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> â€œTechnology as Extension of the Human Body”
coberst
post Mar 15, 2008, 05:43 AM
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“Technology as Extension of the Human Body”

When most people contact one another there is only a combining of exteriors. Few occasions develop when two people make a significant contact of interiors. James Baldwin put it succinctly when he said “mirrors can only lie”. The mirror exposes only the exterior and says nothing about the interior; I find that, as I grow older, I have less and less exterior about which to communicate and communication about the interior seems much easier with total strangers on the Internet than with those close to me.

Marshall McLuhan “The High Priest of Pop-Culture” in the mid twentieth century was the first to announce the existence of the ‘global village’ and to express that “we become what we behold”. McLuhan sought to understand and express the effects of technology on modern culture.

McLuhan was particularly interested in “Technology as Extension of the Human Body”. “An extension occurs when an individual or society makes or uses something in a way that extends the range of the human body and mind in a fashion that is new. The shovel we use for digging holes is a kind of extension of the hands and feet. The spade is similar to the cupped hand, only it is stronger, less likely to break, and capable of removing more dirt per scoop than the hand. A microscope or telescope is a way of seeing that is an extension of the eye.”

Going further in this vein the auto is an extension of the foot. However there are negative results from all such extensions. “Amputations” represent the unintended and un-reflected counterparts of such extensions.

“Every extension of mankind, especially technological extensions, has the effect of amputating or modifying some other extension… The extension of a technology like the automobile "amputates" the need for a highly developed walking culture, which in turn causes cities and countries to develop in different ways. The telephone extends the voice, but also amputates the art of penmanship gained through regular correspondence. These are a few examples, and almost everything we can think of is subject to similar observations…We have become people who regularly praise all extensions, and minimize all amputations. McLuhan believed that we do so at our own peril.”

McLuhan was concerned about man's willful blindness to the downside of technology. In his later years McLuhan developed a scientific basis for his thought around what he termed the tetrad. The tetrad is four laws, framed as questions, which give us a useful instrument for studying our culture.
"What does it (the medium or technology) extend?"
"What does it make obsolete?"
"What is retrieved?"
"What does the technology reverse into if it is over-extended?"

McLuhan’s gravestone carries the inscription “The Truth Shall Make You Free." We do not have to like or even agree with everything that McLuhan said. However, we would be wise to remember that his was a life of great insight and it was dedicated to showing wo/man the truth about the world we live in, and especially the hidden consequences of the technologies we develop.

In the book “The Birth and Death of Meaning” Earnest Becker provides us with a synthesis of the knowledge about the extensions of the human body that McLuhan spoke of and science certified through research.

Becker informs us that the “self” is in the body but is not part of the body; it is symbolic and is not physical. “The body is an object in the field of the self: it is one of the things we inhabit…A person literally projects or throws himself out of the body, and anywhere at all…A man’s “Me” is the sum total of all that he can call his, not only his body and his mind, but his clothes and house, his wife and children, [etc].” The human can be symbolically located wherever s/he thinks part of her really exists or belongs.


It is said that the more insecure we are the more important these symbolic extensions of the self become. When we invest undue value onto such matters as desecrating a piece of cloth that symbolizes our nation is an indication that our self-valuation has declined and this overvaluation of a symbol can help compensate that loss. We get a good feeling about own value by placing value in the pseudopod (Pod—an anatomical pouch) as the flag.

In conceiving our self as a container that overflows with various and important extensions that our technology provides us we might appear like a giant amoeba spread out over the land with a center in the self. These pseudopods are not just patriotic symbols and important things but include silly things such as a car or a neck tie. We can experience nervous breakdowns when others do not respect our particular objects of reverence.

Do you think of yourself as being extended as a result of using technology? Do you think such extensions are a representation of reality? Do you think that consciousness of such claims to be useful?

Some quotes from:
http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/mcluhan.html



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Joesus
post Mar 15, 2008, 08:48 AM
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QUOTE
Do you think of yourself as being extended as a result of using technology?

No.

QUOTE
Do you think such extensions are a representation of reality?

No. Such ideas are representative of choice, belief and the ego, or identification with boundaries.

QUOTE
Do you think that consciousness of such claims to be useful?

Sometimes you have to crawl before realizing you can walk. As such a thought of this type creates contrast in light of something other.
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coberst
post Mar 16, 2008, 02:12 AM
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The important question to ponder is what is amputated by this extension.

"However there are negative results from all such extensions. “Amputations” represent the unintended and un-reflected counterparts of such extensions."
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Joesus
post Mar 16, 2008, 09:26 AM
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QUOTE

The important question to ponder is what is amputated by this extension.


You wouldn't know you missed it if your world is scientifically defined for you and you have become absorbed into the matrix of its definitions and limitations.

Unfortunately, there are not very many positive authorities in the world today. Even those who have studied, apprenticed and worked hard at their skill are often the worst authorities to rely on.

Take medical doctors for instance. The average doctor dies at around the age of 55 while the rest of us live to 76. Why do we set up those with the lowest life expectancy to be authorities telling us how to be healthy? Wouldn't it make more sense to seek out those who are likely to live to be a hundred?

We go to psychologists for authority on mental health and happiness, yet as a profession they have among the highest suicide rate in the world. Thus again we have authorities telling us to be happy when they have not discovered the key themselves. The average person on the street obviously has a greater concept of what makes life worthwhile.

We send criminals to the prison authorities to go to a "correctional" facility yet when he is released the authorities have turned him in to a more dangerous person than he was when he began his sentence.

