Homo faber (Latin for “Man the Maker”) is the concept of human beings able to control their fate and their environment through tools.
In Latin literature, Appius Claudius Caecus uses this term in his Sententiæ, referring to the ability of man to control his destiny and what surrounds him: Homo faber suae quisque fortunae (Every man is the artifex of his destiny).
In older anthropology theories, Homo faber, as the “working man”, is confronted with Homo ludens, the “playing man“, who is concerned with amusements, humor, and leisure.
The classic homo faber suae quisque fortunae was “rediscovered” by humanists in 14th century and was central in the Italian Renaissance.
In the 20th century, Max Scheler and Hannah Arendt made the philosophical concept central again.
Henri Bergson also referred to the concept in Creative Evolution (1907), defining intelligence, in its original sense, as the “faculty to create artificial objects, in particular tools to make tools, and to indefinitely variate its makings.”
Homo Faber is the title of an influential novel by the Swiss author Max Frisch, published in 1957.
Homo faber can be also used in opposition or juxtaposition to deus faber (“God the Creator”), an archetype of which are the various gods of the forge.
Homo faber is used by Pierre Schaeffer in the Traité des objects Musicaux as the man creator of music, which uses its brute experience, an instinctive practice in music creation; Concluding that the homo faber aways precedes the Homo sapiens in the process of creation.
Frisch’ book was made into the film Voyager, starring Sam Shepard and Julie Delpy.
Homo Faber was one of the five IBMYP areas of interaction, before it was replaced with “Human Ingenuity”.
The concept of homo faber is referenced in Umberto Eco’s “Open Work”: he refutes its negative connotation and instead argues that homo faber is a manifestation of man’s innate being in nature. Use of homo faber in this negative light is argued by Eco to represent the alienation from and objectification of nature.
“Homo Faber” is also the title of a short poem by Frank Bidart that is included in his collection Desire (1997).
Homo faber is often placed in juxtaposition to homo adorans, the worshiping man. In other words, under traditional Judeo-Christian philosophy, the ultimate purpose of humankind is to worship God, whereas, under (for example) Marxist or Capitalist ideology, the purpose of humankind was embedded in what he or she can make or produce.
<< The great Lewis Lapham:
“The internet is maybe the best and brightest machine ever made by man, blessed with a near-infinite expanse of miraculous application. Language is not yet one of them. Computers scan everything but hear nothing. Even if they knew where to find or how to make a cosmos best suited for human habitation, how would they send word of the discovery?
They know not who they are or what they do.
The strength of language doesn’t consist in its capacity to pin things down or sort things out. “Word-work,” said Toni Morrison, accepting the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993, “is sublime…because it is generative,” its felicity found in its reach toward the ineffable. “We die,” she said. “That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” Shakespeare shaped the same thought as a sonnet, comparing his beloved to a summer’s day, offering his rhymes as surety on the bond of immortality—“So long as men can breathe or eyes can see / So long lives this and this gives life to thee.”
Google can bring the news that E=mc2, but Google doesn’t know what E is. Doesn’t know that in the first of its many meanings, E is the mind of man (nature looking creatively back on itself) embarking on the voyages of discovery—Odysseus, great-hearted and wide-wandering on the wine-dark sea, Charles Darwin sailing for the enchanted islands in the Galápagos, Humboldt climbing Mount Chimborazo, Michelangelo reaching upward toward the horizon of the Sistine ceiling, deaf Beethoven directing the performance of his Ninth Symphony in Vienna in 1824, giving voice to the joy of learning that wonders never cease.” >>
The limitless expanse of human ignorance Rubin sees as the fortunate provocation that rouses out the love of learning, kindles the signal fires of the imagination. We have no other light with which to see and maybe to recognize ourselves as human.
what delights him are the dots going together across otherwise unbridged distances in space and time. ..The scrupulously repeated making of similar connections—between the here and now with the there and then
as diligently as Humboldt counts seeds and collects insects, and as rigorous his scientific methods of investigation, he believes that a great part of man’s response to the natural world must be based on the senses and the emotions. The sentiment places him in the vanguard of the nineteenth-century Romantic movement rising in objection to the Enlightenment view of the universe as a cleverly, if inexplicably, manufactured clock, its workings immutable and heartless, faithful in its service to the holders of property, the claimants of privilege, the custodians of bourgeois church and state and bank.
