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Advancing the Human Self

Do Technologies Make Us “Posthuman”?


Ewa Nowak

Do technologies advance our self-identities, as they do our bodies, cognitive skills, and the next developmental stage called postpersonal? Did we already manage to be fully human, before becoming posthuman? Are we doomed to disintegration and episodic selfhood? This book examines the impact of radical technopoiesis on our selves from a multidisciplinary perspective, including the health humanities, phenomenology, the life sciences and humanoid AI (artificial intelligence) ethics. Surprisingly, our body representations show more plasticity than scholarly concepts and sociocultural narratives. Our embodied selves can withstand transplants, bionic prostheses and radical somatechnics, but to remain autonomous and authentic, our agential potentials must be strengthened – and this is not through ‘psychosurgery’ and the brain–computer interface.

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III. Body Representationism Between Permanent Loss and Recovery of the Identity

III. Body Representationism Between Permanent Loss and Recovery of the Identity

1. Body Representation Then and Now

Humans achieve a twofold somatic self-identification, e.g., body image and body schema. On the basis of visual, tactile, and other kinds of sensory perception, humans deal with their body’s surface, and all the qualities of their physiognomy as corporeal living beings and embodied selves as well, i.e., with their manifest outer presence, location in the world, intercorporeality, and, finally, crosscorporeality and spectral reality. Even disembodied, philosophizing271 entities sometimes manifest features such as posture, skin texture and color, facial expressions, mimicry, gestures, size difference (e.g., between weight loss and weight gain), gender marks, ethnicity, and further detailed traits of body surface also contribute to our body representation. It is philosophy of mind and phenomenology that pioneered research on our somatic self-identification conditioned by visual and tactile/haptic perception, resulting in the claim that there is an assembly of morphemes, organs, physical qualities, looks, etc. that I experience as mine. Claiming “I am my body” and “the body is a natural self and, as it were, the subject of perception”272 are phenomenological conclusions made in the face of experiences such as spontaneous motility, reflexive or intentional activity and reactivity, etc. Phenomenology, anthropology, and the cognitive sciences are highlighting that our own body image and body schema also need not be integral, holistic, or absolutely rigid. Early Greek artistic and literary representations suggest their fascination with fragmented bodies and physiognomies. According to Snell, the Homeric body was not conceptualized as an “organic unity” nor “qua body, but merely as the sum total of his limbs”273 – one more prerequisite for the historicity of body image. The idea of integrity and the importance of human physiognomy was born together with ←75 | 76→the magical and religious topos of physiognomy divination, natural (“unprovoked”) or artificial (“provoked”).274 In about the second millennium BC, many Mediterranean cultures (but not all) learned to examine personal physiognomy “as a signifier” and vehiculum of supernatural, eschatological, and messianic meanings, developing precise biometric instruments and giving birth to such disciplines as physiognomics, biometry, and body conventionalization. In general, all those disciplines focused from outside on manifest physiognomy, doing so in a holistic way and producing “the physiognomic descriptions of ‘ideal types’ of individuals. These descriptions of the human body are structured according to the a capite ad calcem principle, i.e. they run from head to toe,”275 and they seek indications of people’s attitudes, characters, ethnic origins, etc., as Popović shows. The pseudo-Aristotelian Physiognomica anticipated the contemporary psychosomatic and phenomenological approach to the embodied self, as one may read there that the “soul and body react to each other; when the character of the soul changes, it changes also the form of the body, and conversely, when the form of the body changes, it changes the character of the soul (…) Now if this is true (and it is invariably so), then it should be possible to physiognomize.”276 There is a lot of textual evidence for human beings’ interest in their bodily representations, and there is enough experiential evidence to claim that events such as learning how to dance, playing an instrument in an orchestra, navigating such a huge vehicle as a transoceanic liner and confronting dysmorphic disorder – and experiences such as having an allograft transplant, intelligent prostheses, and physical modifications which provide us with neomorphic bodies – strongly challenge a person’s “natural” body representation, so that one may assume that body image and body schema are parts of our identities evolving under human technesis. However, there is no strict distinction between the humanizing impact of technologies on the human species in the process of making itself increasingly different to other natural species, and creating its own, human (or at least hyphenated, e.g., animal-human) lifeworld whose nature is both cultural and artificial. We are continuously generating and engineering our world to humanize our being-in-the-world (Humanisierung of Daseins),277 and that has a strong impact on all the layers of body representation. Let us ←76 | 77→try to detect a breakthrough in our own body representations, where humanization transforms into post-humanization or dehumanization. Does it happen only when a human being becomes a “neohuman,” i.e., when, having had her entire previous body ‘amputated’, she receives a hybrid, genetically engineered embodiment,278 or has it already occureed when a human begins to imitate and to respond to the behaviors of artificial devices, when such a novel habituation deprives her of her originally human, or at least personal, habits? Is a bionic man still human, or is he already transhuman? Or, is it rather the case that embodiment is an integral part of the mind, and the mind is an integral part of embodiment, whereas all the secondary, artificial replacement parts, extensions, improvements, etc. belong instead to the landscape of soma? Supposing this is so, how can they be integrated with one’s own body image and one’s own body schema as well? There is a convincing answer to this question, suggested by Hans Jonas: our body representations involve more complex content, shape, facets, and potentials than a simple mirror image, and they are not inflexibly assigned to a body. It is plastic–vulnerable and, simultaneously, tractable. It is much more an open microcosm than a body itself. One of the first implications of the permanent impact of technopoiesis on body image is that an inherent somatic equilibrium no longer matters or was lost. There was some equilibrium in our natural, human bodies, according to Leonardo da Vinci.279 This is no longer the case with our techno bodies.

Semantically, the term ‘natural’ is to be interpreted as belonging to natural, empirical, experiential reality, and being corporeal. Although our natural self, i.e., our living and lived body, is not only an object we have and which we apply as an instrument, but it is also a vehicle of our subjectivated being in the world. Body image and body as a corporeal entity are distinct phenomena, and their relationship is not that of mirror and original. A body image based on the testimonies of the senses of sight, hearing and touch can, in extreme cases, despite having such powerful experiential foundations, be almost completely detached from its bodily prototype, and live its own life, detached from actual and authentic ←77 | 78→perceptions,280 kept alive by sociocultural imagery and a person’s imagination. To some extent, my own body image is a product of my mind, and to some other extent it is a product of other persons, social discourses, expectations, ideologies, conventions, etc. I share it with other spectators, as almost all manifest attributes are constantly processed, mediated, reshaped, and reattributed to ‘me.’ This occurs within perceptual, narrative, and discursive interrelations, as well as within practical281 interactions with at least three kinds of environmental factors intertwined: natural, socio-cultural, and technological. The relational, constantly redistributed, reformed, and shared nature of my self increases in the era of advanced technopoiesis.282 As a result, from the very beginning one is an environmentally involved and socially networked perceiver of one’s own bodily individuality. Despite this contextual nature of self-perception, the latter “is not something rare and unusual.”283 According to Gibson, “egoreception accompanies exteroception like the two sides of a coin (…) One perceives the environment and coperceives oneself.”284 The ecological paradigm of the self is a relevant contribution not only to the cognitive sciences, but also to the perception of extended and modified body, for example by persons with physical disabilities equipped with intelligent prostheses, and persons with artificial devices extending their functionalities.

Except for the contents mentioned above, body image involves conceptual, ideal, and abstract facets. The genuine notion of idea/eidon has no longer just a double meaning – today it has a triple meaning: 1) image, 2) concepts, ideals, shapes expressed in a narrative way, e.g., the storied and re-storied, imaged or re-imaged body; 3) virtual imagery media creations, filters, and illusions: they provide an alternative to the entire culture of perception and depreciate ←78 | 79→immediate sensuality.285 The human mind is fitted with the ability to focus on all three aspects and to derive an image from its concrete bodily referent. This ability can be compared to what Hans Jonas calls the pictorial faculty. This entails that we design and re-design, story and re-story own and other persons’ bodies. We also appraise appearance, figure, body proportions, qualities, skills, strength, size, height, and motions, that is, bodily condition, as Alphonso Lingis does in his essay “How One Feels, How One Looks” (2005). The body as a shaped matter and a fixed, motionless, passive material object does not speak; it is unable to story itself. Despite this passivity, narrative somatherapy advocates the nonverbal, direct narratives “generated by the body.”286 According to Gallagher and Hutto,287 there is no link between body sensations and any consistent semiotics. Rather, the body narrative consists of incoherent autoreferring symptoms.

A body in motion, a body that behaves, acts, and interacts with its environment, seems to “speak” in its peculiar, individual, or even private language. Sometimes it repeatedly finds proximity to another body to learn and follow its language and game rules. It develops choreographies: some of them are just specific for humankind, some others are culture-related, or typical for a given social practice, or truly original and unique. Learning how to dance and developing one’s own artistic style of dancing are two very different stages of the same practice, and two different contributions to one’s own body image (and body schema as well). Performing professional activities and following social conventions also contributes to the own body image as a dynamic, interactive phenomenon. The term “interactive” means interactions with material environments, instruments, devices, etc., as well as those with other intelligent agents, social institutions, etc.

The ability to narrate over that dynamic bodily phenomenon and to produce body pictures, e.g., drawings, photographs, virtual profiles, and other “representational artifacts,” as Gallagher and Hutto put it, may also empower the body image. We can permanently restory our bodies, and the plot of experiences, perceptions, and other episodes around our body evolves all the time. However, body narratives, pictures, profiles, etc. can exist without their original corporeal referents. They can even be shared by more than one person and other ←79 | 80→“users,” including virtual and robotic. According to Mennecke and Peters, “the term mavatars is specifically used to describe the biometric representation that is used for the particular function of representing the embodied persona, which includes not only the biometric data about the target but also the behavioral and contextual profile that defines the user’s identity from the vendor’s, marketer’s, or system’s perspective. As such, mavatars are more than merely biometric data; it is the ‘package’ that comes with building a biometric profile associated with the user’s personal profile of preferences, behaviors, and history.” A mavatar – the authors continue – can be freely “created, managed, and used”288 by profilers. Body images also get institutionalized, as soma-techniques, soma-aesthetics, and soma-normativities (such as dress code, dietary or gym discipline which sometimes determine social inclusion or exclusion)289 show this. Sometimes they support individual somatic identity, sometimes they don’t. Some narratives and discourses imply objectifying, normalizing, persuasive, manipulative, discriminative, and oppressive (social, cultural, legal, political, and even cosmopolitical) discourses. A powerful body discourse is strong enough to reshape personal bodies, or even to disinherit preoriginal owners from their ownership: “Culture critics call it a strategy to change the image, and thus the status (…) – an operation of empowerment, a politics.”290 In order to strengthen ourselves in our natural right to own body, one should avoid all kinds of reification, e.g., living one’s own body as an object, instrument, and property, and start living it more subject-like, with implications for body image and body narratives. Otherwise one’s body image – and the body itself – would become a “social body” and “body politic,” or it would absorb imaginary elements of cultural, medical, and gender body policies, or it would mirror our body state from the past, as it was memorized years ago with no update from current body perceptions and experiences. A political body image may imply depersonalization or even a reduction to a “brute body” and “passive and material container.”291 To be a core, integral part of self and identity, it should remain as authentic as possible.292 This is exactly what ←80 | 81→is challenging for contemporary people: how to preserve bodily authenticity and resist the body imagery powered by advanced technologies?293 Humanity is used to observing, reading, assessing, and measuring the body as our exterior being. Lingis created an adequate phenomenological self-narrative schema just to approach how such elements delude our soma-aesthetic self-awareness and how they upset personal self-esteem. This schema confirms my previous hypotheses: 1) a body representation incorporates the inherent tendency to break away from the bodily referent and live its own life – increasingly often; 2) life can be someone else’s and alienated because it’s not our own perception or even imagination that contribute to our own body image; and 3) this body image, which lives its own life, but also a bit of someone else’s, is able to nest itself in our consciousness, to continue its transformation under the influence of the environment, media, technology; and finally, 4) such a body image can have an oppressive impact on the sense of somatic identity, as it is attached as a “correction” to the practices and techniques through which we refer to our own embodiment. Perhaps the majority of people perceive their body through a filter, in other words the image that is imposed on the current, everyday perception of themselves. The power of this image can be so overwhelming that it negates and invalidates the current appearance produced by the mind, based on the data provided by sight, hearing, and touch:

Our bodies continually visualize themselves. Psychologists have studied the ‘body image’ – that quasi-visual sense of that our body has of itself, which does not necessarily coincide with the objective size and shape of the body – that is, the others’ perceptions of it: an amputee has a phantom limb, an anorexic sees herself as fat. It is (…) a postural diagram of that body (…) A body on the bed, its limbs settling by gravity, its postural axis contracted into the orientation and focus of the eyes only, generates a quasi-visual image.294

Shusterman and Lingis consider both body representations that are adequate to sensual testimonies and body (and bodily competence) representations that depart from the perceptions that can be described as authentic and realistic. Additionally, Shusterman refers to Simone de Beauvoir, who stresses the emancipatory “power and efficacy” of “increased bodily competence,”295 particularly ←81 | 82→in women, seniors,296 persons with disabilities, etc. However, increasing bodily competence may result in disempowerment and further ambiguous results. In the diagnostics of the mental (especially cognitive) causes of anorexia and bulimia, there is a famous experiment involving the use of the sense of sight, in which patients lie on the floor or lean against the wall, and the doctor draws the contour of their body with chalk. Confronted with the size of their body, the patients are most often surprised that this size is much smaller than the size of the body image that they had fixed in their minds. Another experiment involving the sense of touch involves patients first touching 3D spatial figures and then being asked to draw them on a 1:1 scale. Those who draw objects of sizes different from their natural size turn out to suffer from impaired perception of their own body.297 Lingis moves smoothly from visual perception to proprioception, from body ←82 | 83→image to body schema (which may be legitimate from a phenomenological point of view, but is not entirely correct from the point of view of cognitive science), and, finally, to complex existential feelings. He shows how the ‘inner’ diagnostician works in everyday self-experience, functioning and malfunctioning, abled and disabled, relaxed and fatigued, trained and untrained, perfect and imperfect, natural and technologically enhanced:298 “When her body is functioning normally, the inner feeling she has of it is vague and stale (…) The undifferentiated and stale feeling is what she wakes up to each morning and immediately recognizes. It is what makes her feel that she is still herself.”299 How is such a look/feel from inside possible? It was described in the new phenomenology and neurocognitive theory: they both argue for a dual-layer bodily structure and the resulting dual-layer experience. This experience is only possible as an interplay between inside and outside, inner and outer, living and lived, experiencing and experienced, subjective and objective aspects of the human body, as a highly intelligent agent’s embodiment. For Persson, “it is because one’s proprioceptive or somatosensory awareness is an awareness not just of surfaces, but of this 3D solidity, that one can feel bodily sensations – like pains and pangs of hunger – inside one’s body, somewhere in-between where one feels.”300

