Homo Faber

One of my favourite posts in this blog is called Whole Earth Catalog – 50 Years. Read through to the end of it to find the gem, in my opinion, which is to understand the sad contortion of humanity’s destiny with the creation of the Whole Earth Catalog. That subtitle, Access to Tools, is so significant, more significant than Stuart Brand realised or that any of us realised at the time.

I think of it as a reference to our very humanity. Humans as tool-using animals. There must have been a word that the Greeks used for humans as tool-using animals, but I checked with ChatGTP and there wasn’t a particular Latin name for that. It wasn’t until the 18th century that the term Homo sapiens came into use.

Prompted by my AI, I came up with homo faber.  Humans as creators. Yes there is a link to humans as gods there. The concept, though not the term, is central to Marx and Moreno – and shows how related these two are! The history of humanity is the history of class struggle. And class struggle is about our relationships around our creativity, our production. And for Moreno, it is our creativity that is central, esp creating newness out of nothing, spontaneity.

The term Homo Faber has a history. I think it was used by Henri Bergson, and then also by Max Scheler and Hannah Arendt.  I came across this article
13 The Homo Faber Debate in Dewey and Max Scheler I think the history uses the word a little bit differently from the way I want to use it. I’m to saying is how significant our creativity it is in our evolution, in our way of being at the moment, and for our future.

Maria daVenza Tillmanns argues that we need to be holistic in our approach to solving complex problems.
The Need To Move Beyond Homo Faber

Being holistic is fine, but she misses the point that creativity includes cognition. Making, agency, wisdom, relationships and cognition all come together in our creativity, in homo faber. There is nothing mechanistic about it.

Also there is no hard and fast line in the chain of evolution. There are traces of us that go back to the start of life; cell reproduction, sexual reproduction, using oxygen that comes from plants. Its all interconnected. Homo faber is a culmination.

It is also incomplete. Are we masters of our tools? Not when manufacture is global and highly specialised. Our relational ability has to develop if we are to survive. We need to transform the relationships of production.

I’m more respectful of Moreno’s “Creative revolution”, though we need to see beyond the philosophical idealism and liberalism.

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