Unable to explain what prompted Planck to the discovery, Einstein finds “no logical bridge between phenomena and their theoretical principles,” only “intuition, resting on sympathetic understanding of experience.”
finding in books the peace and security of membership in realities other than those confined to my experience
The reader creates the writer, the writer creates the reader; between them they construct a cosmos that suits them best, and by so doing they overcome, in Manguel’s words, “the obstacles of geography, the finality of death.” Their joint enterprise is the making of the two worlds we inhabit as human beings, one in the flesh, the other in mind. Man, says Thomas Carlyle, is symbol maker made conscious of himself as symbol maker, the only one of earth’s creatures (or at least the only one we know about) capable of traveling in time in a cosmos that suits him.“The past,” said William Faulkner, “is never dead. It’s not even past.” The observation is in line with George Orwell’s dictum “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” Orwell was talking about the use of history as propaganda bent to the service of the state. The better deployment is in the service of the individual—the velocity of light relative to the mass of energy in the head of an observer.
It isn’t with miracles that men make their immortality. They do so with the vast store of human consciousness gathered on their travels across the frontiers of the millenn
compost heap of human civilization; the finding of the present in the past, the past in the present, is the stuff of which our lives, our liberties, and pursuits of happiness are made.
Books I regard as voyages of discovery, .. I don’t go in search of the lost gold mines of imperishable truth; I look instead for where I might learn what it is to be a human being, as flesh made word and word made flesh, as man, as woman, as both, or none of the above…..I live in all the pasts present on the page, and I begin to understand what the physicists have in mind when they talk about the continuum of time and space.
The stories that bear a second reading are those in which the author manages to get at the truth of what he or she has seen, felt, thought, knows, can *find language to express.
*perhaps this is where we are missing the boat.. by insisting on a finite/set language.. perhaps we open us/truth/antifragility/emergence/alive-ness up.. by realizing we have the **means to let go.. and let.. ie: idiosyncratic jargon.. be our language.. all the ways.. all the voices..
**on computer not getting language/meaning.. perhaps never meant to.. perhaps ai (augmenting) ness is more about facilitating our daily curiosities.. w/o us have to prep/train in a certain language first..
this issue of Lapham’s Quarterly suggests that we do nobody any favors by outsourcing the acts of discovery to machines. The suggestion runs counter to the arrogant belief that machines are the salvation of the human race, technology the light and wonder of the world. The prophecy is false, but the sales promotion is relentless
Machines can measure blood flow and scan a heartbeat, but they don’t know how it is with man, who he is and how it is between him and other men.
and… it’s that knowing.. of man/relationship.. that affects blood flow.. begs we go deeper.. than measure\ingness
but they can’t connect the dots to anything other than themselves.
They process words as lifeless objects, not as living subjects, and so they don’t know what the words mean. Not knowing what the words mean, they can’t hack into the civilizing heap of human consciousness (of myth and memory and emotion) that is the making of ourselves as human beings.
The internet is maybe the best and brightest machine ever made by man, blessed with a near-infinite expanse of miraculous application. Language is not yet one of them. Computers scan everything but hear nothing. Even if they knew where to find or how to make a cosmos best suited for human habitation, how would they send word of the discovery? They know not who they are or what they do.
The strength of language doesn’t consist in its capacity to pin things down or sort things out. “Word-work,” said Toni Morrison, accepting the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993, “is sublime…because it is generative,” its felicity found in its reach toward the ineffable. “We die,” she said. “That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”