For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Heidegger’s critique of technology and the contemporary return to artisan business activity"

by Helms, Eleanor; Dobson, John (2016)


So far aesthetics has played a limited role in our understanding of business activity, focused mainly on evaluating product quality and the character qualities (virtues) of the firm that produced them We draw on Heidegger’s fuller account of aesthetic value to show how a firm—like a work of art – can disclose the way human projects and technologies are already at work in a given context. In this way, we show that firms play an essential role in human self-understanding—a role that Heidegger assigns primarily to works of art. We then apply the Heideggerian approach to the contemporary turn to artisanal products such as personalized handcrafts, craft beer and the “third wave” coffee movement.

Key Passage

It is true that Heidegger—along with the founder-philosophers of most business-ethics theory— wrote very little directly about business. However, on the question of the ontology of the artisan, Heidegger is uniquely valuable. He provides an interpretation that differs fundamentally from those based on either an ethics of virtue, or a beauty-based aesthetic. We argue furthermore that Heidegger’s account of what it means to be a human person in a meaningful world can significantly broaden and enrich our conception of what it means to manage or play a significant role in a business organization. (p.205)


Heidegger, Crafts, Artisan, Practice, Technology, Aesthetics


Technology, On Heidegger, Craftsmanship

Links to Reference



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