Bodies Without Organs

Cenk Güzelis

Consider a blind man with a stick. Where does the blind man’s self begin? At the tip of the stick? At the handle of the stick? Or at some point halfway up the stick? These questions are nonsense because the stick is a pathway along which differences are transmitted under transformation, so that to draw a delimiting line across this pathway is to cut off a part of the systemic circuit which determines the blind man’s locomotion(Bateson, 1972).


What is the relationship between the environment, the stick, and the blind man’s perceptual apparatus? Gregory Bateson’s famous thought experiment suggests that the blind man’s cognitive and proprioceptive processes are not located in the brain. Instead, through the object of the stick, perceptual modes extend from the ‘boundaries of self’ to the environment, where the material properties of the stick, the surroundings, and the body combine in their affordances to build a new sense of corporeality.