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.
This paper largely concerns grounding concepts that inform medical and social theories of impairment. It discusses impairment in relation to normal function, including its identification as a deviation from normal health. It then draws upon phenomenological concepts to develop an alternate account of embodiment, as always already dependent upon relations with things outside itself. It posits that ‘normal ability’ is consequently a socio-historical elaboration rather than an objectively existing state of aﬀairs, and that the accompanying prioritisation of some modes of embodiment over others creates the phenomenon called disability. Finally, it outlines an alternative framework that eschews reference to transcendent norms for grounding in capacities and goals, however atypical, of embodied agents.