Home XXIII: Substitute



Early man produced substitutes for limbs and organs



Since 1920: Electrical and electronic robots

Humans as "models" for artists

Mannequins and prostitutes

Outcast and animals as substitutes for humans




Examples for substitutes:


a) surrogate, dummy

b) crutch, prosthese, amplifier

c) token, chip

d) animal experimentation
animal model, model organism


e) animate figure, nude, sitter

f) mannequin, dressman (displaying clothes), fotomodel

g) euphemism for callgirl, prostitute

h) decorative model (gadget girl)

i) training object (for hairdresser)



Early man produced substitutes for limbs and organs


Reflexion on the construction and use of material models in prehistoric times starts with Lazarus Geiger (1871) and Ernst Kapp (1877). They interpreted tools and weapons as "projections of organs or limbs" („Organprojektionen“). The forearm was a model for the ditch stick, the fist for the hand axe, the curved hand for the shovel, the straddled fingers for the rake, the grasping hand for the pliers, etc. In this view instruments, utensils and weapons substituted, amplified or disburdend limbs or other parts of the human body.

The opposite can be found in Paul Alsberg (1922) and Werner Sombart (1927) or Ortega y Gasset (1951) and Arnold Gehlen (1957): the necessity of technique resulted from the deficiency of the human limbs and organs.


Therefore, since about 2,5 million years ago, we can speak of technique regarding the use of material models by men.


“Bionics” starts around 1870 with the Swiss botanist Simon Schwendener and the German mathematician Carl Culmann at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. The designer of the Eiffel tower, Maurice Koechlin, was a pupil of Culmann (1873-1877).



Invention/ Erfindung





From Old Egypt as well as of Greece and Rome we have descriptions and drawings of prostheses, defined as rehabilitation aids. Also some actual prostheses are found, e. g. with Egyptian mummies. In the Indian poem “Rigveda” we find the story of a female warrior, who lost her leg in a battle. After she was fitted out with an iron prosthesis she went back to the battle.

In Aristophanes’ play “The Birds” an actor wears a leg prosthesis. There were also hook hands and other devices for work.

In the Middle Ages prostheses were used for amputations in battles and to hide deformations. Since Renaissance times medicine, amputation surgery and prosthetic science have grown and been refined.





see also: Timeline of Robotics:



Already the naturalist and philosopher Anaximander (ca. 550 BC) is said to have constructed a „sphaera“, i .e. a celestial globe (as reported by Diogenes Laertius). Archytas of Tarentum (around 400 BC) is said to have constructed a flying dove. Archimedes built a planetarium which was put in motion – according to different sources – either by a crank or by water. Marcellus brought it to Rome as spoils of war and already Cicero could admire it.

Ktesibos of Alexandria constructed, among other devices, a mechanical organ, put in motion by water (therefore “hydraulos”). Philon of Byzantium constructed an automatic theatre (“automatopoietika”) and Heron of Alexandria many pneumatic apparatus. Some of these were rebuilt around 1500.

On automata – e. g. chirping birds – in medieval Constantinople and Baghdad we have various reports (Helmut Swoboda, 1967, 33-55, 63f).


In his “New Atlantis” (written 1624) Francis Bacon describes how the inhabitants of the great Atlantis

“imitate also flights of birds … We imitate also motions of living creatures by images (Latin: in simulachris) of men, beasts, birds, fishes, and serpents; we have also a great number of other various motions, strange for equality, fineness, and subtilty“ (Francis Bacon 1960, 210, 212).

Since 1500 artistic clock makers and precision mechanic in Nuremberg and Augsburg built mechanical devices of all kinds; around 1525 Hans Bullmann constructed the first „android“ and shorty afterwards Caspar Werner an automatic model ship. In 1589 Hans Schlottheim created a mechanical Christmas crib with music (Helmut Swoboda, 1967, 73, 70, 118; Sigvard Strandh, 1980, 177). Also various automata (and play of waters) have been built in Toledo by Juliano Turriano and later in vicinity of Paris by Tommaso and Alessandro Francini, and in Heidelberg by Salomon de Caus (Luke Morgan, 2007). In the 18th century we have the marvelous automatic figures of the French Jacques Vaucanson, the Germans Ludwig and Friedrich Knaus, the Englishman James Cox with the Belgian John Joseph Merlin, and the Swiss Pierre and Henri-Louis Jaquet-Droz. The latter constructed also functioning prostheses.



model: special topics – Automaten/ Roboter



Since 1920: Electrical and electronic robots


After 1920, inspired by Karel Capek’s play "R. U. R." („Rossum's Universal Robot“, 1920), numerous so-called "robots" were built; they had names such as

·        “Occultus – the radio man” (1924); a robot soldier built by the American engineer Whitman;

·        "Televox" (1927); a domestic robot built by an engineer of Westinhouse, R. J. Wensley;

·        "Eric" (1928); a robot in knight’s armor built by Captain W. H. Richards.