The body’s ‘normal’ state301 means that no change is perceived in the body by one’s proprioceptors. The body disappears from one’s actual experiential horizon. In contrast, through excessive physical efforts, movements, impairments, and ailments, changes can be noted. Usually, such occasional changes do not revise our lasting body image, which is resistant to temporary changes. However, as was previously mentioned, the medical sciences are familiar with the resistance of a personal body image to realistic body size and attribute this to anorexia nervosa.302

Managing a body image in abstracto and plasticizing was already known in pretechnological cultures. According to Nicholas Vlahogiannis, “clothing and make-up will change appearance temporarily. Permanent forms of alteration might include body sculpting, be it the swaddling and reshaping of a newborn into a desirable shape; the corsets and tight-lacing popular in the Victorian age; ←83 | 84→working out in the gymnasium; plastic surgery; or tattooing. In a sense, each of these measures fulfills Claude Lévi Strauss’s observation that humans transform the body into a product of its own techniques and representations,”303 and that this has been done from time immemorial. Enhancing, disabling, or just radically reshaping our own body are the results of an idealistic body image becoming true. Do humans ever have an adequate body image or self-image? Or do they rather constantly create and re-create their body image for their holistic self-knowledge, which is unfinished, involving natural bodily and mental aspects as well as artificial bodily and mental ones? According to Lingis, “The body is a natural self and, as it were, the subject of perception (…) and experience. But people do not always adequately perceive their own bodies. They do not always feel adequately embodied. In the literature one can find a description of a variety of reasons for ignoring certain internal organs, limbs, elements of looks, etc.”304 The fact that certain organs, qualities, traits, etc. might be overlooked, neglected, or “excluded from the body image,”305 while other morphemes and organs are inflated and oversized, contributes to a startling argument. It shows that our body image and our natural body shape do not always harmonize with one another. Both can be inaccurate. Sometimes the causes of an inaccurate body image lie in brain lesions and neuropathies, which are responsible for the incorrect processing of visual information by the brain. A properly functioning brain creates a body image based on visual perception, hearing, touch, etc. Visible or palpable changes to those parts of the body, informed by senses, are reflected in the image, or in other words, the representation of one’s own body, created by a mind. If the brain regularly captures a relatively similar set of information, the representation of the body is fixed and stored in the corresponding neural correlate. But sometimes it is the body which is inaccurate, and patients follow their body image to reshape their corporeality with the use of radical surgery and technologies. In July 2018, the thirty-two-year-old Adam C., a cancer survivor with albinism, and 90 % of his body surface (including eyeballs) covered in tattoos to cover blemishes stated: “I have a specific vision for myself and I do it step by step.” Assisted by his girlfriend, he travelled to Jardines Clinical Hospital in Guadalajara. Removing ←84 | 85→his nipples and intimate parts was an integral element of his own body vision. Adam’s look “is not to everyone’s taste,”306 it is to his taste, and those who are supportive of his efforts to recover himself, the local media related.

Is the human mind unable to create an adequate body representation, following the principle of adaequatio rei et intellectus? How does such an image arise, after all? To get an explanation corresponding to the current state of the art, one should distinguish between realistic and cognitive traditions in the imaginative pictorial faculty theory as, respectively, an ability to depict objects, or an ability to apply imagine schemas. According to the cognitive tradition, a figure/image does not mirror reality, and neither does it depict our body. It “is not a picture of how the world looks like, but just a schema that can be complemented with more details about its constituents (…) Image schemas are often just geometric or topological structures.”307 We embody them or even consciously apply them in a creative, artistic-like way. A “self-representation without mirroring as a conscious technique of visual embodiment can be traced back to the roots of philosophical and scientific reasoning.”308

The human mind contains a self-image schema that can be completed with various experiential content. A schema cannot be completed a priori, for nobody has ready, innate representations of themselves in their minds. As the schema is completed on the basis of experience, the “I” becomes a controlling agent as, according to Will Johncock, “such an interpretation duly posits a cognitive agent who possesses control over their corporeality, whereby the body becomes a self-construction of a presiding subject.”309 In other words, a body image does ←85 | 86→not arise ex nihilo, but is shaped on the basis of a cognitive structure filled with data, i.e., experiential content. However, personal perceptions, impressions, experiences, etc. are not the sole source content. Our perception and cognition seem to work in an assemblage comprising three components course, namely as sensus particulares, sensus communis, and sensus caecus. According to Valéry and Lacan, individuals pattern their self-representations upon other individuals and vice versa; hence all self-representations become more and more interpersonal and impersonal. “Who, then, is the spectator whose perception of the body ‘creates’ the body. The delineation of the spectator, of the spectator’s body, their differentiation from the observed, the observed’s body, is not so clear as we might have imagined.”310

The abilities of creative perception and perceptual creation, as well as the virtual extensions offered by advanced digital technologies, seem to undermine the classic paradigm of one’s own body and its eidos pioneered by Aquinas311 and Origen, and later advocated by phenomenology. It also contradicts contemporary developments in biometrics312 and the simplified approach to narcissism. For true narcissism does not refer to one’s own preoriginal “vulnerable, corruptible, and finite biological” embodiment, but rather to a “narcisstic relationship where one does not see the other” or even oneself as such, but “one sees oneself in the gaze of the other.”313 Still, it supports the implications of biometrics for contemporary human endeavors to attain a perfect body, which, again, implies the absorption of the first-person perspectivism by social imagery, cultural ideals, nomological standards, and environmental factors, or at least the interdependency between an individual living being and its habitat. It may imply reductionism, inertia, reification, and biopolitical violence – even annihilation – when the “I” stops contributing actively to its interrelations with the world around. In Merleau-Ponty’s terms, it then stops being a prime mover and an interactive ←86 | 87→agent of intercorporeality. In such a case, an individual embodied self is regarded as an epiphenomenon or an effect of external factors.

Perceiving and being perceived in a way that implies a weakening of the “egological”314 perspective can be examined in the light of epistemological and ontological dualism. According to this long-standing tradition, there are two kinds of corporeality in which a human being can be incarnated. The first one is the terrestrial, temporary, false corporeality regarded as the soul’s prison and neglected in neo-Platonic and early Christian traditions. The second one is celestial, eschatological, true corporeality (in other cultures, ritually impure and pure bodies, respectively). It is an almost spiritual and mystic body that corresponds with our true self. For some thinkers, the reunion with our true self (including the body depicted in the corresponding eternal eidos315) will occur after death. For some others it may occur through the transformation to an ascetical lifestyle, anticipating a posthumous condition, for it allows the real body to be purified of its organic, physiological and sexual features, as well as other mundane ones. This strengthens our “self” so that it can ritually transition to a true, ideal, blessed body as it was (and still is) practiced in religious contexts.316 However, such a transition between true/false, sacral/profane, weak/strong, material/spiritual, contingent/eternal, “tyrannizing”/”liberating,”317 etc. bodies usually implied the negation of the “false” in the name of the “true.” According to Agamben and de Rougemont, a “false imagination” of a true self resulted in self-destructive tendencies, reverse epistemologies and ontologies, and is associated with the disintegration of conditio humana in various cultures, including contemporary Western psychology. What was projected on one’s own, natural, terrestrial, and temporary body image was its ideal, ultimate, and eternal version, additionally legitimized by the Holy Scripture’s narratives, such as the Song of the Songs, and the Road to Damascus, on which Saul converted to his true self, to finally became Paul of Tarsus. One may note here that this kind of projection is different than the image of others and the collective “eyes,” in which we narcissistically mirror ←87 | 88→ourselves, as some existentialist phenomenologists and psychoanalysts claim, especially in the concept of the super–ego. There is, however, the third kind of projection invented in the era of technological imagery, named Technopoiesis. Denis de Rougeamont and especially Kitaro Nishida were among the first to examine the Western “form (eidos)” of the self from the perspective of Eastern culture, where eidos means “something that can be called seeing the form of the formless and hearing the sound of the soundless. Our minds are compelled to seek for this. I would like to give a philosophical foundation to this demand,”318 Nishida declared in 1927. In contrast, being rooted in modern Western culture is strongly related to egological selfhood, which, among other things, manifests itself in making the body a perfect materialization and visualization of our self’s ideal, instead of just being embodied in it.

2. Body Representation Meets Technopoiesis (Hans Jonas Revisited)

Before revisiting Technopoiesis and its impact on the body image and bodily identity, let me briefly examine Jonas’ concept of body image (eidos) combined with idealized content, but no longer having anything in common with the medieval, static eidos of Origen, which “remains identical from infancy to old age” and guarantees “the identity of resurrected body.”319 Jonas breaks with these eschatological traditions, identifying an ingenerate ability rooted in the human mind, which is responsible for autopoietic creativity. The term “autopoietic” means here an intelligent, creative power called genius with no additional technological support.

Jonas describes an organic, individual, living–and–lived human body, with its vulnerability, contingency (or “the combination of necessity and contingency,”)320 and changeability, including unique potentialities. Selected potentials can be realized by autopoietic freedom or realized and even enhanced by technopoietic freedom, as long as the latter does not diminish, disfigure, or displace other potentials. As an illustrative example, Jonas describes the cybernetic devices that were originally designed to assist human beings in specific activities and relieve them of the burden of excess work. However, autonomous intelligent ←88 | 89→devices – e.g., robots undertaking responsible, socially relevant decisions – deprive man and society of some of the autonomy and responsibility that Jonas considers to be the inalienable moral attributes of a human being. In other words, anthropology and cybernetics are mutually exclusive, and the latter is, according to Jonas, a dead-end in the development of technology: this development is an expression of human autonomy, but it ultimately turns against this autonomy.

Since the loss of autonomy often passes unnoticed by human beings, it is the duty of philosophy and ethics to remind them of the meaning of the human condition in situations where they imperceptibly abandon autopoiesis for technopoiesis, and instead of preserving and extending liberty – begin to lose it. However, this implication is related rather to the anthropological image of humanity than to human self-representation and body image. In terms of the latter phenomena, Jonas created a very interesting concept, which is worth mentioning here.

The self-representation of humans is no longer provided by an extra-mundane Creator; rather, it originates immanently from a human mind. Jonas’ conception extends the phenomenology of corporeality invented by Aquinas; the resulting body image anticipates the most recent approaches in the cognitive sciences and new phenomenology. Still, Jonas belongs to the defenders of the body as a manifestation of zoe, bios, and life. When his position is compared to the theorists of “embodied Technesis,”321 he sees all experiential, intellectual, symbolic, etc. abilities as genuine human abilities, and not technological, or post- and transhuman ones. Nor is he a follower of Descartes; his post-dualist ontology protects his anthropology from the disrespect of organic/bodily res extensa as an aggregation of replaceable, cog-like parts. In this regard, more than in any other, he is a bio-conservative and provides no room for technological impact “between the ‘I’ and the ‘me’ (the ego),”322 including the bodily ‘I’ and the organic, fleshy ‘me.’ The latter could easily be alienated, instrumentalized, reified, multiplied, and replaced, etc. Heidegger and Jonas warned humankind of the dangers of a disintegrated self-representation and a split “Dasein,” while Benjamin, Lacan, Guattari, and others tried to reintegrate the technologically extended human “Dasein.”

To Jonas, eidetic perception is one of the core abilities defining human cognitive freedom. This kind of freedom evolves in such a way that it results in a huge ←89 | 90→potential of plasticity, which cannot be found in nonhuman living beings. Most probably, such beings rather develop their subconscious body schema but not a body representation, or a multivariate concept of themselves. With human beings, there is a difference between their “actual organism,”323 (soma) which is involved in interrelations with its environment, and the individualized, personal embodiment with its unique biography. We may have a clinical picture of the somatic condition, the physical organization of selected morphemes, the functions of organs, etc., including X-ray, magnetic resonance, and advanced microscopy imaging molecular structures and microprocesses. Advanced medical diagnostics is able to reconstruct “the organism’s experiences and achievements in its lifelong dealings with the environment” and “the germ history”324 so that the individual can achieve a corresponding eidos of its own somatic condition.

Homo Pictor is also able to recognize herself as a human being with her individual posture, appearance, and expression. These humans produce an explicit static image (das Bild ist inaktiv und in Ruhe)325 despite the fact that their existence is dynamic (motility, expression, etc.) and the perceptual and conceptual activities of the human mind are permanently working. Strictly speaking, this provides its owner with two kinds of body image: 1) a static and “long term body image” or “the long-standing sense of what my body looks like,”326 as Gallagher and O’Shaugnessy will assert later, consisting of certain invariants, for which the presence and structure regularly certify other perceptual acts, and 2) a “short term body image”327 permanently updated by actual perception. For the record, we perceive our body’s surface, except for our face: because we can see it only in a mirror reflection. According to Jonas, a perceptual and, at the same time, conceptual body image is ‘static,’ for it only reflects and preserves one, selected (abstracted) scene of the continual, dynamic staging of our body (im Bilde ist der Kausalnexus durchgeschnitten).328 But what is particularly interesting in Jonas’ notion of body representation is that, due to the act of abstraction, the human mind is free to apply and recontextualize that representation in any manner. Hence, representing my body (which, in fact, accompanies me interruptedly) and ←90 | 91→allowing me to recognize my body in its sameness (Rekognition des Selben oder Gleichen) all the time are not the sole functions of body image, at least not from the point of view of the creative human mind. At this juncture, Jonas maintains there is eidetic freedom of imagination and picturing in our mind (eidetische Freiheit der Imagination und des Bildens). Adaequatio imaginis ad rem, he argues, is prior to adaequatio intellectus ad rem.329 The mind, which reproduces states of things, potentially produces new ones, he emphasizes (die innere Gewalt über das Eidos)330 – with considerable consequences. It displays this skill in performative and pragmatic contexts such as self-control and command over one’s own body, including expression and motor activity; somaesthetics and somatechnics; handling of physical objects, using tools, cooperation, developing complex professional abilities, social habits, and, last but not least, creativity and auto-creativity (autopoiesis, technopoiesis) which require turning oneself into a project. According to Jonas, the eidetic skill is the very origin of specifically human freedom. Extending this freedom towards embodiment as humans’ outer Dasein, one may conceive of the latter to be “the crucial site where one’s ethos and values can be physically displayed and attractively developed, but it is also where one’s skills of perception and performance can be honed to improve one’s cognition and capacities for virtue and happiness.”331 Hence, following her own project of herself, a human being becomes, at least partly,332 a master of her condition in all the possible aspects which can be mastered and re-mastered. It turns out that her condition is not just predetermined or complete but embodies great potentialities to go much further. Therefore, it is not only a need or a lack (Mangel) that pushes human beings to invent technologies, as Herder and Gehlen claimed. It is not just a mythic hubris. It is, first and foremost, an inner potential revealed in the human being by its own eidetic ability responding to her needs. This potential manifests itself in eidetic ability too. Jonas describes its ambiguity with the metaphor of Pandora’s box, and he exemplifies this with numerous biomedical practices and experiments performed far beyond the scope of therapeutic aims to create a trans/posthuman, or an artificial humanoid Homunculus. A disintegrated, manipulated, phantasmagorical image of the human bodily condition is one of the major causes of this. Meanwhile, the human’s integral image (Integrität des Menschenbildes) should remain unviolable (für uns unantastbar ←91 | 92→sein sollte).333 Conditio humana, according to Jonas, constantly cries out for improvement, conservation, healing, suffering relief and care: “If I think about it in less ‘anthropomorphic’ terms, yes I do feel that my aids take care for me. (…) They (glasses, hearing aid) work in collaboration with my eyes and my ears (…) I think some of the tuff I was saying in the first couple of paragraph is about being ‘in denial’ – I don’t actually want to acknowledge my dependency and articulating the fact that they (glasses, hearing aids) do take care of me means I do have to admit that I am dependent upon them, and increasingly so.”334

