Techne

Techne

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Techne, or techné, as distinguished from episteme
Episteme
Episteme, as distinguished from techne, is etymologically derived from the Greek word ἐπιστήμη for knowledge or science, which comes from the verb ἐπίσταμαι, "to know".- The Concept of an "Episteme" in Michel Foucault :...

, is etymologically derived from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 word τέχνη (tékʰnɛː, ˈtexni) which is often translated as craftsmanship, craft, or art. It is the rational method involved in producing an object or accomplishing a goal or objective. Techne resembles epistēmē in the implication of knowledge of principles, although techne differs in that its intent is making or doing, as opposed to "disinterested understanding."

As one observer has argued, techne "was not concerned with the necessity and eternal a priori truths of the cosmos, nor with the a posteriori
A Posteriori
Apart from the album, some additional remixes were released exclusively through the iTunes Store. They are:*"Eppur si muove"  – 6:39*"Dreaming of Andromeda" Apart from the album, some additional remixes were released exclusively through the iTunes Store. They are:*"Eppur si muove" (Tocadisco...

 contingencies and exigencies of ethics
Ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

 and politics
Politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

. [...] Moreover, this was a kind of knowledge associated with people who were bound to necessity. That is, techne was chiefly operative in the domestic sphere, in farming and slavery, and not in the free realm of the Greek polis."

Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 saw it as representative of the imperfection of human imitation of nature. For the ancient Greeks, it signified all the Mechanical Arts
Mechanic arts
Mechanic arts is an obsolete and archaic term. In the medieval period, the Seven Mechanical Arts were intended as a complement to the Seven Liberal Arts, and consisted of weaving, blacksmithing, war, navigation, agriculture, hunting, medicine, and the ars theatrica. In the 19th century it referred...

 including medicine and music. The English aphorism
Aphorism
An aphorism is an original thought, spoken or written in a laconic and memorable form.The term was first used in the Aphorisms of Hippocrates...

, ‘gentlemen don’t work with their hands,’ is said to have originated in ancient Greece in relation to their cynical view on the arts. Due to this view, it was only fitted for the lower class while the upper class practiced the Liberal Arts
Liberal arts
The term liberal arts refers to those subjects which in classical antiquity were considered essential for a free citizen to study. Grammar, Rhetoric and Logic were the core liberal arts. In medieval times these subjects were extended to include mathematics, geometry, music and astronomy...

 of ‘free’ men (Dorter 1973).

Socrates also compliments techne only when it was used in the context of epistēmē. Epistēmē sometimes means knowing how to do something in a craft-like way. The craft-like knowledge is called a ‘technê.' It is most useful when the knowledge is practically applied, rather than theoretically or aesthetically applied. For the ancient Greeks, when techne appears as art, it is most often viewed negatively, whereas when used as a craft
Craft
A craft is a branch of a profession that requires some particular kind of skilled work. In historical sense, particularly as pertinent to the Medieval history and earlier, the term is usually applied towards people occupied in small-scale production of goods.-Development from the past until...

 it is viewed positively: because a craft is the practical application of an art, rather than art as an end in itself. In The Republic
Republic (Plato)
The Republic is a Socratic dialogue written by Plato around 380 BC concerning the definition of justice and the order and character of the just city-state and the just man...

, written by Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

, the knowledge of forms "is the indispensable basis for the philosophers' craft of ruling in the city" (Stanford 2003).

Techne is often used in philosophical discourse to distinguish from art (or poiesis
Poiesis
Poïesis is etymologically derived from the ancient Greek term ποιέω, which means "to make". This word, the root of our modern "poetry", was first a verb, an action that transforms and continues the world. Neither technical production nor creation in the romantic sense, poïetic work reconciles...

). This use of the word also occurs in The Digital Humanities
The Digital Humanities
The digital humanities is an area of study, research, teaching, and invention concerned with the intersection of computing and the disciplines of the humanities. Sometimes called humanities computing, the field has focused on the digitization and analysis of materials related to the traditional...

to differentiate between linear narrative presentation of knowledge and dynamic presentation of knowledge, wherein techne represents the former and poiesis represents the latter.

Additional References


Dunne, Joseph. Back to the Rough Ground: 'Phronesis' and 'Techne' in Modern Philosophy and in Aristotle. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1997. (ISBN 978-0-2680-0689-1)

External links