For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

References for Theme: Craftsmanship

  • Helms, Eleanor; Dobson, John
  • Martin, Tom
  • Sennett, Richard
    • The Craftsman (2008)
      (p.11) History has drawn fault lines dividing practice and theory, technique and expression, craftsman  and artist,  maker  and user;  modern society suffers from this historical inheritance. But the past life of craft and craftsmen also suggests ways of using tools, organizing bodily movements, thinking about materials that remain alternative, viable proposals about how to conduct life with skill.
    • The Craftsman (2008)
      (p.13) The myth of Pandora has become now a secular symbol of self-destruction. To deal with this physical crisis we are obliged to change both the things we make and how  we  use  them.  We  will  need  to  learn  different  ways  of  making buildings  and  transport  and  to  contrive  rituals  that  accustom  us  to saving. We will need to become good craftsmen of the environment. The word sustainable is now used to convey this kind of craftsman-ship,  and  it  carries  a  particular  baggage.  Sustainable  suggests  living more at one with nature, as Martin Heidegger imagined in his old age, establishing an equilibrium...
    • The Craftsman (2008)
      (p.173) In  learning  to  make  a  Barolo  goblet  O’Connor  passed  through stages that resemble those we’ve explored among musicians and cooks. She had to ‘‘untape’’ habits she’d learnt in blowing simpler pieces in order to explore why she was failing, discovering, for instance, that the easy way that had become her habit meant that she scooped too little molten glass at the tip. She had to develop a better awareness of her body in relation to the viscous liquid, as though there were continuity between flesh and glass. This sounds poetic, though poetry was per-haps dispelled by the shouted comments of...
    • The Craftsman (2008)
      (p.175) We might think, as did Adam Smith describing industrial labor, of routine as mindless, that a person doing something over and over goes missing mentally; we might equate routine and boredom. For people who  develop  sophisticated  hand  skills,  it’s  nothing  like  this.  Doing something  over  and  over  is  stimulating  when  organized  as  looking ahead. The substance of the routine may change, metamorphose, improve, but the emotional payoff is one’s experience of doing it again. There’s  nothing  strange  about  this  experience.  We  all  know  it;  it  is rhythm.  Built  into  the  contractions  of  the  human  heart,  the  skilled craftsman has extended...
    • The Craftsman (2008)
      (p.179) Diderot found printers  and  typesetters  inarticulate  in  explaining  what they did; I found myself unable to put clearly into word show  hand  and  eye  coordinate.  Language  struggles  with depicting physical action, and nowhere is this struggle more evident than in language that tells us what to do. Whoever has tried to assemble a do-it-yourself bookcase following written instructions knows the problem. As one’s temper rises, one realizes how great a gap can exist between instructive language and the body. In  the  workshop  or  laboratory,  the  spoken  word  seems  more  effective than written instructions. Whenever a procedure becomes difficult, you can...
    • The Craftsman (2008)
      (p.20) All craftsmanship is founded on skill developed to a high degree. By one commonly used measure, about ten thousand hours of experience  are  required  to  produce  a  master  carpenter  or  musician.  Various studies show that as skill progresses, it becomes more problem-attuned,  like  the  lab  technician  worrying  about  procedure,  whereas people with primitive levels of skill struggle more exclusively on getting things to work. At its higher reaches, technique is no longer a mechanical activity; people can feel fully and think deeply what they are doing once they do it well.
    • The Craftsman (2008)
      (p.21) One of the earliest celebrations of the craftsman appears in a Homeric hymn to the master god of craftsmen, Hephaestus: -‘‘Sing clear-voiced Muse, of Hephaestus famed for skill. With bright-eyed Athena he taught men glorious crafts throughout the world—men who before used to dwell in caves in the mountains like wild beasts. But now that they have learned crafts through Hephaestus famous for his art they live a peaceful life in their own houses the whole year round.’’- The poem is contrary in spirit to the legend of Pandora, which took form at roughly the same time. Pandora presides over destruction, Hephaestus...
    • The Craftsman (2008)
      (p.23)  A  graver  portent  of  the  artisan’s darkening fortunes appears in the writings of Aristotle on the nature of craft. In the Metaphysics, he declares, ‘‘We consider that the architects in every profession are more estimable and know more and are wise than the artisans, because they know the reasons of the things which are done.’’ Aristotle abandons the old word for the craftsman, demioergos,  and  uses  instead cheirotechnon, which  means  simply  hand-worker.
    • The Craftsman (2008)
      (p.24) All craftsmanship is quality-driven work; Plato formulated this aim as the arete, the standard of excellence, implicit in any act: the aspiration for quality will drive a craftsman to improve, to get better rather than get by. But in his own time Plato observed that although ‘‘craftsmen are all poets . . . they are not called poets, they have other names.’’ Plato worried that these different names and indeed different skills kept people in his day from understanding what they shared. In the five centuries between the hymn to Hephaestus and his own life-time, something seemed to have slipped....
    • The Craftsman (2008)
      (p.241) When W. Edwards Deming first put forward in the 1960s his views on ‘‘total quality control’’ for organizations, the pursuit of quality seemed a frill to many profit-driven corporation executives. Deming put forward such nostrums as ‘‘The most important things cannot be measured’’ and ‘‘You can expect what you inspect’’; the Deming-Shewhart cycle for quality  control  is  a  four-step  process  that  investigates  and  discusses before setting to work. Hard headed managers preferred the practical experiments on worker motivation by Elton Mayo and his colleagues at the  Western  Electric  Company  in  the  1920s.  What  most  stimulated workers to achieve higher productivity, Mayo...
