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Thread: Neanderthal philosophy

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    Neanderthal philosophy

    "At first, during the industrial revolution, the new technology reduced the worker on the job to a Charlie Chaplin of Modern Times. At this early stage, however, the industrial mode of production did not yet paralyze people when they were off the job. Now women or men, who have come to depend almost entirely on deliveries of standardized fragments produced by tools operated by anonymous others, have ceased to find the same direct satisfaction in the use of tools that stimulated the evolution of man and his cultures. Although their needs and their consumption have multiplied many times, their satisfaction in handling tools has become rare, and they have ceased to live a life for which the organism acquired its form." Ivan Illich

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    That's a little too deep for me.

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    I think it is possible that neanders (prior to power tools) who worked wood for a living may not have necessarily liked the tools, just used them because there was no alternative. It’s obvious that they embraced power when it became available. In other words, I’m not certain there was substantial satisfaction in the use of particular tools, versus just the satisfaction in the end product.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Mueller View Post
    I think it is possible that neanders (prior to power tools) who worked wood for a living may not have necessarily liked the tools, just used them because there was no alternative. It’s obvious that they embraced power when it became available. In other words, I’m not certain there was substantial satisfaction in the use of particular tools, versus just the satisfaction in the end product.
    I agree Phil that those who worked with hand tools 200 years ago may not have necessarily liked the tools, but they needed the tools. Many men discover over the years they need work; even if given comfortable wealth, they need work. For millennia, men have created with their hands. Handtools closely connect the hands to the product. I think many of us find working with our hands meaningful, even though we know there is a faster method but is less connected to our hands.

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    Deeper still: pursuing a craft connects us to those who came before. This elemental connection is severed by mechanization.

    Nobody will marvel at the skill of CNC programmers that designed flat pack wardrobes made from chipboard in 200 years.

  6. #6
    Bravo Jim !!!!!!
    Dave Anderson
    Chester Toolworks LLC
    Chester, NH

  7. #7
    "Nobody will marvel at the skill of CNC programmers that designed flat pack wardrobes made from chipboard in 200 years."

    I don't know about this... We may be too close to the inception of CNC to appreciate how it may or may not change the craft and more 200 years from now. On the contrary, as it becomes cheaper and more accessible to the world, we may see new innovations and expressions of craftsmanship that would otherwise be impossible.

    CNC will eventually be a kid's entry point into our world. I suspect they - like myself and many here - will use technology and power as a gateway drug into the world of hand tools.

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    If it is so virtuous and desirable to reach back in time and use the tools and methods of history, why stop at what seems to be the mid 1800's. Why not reach back to iron, bronze, flint or even bone tools? Would that not bring us even closer to our ancestors?

    I see a tendency to artificially create stages in the development of tool technology when, in fact, it has been a continuum since the beginning of time.

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    The use of hand tools is both enjoyable and for me a necessity, given a very small shop. So I live in the continuum of “a means to an end”, and “it’s the journey, not the destination”. Probably more the former, as I have to admit, while I enjoy the cache of vintage tool use, I’m not sure “I’m one with the wood”, is my primary motivation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Art Mann View Post
    If it is so virtuous and desirable to reach back in time and use the tools and methods of history, why stop at what seems to be the mid 1800's. Why not reach back to iron, bronze, flint or even bone tools? Would that not bring us even closer to our ancestors?

    I see a tendency to artificially create stages in the development of tool technology when, in fact, it has been a continuum since the beginning of time.
    Interesting Art. I agree that “virtuous” may not be the reason for hand tool use. Value to the user may be more accurate. And yes, there may be value in going back well before the 1800’s. I believe we see that when a Neander not only uses a hand tool, but makes his own hand tool. Many Neanders value toolmaking. Does this reveal our nature? When the worker loads raw wood into the 20 by 10 foot enclosed robot and presses the computer button he gains productivity 100 fold. Does he lose something that his grandfather had?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Mueller View Post
    The use of hand tools is both enjoyable and for me a necessity, given a very small shop. So I live in the continuum of “a means to an end”, and “it’s the journey, not the destination”. Probably more the former, as I have to admit, while I enjoy the cache of vintage tool use, I’m not sure “I’m one with the wood”, is my primary motivation.
    Good points Phil on the balance between our enjoyment and practicality.

  12. #12
    I see a strong affinity to tools and mechanical things in my 3 yo grandson. I think it is an instinct in some people. Being shorter, slower, and having eyes that do not see danger approaching from afar, I believe the survival of my genes was due to supplying tools and weapons to the tribe rather than through brute force.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Matthews View Post
    Deeper still: pursuing a craft connects us to those who came before. This elemental connection is severed by mechanization.

    Nobody will marvel at the skill of CNC programmers that designed flat pack wardrobes made from chipboard in 200 years.
    The future is never as romantic (or familiar) as the past.
    I see no less craftsmanship in a CNC than a chisel. It's just a different kind of tool. Frank Klausz would always say if his grandfather had access to a router, he would have used it.
    Last edited by Edwin Santos; 08-12-2019 at 9:58 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Edwin Santos View Post
    I see no less craftsmanship in a CNC than a chisel. It's just a different kind of tool.
    Sure.

    One requires a capable user to carry it to the job site, the other requires a supply chain.

    If your tools required a building permit, you're no Neanderthal.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rainey View Post
    "At first, during the industrial revolution, the new technology reduced the worker on the job to a Charlie Chaplin of Modern Times. At this early stage, however, the industrial mode of production did not yet paralyze people when they were off the job. Now women or men, who have come to depend almost entirely on deliveries of standardized fragments produced by tools operated by anonymous others, have ceased to find the same direct satisfaction in the use of tools that stimulated the evolution of man and his cultures. Although their needs and their consumption have multiplied many times, their satisfaction in handling tools has become rare, and they have ceased to live a life for which the organism acquired its form." Ivan Illich
    The answer is simple. You need to seize the means of production.

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