February 1, 2015

to know what counts (2011)

That nurturing practice was called poiesis. Until about a hundred years ago, the cultivating and nurturing practices of poiesis organized a central way things mattered. The poietic style manifested itself, among other places, in the craftsman’s skills for bringing things out at their best. . . . This cultivating, craftsman-like, poietic understanding of how to bring out meanings at their best was alive and well into the late nineteenth century, but it is under attack in our technological age. . . . The task of the craftsman is not to generate the meaning, but rather to cultivate in himself the skill for discerning the meanings that are already there. . . . the uniqueness of each situation gives a sacred dimension to the craftsmanship. . . . To the extent that technology strips away the need for skill, it strips away the possibility for meaning as well. To have a skill is to know what counts or is worthwhile in a certain domain. Skills reveal meaningful differences to us and cultivate in us a sense of responsibility to bring these out at their best. To the extent that it takes away the need for skill, technology flattens out human life. 

Hubert Dreyfus (2011)