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Re: [xmca] bodies and artifacts

That's an interesting piece, Mike. Writing a text book on communication, he wants to emphasize the distinction between a technical device, technique and technology, in terms of distinctions between things and the social practices and knowledge for using them. From there the author extends these distinctions to the human body. "Even as we insist on this qualitative change" of using things outside the body, he feels it important to group the human body as a "resource" (i.e., artefact) albeit an inherent one.

The context I came to the same view was (1) in trying to figure out where to fit the human body in a reading of Hegel (for whom the cultural origin of the human body is unknown), (2) understanding the blind person's stick scenario used in Activity Theory (where to draw a line between body and artefact), and (3) trying to understand what the problem with intersubjective theories in the Frankfurt School (readings of Mead or of Hegel).

In these latter cases, writers subsumed the human body into the "subject" (as does ANL actually), and thus, the culturally shaped and inherited nature of the human body, *used* in communication and labour, is elided into the the subject itself, as if not historical or culturally resourced, but autonomous.

How did you read this piece, Mike?


mike cole wrote:
I was unsure how to contribute to the discussion of bodies and artifacts.
Reading an
article by Raymond Williams for class monday, I came across a passage that
relevant. Its from his edited book on Communication on the topic of comm
and social institutions. I could only cut and past from the pdf I had, so it
is attached. I
think the distinction he makes between "inherent physical resources" and
"systems based
on the development and application of objects and forces outside the human
body" may
be relevant. Or maybe not. Hard to move things from one discussion to
another and have the meaning remain roughly the same.

But Williams is always interesting to think with. Even fragments.


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Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov, Ilyenkov $20 ea

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