But, Jonas warns, “do not try to be a creator of our Being’s roots, on the origins of its secret” (aber versuchen wir nicht, an der Wurzel unseres Daseins, am Ursitz seines Geheimnisses, Schöpfer zu sein).335 Despite Jonas’ appeals, the opposite occurs, so that the classical image of man is becoming more and more “antiquated” (klassisches Bild vom Menschen als antiquiert).336 The preoriginal, authentic body image was produced by an individual’s perception and cognition, and involved issues added by authentic human fellows. In contrast, recent developments in technologies confront us with body representations that are disconnected from reality, perception, and foregoing cognition. They are neither mimetic reflections nor the constructs of individual and social perception. We are increasingly confronted with entirely artificial simulacra as virtual avatars and mavatars developed, updated, and managed by a set of algorithms on the basis of biometric data.337 “Here is a danger that we will lose the ability ←92 | 93→to define ourselves, having surrendered the definition of ourselves to the data gathering entities, often unregulated and beyond our control.”338 It is not only a body image, but a holistic profile of an embodied individual character, beyond his or her control, for it is operated by others, or, more exactly, by artificial intelligence.339 Merleau-Ponty gave us a prewarning: “Thinking ‘operationally’ has become a sort of an absolute artificialism, such as we see in the ideology of cybernetics, where human creations are derived from a natural information process, itself conceived on the model of human machines,”340 humanoid creatures, “Soul Machines”341 provided with highly creative programs not only to replace humankind in its homo faber condition but also to mimic it in its unique pictorial ability. The “Soul Machines” project managers clearly invite humans to a transhuman face-to-face relationship with avatars inspired by human physiognomy, expression, gestures, performative potentials, and, last but not least, interpersonal and social attitudes. They claim:

When we, as human beings interact face-to-face, it’s on the basis of both intellectual and emotional engagement (…) It’s something we do naturally. What if machines were able to do this with us as well? With their unprecedented level of intelligence and natural expressions, our life-like artificial humans can connect with us in a much more human way. By analyzing reactions and learning in real time they not only recognize emotional expressions but respond appropriately and interactively. Our emotionally intelligent artificial humans are opening the doors to a new era.342

Jonas expressed an analogous but far greater fear of such developments in his work The Imperative of Responsibility – In Search of an Ethics for the Technological Age. Here he strongly advocates for the “importance or power of subjectivity” cumulating in the pictorial faculty. “Subjectivity exists,” he argues in the vein of ←93 | 94→phenomenology, in its “dual, passive-active nature.”343 It is similar for the pictorial skill (and consciousness), which may reproduce or produce images and ideas. The twofold nature of the entirety of cognition corresponds with the “two-way relation” of an individual living being with the world. The input is one way, while the output is another way. In other words, while the ‘determined’ is a receptive and passive element, the determining is spontaneous and active. As images and ideas, mental phenomena can be determined by experience to further determine one’s existence and activity; but they may also originate “from nothing,” e.g., from a mind itself which is an epistemological trésor. “Our being as subjects has this double aspect and consists of receptivity and spontaneity,”344 Jonas claims. Reducing spontaneity would strengthen receptivity, making a human being into an “epiphenomenon.” No living being should be reduced to an epiphenomenon, especially the human. All living beings incorporate spontaneity, and in the case of humankind, spontaneity is involved in most advanced cognitive skills.

But what is the link between the double nature of our pictorial–and intelligent– ability and the representation of ourselves? The latter can evolve in line with an (even radical) project of ourselves without depriving us of subjectivity, spontaneity, and creativity. But creating artificial, intelligent devices in our human image and likeness would diminish the potentials of subjectivity dramatically. Currently, artificial intelligence displays an enhanced “human-like” countenance, silhouette, and profile; with calls to interacting with and mimicking it according to its images, ideas, rules, and habits.

In his late interview given to Norbert Lossau and entitled “Maschinen werden niemals ein Bewußtsein haben können” (1991), Jonas warns against such developmental trends, radically critiquing advancements in cybernetics and artificial intelligence. When asked how he would feel if he reserved a hotel room over the phone and discovered that his interlocutor was an artificial intelligence, Jonas answered: “I would be surprised at how far technology has progressed, but that would be no reason to worry.” However, when asked about his thoughts on “thinking machines,” he replied: “someone who treats this seriously, is confusing computation with reflection and consciousness.” Jonas was clearly against the CTM (computational theory of mind) in both human and artificial agents. He continually stressed the priority and inalienability of the pictorial ability, including self-reference, e.g., self-image and conceptual self-representation, and of the responsibility for all activities performed by an autonomous human ←94 | 95→being. To Jonas, sharing all these abilities (for example, social symbolic thinking, co-responsibility, etc.) was only possible with fellow human beings. Their functions should not be delegated to perfectly working artificial agents, and the intrinsic dignity of an individual subjectivity should not be treated disrespectfully and burned under social machinery (die große Bedeutung des einzelnen Individuums zugunsten einer möglichst reibungslos arbeitenden gesellschaftlichen Maschinerie untergraben würde, wäre das schlimm).345 Jonas was similarly skeptical in his assessment of the hypothetical impact of artificial life on humanity, subjectivity, and the self-representation of individuals – for we, humans, conduct our lives by following our representations and ideas. To summarize: according to Jonas, only human beings personify the ability to represent themselves in multiple ways as perceptual, proprioceptual, and conceptual. His conception of the corporeal representation of oneself even anticipates several aspects highlighted by de Beauvoir and Shusterman, such as the ego as a subjectivity aware of the representational, experiential, performative, interactive aspects of her cognition, which are also shared, but only with fellow humans.

3. Cognitive Sciences: Putting Together a Jigsaw

Body image might be partly perceptual, partly conceptual. Its theoretical conception has evolved over the last decades to become a complex and dynamic phenomenon. According to Gallagher, body image is a set of interrelated “perceptions, attitudes, beliefs, and dispositions pertaining to one’s own body. It can be characterized as involving at least three aspects: body percept, body concept, and body affect.”346 This perceptual and conceptual combination is relatively consistent and stable, but not monolithic. Gallagher mentions fragmentation (“partial representations of the body”),347 segmentation, and selectivity, by means of which a person draws attention to selected morphemes and areas of her body, inspecting and assessing their location, condition, functionality, etc. in an affectively marked way, while unconsciously omitting, consciously ignoring, or masking others. Still, she tries to give a different look or expression to other morphemes, by means of available care, training, reconstructive surgery, etc. Thus, “one’s body appears in consciousness with certain parts emphasized ←95 | 96→or singled out.”348 The specific characteristics of the body image entail that we perceive it “as clearly differentiated from its environment.”349 This means that perception, cognitive, and affective functions distinguish between our own body and alien matter and bodies, such as, for example, a transplant, an implant, or an artificial prosthesis (but also, e.g., objects and environments with which our own body interrelates). For Gallagher, in a conscious body image, there is no place for intercorporeality as understood by Merleau-Ponty, nor transcorporeality as in Shildrick.350 Intercorporeal, transcorporeal, and ecological interrelations rather have points in common with body schema. Perhaps, for this reason, taming the radical deformation of the body, injuries, teratologies, severe pain, and other foreign phenomena is such a great challenge for our own body representation. Our own and someone else’s eyes, as well as the expectations, prejudices, stereotypes, and outdated conventions hidden in the human mind, are an obstacle to the social acceptance of the impairments, losses, and pathology which we perceive and which we actively oppose. Waldenfels defines them as “radical foreignness” that reduces the subject to a passive, experiential me (patient), which, again, summons an active “I” response.

In phenomenology, however, such responsiveness was not always advocated strongly enough, especially when body image confronted physical disabilities. From Merleau-Ponty’s viewpoint, a missing limb or other morpheme impairs self-representation and self-esteem, and narrows down the human modus vivendi defined in terms of an experienced and practiced intercorporeal “being there:”

What is in us which refuses mutilation and disablement is an I commited to a certain physical and inter-human world, who continues to tend towards his world despite handicaps and amputations, and who, to this extent, does not recognize them de jure.351

Seemingly, Merleau-Ponty also distinguishes between a “passive” me and an active, subjective “I,” or “agent” who is not only able to detect a split between their lasting corporeal self representation and the actual one, but who is also able to act accordingly, and intentionally as well. The “I” may recognize the change or not. Her verdict results from a complex cognitive judgment. In the face of radical corporeal injury or limb loss, the verdict says ‘my body is inhuman’, since it is made from the human perspective. Even in patients with anomalous self-experience (such as schizophrenia) who perceive their bodies inadequately, a ←96 | 97→deeply embarrassing awareness of being “anomalous,” or “inhuman”352 arises. Their deep cognitive “I” enacts them, that is, it demands that they act adequately to their hallucinatory self-image, considered as absolutely ‘true.’ They also strive to repair and humanize their anomalous bodies, which, again, refers to their preoriginal, regular self-representation. “Moreover, all pathological subjective experiences are never purely deformed isolates, but are always embedded in the patient’s self-understanding, thus ultimately demanding from a psychiatrist to explore their subjective meaning and existential enaction.”353 Our corporeal self (“das leibliche Selbst” in terms of Waldenfels) remains involved in our mental self and vice versa. The two realities are deeply interwoven, but, at the same time, she may vividly experience and conceptualize her body, including appearance, in a way that is disconnected from objective perception and biometric reports. In such dramatic situations as schizophrenia and transplantation, the lack of inner “nuclear” self, identity, and existential orientation may evoke “feelings of being anonymous”354 or “being no one,”355 also in a phenomenological sense.

4. Disabled vs. Enhanced Body Representations

4.1 A Dysmorphic Body Image, Facial Allograft Transplantation and Personal Identity356

The dysmorphia that is associated with loss and reconstruction, and especially with allograft face transplants, would seem to be most fitting for illustrating the problem of dysmorphic body image. The majority of people who have undergone a transplant which covered over 80 % of their face and head area experienced a deep psychosomatic identity crisis.357 Maria Siemionow believes that by losing his or her face, a person “remains, internally, the same person that he or she was before.”358 However, other transplantologists reject this claim, referring to the testimonies of ←97 | 98→patients who experienced the dissolution of their (body image disaggregates), or who “found themselves in a dramatic existential crisis, compounded by the fear of further problems associated with the transplant of a new face belonging to someone else.”359 Therefore, the loss of the face drives a search for a face in general, instead of emptiness or drastic deformations and damage (including the lower jaw, palate, nose, ears, lips, eyelids, etc.). At the same time, potential transplant recipients are afraid of having a monstrous or grotesque appearance that would marginalize them socially. This reasoning also refers to the key function of the image and human self-image in the anthropological context. In the minds of patients, this context is absolutely the first condition for the reconstruction of their corporeal identity, and there is no question of crossing the border between the appearance of the human and the transhuman. This is due to the very strong relationship between the face and identity which has been nurtured by human beings.

Many see a transplant as offering a unique opportunity for life-improvement360 (a rebirth), the reintegration of psychosomatic identity,361 and the integration of corporeal self-representation on the basis of the external appearance,362 which above all covers the face as the central morpheme of the body in its external structure. Not all potential recipients are prepared to expose themeselves to the many risks, including loss of life, chronic infections, relapse of the immunosuppressive reaction,363 additional reconstructive surgery, lifelong medications, unforeseen side effects for the general health condition, etc. The process of qualifying the ←98 | 99→recipient is complicated. The ‘declaration of informed consent’ requires examination of the immunological age, numerous interviews to diagnose the individual’s ability to accept drastic changes, visual simulations,364 and other elements. In risk negotiations, the ease/difficulty in controlling the potential recipient’s previous deformations are taken into account.365 This allows conclusions to be drawn on how he or she will cope with the transplant. Psychologists are firstly interested in “who the candidate for transplantation was,”366 and only then in who he or she will become after the transplant. Specialists in the field of immunology, anesthesiology, transplantology, facial and orthognathic surgery and rehabilitation, etc., count on the fact that “pathologies, dysfunctions and other problems will be solved through case-by-case studies, by experts from many disciplines.”367

The accounts of people who have experienced a transplant of a vital organ constitute a record for the intercorporeal theory, which is materialized in the fact that the organ taken from the donor’s organism with its own somatic identity is merged with the recipient’s organism, which has its own separate identity. This may give rise to a sense of dual somatic identity, as well as a kind of dissociation:

On the lived-body account of personal identity, the body is a central part of identity. The body is not some object or house for the mind; it is part of the self. Hence, giving away an organ is like giving away a part of the self. In fact, organ recipients often describe the feeling of having someone else inside of them. The subjective experiences of organ ←99 | 100→recipients relate more closely to the lived-body account of identity than the psychological account. Organ recipients do not just feel that they have something that once belonged to someone else, they feel that they have part of someone else inside of them.368

The other materialized intercorporeality that accompanies face transplantation allografts can be considered as a more radical experience. The late Isabelle Dinoire (2016 †), the first recipient of a face transplant, at the sight of her own reflection in a mirror, a few weeks after the transplant (2005), confessed: “ ‘It will bever be me’ (…) ‘as for this face … it’s not me’ (…) A part of me and my identity disappeared forever. And I have precious memories of what I was”369 based on the body image that was captured in my memory. And yet despite the dissonance in the “landscape” of her then-current physiognomy,370 shaped by skin and subcutaneous tissue (“skin as barrier”), Dinoire was able to incorporate a transplanted morpheme into her functional identity, slowly discovering that she was able to eat strawberries again, close and open her mouth, blink, speak clearly, and – more often – smile. Over two years after the transplantation, Dinoire again commented on her appearance, proving that her assessment of her body image had become affirmative, despite the completely new morphological quality, and, above all, despite the radical split between her former and recent face image, and despite the deep split within her corporeal identity. Dinoire stated: “It’s someone else. Well it’s not the …, it’s not her [the donor], it’s not me, it’s another face.”371 She thereby pointed to another, third quality produced by surgical transplant technology, which in the context of somatic identity corresponds neither with the former embodiment of the donor, not the embodiment of the recipient. It is rather a completely new and poorly recognized intercorporeal phenomenon, which has so far only been experienced far by a few people – in particular the few face allograft recipients (I do not consider here the recipients of internal organs recipients, who do not see these organs, experiencing their peculiar presence through proprioception.) Furthermore, in the context of medical technologies, transplantology, reconstructive, and plastic surgery are distinct disciplines.372

