Prosthetic Evolution

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As cavemen, we began skipping evolution by crafting spears instead of growing teeth. We began making hammers as extensions of our fists. We were able to externalize our evolution by developing physical objects we could grasp and release at will. Instead of improving our bodies, we evolved our objects. If a spear broke, we could make a new one. If we had evolved giant teeth instead, breaking one would be a different matter. This externalization of evolution was the first step that allowed us to rapidly evolve.

Drawing on the perspective of French paleontologist Andre Leroi-Gourhan, who argues for the coincidence of tool use and the appearance of the human, Stiegler claims that the human can be specified as that being who evolves through means other than life, through a coupling with the independent ‘exterior’ evolution of technological objects.