The long way through Software Craftsmanship

The Animal Laborans and the Homo Faber

Aug 10, 2015 - 2 minute read - Comments - the-craftsmanrichard-sennettphilosophyhannah-arendtquoteanimal-laboranshomo-faber

I’ve found this quote very interesting from the book “The Craftsman”, by Richard Sennett:

Animal laborans is, as the name implies, the human being akin to a beast of burden, a drudge condemned to routine. Arendt enriched this image by imagining him or her absorbed in a task that shuts out the world, a state well exemplified by Oppenheimer’s feeling that the atomic bomb was a “sweet” problem, or Eichmann’s obsession with making the gas chambers efficient. In the act of making it work, nothing else matters; Animal laborans takes the work as end end it itself.

By contrast, Homo faber is her image of men and women doing another kind of work, making a life in common. Again Arendt enriched an inherited idea. The Lating tag Homo faber means simple “man as maker”. […] Homo faber is the judge of material labor and practice, not Animal laborans’s colleague but his supertior. Thus, in her view, we human beings live in two dimensions, In one we make things; in this condition we are amoral, absorbed in a task. We also harbor another, higher way of life in which we stop producing and start discussion and judging together. Whereas Animal laborans is fixated in the question “How?” Homo faber asks “Why?”

Richard Sennett, The Craftsman, Prologue, page 7