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    Philosophy: Responsive craft

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    In What Is Called Thinking? (14-15) Heidegger asks what it is that an apprentice cabinet maker learns from his master.  He learns skills, but not only that.  He gains useful information, but not only that either.  Fundamentally, Heidegger says, the apprentice is supposed to learn to think, which means in this context to attend responsively to what his materials give him to thing about.

    Heidegger puts it this way: “If he is to become a true cabinetmaker, he makes himself answer and respond above all to the different kinds of wood and to the shapes slumbering within wood – to wood as it enters into man’s dwelling with all the hidden riches of its nature.  In fact, this relatedness to wood is what maintains the whole craft.  Without this relatedness, the craft will never be anything but empty busywork, any occupation with it will be determined exclusively by business concerns.”

    posted by Peter J. Leithart on Saturday, October 20, 2012 at 3:01 pm