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The experience of allotransplantation revolves around the confrontation of the body with a “foreign body,” with a number of organs, tissues, and cells that constituted the transplant and were organically merged with our own body, including the socially visible “landscape” created by the skin and subcutaneous tissue which is the physical exterior. This experience is not only personal; it is above all interpersonal: its material intercorporeality is a generator of social intercorporeality. The former is invariably associated with visibility and one’s own perception and that of others, and thus with body representation focused on one’s face.373 Transplantologists also emphasize the importance of body representation for the motivation of a face allograft recipient. Here, body image has a double meaning which goes far beyond the definition of allograft as a set of organs, tissues, and cells transferred from the embodiment of one human individual to the embodiment of another, from one corporal identity to another new one. In itself, it is something like a “dividuum,” a shared bodily phenomenon, a paradox lying above all in the context of such a personal and socially privileged morpheme of the human body as the face. As a researcher representing the medical-ethnographic humanities, Taylor-Alexander describes the above-mentioned meanings of the body and face imaginary as follows:

Imaginaries can be understood in two ways. First, as how ‘people imagine their social existence, how they fit together with others, how things go on between them and their fellows, the expectations that are normally met, and the deeper normative notions and images that underlie these expectations’. Second, as they are explored in the realm of technoscience, imaginaries can be thought of as future–orientated fields of social practice.374

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Didier Anzieu has formulated a psychoanalytic concept of “skin ego” as “a mental image of which the ego of the child makes use during the early phases of its development to represent itself as an Ego containing psychical contents, on the basis of its experience of the surface of the body”375 (similarly, Alan Watts described the phenomenon of “skin-encapsulated ego”). Subcutaneous changes within the body can be less disturbing than those occurring on the visible and tangible surface of the skin because it is easier to observe and identify the latter, being somewhat more objectified. Therapists gradually make patients who had sudden, unexpected accidents and surgical procedures get used to the new image, by initially not providing them with mirrors. Some patients discover the new state of things by chance, for example, by seeing a shadow cast by the body in the hospital room. Anzieu’s claim seems to be challenged by Shildrick’s conception of transcorporeality, which, in turn, questions the limit of the skin. But many invasive procedures and new biotechnology have physically moved and liquidated this limit, putting the “skin Ego” and “shell Ego” into question.376 Similarly, such dichotomies as that between singularity, proximity, and symbiosis are the subjects of heated discussion.377

The familiar Levinasian phenomenology of face-to-face meetings could furnish another argument in this discussion. Levinas warns against searching for a “real” face in the phenomenal features of a human face. In turn, while warning against hasty face loss, and the visual face quasi-prosthetics of the digital world – especially in the latest practice called “Snapchat dysmorphia” – it is worth recalling the maxim that reveals the positive aspect of desindividuation in Buddhism: Do not reflect on good or evil now, but “contemplate your original physiognomy,” the one you had before you came into this world.378

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the “original” is considered the physiognomy that emerges at the moment of coming into the world, revealing a new ←102 | 103→human individual. When it is lost due to illness, accident, or another random event, a new face becomes essential – for rebirth.

4.2 A Disabled Body Image and Personal Identity

Following Husserl, whose view of a disabled “organic individuality”379 was similarily pejorative, Merleau-Ponty adopts a conventional socio-cultural and medical model of disability as he refers to the law of self-esteem of persons who perceive themselves, and are perceived, as disabled. For Shildrick, a researcher devoted to the postconventionalization of disabled and “anomalous bodies” and their social imagery, there is “nothing peculiar” about either disability or about having morphological replacements in one’s own body, be it prosthetic devices, transplant organs, implants, etc. “The lived experience of disability generates its own specific possibilities that both limit and extend the performativity of the embodied self,”380 as Shildrick puts it. She is one of the most representative authors of the new paradigm, according to which a disabled person’s potentials and identity are limited and, on the other hand, extended. The nondisabled also discover and fulfill potentials, identities, and selves selectively, but they also have a wider range of possibilities at their disposal. The disproportion between a disabled and a nondisabled person’s potentialities indicates that “it is in the responsibility of society and technology to let me do those things and let me achieve everything that I am trying to achieve.” “It’s just part of ethics and justice”381 that strongly contributes to the normative aspects of body representations, e.g., that make such representations valid or invalid, involved in connections or excluded from them. Hence, disability may be considered in organism-like,382 architectural,383 psychosomatic,384 and anthropological contexts, but at least three new contexts must be added to this list: body representation related, technological, and normative.

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The social imaginary in Poland concerning physical disabilities and dysfunctions seems to belong to the conventional or pre-postconventional era. In her description of the negative social attitudes towards physical disabilities, Wolska-Zogata385 mentions the feelings of ostentatious compassion, carefulness, curiosity, discomfort, and fear; behavior such as reducing a disabled person to her limitations, overestimating the ugliness of a disability; and treating the disabled with hostility and stigmatization.386 “Deviations from normalcy, dysfunctions, defects would evoke specific social reactions,”387 Wolska-Zogata concludes.

A pilot survey (Disabio 2017, N=49, 69.4 % females, 28.6 % males, aged 24–70) was conducted to ask Polish citizens with an academic/higher education background, inter alia, the following questions and statements:

1. Do disabilities have any hidden, symbolic, or higher meaning? 45.7 % of the survey interviewees declared disability to be a purely biologically or accidentally determined phenomenon; for 19.6 %, it is defined by social norms of what a disability means. 19.6 % answered that a disability not only deskills, but may facilitate the development of novel skills. Only 2.2 % interpreted disability in terms of ‘fate.’

2. In your opinion, should disabled people be present/visible in a) daycare centers? b) full-time centers? c) everywhere, sharing their lifeworlds with the nondisabled?

Results: 93.5 % of the survey interviewees preferred to come across persons with disabilities “everywhere,” which reveals an increasing tendency to accept (in terms of social visibility vs. social blindness and social invisibility), and to postconventionalize disabilities in Polish society.

3. This question was also asked: Please chose one expression with the most positive connotation. This question was inspired by Doron Dorfman’s study addressing disability metaphors,388 which address positive connotations and, thus, relativize the negative.

Figure 1. Persons’ preferences towards positive connotations of metaphorical expressions with the term ‘blind/blindness.’

Results: Participants mainly preferred Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s “very simple secret, what is essential is invisible to the eye,” divulged in his famous novel, The ←104 | 105→Little Prince. Expressions such as “social blindness/invisibility” and “blind with admiration” were not indicated (0 % participants). “To turn a blind eye to something” was indicated as positive by 12 % of the participants, notwithstanding its ambiguous connotation.

3. An international pilot study with students was conducted (N=199) in Lithuania, China, Egypt, and Poland (mixed groups, international exchangers and Polish students, social sciences and humanities, aged 19–29). Several cultures were represented. Participation was voluntary and anonymous. No sensitive data were collected. The following question was asked: “In your opinion, is a human body with physical disabilities or disfigurements 1. Anomalous; 2. Polymorph/different speed-body; 3. Postconventional (no regulations apply)?” As Figure 2 shows, the results confirmed the hypothesis that a tendency to perceive disfigured or disabled people’s bodies as polymorph (or ‘different speed’-bodies) as well as a tendency to postconventionalize those bodies prevailed in students across cultures.

Figure 2. International students’ attitudes towards bodies with disabilities and disfigurements.

4. Public care should provide disabled persons with a) as much medical technology as possible to enable them to live life to the full; b) the bare minimum of medical technology to enable them to live out their lives in fair conditions.

Results: 91 % of the interviewees preferred as much medical technology as possible compared to a bare minimum of support for disabled fellow human beings in Poland.

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4.3 Enhanced Bodies, Neuroplasticity and Evolving Representation

Explaining how disfigured, dysfunctional, or otherwise disadvantaged bodies can be represented in their users’ minds, including in rare situations “in which the negative physical affliction becomes a positive source of self-knowledge”389 is probably less difficult than explaining how persons operate and identify with their prosthetic embodiment. Prosthetics does not only reconstruct and replace lost or disfigured limbs and their functions. The literally “mechanized” or “machinic bodies” of Paralympic athletes can function more efficiently, be more robust, and better tolerate stress and wear than completely natural bodies. However, these benefits do not mean that a bionic athlete – or a person fitted with a general bionic prosthesis – treats their body “as a functional machine that occasionally breaks down.”390 Such a reductionist view of one’s own embodiment is psychologically unlikely. Even if it has become widespread in the positivist life sciences, contemporary psychosomatic medicine has broken with it. Hence, prosthetic body representation, especially body schema, does not just concern objectifying or reifying one’s body. Human beings get to know – or, rather – interpret their body in a less superficial way than they do experiential objects.391

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When artificial organs and limbs become integral parts of a body’s inner and outer layer, bodily self-identification is achieved one the one hand through visual and tactile perception and, on the other, through proprioception, interoception, and sensorimotor knowledge. The latter is responsible for the creation of body schema. Thanks to body schema, people are able to coordinate their situatedness, movements and activities in space, and are thereby able to behave as “a unified subject,”392 which is intelligent and autonomous in its very nature. This autonomy does not mean inertia, opaqueness, or the lack of control over the terra incognita of a human body,393 which was once explored by alchemists and psychoanalysts. Thanks to regular physical therapy and training, patients who have experienced a radical physical loss, e.g., lost limbs, can also modify their body schema and apply it in a way that will facilitate their adaptation to new conditions and ensure that they can perform intended activities successfully. Moreover, “Living beings (…) have just the sort of unity that makes it plausible to think that they might be able, for example, to ‘keep track’ of patterns of sensorimotor covariation.”394

The brain’s perception, called interoception by neuroscientists (and body sense by phenomenologists), coordinates “the homeostatic regulation of body-internal activity in complex living organisms”395 as sentient (i.e., self-aware) living beings. Yet, how can a cognitive body schema and the inner regulatory system identify and cooperate with artificial implants and bionic limbs?

Proprioception lets me experience my bodily condition from within. Bodily feelings, such as irritation, pain, nudity, pleasure, fever, etc., and physical motility, ←107 | 108→are kinds of inner bodily perceptions and experiences. As a result of such experiences, another distinct and durable phenomenon arises and encompasses the entire body, including most of the usual links with its environment. It is the body schema which, first, when I wake up in the morning, gives me a sense of blissfully “spilling” my body in bed, but also immediately makes me aware of where the border between my body and bed is, although I will see this border only when I get up and leave the bed. Body schema reveals more complexity than body image and can replace both visual perception and body image. Recent research breaks with the “confusion and ambiguity in the established literature on body image and body schema”396. Instead, body schema is defined as

… a system of sensory-motor processes that constantly regulate posture and movement – processes that function without reflective awareness or the necessity of perceptual monitoring. Body schemas can also be thought of as collection of sensory-motor interactions that individually define a specific movement or posture (…) body image is conceptually distinct from the body schema.397

Body schema is characterized by consistency and durability, and at the same time, by greater plasticity than body image. Repeatedly trained activity may influence the development of novel sub-schema operating the corresponding activity. This applies to both simple activities and extremely complex and precise ones, requiring spatial coordination, the use of tools to shape an object in accordance with our imagination, etc. Learning marble carving, parachuting, climbing, performing operations on the human heart, etc., does not only lead to the mind absorbing textbook knowledge on “how to do it.” In fact, it leads to the development of dynamic operational body schemas. These are remembered by the nervous system which reaches around our whole body, and new experiences, such as changing the model of car we drive to work, can further modify this schema. In turn, in practicing climbing stairs or maintaining balance after a long recovery due to physical injury, our body relearns the body schema developed much earlier. Therefore, we do not lose the schema along with the limb and the ability it enabled. It is rather a disfigured or disabled embodiment that enters a state of impotence when it can no longer meet the model schema of activity that its user learned many years ago, and even mastered. Such experiences are helpful in understanding what durability is, and the plasticity of body schema in a person who adapts to functioning in a new embodiment, aided by technology. “Even if pathologies were there, there is a failure in regard to a sense of ←108 | 109→ownership, the body schema may continue to function in its anonymous way, that is, in ordinary, non-conscious way of dealing with its environment.”398 Only when the weakness is connected with an illness, especially a chronic and incurable one, is there a discrepancy between the need for everyday functioning and fitness and the sense of loss of control and the sense of helplessness towards one’s body:

The patient is acutely aware of this conflict. The healthy person is so much her body that she usually forgets about it. She passes on to it the duties it has to perform. It is those duties that tell her that she has a body. The steering wheel of her car reveals her hands to her, the pedal her feet, the slippery pavement the fragility of her arms and leg. Paper and pencil show her the dexterity of her right hand and the awkwardness of her left. And if she looks at her body, she recognizes the marks of the duties it performed (…) It is not an instrument but an object, a prey to disease.399

The conflict described by van den Berg shows that sensorimotor and kinaesthetic experiences contribute strongly to a person’s holistic “functional identity” (as Jonas expresses it) and body schema. Its role is to integrate particular functions, and also to restore400 and repair them in a way that makes the individual body function “in a more integrated and holistic way. A slight change in posture involves a global adjustment across a large number of muscle systems.”401 In the case of body image, which partly consists of floating elements such as perceptions, concepts, ideals, memories, projects, etc., the acceptance of disfigured or disabled morphologies, or of augmented and artificial ones, can be more challenging.

