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An advance in the description of life development:
the theory of Extensio©

English langage


A text by Eugène Michel

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We are right to fear theories: they can be false and dangerous. Born from individual minds, their collective confirmation must be slowly built through progressive circles. But it would be absurd to refuse them: they are the way science is working. Any new theory is an attempt to extend the explanation of facts.

The theory of Extensio is belonging to the science of evolution. It’s based on a main biophysical principle: the evolution goes in the direction of the extension of the relational field to decrease the dependence on a limited environment that could be deficient in its role of supplier.

With human beings, this extension of the relational field is made possible by the acquisition of precise physical tools that are, in chronologic order – one inside each other as Russian dolls – senses, gestures, speech and writing. These four generic tools are transmitted by the group to the young in the same order than their invention for the simple reason that each comes from the improvement of the previous one. The result is that the individual development reproduces in its main lines the collective development.

The transmission of a daily knowledge by the group to the neophyte comes from the habitus. The habitus – in the meaning given by Norbert Elias – represents the duplicative part of the existence.

Opposite of the habitus, Extensio’s theory uses the concept of inventus©. The inventus makes possible the constant invention of new tools. Habitus and inventus are inseparable.

So far we can formulate the fundamental theorem of Extensio’s theory: The extensio results from the incessant coming up of inventus inside the habitus.

The habitus gets its structure through the social organisation in larger and larger groups. Social groups can’t exist without their particular habitus. A group is its habitus. The habitus represents what is obligatory transmitted because, without it, the group doesn’t exist anymore.

But any habitus wouldn’t exist if it had not been invented. The best transmission of any knowledge to the children is to help them to explore step by step around each particular knowledge, which permits the physical neuronal connective construction. No young can learn and grow up without a watched inventus. Either adults !

Meanwhile, the continuity of human life implies that the duo habitus / inventus must be seriously undertaken all through the length of life. At any age, durable lack or excess of habitus and inventus will generate troubles.

Another consequence of the Extensio’s theory is the description of occidental human development in four different logical stages©. These stages are emerging from the acquisition of new tools: senses in the maternal stage, gestures and speech in the family stage, speech and reading in the collective stage, reading and writing in the individual stage.

As Norbert Elias well said, we can follow the collective development inside the individual development. For example, in Occident, the collective stage gets progressively mature after Renaissance while it occurs for the individual between seven-eight to thirteen-fourteen years old, and the individual stage – the most recent one – starts with the spread of literacy in the 19th century while individuals are still working on it.

We won’t describe here the features of each stage of development but it’s important to have in mind that the individual stage is characterised by a fuzzy dualism, body’s care and personal writing.

Beyond the pleasure of understanding which permits to orientate the decisions, the theory of Extensio has two main consequences: first, it’s a good help for educational responsibility. Any child must be educated with a watchful habitusinventus process. Second, it permits to detect the causes of sufferings inside each individual story. Anyone will get profit in analysing the parents’s (or substitutes’s) extensios and their addition: which lacks or excesses of tools transmission happened ?

Eugène Michel
© June 2011

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