Francesco Parisi

The electric man. Material engagement theory and the case of electromagnetism

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Material Engagement Theory; Extended Mind; Brain Machine Interfaces; Hyper-Embodied Cognition; Disembodied Cognition.

In this paper I will apply Material Engagement Theory (MET) developed by Lambros Malafouris (2013) to the case of electromagnetism. The very basic idea proposed by MET is that our cognition is the outcome of a «constitutive intertwining» between agents and things. Technologies we are surrounded by are not outcomes of a pre-existing representational project, but opportunities for our cognition to be altered. I wish to use the three core intuitions constituting the theoretical nexus of MET - the extended mind hypothesis, the enactive sign, and material agency - to articulate the discussion about the case of electromagnetism. As result of this juxtaposition, I will show the intrinsic extending nature of electric devices in Brain Machine Interfaces; secondly, I will offer elements for placing side by side the enactive engagement postulated by MET with the transparent engagement possibly caused by electromagnetic-based technologies; thirdly, I will propose some possible implications for a material agency where agents and things are regulated by the same medium, by proposing two different metaphorical descriptions of the self: hyper-embodying selves (selves who will massively embody some elements of the environment) vs disembodying selves (selves who will be able to exist beyond the body). I will finally offer some arguments for supporting the hyper-embodying self condition.

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