blind man with caneWhat does it mean to create dimensional items with a 3D printer?

Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin? (CST handout week 3)


Before the 3D printer you would need to know how to use tools to manipulate physical materials to make material objects, as in ceramics or carpentry. Now, with a 3D printer all you need is a computer and the printer. While these tools are admittedly expensive, once you have them, it is relatively easy to use. The “work” then becomes programming the computer to respond like a human rather than using the mind and body in coordination with each other. This allows for the mind to detach from the physical realm of manipulating raw materials.


However, this leads to problems with the connection between 3D printing and the mind. The problem being that the 3D printer, or any tool for that matter, doesn’t work as well as the mind wants it to. For example, when I was trying to print my pen I kept on printing one part too large or another part too small. What I had to do was print out each piece and see if they would fit and then modify and print them out again if they did not. There were multiple occasions where I got really angry with the printer for not printing out the pen the way that I had designed it to. I had to take several deep breaths and remind myself that the printer was just a machine, a tool, a complicated tool.


This made me think back to the discussion with my peers over the Week Three CST Post handout. Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin as Malafouris described when he said “human intelligence (is) ‘spread out’ beyond the skin into culture and material world”. One of my fellow students (I can’t remember who it was) said that the mind extended out into the limbs since you use them to feel and complete tasks with. This conversation eventually led me to the conclusion that, in a metaphysical way, the mind is extended into whatever object you are using, just like the blind man extends his mind into the cane he is using. This is one thing that we need to remember as 3D printing technology, and technology in general, progresses. No matter how easy using a tool becomes, no matter how much we extend our mind into it by using it, the tool is still, in the end, just a tool and is not a reflection of our own ability.