing's over what was there?
How did nothing come to end at once?

Let's ask the atheists
Let's ask the astronauts
Let's ask the priests, the cults, the witches, the pope
Dice, the monks, shamen, the nuns
Buddha, the Holy Ghost, satanists, the philosophes
Meditators, pyramids, mathematicians, acid heads
Theologians, alchemists, black magicians, physicists say
"No," say, "We don't know"

Cults arise from egos
Sick with poltergeists and demons

Lyrics submitted by onethinwallaway

Machine in the Ghost song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentThis song looks at all of the ways of trying to understand the universe (religion, mysticism, science, philosophy, fortunetelling, mind-expanding drugs) skeptically. In the first verse, it goes so far as to say that all of these belief systems are "boneheaded" and have caused a lot of problems (crucified history). The song says that we're nothing more than material from exploded stars (=carbon) that just happened to turn out as humans, and sure, it's difficult to wrap your head around this prospect. "Is that all we are?" we ask, but nobody from among this huge list of systems of thought can give a better explanation so in the end we must conclude "yeah, that's all we are."

    "Ghost in the machine": a brief explanation...

    Descartes (the philosopher who is famous for "I think, therefore I am") was a dualist: he believed that the body and the mind are separate entities. He believed that the body is a physical entity, and the mind transcends the physical (like a spirit or consciousness) and inhabits the body and controls its actions.

    Gilbert Ryle wrote a book in 1949 rejecting Descartes' dualist theory of the mind. He derogatorily called it "the myth of the ghost in the machine," where the ghost represents the mind inhabiting the physical body/machine. So when the song says "there's no ghost in this machine," it's saying the narrator doesn't have a soul or mind that's separate from his body. He probably believes that his "mind" is just his brain, which is a physical entity and is part of his body.

    I hope this is a helpful explanation!
    See also:…
    amandimalon September 07, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIn its simplest form, this song is about agnosticism. "No," say, "We don't know."
    sadnessSirenon May 20, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe second part of the song goes.

    The Monks
    The Nuns
    The Holy Ghost
    The Philsophes
    Black Magicians

    one of my favorites on te ablum for sure.
    plexuson July 29, 2008   Link
  • 0
    laurelinwyntreon August 06, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMental activity versus physical action (I didn't read much of the wikipedia article provided by the commentator above). That seems to be a pretty valid description of the song, although it seems to go beyond that.

    It's a basic questioning of the cycle of existence and its evolution over time. Unlike most people who debate this topic in our modern day and age, the narrator here is extending the question to all walks of life and background - all sorts of religions and persons inspired by said religions, scientists, mathematicians and even the little people (unfortunately categorized as "acid heads").

    Even at that, though, the narrator mentions how humans hope we're not alone, even though we strictly focus on the advancement of ourselves. As much as humans would like to think they want other lifeforms out there besides us, they'd be scared shitless if things like that were found to exist. And of course we'd most likely set out to overtake them.

    I like the sense of responsibility the narrator assumes in the very first verse, however satiric I know feel he is being. He makes his own mistakes, but without the interference of the "ghost" in the "machine" aka rational thought within the predatory body. Action without thought, as we all know, gets us nowhere.

    "Cults arise from egos, sick with poltergeists and feelings." Humans allow themselves to have unnecessarily large egos, and I think that what the narrator is trying to say is that sometimes such egos can create TOO MUCH thought, overthought, hence the "SICK with poltergeists..."

    Great song - love the simple electronic beats.
    OKRadiohead97on August 11, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's amusing how this song appears to be attacking supernatural/occult beliefs at first, but then invites them into the discussion, all the while being entirely indecisive about everything.

    In the end, the song is inconclusive, but acknowledges everyone who tried.
    Talbaton August 04, 2010   Link

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