It is highly probable that learning to control the body after undergoing radical surgery, receiving an implant, or fitting a prosthesis, results in these new elements of the embodiment being mastered by them being included in sensorimotor performance and body schema. For example, people using a wheelchair or a prosthesis can, after some time, do it efficiently, although they still treat these devices as something that disturbs the image of their own body. Transplants, implants, exoskeletons, and bionic devices can assist in movement, as tools for functioning in the world, and hence they contribute to body schemas. “Exoskeletons incorporate light-weight, wearable electrically-powered joints which mimic their affected biological counterparts and thus extend the patient’s functional body. ←109 | 110→Exoskeletons based on innovative medical technology, acquire the wearer’s motion intentions.”402 However, such devices are not necessarily (and not immediately) incorporated in the whole body image. In its tacit modus operandi, body schema remains more anonymous and impersonal, unlike body image, which is much more personal even when involving views of inorganic prostheses and artificial devices shaped by technology. Acceptance of such devices is a very personal and individual matter. Certain people, like Les Baugh,403 integrated ultra-modern, intelligent bionic limbs and embodied them in their personality very quickly. After installing a prosthesis, Les Baugh felt more human and more himself than before, when for decades, he had lacked shoulders. “These limbs are in my control,”404 Baugh admits. His words confirm that for him, the priority is the smooth functioning of bionic limbs integrated with his body schema. The functionality of surrogate, extremely efficient hands, which he lost in childhood and which he regained as a man in the prime of life, convey the visual-aesthetic values of prostheses, which contribute to the own body image in persons with dysmorphic or hybrid bodies. Les Baugh is not a bionic celebrity, but a humble man who has acquired mind-controlled bionic arms and can now put the oven on himself and fry scrambled eggs for breakfast – which he did before, but with the help of legs. What is more, bionic athletes achieve better results at the Paralympic games than ‘analog’ athletes who rely solely on the strength of their own muscles, the flexibility of their own tendons, their own ability, since even the fittest physical body is completely exhausted after a few minutes of sprinting. In addition to the Paralympians who draw crowds to the stadiums, the mass aesthetic imagination is overwhelmed by photo models, actors, and dancers such as, for example, Xoe Xapoian and Rebekah Marine. The former prides herself on the fact that “her body is one quarter metal,” thus proving that her intelligent bionic leg is an integral part of her own body image. Rebekah Marine was a world-famous pioneer bionic model, equipped with a prosthetic arm. However, a person’s reaction to the sight of their own body as a synthetic image, e.g., a face that despite the peculiar disconnection from a person’s body, still constitutes an integral part of the same person’s body image.405

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4.4 Body Schema Plasticity and The Minded Body (Arnold Gehlen Revisited)

Classic psychological theories treated social interactions as central for mental growth and the evolution of the self. Biotechnological progress confronts individuals with their radically changing embodiment as a novel factor of their identity. Up until now, there have been few examples of fully integral and capable bodies being enhanced and mastered outside of the doping in competitive sport and plastic surgery practiced among celebrities. Intelligent prosthetic technology and neuro-enhancement are generally used to restore or recreate lost parts of the body and their functions. The so-called human cyborgization, which had been celebrated during the two previous decades, at least, is rejected in the current trend, which aims for the maximum likeness between artificial intelligence and that of the human being. If technologies are being used to reverse the natural and random changes that inevitably occur in the human body, whose condition is fragile, vulnerable and mortal, do these technologies have any impact on the evolution of body schema? And does this evolution somehow influence the evolution of self and identity, defined so far in the context of interrelations with the social or natural environment, or with an environment populated by artifacts created by humanity but which are not permanently connected with the human body or brain? The answer to these questions is yes – at least in medical and cognitive phenomenology, there is an agreement that body schema remains in strong cognitive relation with personal identity. “The ineliminable role of the body in the constitution of human subjectivity”406 and selfhood can only be defined through body schema (and body image). It was Maurice Merleau-Ponty who pioneered research on the dynamic – i.e., functional and plastic – of “le schema corporel,” which is mistranslated to English as “body image.”407 as Gallagher explains. One of his numerous definitions of body schema is as follows: “a body schema is a pre-noetic (automatic) system of processes that constantly regulates posture and movement – a system of sensory-motor capacities and actualities that function without the necessity of perceptual monitoring.”408 ←111 | 112→Although Gallagher’s definition does not thematize any aspects of the ontogenetic or cognitive development of a personal body schema – particularly in the context of technesis – the author mentions that there is a link between explaining sensorimotor functionalities in terms of body schema: the “ontogenetic,” “neurological,” and personal identity-related explanations, including the “basic phenomenological differentiation between self and non-self, and the senses of agency and ownership.”409

To consider the body schema plasticity triggered by technologies, one should refer to its earliest shape and the example of aplasia. According to Simmel,410 the brain could not produce the adequate schema in a person who was born without a hand or who lost it in early childhood, and nor could it develop a neural correlate corresponding to this schema. For Merleau-Ponty, “the reason for the lack of body schema” was rather attributed to neurological-physiological deficits in myelinisation.411 Meanwhile, experiments conducted in the 1960s demonstrated that persons with aplasia also experience their phantom limb. Today hand transplantation or the fitting of a bionic limb leads to the brain ‘recognizing’ the hand and learning its function, despite the fact that the brain does not have any memories of the experience with the hand. This shows that the body schema is, to some extent, innate, and its plasticity is not strictly limited to early childhood. The perception and training of one’s ability to mimic other’s gestures and movements contribute to the development of body schema regardless of age. However, according to Gallagher and Meltzoff, “an innate capacity for proprioceptive experience, an important element of primitive body”412 is actually the precondition of body schema development. From the neurocognitivist viewpoint, it is never too late to learn a physical activity of any type in order to develop the psychomotoric skills which affect body schema and, subsequently, contribute to the evolution of the embodied self.

Still, equipped with a prosthesis or an intelligent bionic limb (or transplant from a human donor), the recipient may ask doctors to remove the artificial (or ←112 | 113→‘alien’) morpheme, because he or she is unable to identify with it. Let us consider the case of Patrick Kane:

Shortly after birth, he was stricken by a massive infection that forced the doctors to remove his left arm and part of his right leg below the knee. Kane is one of the youngest persons to be fitted with an i-limb prosthesis (…) The thing Kane likes most is the way it makes him feel. ‘Before, the looks I got were an ‘Oh, what happened to him? Poor him’, sort of thing’, he says (…). ‘Now, it’s ‘Ooh? What’s that? That’s cool!413

Asked about his well-being and expectations concerning a more advanced i-prosthetic which would be integrated with his brain and skeletal system, Patrick shows no real interest. “I like the idea that I can take it off and be me again.414 Patrick’s story demonstrates that human bodily identity does not necessarily need morphological actuality since the brain already has a schema and neural correlates identified as my body/body that I am. Presumably, the need for an integral embodiment can vary and depend on many factors, including 1) how well the person functions despite the missing limbs; 2) how intimate the person became with her incomplete or dysmorphic body; 3) how strongly the person was involved in her social environment; 4) how firmly the person attaches importance to her bodily condition, accepting imperfections, redeeming dysfunctions, etc.; and, last but not least, 5) how self-skeptical and non-egological the person might be when modeling herself (which can vary from culture to culture). “Biological organisms exist, but an organism is not a self. Some organisms possess self-models, but such self-models are not selves: they are merely complex brain states. All that really exists are certain typed of information-processing systems that are engaged in operations of self-modelling.”415

Still, a large number of scholars do not question the human need for personal psychosomatic identity (or at least its representational construct) based on the “experiential dimension,” or even an “extended,”416 ecological concept, which would match technologically generated transcorporeality. The latter involves, for example, bioengineered “ghost organs” replacing damaged or lost limbs. Also, a 3D printed pancreas can be permanently bonded to a body; an artificial implant temporarily installed in the body can be a rail, called an MRS Distractor, which accelerates the elongation of bones, and which is removed after a procedure ←113 | 114→lasting several months. Such experiences may provoke existential concern and challenge one’s somatic identity at the level of affective-mental representation,417 however, distorted sensorimotor functionalities can be more challenging for body schema operations418 than for the body schema integrity. “I normally experience my body as mine,419 Gallagher emphasizes. In the case of a transplant or an artificial prosthesis, however, my body ceases to be mine only. It is not only the split between the living and lived (experienced) body that becomes manifest as I confront it in lethargy and body-mind dissociation states. It is a split between the living and the artificial.

This novel experience seems to materialize – and also revise – a phenomenon that Merleau-Ponty called “intercorporeality.” However, Merleau-Ponty considered this to occur between human beings situated in the world, dealing with the world and becoming familiar with it. Thanks to that experience,420 the current world is also somehow present in them: “the world is wholly inside and I am wholly outside myself.”421 “The belonging to the world” of Merleau-Ponty is related to perception as the very origin of any cognition. Shildrick interprets Merleau-Ponty’s intercorporeality as “chiasmatic” and related to embodied intersubjectivity, or to “our everyday engagements with others.”422 To put the things more precisely, Merleau-Ponty’s intercorporeality reveals two distinct modalities implied by the two modalities of simple corporeality: a visual one (based on the look from the outside) and an experiential one (based on the look from the inside):

between my consciousness and my body as I experience it, between this phenomenal body of mine and that of another as I see it from the outside, there exists an internal relation which causes the other to appear as the completion of the system. The other can be evident to me because I am not transparent for myself, and because my subjectivity draws its body in its wake. We were saying earlier: in so far as the other resides in the world, is visible there, and forms a part of my field, he is never an Ego in the sense in which I am one for myself.423

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Not being transparent to oneself entails that the body becomes a perception screen. In other words, “it is precisely my body which perceives the body of another and discovers in that other body a miraculous prolongation of my own intentions, a familiar way of dealing with the world. Henceforth, as the parts of my body together compromise a system, so my body and another’s are one whole, two sides of one and the same phenomenon.”424

However, a question arises here of whether it is possible for prostheses to be included in this schema of “one” intercorporeal “whole”– particularly smart prostheses which are not simply a material extension of our embodiment, but are controlled by the human mind and thus form a brain-computer interface. Recent advances in bionic prosthetics are promising in this respect: it is highly probable that future patients will be endowed with intelligent body parts offering “a miraculous prolongation of my own intentions,” hence, becoming rapidly familiar with the embodied I425 as an agent, and not only a passive “me.” Smart robotic prostheses are even able to “predict a user’s intentions.”426 Answers to the above question can be provided from three different perspectives. The first perspective is based on ‘the look from outside’ and is explored by Shildrick and others. The second perspective is based on ‘the look from inside’ and is explored in phenomenology and cognitive sciences by, for example, Zahavi and Gallagher. The third perspective is experimental, exploring thought experiments with reduced or absent bodies, including full cyborgization. All three views can be related to the intercorporeality proclaimed by Merleau-Ponty, and all three contribute something new to the hypothesis proposing that the body schema can evolve when confronted with artificial body parts.

From Shildrick’s viewpoint (which is typical for the first perspective), there is a related phenomenon called “transcorporeality” or “crosscorporeality.” This designates a continuum between organic, living-and-lived embodiment and an inorganic, artificial, intelligent device. Shildrick reflects on artificial “supplements to the human body that raise the question of intercorporeality to another level. ←115 | 116→The use of mechanical aids to enhance bodily appearance or functionality has a long history, but (…) the term itself did not appear in medical use until the early 18th century, when it came to mean the ‘replacement of a missing part of the body with an artificial one.’ ”427 Additionally, Shildrick explores ways in which the transcorporeal “embodiment exceeds its conventional limits to incorporate what might otherwise be understood as alien matter in either organic or inorganic forms.”428 Consequently, conventional differences between the human and non-human (for example, prosthetic or robotic), and between mine and the other, also disappear. By overcoming these limitations and breaking these distinctions, body ontology and body perception cease to be ‘conventional’ and become ‘postconventional.’ Shildrick, Haraway, Braidotti, Grosz, Barad, Watkin, and others have explored the ontological and normative aspects of the identity of persons who confront transcorporeality. They often spoke of “techno-post-humanism,” but the term techno-humanism more adequately describes the constitutive role of transcorporeality for the self and identity. Shildrick’s key ontological claim is that transcorporeal bodies, i.e., bodies fitted with inorganic implants, artificial devices, and the like, “are not solid bodies” nor “massive flesh.” They are “only becoming bodies”429 and “assemblages” beyond the difference between the organic and inorganic, the natural and synthetic. In Shildrick, the plasticity of techno-bodies is first considered from the ontological perspective. As social body representations are drawn from axiological and normative resources, a change in the socionormative prosthetic body’s status only becomes possible if axiologies and normativities have themselves changed. Still, they fluctuate between segregation, discriminating against a disabled body, a celebration of the transcorporeal, etc. Revolutionizing them would require a new social perception of prosthetic bodies with which persons could identify, while continuing to be human, even in the light of modern anthropologies.

At this point, let me recall the relevant assumptions of Arnold Gehlen’s anthropology, which prepared the ground for the postconventional turn attributed to authors such as Shildrick. According to Gehlen, “man creates an ‘artificial nature’, a technique that is by the same token intelligent. He replaces organic matter with inorganic one and achieves in this way, independence from biological and mental ←116 | 117→life conditions,”430 including natural disadvantages. In Gehlen’s view, human beings are condemned to exist on the border between nature and culture because they no longer occupy a natural niche in nature. This is one of the characteristics of the human being as “Mängelwesen,” in comparison with other inhabitants of the natural world. Technology is an integral component of culture and together with culture enables human beings to construct their own world, and hence also to unburden and bring relief (Entlastung), to transform themselves (die Wandlung des Menschen durch die Technik) and overcome their own deficiencies (Mängel) by, for example, producing intelligent tools, through the cooperation between the hand and mind. In contrast to Shildrick, Gehlen questioned the boundaries between organic/inorganic, able/disabled, human/transhuman, since he treated ‘deficiency’ as a distinguishing feature of the human species. Deficiency is not a negative feature; on the contrary, it has enormous potential for growth and plasticity (Plastizität). What merits the inclusion of Gehlen’s concept here? In describing the body schema, Gehlen emphasizes that it does not simply reflect the unity of the organism. The body is something other than an organism because the functionality of the body differs from the functionality of the organism. The concept of an ‘organism’ implies the integral unity of interdependent organs and systems, and its pattern is relatively repetitive. Meanwhile, the body consists of morphemes and organs, which can function to a large extent independently of each other; which can replace each other’s functions (for example in synaesthesia); which can cooperate with each other under the direction of the mind; and which can also cooperate with various tools and objects constituting an extension of the human body. In terms of ontology and phenomenology, such spatial extension had already been analyzed by Husserl and Merleau-Ponty, using the example of a motor vehicle driver. However, Gehlen described that extension from the perspective of intelligent functionality and an extended embodied mind. In Gehlen’s theory, body schema and organism schema are distinct phenomena. Body schema is primarily an individualized topography of the body (Topographie des eigenen Leibes) in motion, automated action, and interaction that is stored in the operational memory of the intelligent human body.

According to Gehlen, in the body, certain morphemes can function independently of others, in stark contrast to the situation with the organism. This is important not only in the context of “one’s own body topography”431 but also in ←117 | 118→the context of learning, adapting to new conditions, and coordinating intentions, plans, ideas, etc. with the activity that the body performs in the real world. Gehlen described the phenomenon of automated “ideomotoric” (ideomotorisch) activities in terms of learning and improving performance until professionalism and mastery are achieved. Furthermore, Gehlen considered this process as one in which intermediary intersubjective relations in material tools become an extension of entities. It is a coordinated use of tools by a number of individuals that mediates their multilateral understanding and orchestrates their multilateral cooperation. Gehlen’s description can be successfully applied to disabled users of bionic prostheses who learn to coordinate their prosthetic body with their mind, and who do not use the prosthesis as a tool, but rather cooperate intelligently with it, and it works with them, and also with other people who are engaged in a certain social practice. Gehlen’s time was before the advent of bionics, but he described the process of developing embodied “ideomotoric” ability with the example of a musician playing in an orchestra. A musician plays her part of the score, listens to the sound of instruments played by other members of the orchestra, and listens to her own sounds, paying attention in the tacit mode, which does not require deliberation, since using techniques is already intelligent. Ideomotoric coordination is possible due to the fact that organs, senses, and abilities, such as the hands, eyesight, hearing, and speech, perform intelligent activities separately and independently, and at the same time, it is possible to synchronize them: for example, the sequence of notes and a few bars read by the eyes of the musician looking at the score are directly translated into the movements of the wrists, hands, and fingers hitting the keys of the piano. Synchronization – including with other musicians in the orchestra, producing other sounds with their instruments – takes place not only thanks to “conscious techniques” (Denktechniken)432 but also thanks to the overall “control panel” (Führungsfeld),433 which ultimately becomes our intelligent sensorimotor (Intellektualität der Bewegungsstruktur). Proficiency is preceded and sustained by practice and the reinforcement of skills (Eigentätigkeit).434 Sequences of combined techniques can be extremely complicated, as when an orchestra performs a musical composition such as a concert or opera.

