Disability and Prosthetics Beyond Utility and Function

  • Post Category:Draft Papers

Presented at Nordic Network Gender Body Health conference ‘Disability, Arts and Health’, Bergen University, Bergen, 1-2 September 2016. This is a work in progress and not for citation.


Technologies are not mere external utilities, but are profoundly involved within human development. Explanation of such involvement takes various forms. Like natural and social artefacts, technologies have a historical development, and can acquire metaphysical baggage. One way to conceptualise technology is prosthesis: a tool—from a flint or a hammer, to language—that extends or enables capacities. I’ll discuss prosthesis as a human-technology relation, and consider three such conceptualisations—instrumentalism, Bernard Stiegler’s ‘originary technicity’, and Gilbert Simondon’s ‘concretisation’—and discuss their relevance to and potential for thinking about disability.