We hire politicians as authorities in making laws and spending money and they make laws that the average person realizes make no sense and they spend our money with the intelligence of a ten year old kid who just found a hundred bucks.

We set up ministers, priests and evangelists as authorities in scripture and over our spiritual life, yet many of them do not even believe the scriptures and many little old ladies have a better knowledge than they do. Then there are many ministers who have never had a true spiritual experience or have never found God yet are telling others with the voice of authority how to lead the spiritual life.

Note: statistics vary according to the inconsistencies of scientific data collection and reporting.

I'm reminded of this:

The Milgram Experiment



A while back Dateline had a special on the power of Authority.

They started by showing an old clip from Candid Camera. In this clip the victim of the show entered an elevator with about six other people in it. The funny thing was that the other six (who worked with Candid Camera) were told to face different directions at different times.

Normally when you are in an elevator you face the door, but this group all faced the inside panel with their backs toward the door. Even though this was very odd, the victim did not want to be different so he turned with his back toward the door. Then they showed several clips of the people in the elevator and every time the group turned, the victim turned with them.

It seemed kind of funny and I'm sure the Candid Camera audience got a good laugh out of it, but the reality behind this is the scariest human trait we possess. That is, most of mankind will follow the leader or group even if it makes no sense or if it goes against every moral teaching they have ever been taught, or any intuitive sense you may have living inside of you.

The second part of the feature had an experiment done with college students. Again they had an unsuspecting victim participating with a group of about a half dozen that knew what was going on. The group was shown a set of four lines and of the four there were two of equal length. They were then asked to pick the two lines that were equal. They showed the lines on TV and it was obvious which two were the correct match.

The next thing they did was to have the planted students all give the same wrong match. Then when it became the victim's turn you could tell he began to doubt what his eyes and reasoning were telling him. Some of the victims gave the right answer for a round or two but one by one each victim gave in and started giving the wrong answer as the right answer, even though he knew within himself that it was wrong.

The interesting thing about watching their faces on TV was that they all looked a little depressed when they started knowingly giving the wrong answers as right answers. It was almost like the poor kids were selling their souls.

Finally they showed the most alarming experiment of all authority which was conducted by Stanley Milgram way back in the sixties.

Milgram was curious about how a group of apparently normal people like the Germans could have participated in the Nazi atrocities which was against every moral teaching that they ever believed in. Their excuse was always the same: "I was just following orders."

Below is a description of the experiment:

When the "teacher" asked whether increased shocks should be given he/she was verbally encouraged to continue. Sixty-five percent of the "teachers" obeyed orders to punish the learner to the very end of the 450-volt scale! No subject stopped before reaching 300 volts!

At times, the worried "teachers" questioned the experimenter, asking who was responsible for any harmful effects resulting from shocking the learner at such a high level. Upon receiving the answer that the experimenter assumed full responsibility, teachers seemed to accept the response and continue shocking, even though some were obviously extremely uncomfortable in doing so.

What was interesting about watching this on Dateline was that when the subject hit the high voltage the pretended victim screamed like crazy and even said he had a bad heart and that the experiment was killing him.

The subject then turned to the authority as if asking what to do and the authority told him to continue. If the subject seemed to doubt the authority told him that he would take responsibility.

Then the subject continued to shock the supposed victim past 300 volts until he went silent. This indicated the victim was either unconscious or dead. Still the subject did not cease. He continued to increase the voltage clear up to 450 which would mean that if the victim was not dead yet this would surely kill him.

The interesting thing is that if this was a real happening, the subject would not only have killed another human being which was against every teaching that he believed in, but he would have also been brought up on murder charges. It is scary that even that possibility did not deter the subject from following authority.

The funny thing about these experiments is that the scientists predicted that only one out of a thousand would follow an authority to shock up to 450 volts, but 65% went that far and 100% of the subjects went up to 300 volts, which is still enough to kill.

Thus we have a great example of the true mark of the beast on the right hand - the willingness to follow blind authority no matter what the consequences.

The interesting thing is that very few people know themselves well enough to know whether or not they would administer the 300 or more volts to an innocent brother. Most would think that they would never do such a thing, but are they right? Remember, 100% of those in the experiment yielded to the authority.

The thing is that most do not trust their own instincts and as a matter of resolve have come to allow themselves to follow the blind authority of the majority way of thinking. Democratic process and all being facts and numbers which delegate the reality of life, and facts and numbers that are propagated by the voice of authority.
The internet has become the easiest source of available knowledge and gossip for the mind to rest upon.
Statistics show us that foreign countries such as Japan China and India are turning out more graduates with Phd's than the U.S. As a power we are fast being absorbed into an new world order that is growing its children in boxes of electronic illusions. Gameboys, Xbox, Ipods,Television and internet not to mention movies have given the U.S. a new status of being the best entertained (distracted) society in the world.
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coberst
post Mar 16, 2008, 11:58 PM
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Joesus

All very interesting and disquieting. The herd instinct is apparently a very strong force acting upon our species. I suspect that this force may send us all over the cliff before too long. Our financial problems we see today may be another example of this characteristic.
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maximus242
post Mar 17, 2008, 07:34 AM
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The interesting thing is that the army no longer needs to recruit people through the draft... they have a much more effective way of getting people to join the army.

Video games. Many blockbuster hits in the video game industry are actually funded by the united states army, which is used as a way of 'encouraging' people to join the army.

One has to wonder what will happen once virtual reality games enter into widespread distribution.

Your post Joesus is of course very unnerving, I suppose this also expands on the idea that truth is an opinion.
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Joesus
post Mar 17, 2008, 09:18 AM
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Relative truths are founded by beliefs and short sighted opinions.
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