The idea of mechanical extensions of Man is closely linked to Fuller's concept of industrialization. It denotes the countless tools and artifacts which give our species the peculiar evolutionary advantage of designed adaptability to the environment.
Elucidation of this notion involves a certain amount of conceptual analysis concerning tools (Artificial Organs) and machines. This in turn leads to a congeries of problems about time (Mechanical Time), industrial civilization (Mechanical Advantage), and the self.
For Fuller, tools are mechanical extensions because,
"all tools are externalizations of originally integral functions" (Operating Manual, p.101).
This way of looking at tools is not new; 100 years earlier we could read the following:
"An instrument of labour is a thing, or a complex of things, which the worker interposes between himself and the object of his labour and which serves as a conductor, directing his activity onto that object. He makes use of the mechanical, physical and chemical properties of some substances as instruments of his power, and in accordance with his purposes. Leaving out of consideration such ready-made means of subsistence as fruits, in gathering which a man's bodily organs alone serve as the instruments of his labour, the object the worker directly takes possession of is not the object of labour but its instrument. Thus nature becomes one of the organs of his activity, which he annexes to his own bodily organs." (Marx, 1867, p.285)
See Artificial Organs.
THE FULLER MAP
© Paul Taylor 2001