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For persons with physical disabilities, who with the help of prosthetics strive to attain and maintain the upright posture typical for humans, to master walking, to learn to grab objects, etc., these preoriginal and simple movements are more challenging than the mastery attained by a cello player, which is only available to some talented people. In people with disabilities, such everyday activities do not become “learned automatisms” (gelernte Automatismen), but they must be supervised for the rest of their lives by sight, are accompanied by an awareness of limitations, and finally may be dependent on the use of prosthetics, such as an exoskeleton. Extended and augmented embodiment functions at least within a local world, which – according to Shildrick – “does not end at the skin,” in persons without disabilities it becomes to a large extent automated, and the “control panel” mentioned above is basically the same as that of the “control panel” with neurocerebral body schema described in neurocognitive sciences. People with disabilities find themselves in a different situation; their body schema does not always attain such a high-level automacy. They are less likely to cope with the anthropological crisis, as Gehlen says, which forces intelligent but “mängelhaft” (Gehlen) and “vulnerable” (Jonas) humans to develop cognitive techniques and apply them when confronting the challenges of the real world. For these people, their internal “control panel” is often only sufficient for managing themselves.435

However, it would be a mistake to think that human beings only expand their body schema in a conscious way and manage it freely from the outset, training activities with the participation of selected organs and techniques. First, the development of basic posture and movements is determined by evolutionary and phylogenetic mechanisms, which are – to a greater or lesser extent – supported by the child’s caregivers. Lakoff, Nuñez, Gallagher, and Zahavi all emphasize that phylogenesis, including the specific sequence of developmental stages, determines the direction that the individual development of sensorimotor abilities will continue to take, as well as the degree of complexity that someone’s individual body schema will eventually attain.436

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Looking for alternative conceptions of body schema, particularly in technological contexts, the majority of contemporary scholars highlight the primacy of the body, which “pre-processes” and “post-processes”437 all cognitive activities “utilizing whole body structures.”438 Therefore, “cognition is not only embodied, it is situated and, of course, it is situated because it is embodied.”439

On the other hand, the body retains not only some autonomy but also primacy in relation to cognition: “bodily movements are not fully determined at brain level. Rather, they are re-engineered by the design and flexibility of muscles and tendons (…) and the prior history of their activation.”440 The whole sensorimotor development thus creates a kind of corporeal autobiography, consisting of experiences accumulated probably from the late phase of the prenatal period, when human phylogenetic development begins. This goes to show that human beings are embodied in their own body, and their current experiences are partially derived from earlier experiences. However, advanced technologies can radically change this state of affairs. A bionic man441 whose body and brain are involved in an interface with robotic devices experiences something like a reincarnation. Certain parts of his body are replaced by prostheses or implants. If these work efficiently and precisely, being subject to mind control, their representations will become an integral part of the body schema over time, or they will overlap with existing representations of original but lost limbs, as in the case of phantom limbs. Recently there are prosthetic devices designed for amputee rock climbers.442

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In attempting to explain how a body schema develops in the other perspective mentioned earlier, based on “the look from inside,” it is necessary to deal with the criticism that this perspective is unscientific because it is burdened with strong subjectivism and first-person perspectivism. For example, the thought experiments conducted by Dennett, Zahavi, or Brown, which seek to demonstrate that the human brain (including body schema) may continue its cognitive activities when removed from its embodiment, i.e., put ‘in a vat’, and can be connected with any kind of embodiment “via radio waves” (in Zahavi’s terms), or replicated by digital programs, artificial neural networks, etc., in fact, demonstrate just the opposite: namely that when alone the brain is unable to continue human or human-like cognitive processes. All those experiments were just run by scholars who attempted to bring the mind-body dualism back to life, as if the phenomenological turn443 had not taken place in the previous century, thus definitively dismantling this dualism. Those scholars also denied the huge cognitive significance of the body as an integral part of the real world. They reduced the body to a “container” and the mind to “software,” to finally replace what is real with a combination of hyperreal and virtual technologies.

Similarly, the belief the brain is isolated from the rest of the nervous system and manages the whole body as a kind of control panel is now recognized as false (yet it still maintains its grip on the popular understanding). At the same time, “the nervous system cannot process information that is not transduced by the periphery”444 and the peripheral nervous system. In the embodied mind, there are no unknown peripheries and frontiers which are devoid of meaning for cognition, like terra incognita that are not taken into account by our body topography and not encompassed by the body schema. Even if there are grey areas on this map, there are reasons to temporarily protect them or exclude ←121 | 122→them from the sensorimotor operational system. The whole neuronal system runs its permanent somatographic activity (which is the equivalent to cartography) most often without the participation of our consciousness, while the body image may omit these grey areas since it is in part projection, confabulation, and even fiction. Furthermore, it is possible that the brain’s regenerative capacity – including those which are technologically enhanced445 – is more limited in comparison to the repair capacity of the nervous system when managing our extremities.

Obtaining an adequate understanding of body image related to “the look from the inside” in the context of technologies which support human embodiment requires that multiple clinical trials be undertaken. To date, there have not been many such trials, because bionics and robotics are relatively new disciplines, and their extremely expensive products are only available for now to a small group of experimental users. However, were there to be a representative number of participants, such studies would have to include feedback based on proprioception, or subjective body sense and “passive touch,” as Merleau-Ponty described proprioception. It would be complemented by haptic perception, which explores material objects and the intersections between my body, other bodies, objects, etc. It is this which realizes where the boundaries of my body are, also when the body is equipped with bionic and robotic devices. It is this which, in connection with the representations in the somatosensory cortex, confirms the lack of a specific part of the body, e.g., due to amputation. It is the haptic perception that corrects and updates the body schema, teaching human cognition what changes have taken place in the body by comparing current experience with previous experience. Proprioception and haptic perception strongly contribute to neuroplasticity and to the plasticity of body representations. In a similar way, people are aware of and oriented to the dimensions of their car (e.g., if there is a heavy load or not), its distance, and position relative to the ground, to other road users, immobile obstacles, etc. Martin Grunwald also argues that our sense of our own body is the only sure way that we can convince ourselves of our ←122 | 123→own existence: it alone cannot deceive us.446 while the other senses do not provide us with such unambiguous certainty that the body exists, that it contains a certain inner world, and that outside of it there is a real world that does not belong to the body, but to which somehow the body belongs, variously situated in it.447 Interestingly, the same sense of touch informs us of the existence of virtual objects and surfaces that we experience through a sense of lack or relief, e.g. when we say ‘I feel as I am barefoot in these shoes’ or ‘I miss your touch.’ Not touching anything is also an important element of experiencing one’s own body, and it is also embedded in the body schema. For Ratcliffe, bodily feeling gives, on the one hand, a sense that our body is an object and, on the other, a sense of an object that is something different from our own body. Ultimately, the sense of touch determines the ontological relationship between what touches and what is touched and informs cognition of this, which constantly updates the schema of our body-in-the-world. On the example of the feeling and sensing body, Ratcliffe448 clearly captures the dual role of the human body, which is both an object and an instrument of feeling. He also proposed a table for determining gradations in the intensity of the feeling – provided by the sense of touch – that objects are present. Thus, there are objects whose presence, due to their weight, pressure, etc., is felt very strongly, even as invasive. There are also such objects whose presence we do not notice, due to habituation, even though they are directly on the surface of our body (e.g., our favorite clothing), or even are buried in it (e.g., tooth implants or joint endoprostheses). On the other hand, we can be acutely aware of our nakedness when we take off our clothes. It is very likely that habituation can make people become accustomed to the presence of artificial devices that are permanently connected to their bodies, who eventually become so used to them that they cease to notice their presence, and the sense of an alien presence is completely overcome. This does not necessarily mean that the attitude adopted towards these objects automatically becomes affirmative. Without a specific connection to bionics, Ratcliff gave separate consideration to the internal sense of the importance of an object, which is born in tactile contact with its surface, consistency, temperature, etc. Objects may seem pleasant to touch and encourage further exploration, or vice versa, discourage further ←123 | 124→exploration, but regardless of this, maintain their value in the eyes of the user due to the functions they fulfill. In addition to the designer prostheses which celebrities like to show off, there are ordinary, cheap prostheses without any aesthetic value, increasingly printed in 3D, such as artificial limbs for children injured in Syria or Afghanistan. They are very important because they save lives: they help people quickly reach a hideout when shots are fired.

After the surgical implantation of a hip joint endoprosthesis, my father is willing to use a rollator walker (a wheeled walker that facilitates walking and rehabilitation), but he does not derive any pleasure from its look, shape, or the material from which it is made. However, this is related to the social image of an invalid, which is common in small Polish cities and built into human consciousness, connected to the shame caused by a deviation from the ‘norm.’ As Shildrick continually stresses, it is essential that social discourse449 and postconventionalization evolve, when it comes to the perception of prosthetic and robotics technologies. It is simply not the case, as Giddens claimed, that the body has been privatized in the postmodern era. This should imply more authenticity, affirmative experience of one’s own corporeality, ontological security and a more inclusive model of intercorporeality as embodied intersubjectivity. But intersubjectivity also includes the look from outside.

4.5 A Look from the Outside

Despite all the social, cultural, and normative troubles associated with the prosthetic human condition, recent research findings clearly demonstrate “the importance of establishing a sense of embodiment of a prosthetic limb in patients,” in particular “with limb amputation. For amputees, appropriate redirection of physiological sensations from a prosthetic limb to the phantom limb map drive a perceptual shift towards embodiment of the device, predicting the recovery of arm function. Conversely, the absence of embodiment impedes efficient use of this assistive tool and contributes to its rejection.”450 Severe injuries, but also implantations, transplantations, etc. diminish the transfer of proprioceptive data and reduce their involvement in a patient’s body schema and their application to their actual self-movement. Recent research findings also show the “non-self items” to be successfully integrated into the body schema if – and only if – proprioception really functions. That is the precondition of ←124 | 125→transiting from “an alien and non-recognized element,” and a patient’s “opposition to the tool,” towards somatic incorporation and cognitive inclusion in the sensorimotor map, which is completely based on neuroplasticity. The human-machine interaction, even when it leads “to an enhancement of the bidirectional symbiotic interaction between the patient and wearable robotic legs”451 remains profoundly human, since it increases “the experience of being the agent of a given action involving the assistive device” and intensifying “a regular feeling of agency” over intelligent artificial devices. Advances in robotic prosthetics respect ‘the look from inside’ in their addressees much more than any posthumanist arguments, such as redesigning the human beings, making them “master-like” (Michael Sandel) and using them as “a polygon for most diverse manipulations and modifications.”452

Societies have little experience with advanced prosthetic technologies. To examine people’s attitudes towards artificial devices, human, and posthuman identities, a cross-national pilot study was conducted with higher-education students representing different countries and cultures (pilot survey design as described above; N=199). Two questions were asked:

Question 1. Individuals equipped with artificial intelligent devices and enhancements show

a) Superhuman, physical or cognitive potentials beyond the human standard,

b) Different potentials,

c) All human beings have the same potentials.

Results. Participants (young higher-education students of social sciences and humanities) mainly indicated answers b and c (“different potentials” and “same human potentials”). 18.59 % of interviewees considered artificial intelligent technologies to provide individuals with additional ‘superhuman’ potentials or qualities, much less than expected by the author and invited co-researchers (Shaogang Yang, Roma Kriauciuniene, Roberto Franzini Tibaldeo 2018–2019). For 50.25 %, artificial devices contributed to a variety of individual potentials, and for 31.15 %, all human beings have the same innate potentials.

Figure 3. Students’ attitudes towards human enhancements across countries.

←125 | 126→

Question 2. Artificial devices implanted in the human embodiment

a. Are integral parts of a subject’s original, human self-identity;

b. Are “alien” and have nothing common with one’s self-identity;

c. They create a new, posthuman technobody and identity.

Results. Participants mainly indicated answers c and a. As the question was focused on the human embodiment, different preferences were observed culture to culture. 65.2 % of Chinese participants and 37 % of Polish participants would define the crosscorporeal identity453 as ‘posthuman’ more likely than other participants. Lithuanian (70 % interviewees) and Egyptian participants (87.8 %) indicated artificial devices and the human bodily identity to make an integral whole. Still, for 20.6 % of participants, artificial devices and technologies belong to the ‘alien’ area. Chinese students demonstrated the utmost willingness to accept a posthumanism self-identity of individuals with artificial equipments. Chinese and Polish high-school students seem to be familiar with advanced technologies via the internet, as related research studies with Japanese students suggest.454

Figure 4. Students’ attitudes towards posthuman self-identity on the bases of crosscorporeality.

←126 | 127→←127 | 128→←128 | 129→

271 See P. du Bois, Sappho is burning, p. 75.

272 M. Merleau-Ponty, The phenomenology of perception, p. 206. According to R. Shusterman, Merleau-Ponty only minimally addressed our perceptual, conceptual (especially conscious), interpersonal and practical relations to soma and physiognomy, see Richard Shusterman, Body consciousness. A philosophy of mindfulness and somaesthetics, op. cit.

273 Bruno Snell, The discovery of the mind, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1953, p. 8.

274 Mladen Popović, Reading the human body, Leiden, Brill, 2007, p. 76.

275 M. Popović, Reading the human body, p. 28.

276 Aristotle, Physiognomica 808b 11–14; 805a 18, after M. Popović, Reading the human body, p. 71.

277 See Alois Huning, Das Schaffen des Ingenieurs. Beiträge zu einer Philosophie der Technik, Düsseldorf, VDI Verlag, 1974, p. 207.

278 As already shown in previous chapters, see also T. R. Brown, The face in the mirror. A transhuman identity crisis.

279 “If the body was dominated by zodiacal influences (…) only someone proficient in astrology could ensure the maintenance of bodily equilibrium,” Martin Kemp, Leonardo da Vinci. The marvellous works of nature and man, New York, Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 139. Nowadays, people rather believe in somatechnics and somaesthetics as strategies to maintain bodily equilibrium, but they only seldom find their body image equilibrium.

280 See U. Neisser, “The ecological self and its metaphors,” and “Two perceptually given aspects of the self and their development.”

