the craftsman

## richard sennett ### yale university press, 20218


making is thinking


starting from arendt’s concern about technological frenzy, and her belief in letting the public have a discussion around technological development (cf. the human condition). the response to that starts with the difference between animal laborens and homo faber. the first takes work as the end in itself (thinking and feeling are constrained within the process of making), the second asks why this works happens.

fine cloth or well-cooked food enables us to image larger categories of “good”: animal laborens serves as homo faber’s guide. craftmanship is the desire to do a job well for its own sake - skill, commitment, judgment.

two claims: 1 skill develops first through the body, 2 technological understanding develops through the powers of imagination. these two claims combine in exploring how resistance and ambiguity can lead to instruction. in this sense, motivation matters more than talent, because that motivation/obsession is what will have the biggest effect on the work.

the troubled craftsman

if the place of the craftsman was essential in archaic greece, as we can tell by the myth of Hephaestus, its status changed in classical greece. aristotle saw them as inferior because they didn’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing, while plato continued to confer upon them the ability to make, poiein (he also worried that the diversity of names for craftspeople would hide their deep common aspect)

linux is a public craft (quoting the cathedral and the bazaar), and while being a resurgence of demioergoi (public-producer), it still struggles on how to reconcile quality of knowledge with openness of access.

all craftsmanship has an impersonality in their character, which at the same time turns people outward, makes them more vocal.

there are two imperatives in the modern world to do good work: - moral imperative to do work for the community - competition imperative of performing better than others

the solution he finds is cooperation (examples of Nokia, Motorola), and the sharp, mutual exchanges and mutual commitments in the “total quality control” world of japanese industry: everyone aims for the best, and that gives an excuse to speak truth to power.

the separation of head and hand: practice is the sustained exploration of problem-finding and problem-solving, which builds and expands skillsets, and then raises the bar.

“The ‘Eureka’ moments that turn the lock in a practice that has jammed are embedded in routine”. this develops embodied knowledge, but without disregarding the craftsman as a social outcast. the more practice one has, the more practical they become, and the easier it becomes to make the distinction between correct and practical

“to do good work means to be curious about, to investigate, and to learn from ambiguity

“Embedding” is making tacit, instinctive, but this experiential standard for making judgments/decisions is still seen as suspect by some.

craftsmanship is relational thinking, not settling for quick fixes, the conflict between tacit knowledge and explicit critique

the workshop

the workshop is a productive space in which people deal face-to-face with issues of authority (authority vs. autonomy)

the apprentice would learn by imitation, by copying. the journeyman had to show managerial competence, negotiating travel and stability.

the difference between arts and crafts lies in part in the difference between private/subjectivity/autonomous/dominant agent/sudden (artist) and public/objectivity/interdependent/collective agent/slow (craftsman), which also introduces the question of the original, and what kind of social foundation it could provide (spoiler: a brooding one)

originality also put a deadline on the workshop’s life, since originality is by definition hard to pass on.