The ways in which our bodies and minds work together govern the way in which we interact with the world. Our entire perception of our surroundings is governed by the physical limitations of our bodies and the way we have evolved to experience our world. A piece of granite appears completely solid to our senses, despite the fact that we know it to be almost completely made of nothing…
Dualism, the separation between mind and body goes back a long time in philosophy, certainly to the greeks. Descartes regarded the mind as being made of different stuff res cogens, having no spatial extent unlike our bodies, which like the rest of the material world are res extens, things of extent that can be measured and located. Debates about the physical nature of mind and consciousness continue to this day [[**add-notes**]], but certainly mind and body are intimately linked, and the brain, as the seat of the mind, is very much res extens. So whilst writing about the body, it is hard not to include the mind and vice versa, but we will try to look at each separately, before bring them together. And of course, except for a small number of technologies,
However, dualism does not stop at body/mind, perhaps more fundamental still is the distinction between ourselves and others. We interact with others in and through the physical world; and technology is changing this picture, sometimes taking us further apart, sometimes bringing us together. At an organisational and cultural level, physicality becomes more diffuse. While a country has borders and territory, where, in Descartes’ terms, is the res extens of a multi-national corporation, or an artistic movement?
LED Wand displays are a good example of computers being exploited efficiently by exploiting the way we see. A line of Light Emitting Diodes are individually switched on and off in a controlled sequence, governed by the known ‘frame rate’ of the human eye. They are then waved back and forth at relatively high speed so that we perceive each light in more than one position at a time. In this way what is actually physically occurring and how we perceive it are quite different.
(Image source – sorry, didn’t note it. I have a fan that I can take a photo of if necessary)