Where Should Good Design Come From First? The Mechanical Arts or Philosophy?


I read this awesome quote from, “A History of the Sciences” by Stephen Masor where he said, “With their first authors’, he wrote, ‘the mechanical arts are crude, clumsy, and cumbersome, but they go on to acquire new strength and capacities. Philosophy is most vigorous with its early authors, and exhibits a subsequent decline. The best explanation of these opposite fortunes is that, in the mechanical arts, the talents of many individuals combine to produce a single result, but in philosophy one individual talent destroys many. The many surrender themselves to the leadership of one…. and become incapable of adding anything new. For when philosophy is severed from its roots in experience, whence it first sprouted and grew, it becomes a dead thing.”

Many philosophers in the past separated themselves from the craftsmen. Because they barely communicated, they developed different ideas about the world. The philosphers would sit and ponder how the world worked. They came up with ideas that they passed between each other to write down and teach the public about. But they tended to not get their hands dirty in experimenting on their ideas.

The craftsmen worked on their trades and learned through experiment and observation how the world worked. They didn’t rely as much on relying on their imaginations to paint a picture of scientific occurrences. They tested out elements of nature without having much preconceived notions.

When the craftsmen learned to read and write, they could record their experiences with their experiments to share amongst themselves. It came to be that science no longer had to answer to the philosphers. More than anything, the science experimenters became the philosophers equals, if not at times superiors in explaining certain phenomenon.

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