Body and Soul . . . and the Artifact: The Aesthetically Extended Self


  • Alessandro Bertinetto


By thinking on my personal (som)aesthetic experience as a would-be jazz saxophonist, I will argue that the relationship between musician and instrument can exemplify the “extended self” thesis in the artistic/aesthetic realm. As can happen with a human partner, a special affective relationship may arise between human being and instrument and, through repeated practice, the instrument can become an indispensable element of the aesthetic habits by virtue of which we interact with the environment, thus becoming part of the (extended) self. As I will suggest, this special bodily and affective relationship is due to the affordances offered by the instrumental partner and to the expressive experiences that this encounter makes possible. This affective relationship is one of the reasons behind the regret we feel for the destruction or loss of artifacts. Thanks to the assiduity of a somaesthetic relationship, it happens that these objects become extensions not only of the body but also of the mind or “soul.”