Humanist Philosophy (closed world view) confronts Christian Philosophy (open world view) In a closed world view God has no interaction with the world. In an open world view He does Paris was( circa 1900 AD) the hub of world thinking on the 3 major disciplines of thought : philosophy, science and religion. It was the product and centre of the Enlightenment. Following on the heels of the French Revolution (circa 1789 AD) the new government would construct a new Constitution. England had just come through the Reformation with changes in Government without the bloodshed that marked the French Revolution, and France tried to copy their example. However, the Reformation was Religious and God centered while the Enlightenment was decidedly Man centered. This Man centered approach finds its beginnings in the writings of Voltaire (1694-1778) , often called the "father of the Enlightenment". Voltaire took humanistic elements from the Renaissance and secularized them. These elements are summed up in 5 words : reason, nature, happiness, progress and liberty. To Voltaire man and society were perfectible. Man was absolute and thus was the starting point for advancement. If Voltaire and other similar thinkers had a religion, they were deists ( i.e. God created the world but has no contact with it). Subsequent government revolutions operating from a similar philosophy , notably Russian and Third Reich ended in horrible bloodbaths also, not to mention the countries in Africa , Middle and Far East today. From Voltaires work, Rousseau 1712- 78, Kant 1800-1850, Hegel 1834-1919, and Kierkegaard 1850-1900, to mention only a few , expanded this view of man. This view opened he way to a closed world view and by extension "God is Dead " view of Hegel 1899. In this view freedom of will is dead also, not just God and the soul of man. Because a soul is not necessary to function as a material man only, a soul is not required . As the soul is the seat of love and emotions , love dies also. There comes therefore no need for morals, freedom, love or purpose. In a C.W.V (closed world view) man as man is dead , life is pointless, and devoid of meaning. This is the end result of humanism, the desire to make man autonomous . See AUTONOMOUS : self-governing, or independent, AUTOMATON a moving mechanical device resembling a human being (OXFORD DIC.)
As I see it : Hugo (the son) Hugos Father (believer in Automaton) follows the Instructions on the completion of the human being-like machine from a manual that requires replacement parts. These parts are known only to Uncle Georges (Creator of the Automaton), who was thought to have died in the fire that destroyed his theatre. Uncle Georges was always involved in creating lives , via magic and its subsequent wonder, when he had a monopoly on magic. This magic was religious in its acceptance by people who willingly submitted to its fascination and enjoyment. But time and modernity brought change and competition to the Religion of Magic. To keep from going the way of the dodo, Uncle Georges compromised and followed the latest trend in influence, that being cinematography. This proved to be a limited solution and short lived as the movie industry advanced, leaving Uncle Georges behind, apparently unable to compete with the other moviemakers.
This is how Uncle Georges at the outset of the movie is found to be running a small shop, repairing small , common place rodents, when at one time he was creating new human beings i.e. people with changed lives and souls. His move to film making copied the other life changers in results also however. He could entertain people with movies but it took magic to change them at their souls. As he constructed the automaton he lost the "key" component, the heart-shaped key that made the Automaton alive, it had no soul.
These people are represented in the characters who live and move within the Station. The Security Inspector :representing the Law as disabled, not complete, insecure in its purpose. He (Law) develops a personal hatred for Hugo (the Son), trying to trap him violating any law of the Station. When imprisoned wrongfully His innocence is obvious and His punishment excessive. Flower Shop Lady :appreciates beauty of nature and its design but wary of trusting other humans . The Elderly Couple who are both desirous of companionship but afraid of loss. The Librarian (the Source of all knowledge and Judge of personality.) Isabel is the Force or Energy driving this adventure. Completing a Triad of support for Hugo, the all-knowing Librarian, Uncle Georges the Giver of new life and Isabel the Energy behind the adventure .
One of the conclusions of this movie is that reducing the human being to a body and mind only is woefully simplistic and full of undesireable consequences.Spirit and soul , with the body are seperate but not isolated to each other. Together the overlap and intertwine. In consideration of personhood, each element has a purpose. Modern psychology and philosophy has denied this saying psychotherapy is better understood as a technical treatment of illness or disorder than a personal and religiously directed relationship offering guidance in living.
John Watson, founder of behavioural psychology, said " must drscribe the behaviour of man in no other terms than those you would use to discribe the behaviour of an ox."
Without a soul man is reduced to just another variation in the animal kingdom. Man can therefore be studied , measured and controlled by others. He becomes just another part of the machinery called society. The soul complicates things because it is unique to every person. It is the "Ghost " in the machine that keeps man from becoming just another machine. Its what makes us valuable to man and God .