In the 1930s each fair and exhibition, particular about it’s appearance, had its own, often larger-than-life robot (Gary Jennings 1962; Helmut Swoboda 1967, 179ff, 204f; Jasia Reichardt 1978; Brian Morris 1985; Gero von Randow 1997). The Swiss August Huber built a whole series of „Sabor I“ to „Sabor V“ (1960).


Edwin Garrigues Boring (1946) mentions several attempts of famous psychology researchers between 1929 and 1938 to desing learning robots. To illustrate the conditioned reflex H. D. Baernstein constructed in 1929 an electro-mechanical model for Clark Leonard Hull. In the same year J. M. Stephens presented a „learning machine“ to demonstrate the law of effect. A year later Albert Walton described among other devices a „conditioned reflex machine“. A refinement was presented in 1933 by George K. Bennett und Lewis B. Ward.

In 1930 psychologist and behaviorist Karl S. Lashley attempted to give a theory of brain functions in analogy to the telefone system: „The model for the theory is a telephone system. Just as two instruments can be connected only by certain wires, so the sense organs and muscles concerned in any act are connected by nerve fibers specialized for that act.“


In 1938 the American Thomas Ross built the first scientific robot. It was a small machine, learning, like a mouse by trial and error, the way out from a maze. Since this time researchers like to build "life-imitating" machines. Famous examples include the electronic turtles "Elmer" and “Elsie" of the American-English brain researcher William Grey Walter (1948), the “Homeostat” of the Englishman W. Ross Ashby (1948) and the "machina labyrinthea" of the American R. A. Wallace (1952). Also theoreticists of cybernetics and communication constructed simple and small cybernetic animals, e. g. Norbert Wiener (with the help of his assistant Jerome Wiesner), Claude Shannon, Heinz Zemanek and Albert Ducrocq.


The first complete robot system with sensors and optical pathfinder was developed in 1968 at the Stanford Research Institute and was called "Shakey". It was rebuilt in 1971 for other tasks.

The first computer usable for process control in industrial production was operative in 1957. Numerically controlled industry robots have been in use since 1960.


Since the beginning of the 1970s engineers spoke of “Computer-aided Manufacturing“ (Douglas A. Cassel 1972) and „Computer Integrated Manufacturing“ (Joseph Harrington 1973).



model: special topics – Automaten/ Roboter

model: special topics – Computer Aided Design (CAD)



Humans as "models" for artists


From Quintilian (Inst. Orat. Xii. 50, 4) and Cicero we have reports on how the Greek paintor Zeuxis (around 410 BC) designed his famous picture of Helena. In spite of the tendency towards realism inherent in his new method, he is said to have retained the ideality which had characterized his predecessors.

As models for the picture he made use of five beautiful maidens of Croton. Cicero (De Invent. ii. I, I) assumed that Zeuxis found, distributed among them, the various elements that went to make up a figure of ideal beauty. But he did not simply combine the good points from each of the models, rather he picked the points that answered to the ideal Helena he had in his own mind. He used the models to guide and correct him in transferring his ideal to form and color.


Drawing from a human model reemerged in the Renaissance around 1270 with Cimabue. However, over 100 years passed until artists dared to paint (1380/1400) a nude.

Only another three hundred years later the word for naked female as well as male sitters was "modello" (Italian 1672; later also: modella), "modelle" (French 1676), "model" (English 1691) and "Modell" (German 1717).


That painting aims at an ideal of perfection is illustrated by the complaint of Raffael:

"In order to paint a beautiful women I should need to see  several fair ones, and you would have to help me with the selection; but since fair women and competent judges are rare, I make use of a certain idea that comes to my mind" (see Egon Friedell, 1927 zit. 1984, 222; Rudolf Arnheim, Engl. 1970, 98).

His contemporary Albrecht Dürer verbalized this mor precise:

„A good painter’s interior is filled with figure. And if it’s possible that he lives eternally he can express his inner ideas - as Plato writes - again and again in new works of art.“

In 1887 a novel of Emile Zola was published in Philadelphia: „Christine, the model, or, studies of love.“ Oscar Wilde’s short story „The Model Millionaire“ (1887) closes with the sentence: „Millionaire models are rare enough; but, by Jove, model millionaires are rarer still!“

Also in 1887 John Addington Symonds published the essay „The Model“, wherein he praises the nude male body. Two years later Oscar Wilde opened his essay on London artist’s models with the sentence: “Professional models are a purely modern invention.”

Franz von Suppé died on May 21, 1895, composing his operetta “The model”. Its premiere  was on October 4 of the same year.


In the years 1953-54 Picasso painted 70 pictures to the topic "the painter and his model".

In 1937 stage director Raoul Walsh had shot the musical “Artists and Models”, starring Ida Lupino, in 1955 Frank Tashlin shot a comedy with the same title, starring Dorothy Malone and Shirley MacLaine.