281 The narrative with its huge representational and propositional potentials is too “practice” for from preverbal infancy to the end of our life we undergo a series of socializations reshaping both our bodily condition and own body image, see Peggy J. Miller, “Narrative practices: Their role in socialization and self-construction,” in: U. Neisser, R. Fivush (Eds.), The remembering self: Construction and accuracy in the self-narrative. Cambridge University Press, 1994, pp. 158–179.

282 See Craig R. Barclay, “Composing protoselves through improvisation,” in: U. Neisser, R. Fivush, pp. 55–76.

283 U. Neisser, “The ecological self and its metaphors,” p. 203.

284 James J. Gibson, The ecological approach to visual perception, Haughton Mifflin, Boston, 1979, p. 126.

285 Gernot Böhme, Invasive Technisierung. Technikphilosophie und Technikkritik, Kusterdingen, Die Graue Edition, 2008, p. 350; also K. Wiegerling, in: Ch. Hubig, A. Huning, G. Ropohl (Eds.), Nachdenken über Technik, p. 419.

286 Ch. Caldwell, “Mindfulness and bodyfulness: A new paradigm.”

287 Shaun Gallagher, Daniel Hutto, “What’s the story with body narratives? Philosophical therapy for therapeutic practice,” (last accessed on December 11, 2017).

288 B. Mennecke, A. Peters, “From avatars to mavatars,” p. 391.

289 As for example. vegetarian and organic food which is popular in academic circles, and which marginalizes those who neglect own bodily condition, outfit etc., manifesting in this way their loss of self-control, low self-manageability, etc.

290 A. Lingis, Body transformations, p. 49.

291 Ch. Gärtner, “Cognition, knowing and learning in the flesh,” p. 345.

292 Bodily inheritance based on dissociation between the true (core) self and an alienated, anonymized body image governed by others may imply schizophrenia-like experiences, as J. Parnas et al. emphasize in “EASE: Examination of Anomalous Self-Experience,” pp. 236–258.

293 As already mentioned above, natural body imagery, also named “morphoscopy” and “physiognomics,” was popular across ages and cultures, see M. Popović, Reading the human body; also Sarah Lamb, White saris and sweet mangoes. Aging, gender and body in North India, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, University of California Press, 2000.

294 A. Lingis, Body transformations, p. 53.

295 “…women can attain a better body image that gives them more confidence to act assertively and overcome the timidity that Beauvoir sees as enslaving them. Such represented body power and the confident attitude it inspires will also be perceived by men who may then be more disposed to respect these women as powerfully competent. Moreover, since increased bodily competence gives women greater efficacy in performing what they wish to perform, it will also boost their self-assurance for more ambitious projects of engagement with the world. In short, performative-representational somaesthetic activities oriented toward displaying power, skill, and an attractively dynamic self-presentation should promote Beauvoir’s goal of promoting women’s confidence for engaging in greater action in the world,” R. Shusterman, Body consciousness, p. 90. However, to Beauvoir who was strongly influenced by Sartre, the human body and the “biological condition” as such belong to “passive immanence,” not to the “dynamic,” “transcending,” project- and activity-oriented “ego,” p. 110.

296 “…it shows that somaesthetic attention is needed to develop new images of vigorous and able-bodied good looks that are appropriate for seniors, while also exploring the best methods to realize them in practice,” and to improve “functional potency,” “somatic skill,” “body’s autonomous power,” “healthy vigor,” “energetic well-being” and “social authority” in seniors, R. Shusterman, Body consciousness, pp. 104–109. Shusterman’s broadly conceptualised performative/experiential somaesthetics offers a link between body perception (body image) and proprioception (body schema) as being rooted in phenomenology, including the link between outer/inner.

297 Among manifold approaches to anorexia, that of Giddens unveils its “post-traditional,” paradoxical, body image (somaesthetics) and self-denial related aspects. Following Orbach, Giddens regards anorexia as a form of contestatory lifestyle “characterised (…) by a sustained engagement with the reflexivity of bodily development (…) The body regimes of anorexic individuals are often extreme. A person may, for example, run for several miles, take part in a punishing and lengthy exercise machines (…) There is ‘an urgency and strength’ in the ascetism of anorexia, which is thus more to do with the self-denial per se rather than with a body image of slimness,” A. Giddens, Modernity and self-identity, pp. 106–107.

298 Compare Laura H. Clarke, Meredith Griffin, “The body natural and the body unnatural: Beauty work and aging,” Journal of Aging Studies 2007, vol. 21, pp. 187–201.

299 A. Lingis, Body transformations, p. 45.

300 I. Persson, “Self-doubt: Why we are not identical to things,” pp. 31–32.

301 Despite all the ambiguous connotations of this term.

302 Rebecca Lester, “The (dis)embodied self in anorexia nervosa,” Social Sciences & Medicine 1997, vol. 44, no. 4, p. 479.

303 Nicolas Vlahogiannis, “Disabling bodies,” in: Dominic Montserrat (Ed.), Changing bodies, changing meanings. Studies on the human body in Antiquity, New York, Routledge, Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2003, p. 13. The author also describes modifications of the body through deformity, disease, or apotemnophilia, see A. Lingis, Body transformations.

304 N. Vlahogiannis, “Disabling bodies,” p. 13.

305 S. Gallagher, How the body shapes the mind, p. 41.

306 For more details see–percent-body-remove-genitals-because-they-spoil-art-effect-1161780;–covered-in-tattoos-has-had-his-manhood-removed-as-it-interferes-with-his-look/ (last accessed on July 20, 2018).

307 Peter Gärdenfors, “Cognitive semantics and image schemas with embodied forces,” in: J.-M. Krois, M. Rosengren, A. Steidele, D. Westerkamp (Eds.), Embodiment and cognition in culture, Amsterdam, Philadelphia, John Benjamin’s Publishing Company, 2007, pp. 63–64.

308 Clausberg Klaus, “Feeling embodied in vision: The imagery of self-perception without mirrors,” p. 78.

309 Will Johncock, “Modifying the modifier: Body modification as social incarnation,” Journal of the Theory of Social Behavior 2012, vol. 42, no. 3, p. 241. For a comparative/integrative approach of self-transparency, self-opacity, self-representation and self-interpretation see Peter Carruthers, The opacity of mind, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013.

310 Vincent Grapanzano, Imaginative horizons. An essay in literary-philosophical anthropology, Chicago, London, The University of Chicago Press, 2004, p. 79.

311 Aquinas, Selected philosophical writings.

312 See e.g. Michèle Koleck, Marylou Brouchon-Schweitzer, Florence Cousson-Gélie, Bruno Quintard, “The Body-Image Questionnaire (BIQ): An extension,” Perceptual and Motor Skills 2002, vol. 94, pp. 189–196.

313 This interpretation refers to Oscar Wilde’s novel titled The Disciple and has been examined by Margarita Saénz-Herrero, “Gender and corporeality, corporeality and body image,” in: idem (Ed.), Psychopathology in women. Incorporating gender perspective into descriptive psychopathology. Springer International Publishing Switzerland, 2015, p. 135.

314 See D. Zahavi, Subjectivity and selfhood, pp. 99–105.

315 G. Agamben, Nudities, p. 93.

316 G. Agamben, Nudities, pp. 91–113; comp. E. Nowak, “Ciała w glorii,” and Jennifer Wright Knust, Unprotected texts. The Bible’s surprising contradictions about sex and desire, New York, Harper One, 2011; also Albert Hogeterp, “Eschatological identities in the Damascus Document,” in: F. García Martínez, M. Popović (Eds.), Defining identities: We, you, and the other in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Leiden, Boston, Brill, 2008, pp. 111–130.

317 D. de Rougemont, Love in the Western world, p. 194.

318 K. Nishida, Preface to From the actor to the seer (1927), NKZ, 4, p. 6, translated from Japanese to English by R. Wilkinson, Nishida and Western philosophy, p. 5 (see the chapter addressing “The Evolution of Body Concept,” in this volume).

319 G. Agamben, Nudities, p. 94.

320 H. Jonas, Organism and Freedom, Chapter V, p. 70.

321 Mark B. N. Hansen, Embodying technesis. Technology beyond writing, Ann Arbor, The University of Michigan Press, 2000, p. 181.

322 M. B. N. Hansen, Embodying technesis, p. 181.

323 H. Jonas, Organism and Freedom, Chap. V, p. 74.

324 H. Jonas, Organism and Freedom, p. 75.

325 H. Jonas, Organismus und Freiheit, p. 286.

326 S. Gallagher, How the body shapes the mind, p. 35; also Brian O’Shaugnessy, “Proprioception and the body image,” in: J. Bermudez, A. Marcel, N. Eilan (Eds.), The body and the self, Cambridge, The MIT Press, 1998, pp. 175–203.

327 S. Gallagher, How the body shapes the mind, p. 35cf.

328 H. Jonas, Organismus und Freiheit, p. 287.

329 H. Jonas, Organismus und Freiheit, p. 299.

330 H. Jonas, Organismus und Freiheit, p. 300.

331 R. Shusterman, Body consciousness…, xii.

332 Or except her vulnerable, mortal and passive biological condition, as Beauvoir and Jonas stress.

333 H. Jonas, Organismus und Freiheit, p. 388.

334 Such a collaboration between one’s own “helpless, vulnerable, reliant” body and technological support reestablishes and increases “one’s embodied security” at the price of functional, existential and identity dependence – but did the human bodily condition ever assume as much independence as the spirit? Fiona K. O’Neill, “Bodily knowing as uncannily canny: Clinical and ethical significance,” in: J. E. Latimer, M. W. J. Schillmeier (Eds.), Un/knowing bodies, Malden MA, Blackwell Publishing Ltd/The Sociological Review, 2009, pp. 224–225.

335 H. Jonas, Organismus und Freiheit, p. 389.

336 See Günter Anders, Die Antiquiertheit des Menschen, Munich, Beck, 1992.

337 “As such, the term mavatars is specifically used to describe the biometric representation that is used for the particular function of representing the embodied persona, which includes not only the biometric data about the target but also the behavioral and contextual profile that defines the user’s identity from the vendor’s, marketer’s, or system’s perspective. As such, mavatars are more than merely biometric data; it is the ‘package’ that comes with building a biometric profile associated with the user’s personal profile of preferences, behaviors, and history.” A mavatar, the authors continue, can be “created, managed, and used,” B. P. Mennecke, A. Peters, “From avatars to mavatars,” p. 391.

338 J. Langenderfer, A. Miyazaki, “Privacy in the information economy,” p. 384.

339 Which also networks a person with virtual others situating her in the middle of hyperreal world.

340 M. Merleau-Ponty, The primacy of perception, p. 160.

341 “Humanizing computing to better humanity,” retrieved from (last accessed on June 10, 2018).

342 “Humanizing computing to better humanity.” It is worth mentioning that Shudu Gram, the first digital fashion model, already impressed approximately 100,000 Instagram users. Some of them still identify themselves with her, without knowing it is a trick. “With almost 100,000 followers on Instagram, Shudu Gram is the first digital top model,” Unique Fashion Closet, April 10m 2018, retrieved from (on June 09, 2018)

343 H. Jonas, The imperative of responsibility, p. 219.

344 H. Jonas, The imperative of responsibility, p. 219.

345 Hans Jonas, “Maschinen werden niemals ein Bewußtsein haben können. Gespräch mit Norbert Lossau,” in: idem, Das Prinzip Verantwortung, pp. 609–611.

346 S. Gallagher, How the body shapes the mind, p. 37.

347 S. Gallagher, How the body shapes the mind, p. 38.

348 S. Gallagher, How the body shapes the mind, p. 38.

349 S. Gallagher, How the body shapes the mind, p. 38.

350 M. Shildrick, “Why should our bodies end at the skin?”

351 M. Merleau-Ponty, The phenomenology of perception, p. 71

352 See J. Parnas et al., “EASE: Examination of Anomalous Self-Experience,” p. 237.

353 J. Parnas et al., “EASE: Examination of Anomalous Self-Experience,” p. 238.

354 J. Parnas et al., “EASE: Examination of Anomalous Self-Experience,” p. 238.

355 See Thomas Metzinger’s work entitled Being no one: The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity, Cambridge, London, Bradford Book, The MIT Press, 2003, in which the author spares the phenomenological self and advocates for conscious vision, sensory experience, perceptual phenomenal representation, etc. as preconditions of the “global availability” of oneself to oneself.

356 Section 4.1 was involved in E. Nowak, “Ustrój cielesny w doświadczeniu podmiotowym…,” pp. 61–87.

357 J. S. Swindell Blumenthal-Barby, “Facial allograft transplantation,” p. 451.

358 J. S. Swindell Blumenthal-Barby, “Facial allograft transplantation,” p. 451.

359 Juan P. Barret, Anna V. Tomasello, Face transplantation. Principles, technique and artistry, Berlin–Heidelberg–New York–Dordrecht–London, Springer, 2015, p. 23.

360 Harriet Kiwanuka, Ericka Maria Bueno, J. Rodrigo Diaz-Siso, Lisa Soleymani Lehmann, Bohdan Pomahac, “Evolution of ethical debate on face transplantation, plastic and reconstruction surgery,” EBM Special Topic 2013, p. 1564; also Sharrona Pearl, About faces: Physiognomy in nineteenth-century Britain, Cambridge Mass, Harvard University Press, 2010.

361 , “Facial allograft transplantation…,” p. 451.

362 Currently, the recognizability of a person who has undergone face transplantation does not significantly differ from the recognizability of people who have undergone facial surgical reconstruction or plastic surgery, see Maria De Marsico, Michele Nappi, Daniel Riccio, Harry Wechsler, “Robust face recognition after plastic surgery using region-based approaches,” Pattern Recognition 2015, vol. 48, pp. 1261–1276; also Manuela Cristina Paduraru, Ruxandra Rascanu, “Body scheme and self-esteem of plastic surgery patients,” Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences 2013, vol. 78, pp. 355–359. Merleau-Ponty, in turn, emphasizes the role of consciousness in merging parts of the body into one image, correlated with perception, see M. Merleau-Ponty, The phenomenology of perception,

363 See M. Shildrick, “Why should our bodies end at the skin?,” pp. 13–29. In turn, Barret and Serracanta report that with pioneering face transplants, there was most resistance to the skin, which literally separated from the body, because the recipient’s immune system rejected the transplant at the edge of the body and skin, while tissues and organs implanted deeper are treated more gently, Juan P. Barret, Jordi Serracanta, “LeFort I: Osteotomy and secondary procedures in full-face transplant patients,” Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive, and Aesthetic Surgery 2013, vol. 13, p. 724.

364 Compare H. Kiwanuka et al., “Evolution of ethical debate.”

365 H. Kiwanuka et al., “Evolution of ethical debate.”

366 H. Kiwanuka et al., “Evolution of ethical debate.” The risk element includes the recipient’s immune age (immunosenescence), see Daniela Weiskopf, Birgit Weinberger, Beatrix Grubeck-Loebenstein, “The aging of the immune system,” European Society for Organ Transplantation 2009, vol. 22, pp. 1041–1050 (the immunologically advanced age of recipients is not a criterion for discrimination, but rather an argument in risk assessment based on of medical ethics). It is worth noting that there are diverse selection criteria for transplant candidates. Some are strictly biological, others are others psychological (e.g. willingness to take risks, determination), while others are socio-legal (e.g. equal opportunities). In 2010, a face transplant performed on a seropositive person caused controversy; in 2013, a blind person was refused a similar procedure at a Cleveland clinic, while a clinic in Gliwice performed such a procedure a year later.