    • The Craftsman (2008)
      (p.286) This study has sought to rescue Animal laborans from the contempt  with  which  Hannah  Arendt  treated  him.  The working human animal can be enriched by the skills and dignified by the spirit of craftsmanship. This view of the human condition is, in European culture, as old as the Homeric hymn to Hephaestus, it served Islam in the writings of Ibn Khaldun, and it guided Confucianism throughout several thousand years.∞ In our own time, craftsmanship finds a philosophical home within pragmatism. For  more  than  a  century,  this  movement  has  dedicated  itself  to making  philosophical  sense  of  concrete  experience.  The  pragmatist movement...
    • The Craftsman (2008)
      (p.294) Pride in one’s work lies at the heart of  craftsmanship  as  the  reward  for  skill  and  commitment.  Thoughbrute pride figures as a sin in both Judaism and Christianity by putting self in place of God, pride in one’s work might seem to remove this sin, since the work has an independent existence. In Benvenuto Cellini’s Autobiography, obnoxious boasts about his sexual prowess are irrelevant to the gold work. The work transcends the maker. Craftsmen take pride most in skills that mature. This is why simple imitation is not a sustaining satisfaction; the skill has to evolve. The slowness of craft...
    • The Craftsman (2008)
      (p.3) Fear  of  Pandora  creates  a  rational  climate  of  dread—but  dread can  be  itself  paralyzing,  indeed  malign.  Technology  itself  can  seem the enemy rather than simply a risk. Pandora’s environmental casket was too easily closed, for instance, in a speech given by Arendt’s own teacher, Martin Heidegger, near the end of his life, at Bremen in 1949. On this infamous occasion Heidegger ‘‘discounted the uniqueness oft he Holocaust in terms of the ‘history of man’s misdeeds’ by comparing ‘the manufacture of corpses in the gas chambers and the death camp ’to  mechanized  agriculture.’’  In  the  historian  Peter  Kempt’s  words, ‘‘Heidegger thought...
    • The Craftsman (2008)
      (p.53) The  workshop  is  the  craftsman’s  home.  Traditionally  this was literally so. In the Middle Ages craftsmen slept, ate, and raised their children in the places where they worked. The workshop, as well as a home for families, was small in  scale,  each  containing  at  most  a  few  dozen  people;  the  medieval workshop looked nothing like the modern factory containing hundreds or  thousands  of  people.  It’s  easy  to  see  the  romantic  appeal  of  the workshop-home to socialists who first confronted the industrial land-scape  of  the  nineteenth  century.  Karl  Marx,  Charles  Fourier,  and Claude  Saint-Simon  all  viewed  the  workshop  as  a  space ...
    • The Craftsman (2008)
      (p.7) The human animal who is Animal laborans is capable of thinking; the discussions the producer holds may be mentally with materials rather than with other people; people working together certainly talk to one another about what they are doing. For Arendt, the mind engages once labor is done. Another, more balanced view is that thinking and feeling are contained within the process of making.
    • The Craftsman (2008)
      (p.83) Age-old questions of deprivation and lack did not go away—the masses of Europeans still lived in a scarcity society—but machine production of tableware, clothing, bricks, and glass added tot his other dimension of worry: how to use these goods well, what abundance might be for, how not to be spoiled by possessions. On balance, the eighteenth century embraced the virtue of abundance, mechanically produced, and so should we. For consumers the ma-chine then promised, and by the twenty-first century has infinitely improved, the quality of our lives; more and better medicines, houses, food—an endless list. The material quality of life...
    • The Craftsman (2008)
      (p.9) ‘‘Craftsmanship’’  may  suggest  a  way  of  life  that  waned  with  the advent  of  industrial  society—but  this  is  misleading.  Craftsmanship names an enduring, basic human impulse, the desire to do a job well for  its  own  sake.  Craftsmanship  cuts  a  far  wider  swath  than  skilled manual labor; it serves the computer programmer, the doctor, and the artist; parenting improves when it is practiced as a skilled craft, as does citizenship. In all these domains, craftsmanship focuses on objective standards, on the thing in itself. Social and economic conditions, how-ever,  often  stand  in  the  way  of  the  craftsman’s  discipline  and  commitment: schools...
    • The Craftsman (2008)
  • Varkøy, Øivind; Angelo, Elin; Rolle, Christian
    • "Artist or Crafts(wo)man?" (2020)
      (p.15) At the same time, however, we are aware that crafts(wo)men may consider good work to have value in itself. In this case, experiences have meaning that can be found in the process of handcrafting, exclusively for the crafts(wo)man him-/herself. No score of music, no novel, no painting can be said to have intrinsic value as products. The products of crafts(wo)men are means with ends outside themselves. Similarly, in Sennett’s definition of the crafts(wo)man (in Arendt’s terms, Homo faber) as a person who is dedicated to good work for its own sake, he speaks of the process of good work as...
    • "Artist or Crafts(wo)man?" (2020)
      (p.19) Further, the Aristotelian concept of techné, (‘art’ in English), which is often associated with technique, can be used to discuss the technical skills needed to play an instrument, as a musician needs to have technical knowledge. However, Heidegger argues that the term techné has nothing to do with what we think about today as technical skills and that it is to be interpreted as a way in which to have knowledge or to have seen. To see, according to Heidegger, is a perception of being just as it is and uncovering the deeper truth of being. Moreover, a central aspect...
    • "Artist or Crafts(wo)man?" (2020)
View all themes.
How to contribute.