For Hass (1970) to call tools "artificial organs" is to imply more than a metaphorical relation. As extensions of the body, they place certain demands on the nervous system as the price of their utility.
In commodity-ridden societies,
individuals "may easily surround themselves with more artificial organs than their central nervous system can master successfully they may be presented with too many opportunities and too many consequent obligations",
with the possible result that a kind of cerebral discord prevents the satisfaction that a wealth of artificial organs might seem to promise. (p.197)
Contemporary with Fuller and Hass, Marshall McLuhan took such ideas further. In his terminology, the extensions of man are all media.
In "Understanding Media" he suggested that,
"any invention of technology is an extension of our physical bodies, and such extension also demands new ratios or new equilibriums among the other organs and extensions of the body" (1964, p.55).
The upshot is that,
"by continuously embracing technologies, we relate to them as servomechanisms. That is why we must, to use them at all, serve these objects, these extensions of ourselves, as gods or minor religions" (p.56).
However, not all tools are artificial organs: see Non-Prosthetic Tools.
Should we distinguish between tools and machines?
See also Dawkins' argument in "The Extended Phenotype".
THE FULLER MAP
© Paul Taylor 2001