367 J. P. Barret, J. Serracanta, “LeFort I: Osteotomy and secondary procedures.”

368 J. Swindell Blumenthal-Barby, “Facial allograft,” p. 450.

369 C. Bluhm, N. Clendenin, Someone’s else face in the mirror, pp. 93–94.

370 C. Bluhm, N. Clendenin, Someone’s else face in the mirror, p. 71.

371 C. Bluhm, N. Clendenin, Someone’s else face in the mirror, p. 94.

372 In the case of aesthetic enhancement, however, the long-term body representation is to be deliberately questioned and even falsified: “local plastic surgery procedures can adversely affect automatic recognition similar to pose or expression variations in uncontrolled settings, and can further induce ‘reverse’ aging, which makes people look younger,” M. De Marsico et al., “Robust face recognition,” p. 1262. Moreover, in a large number of people, looking youthful in their own eyes revises their long-term body image in its perceptual layer while, at the same time, they are aware of their “original” appearance and the illusory effects of aesthetic surgery, cosmetology etc. They do not miss their original face, but they cannot wipe it from their memory. Facial surgery and face transplant surgery require precise biometric and visualization procedures in order to assure “an optimal transformation for face representation,” an equilibrium between the past and future, e.g. one’s expectations and affection towards one’s outer appearance. In radical surgery, “the whole appearance, texture and facial features of an individual small be reconstructed and entirely [and suddenly] changed,” pp. 1262–1263.

373 And, from a popular-cultural view, musculature and a vigorous, youthful overall appearance.

374 Samuel Taylor-Alexander, “On face transplantation: Ethical slippage and quiet death in experimental biomedicine,” Anthropology Today 2013, vol. 29, no. 1, p. 14.

375 Didier Anzieu, The skin ego. A Psychoanalytic approach to the self, trans. Ch. Turner, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1987, p. 40. In the same work, Anzieu explores, inter alia, the topographical, interactive and interface-like nature of the skin. See also Naomi Segal, Consensuality. Didier Anzieu, gender and the sense of touch, Amsterdam, New York, Rodopi, 2009.

376 C. Bluhm, N. Clendenin, Someone else’s face in the mirror, p. 91.

377 See Walter Truett Anderson, “Augmentation, symbiosis, transcendence: Technology and the future(s) of human identity,” Futures 2003, vol. 35, pp. 535–546.

378 Alexandra David-Néel, Le Bouddhisme du Bouddha, Paris, Pocket, 1960, pp. 200, 304–305.

379 E. Husserl, Zur Phänomenologie der Intersubjektivität, p. 67.

380 M. Shildrick, “Why should our bodies end at the skin?,” p. 13; also “Staying alive: Affect, identity, and anxiety in organ transplantation.”

381 Doron Dorfman, “Re-claiming disability: Identity, procedural justice, and the disability determination process,” Law & Social Inquiry 2017, vol. 41, no. 1, p. 195.

382 Mark J. Edwards et al., “Limb amputations in fixed dystonia: A form of body integrity and identity disorder,” Movement Disorders 2011, vol. 26, no. 8, pp. 1410–1414.

383 Ruth Butler, Hester Parr, Mind and body spaces, London, Routledge, 1999.

384 H. Dunbar, Synopsis of psychosomatic diagnosis and treatment.

385 Irena Wolska-Zogata, “Social attitudes towards the disabled – review of research,” Współczesne Pielęgniarstwo i Ochrona Zdrowia 2012, vol. 1, no. 4, pp. 81–86.

386 I. Wolska-Zogata, “Social attitudes,” p. 82.

387 I. Wolska-Zogata, “Social attitudes,” p. 82.

388 Doron Dorfman, “The blind justice paradox: Judges with visual impairments and the disability metaphor,” Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law 2016, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 272–305; also Ewa Nowak, “Antropologia niepełnosprawności…,”

389 J. Stacey, Teratologies, p. 1.

390 J. Stacey, Teratologies, p. 107.

391 See Nicholas P. Holmes, Charles Spence, “Beyond the body schema: Visual, prosthetic and technological contributions to bodily perception and awareness,” in: G. Knoblich, I.M. Thornton, M. Grosjean, M. Shiffrar (Eds.), Advances in visual cognition. Human body perception from the inside out: Advances in visual cognition, New York, Oxford University Press, pp. 15–64.

392 T. Ziemke, “The embodied self: Theories…,” p. 173.

393 See J. Stacey, Teratologies, p. 102.

394 Alva Noë, Action in perception, MIT Press, Cambridge, 2004, p. 130.

395 T. Ziemke, “The embodied self: Theories,” pp. 171–172; see also Francisco J. Varela, Principles of biological autonomy, New York, Elsevier, 1979; and “Patterns of life: Intertwining identity and cognition,” Brain and Cognition 1997, vol. 34, pp. 72–87; and Humberto R. Maturana, Francisco J. Varela, Autopoiesis and cognition, Dordecht, Reidel, 1980. The works of neuroscientists, such as A. Damasio’s research findings, confirm body representationism: “Body activities shape the pattern, give it a certain intensity and a temporal profile, all of which contribute to why a feeling feels a certain way. But in addition the quality of the feelings probably hinges on the intimate design of the neurons themselves,” Antonio Damasio, Looking for Spinoza: Joy, sorrow and the feeling brain, Orlando FL, Harcopurt, 2003, p. 129; also AD Craig, “Interoception: The sense of the physiological condition of the body,” Current Opinion in Neurobiology 2003, vol. 13, pp. 500–505.

396 S. Gallagher, How the body shapes the mind, p. 37.

397 S. Gallagher, How the body shapes the mind, pp. 37–38.

398 S. Gallagher, How the body shapes the mind, p. 38.

399 J. H. van den Berg, The psychology of the sickbed.

400 As for example synaesthesia.

401 S. Gallagher, How the body shapes the mind, p. 38.

402 Mariella Pazzaglia, Marco Molinari, “The embodiment of assistive devices – from wheelchair to exoskeleton,” Physics of Life Reviews 2015, accessed on (in press).

403 Zackary Canepari, Drea Cooper, Emma Cott, “The bionic man,” Bits/Robotica video report, Youtube, May 13, 2016.

404 Z. Canepari, D. Cooper, E. Cott, “The bionic man.”

405 “It’s my face. Only it’s peculiarly ‘taken off,’ ” Bertolt Meyer said in 2013, when confronted with the sight of Bionic man, whose face was a silicon-made replica of the Bionic man’s designer himself,–million-bionic-man (last accessed on June 10, 2016).

406 See Shaun Gallagher, “Dimensions of embodiment: Body image and body schema in medical contexts,” in: S. Kay Toombs (Ed.), Phenomenology and medicine. Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2001, pp. 147–175.

407 S. Gallagher, “Dimensions of embodiment,” pp. 147–175

408 S. Gallagher, “Dimensions of embodiment,” p. 149.

409 S. Gallagher, “Dimensions of embodiment,” pp. 167–168.

410 See Marianne L. Simmel, “Phantoms-experiences following amputation in childhood,” Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 1962, vol. 25, pp. 69–78.

411 Shaun Gallagher, Andrew N. Meltzoff, “The earliest sense of self and others: Merleau-Ponty and recent developmental studies,” Philosophical Psychology 1996, vol. 9, no. 2, p. 213; also Brian O’Shaugnessy, “Proprioception and the body image,” in: J. Bermudez, A. Marcel, N. Eilan (Eds.), The body and the self, Cambridge Mass., The MIT Press, 1995, pp. 175–203.

412 S. Gallagher, A.N. Meltzoff, “The earliest sense of self…,” p. 229.

413 Geoff Brumfiel, “The insane and exciting future of the bonic body,” Smithsonian Magazine, September 2013, p. 76.

414 G. Brumfiel, “The insane and exciting,” p. 76.

415 S. Gallagher, D. Zahavi, The phenomenological mind, p. 221.

416 S. Gallagher, D. Zahavi, The phenomenological mind, pp. 224–225.

417 M. Ratcliffe, Feelings of being, p. 201.

418 S. Gallagher, “Dimensions of embodiment,” p. 167.

419 S. Gallagher, How the body shapes the mind, p. 35.

420 Merleau-Ponty focuses on the perception: “I am all that I see, I am an intersubjective field, not despite my body and historical situation, but, on the contrary, by being this body and this situation, and through them, all the rest,” in: The phenomenology of perception, p. 403.

421 M. Merleau-Ponty, The phenomenology of perception, pp. 406–407.

422 M. Shildrick, “Why should our bodies end at the skin?,” p. 14.

423 M. Merleau-Ponty, The phenomenology of perception, p. 315.

424 M. Merleau-Ponty, The phenomenology of perception, p. 316.

425 See also Richard A. Andersen, Eun Jung Hwang, Grant H. Mulliken, “Cognitive neural prosthetics,” Annual Review of Psychology 2010, vol. 61, p. 169.

426 Erik Sofge, “Smart bionic limbs are reengineering the human,” Popular mechanics, May 28, 2012, retrieved from; Natasha Frost, “An artificially intelligent, open-source, bionic leg could change the future of prosthetics,” Quartz 2019, June 6, retrieved from source-ai-bionic-leg-is-the-future-of-prosthetics/

427 Margrit Shildrick, “Some reflections on the socio-cultural and bioscientific limits of bodily integrity,” Body & Society 2010, vol. 16, no. 3, p. 12.

428 M. Shildrick, “Some reflections,” p. 12.

429 M. Shildrick, “Why should our bodies end at the skin?,” p. 18.

430 Arnold Gehlen, Die Seele im technischen Zeitalter. Sozialpsychologische Probleme der Industriellen Gesellschaft, Hamburg, Rowohlt, 1957, p. 132.

431 A. Gehlen, Der Mensch. Seine Natur, pp. 138–139.

432 A. Gehlen, Der Mensch. Seine Natur, p. 83.

433 “Dieses System ist das Führungsfeld, unter dessen Kontrolle alle motorische und intelligente Erfahrung zusammenhängt,” A. Gehlen, Der Mensch. Seine Natur, p. 140.

434 A. Gehlen, Der Mensch. Seine Natur, p. 140.

435 J. Stacey, Teratologies, p. 179.

436 Compare Gallagher and Zahavi: “capabilities to sit or to adopt some other posture are first of all motor; but they arguably extend to the most abstract and rational capacities for cognition (…) in terms of development, attaining the upright posture is delayed in humans. The infant is required to learn it in a struggle against gravity. This calls for a basic conscious wakefullnes: if you fall asleep, you fall. Posture and movement are directly related to biological states of sleep and wakefulness. Prior to standing, early crawling behavior influences the development of perception and cognition (…) in terms of how we are related to things and other people, with the upright posture we maintain distance and independence – distance from the ground; distance from things; and some degree of independence from other people (…) Standing frees the hands for reaching, grasping, manipulating, carrying, using tools, and pointing. Both phylogenetically (with respect to evolution) and ontogenetically (with respect to individual development), these changes introduce complexities into brain structure,” The phenomenological mind, p. 150.

437 Hillel J. Chiel, Randall D. Beer, “The brain has a body: Adaptive behavior emerges from interactions of nervous system, body and environment,” TINS 1997, vol. 20, no. 12, p. 553.

438 H. J. Chiel, Randall D. Beer, “The brain has a body,” p. 533.

439 S. Gallagher, D. Zahavi, The phenomenological mind, p. 150; also C. Caldwell, “Mindfulness and bodyfulness,” pp. 77–96.

440 H. J. Chiel, R. D. Beer, “The brain has a body,” p. 553; also S. Gallagher, D. Zahavi, The phenomenological mind, p. 151; comp. Felix E. Zajac, “Muscle coordination of movement: A perspective,” Journal of Biomechanics 1993, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 109–124.

441 See Z. Canepari, D. Cooper, E. Cott, “The bionic man.”

442 “Klippa, prosthetic leg for rock climbers,” The James Dyson Award (last accessed on June 29, 2018 on

443 According to Gallagher and Zahavi, Merleau-Ponty was the very voice of the phenomenological turn about body as “the lived body is neither spirit not nature, neither soul nor body, neither inner nor outer, neither subject nor object. All of these contraposed categories are derivations of something more basic;” the lived body seems to incorporate the phenomenological mind itself, and to be itself “a principle of experience, it is what permits us to see, touch, smell, etc.,” S. Gallagher, D. Zahavi, The phenomenological mind, p. 153.

444 H. J. Chiel, R. D. Beer, “The brain has a body,” p. 554.

445 The problem with central neural system repair mechnism seems to be rooted in glial cells and other biochemical factors making the neural injuries here even more serious, see Matthias Deliano, “Prothesen für das Gehirn: Blinde sehen, Lahme gehen, Taube hören?,” in: Peter Böhlemann, Almuth Hattenbach, Lars Klinnert, Peter Markus (Eds.), Der machbare Mensch? Moderne Hirnforschung, biomedizinisches Enhancement und christliches Menschenbild, Berlin, LIT, 2010, p. 67.

446 See Martin Grunwald, Homo Hapticus. Warum wir ohne Tastsinn nicht leben können, Munich, Droemer Knaur, 2017.

447 Martin Grunwald (Ed.), Human haptic perception. Basics and applications, Basel, Boston, Berlin, Birkhäuser Verlag, 2008.

448 M. Ratcliffe, Feelings of being, pp. 86–110.

449 See D. Mitchell, S. Snyder, Narrative prosthesis.

450 M. Pazzaglia, M. Molinari, “The embodiment of assistive devices.”

451 M. Pazzaglia, M. Molinari, “The embodiment of assistive devices.”

452 Boris G. Yudin, “Creation of a transhuman,” Herald of the Russian Academy of Science 2007, vol. 77, no. 3, p. 249.

453 In terms of M. Shildrick, see chapter “The Evolution of Body Concept,” in this volume.

454 See Kiyoshu Murata, Mario Arias-Oliva, Jorge Pelegrin-Borondo, “Cross-cultural study about cyborg market acceptance: Japan versus Spain,” European Research on Management and Business Economics 2019, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 129–137. Jorge Pelegrín Borondo et al. examined higher education students’ ethical motivations ‘to become a cyborg.’ Egoistic interests were prevailing in 48 % participants (N=1563) across seven countries, Pelegrin Borondo, Mario Arias-Oliva, Kiyoshi Murata and Mar Souto Romero, “Does ethical judgment determine the decision to become a cyborg?: Influence of ethical judgment on the cyborg market?,” Journal of Business Ethics 2020, vol. 161, pp. 5–17.