Extensions as Techno-Somatic Assemblages: Towards a History of the Idea
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human corporeality
technical media (technosphere)
Edward Hall
Herbert Marshall McLuhan
Richard Buckminster Fuller
Sigmund Freud
Ernst Kapp

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Sokolovskiy, S. (2020). Extensions as Techno-Somatic Assemblages: Towards a History of the Idea. Corpus Mundi, 1(1), 15-35. https://doi.org/10.46539/cmj.v1i1.5


The article deals with the sesquicentennial history of the concept ‘extension’, popularized by, the founder of proxemics Edward Hall. Introduced during the early XX c., the concept gained currency in contemporary anthropological ecology, media theory, and sociology. A number of scholars, including the founder of the philosophy of technology Ernst Kapp and that of psychoanalysis – Sigmund Freud, had contributed to the theory of extensions further developed by a visionary engineer Richard Buckminster Fuller and Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan. The author discusses the place of extensions among other types of techno-somatic assemblages and suggests a typology of extensions according to their topological location, relative size, and the human faculty or function that a particular extension magnifies or supersedes. The history of the concept enables one to assert that human cultural artifacts could be viewed as a certain organ’s or somatic function’s dilation or amplification and that one’s body and mind occur in stable relations with technical artifacts (various tools, appliances, machines, infrastructures) well before birth as parts of techno-somatic assemblages. Extension as a special type of hybrid techno-somatic entities, as a chimeric concept, uniting somatic (natural) and human-made (artificial, cultural, technical) elements, becomes the encompassing notion for culture and technology in their entirety, a bridge between body and mind, on the one hand, and technical milieu, on the other. The author assesses the implications of such a view for body, memory, and death studies.

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