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Richard Sennett

The Craftsman by Richard Sennett

Reviewed by Roger Scruton

Richard Sennett’s The Craftsman continues an argument begun in the 19th century, when writers such as John Ruskin and William Morris extolled the crafts remembered in our surnames (Smith, Cartwright, Thatcher, Mason, Fletcher) while lamenting the mind-numbing and soul-destroying labour of the industrial process which was replacing them. A long line of thinkers, from Hegel and Marx to Sennett’s teacher Hannah Arendt, have sympathised with the argument. But Sennett does not think that craftsmanship has vanished from our world. On the contrary: it has merely migrated to other regions of human enterprise, so that the delicate form of skilled cooperation that once produced a cathedral now produces the Linux software system. Linux, for Sennett, is the work of a community of craftsmen “who embody some of the elements first celebrated in the (Homeric) Hymn to Hephaestus”.

The quotation illustrates the range and boldness of this book. Sennett defines craftmanship as “an enduring, basic human impulse, the desire to do a job well for its own sake”.


Sennett: Handwerk

The Guardian, Review

Kostis Velonis

frei versus offen

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