Sennett, Richard The Craftsman

ISBN 13: 9780713998733

The Craftsman

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9780713998733: The Craftsman
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Why do people work hard, and take pride in what they do? This book, a philosophically-minded enquiry into practical activity of many different kinds past and present, is about what happens when people try to do a good job. It asks us to think about the true meaning of skill in the 'skills society' and argues that pure competition is a poor way to achieve quality work. Sennett suggests, instead, that there is a craftsman in every human being, which can sometimes be enormously motivating and inspiring - and can also in other circumstances make individuals obsessive and frustrated.

The Craftsman shows how history has drawn fault-lines between craftsman and artist, maker and user, technique and expression, practice and theory, and that individuals' pride in their work, as well as modern society in general, suffers from these historical divisions. But the past lives of crafts and craftsmen show us ways of working (using tools, acquiring skills, thinking about materials) which provide rewarding alternative ways for people to utilise their talents. We need to recognise this if motivations are to be understood and lives made as fulfilling as possible.

The book divides into three parts: the first addresses the craftsman at work. This is a story of workshops - the guilds of medieval goldsmiths, the ateliers of musical instrument makers, modern laboratories - in which masters and apprentices work together but not as equals. In its second part the book explores the development of skill: knowledge gained in the hand through touch and movement. A diverse group of case studies illustrates the grounding of skill in physical practice - from striking a piano key to the use of imperfect scientific instruments like the first telescopes or the anatomist's scalpel. The argument of the third part is that motivation counts for more than talent. Enlightenment thinkers believed that everyone possesses the ability to do good work, and that we are more likely to fail as craftsmen due to our motivation than because of our lack of ability. The book assesses and challenges this belief, concluding by considering craftsmanship as more than a technical practice, and considering the ethical questions that craftsmen's sustaining habits raise about how we anchor ourselves in the world around us.

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Review:

"As Richard Sennett makes clear in this lucid and compelling book, craftsmanship once connected people to their work by conferring pride and meaning. The loss of craftsmanship--and of a society that values it--has impoverished us in ways we have long forgotten but Sennett helps us understand."--Robert B. Reich, Professor of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley, and author of Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life


"In The Craftsman [Sennett] compellingly explores the universe of skilled work, where 'the desire to do a job well done for its own sake' still flourishes."--Brian C. Anderson, Wall Street Journal
"An inquiring, intelligent look at how the work of the hand informs the work of the mind."--New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice)
"Sennett looks at the evolution of craftsmanship and the historical forces which have stultified it, how it's learned in the areas it still thrives, and issues of quality and ability. Sennett's learned but inclusive prose proves entirely readable, and the breadth of his curiosity . . . take him in a number of fascinating directions."--Publishers Weekly

"Eloquent and persuasive."--Scott Nesbit, Culture


"The Craftsman is [an] ambitious, thought-provoking look at how we humans connect with, relate to, and understand the world around us."--Wayne Curtis, American Scholar
"Craftsman is a fairly concrete, unvarnished word that Mr. Sennett gilds and bejewels with virtue and history. For Mr. Sennett, craftsmanship 'represents the special human condition of being engaged, ' and ideal marriage of 'hand to head' that crowns technical mastery with a person's sincerest efforts to make something well for its own sake. This would be dizzily heady stuff if Mr. Sennett's book weren't so prodigiously grounded in stuff itself as a means of knowledge."--Jeremy Axelrod, New York Sun
"I am confident that as Sennett continues his quest to make sense of life and work, those of us who study the digital age will find it worthwhile to pay more attention to his body of work."--Siva Vaidhyanathan, The Chronicle Review
"This book challenges our thinking and understanding concerning how we create work and workplaces, and how we make social and political choices about what we produce and consume. Sennett reaches out to the craftsman in all of us."--James H. Dulebohn, People & Strategy
"Richard Sennett is one of the most eminent and prolific sociologists in the Western world. . . . [His readers] are led gradually and effortlessly into a special world, only to find themselves enthralled by an author who stimulates and fascinates at every turn."--Daisaburo Hashizume, The American Interest
"A far-roving intellectual adventure."--Julian Bell, New York Review of Books
"A far-ranging meditation on everything involved in the labor of shaping things patiently, by hand. . . . Sennett's synthesis of history, aesthetics, and psychology reminds us of the slow, deep rhythms involved in building and sustaining a culture."--Scott McLemme, Barnes & Noble Review
"[Sennett's] range of examples is nothing short of astounding. He offers us fascinating and insightful discussions."--Nicholas Wolterstorff, Books & Culture
"This is a discursive, intellectually stimulating and often fascinating discussion that at times seems like an engaged, elevating conversation."--William Kowinski, NorthCoast Journal
"The good news elevating The Craftsman from a delightful to an encouraging read is Sennett's conviction that 'nearly anyone can become a good craftsman.'"--Patrick McCormick, U.S. Catholic
"[Sennett] presents a wealth of material. He discusses his topic using an elegant literary style and does not simply tick his points off like the instruction leaflet in a package of medicine. . . . Interesting and true insights captivate the reader."--Ralf Jeremias, Working USA
A 2008 Top Seller in Philosophy as compiled by YBP Library Services
Selected as one of the best books of 2008 by Scott McLemee of Barnes & Noble Review
Richard Sennett is the winner of the 2010 Spinoza Prize, sponsored by the International Spinoza Award Foundation

"As Richard Sennett makes clear in this lucid and compelling book, craftsmanship once connected people to their work by conferring pride and meaning. The loss of craftsmanship--and of a society that values it--has impoverished us in ways we have long forgotten but Sennett helps us understand."--Robert B. Reich, Professor of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley, and author of Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life


From the Back Cover:

'A masterpiece' Boyd Tonkin, Independent

Most of us have to work. But is work just a means to an end? In trying to make a living, have we lost touch with the idea of making things well?

In this provocative and enlightening book, Richard Sennett explores the idea of craftsmanship - the desire to do a job well for its own sake - as a template for living. Pure competition, he shows, will never produce good work. Instead, the values of the craftsman, whether in a Stradivari violin workshop or a modern laboratory, can enrich our lives and change the way we anchor ourselves in the world around us.

'Lively, engaging and pertinent ... a lifetime's learning has gone into the writing of this book' Roger Scruton, Sunday Times

'An enchanting writer with important things to say' Fiona MacCarthy, Guardian

'Enthralling ... Sennett is keen to reconnect thinking with making, to revive the simple pleasure in the everyday object and the useful task. There is something here for all of us' Edwin Heathcote, Financial Times

'A thoughtful and lovingly detailed assessment of what goes on when a person learns a craft ... he writes with perception and real feeling' Noel Malcolm, Sunday Telegraph

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780300151190: The Craftsman

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ISBN 10: 0300151195 ISBN 13: 9780300151190
Publisher: Yale University Press, 2009
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9780300119091: Craftsman, the

Yale U..., 2008
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9780141022093: The Craftsman

Penguin, 2009
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