Another kind of human substitute is the already mentioned “guinea pig” (see chap. XV: sample, specimen, guinea pig).



Artist’s model/ sitter/ nude



Mannequins and prostitutes


The word "mannequin" comes from the Dutch. Since 1570 lay figures are called in England "manikin", since 1671 in France "mannequin". Since 1806 also the tailor’s dummy in French is a "mannequin" (also: poupée).

It was obvious from that, to designate two important innovations in the field of fashion in the 19th century also as "mannequin" (Nicole Parrot 1981):

·        a woman displaying clothing (since about 1850 in French, since 1919 in English - here from 1904 on: model)

·        a shop window doll (since about 1880 in French, since 1902 in English).


„Model“ is also used for a trainig object of a hairdresser. „Model“ as euphemism for prostitute is used in England since 1963 and soon spread on the continent. „Decorative models“ stand mostly aside cars at automobile exhibitions.


One of the many examples of the so-called "Americanisation" of the German language after the World War II is the substitution of the words “Probierfräulein”, “Fotomodell”, “Vorführmodell” and "Mannequin" by "Model" since 1968, whereby in the 1980's still both forms were used.



Mannequin/ fashion model – photographic model



Outcast and animals as substitutes for humans


Animal testing or experimentation as well as human subject research were first performed and recorded by Aristotle (ca. 350 BC), Herophilos of Chalcedon (ca. 300 BC) is known as „father of scientific anatomy“. He was reputed to have vivisected prisoners; some 500 years later the church father Tertullian stated that Herophilos had vivisected at least 600 prisoners: „Herophilus ille medicus aut lanius, qui sexcentos exsecuit“ (De an., 10). At the same time Erasistratos became the „father of physiology“ by experimenting with living animals.


The Greek physician in Rome, Galen (before 200 AD), is known as „father of vivisection“. He dissected pigs and goats and he is also said to have experimented with humans by introducing inflammations to foster the production of pus. When it flew out the balance of humours (body fluids) would be restored.


Systematic experimentation and vivisection of humans were then introduced after the year 1000 first by the Arab physician Avicenna (Ibn Sina) then around 1150 by Avenzoar (Ibn Zuhr), Abubacer (Ibn Tufail) and Ibn Jumay. Physicians unter the influence of the Christian Church shied away from such sacrilege.


Many centuries later we find experiments with humans with respect to vaccination trials in the 1770s (e. g. Benjamin Jesty and Edward Jenner). At the same time physicians in Prussia were allowed to use and vivisect humans of the lower class for medical reasons.


Around 1750 psychological and neurophysiological research on animals started with the Swiss Charles Bonnet, the French Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon and Etienne Bonnot de Condillac, the German philosophers Georg Friedrich Meier and Hermann Samuel Reimarus as well with the Scottish philosopher and economist David Hume. Most popular became Julien Offray de La Mettrie („L'homme machine", 1748). The animal experiments of the Swiss polymath Albrecht von Haller (published 1756-60) – including more than 400 vivisections of 17 animal species - laid the foundation for neurobiology. La Mettrie regarded von Haller as a living exemplar of a “machine man”.

Since 1820 François Magendie and others regularly made experiments with animals. Pierre Flourens, professor for comparative anatomy in Paris, removed by exstirpation certain parts of the brain of pigeons and dogs and observed in consequence a decline in performance (1824).


Already in 1831 the English neurologist and physiologist Marshall Hall set up guidelines for experiments with animals. He outlined five principles (see also Andrew N. Rowan, 1984, 45f):

1. An experiment should never be performed if the necessary information could be obtained by observations

2. No experiment should be performed without a clearly defined and obtainable objective

3. Scientists should be well-informed about the work of their predecessors and peers in order to avoid unnecessary repetition of an experiment

4. Justifiable experiments should be carried out with the least possible infliction of suffering (often through the use of lower, less sentient animals)

5. Every experiment should be performed under circumstances that would provide the clearest possible results, thereby diminishing the need for repetition of experiments.


The first investigations into isolated hearts took place 1846. And immediately the first protests against vivisection arouse (Evalyn Westacott 1949).

In the 1880s Louis Pasteur experimented with sheeps. In the 1890s Ivan Pawlow used dogs to demonstrate classical conditioning.


In 1998 Kenneth Joel Shapiro came to the conclusion that the investigation into animals does not help understand human behavior.


Today “model organisms” or “animal models” include selected bacteria, fungi, plants or animals, bred using simple methods and easy to examine, and therefore very important for biological and biomedical research (e. g. Erwin F. Wanger, 1993; Pamela M. Carroll, Kevin Fitzgerald, 2003).


see also:

chap. XV: sample, specimen, guinea pig



Human/ animal experimentation/ guinea pigs - Animal models/ model organisms


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