Richard Sennett is a sociologist, urbanist, cellist and cook whose most recent book The Craftsman provided the title for this blog. The book covers many elements of craftsmanship, from the reasons that nobody but Stradivarius can make a Stradivarius to the reason that Wittgenstein was a better philosopher than architect. As he compares the twin building projects of Wittgenstein and his friend Adolph Loos, Sennett outlines five principles that make “the good craftsman”:
1. The good craftsman understands the importance of the sketch — that is, not knowing quite what you are about when you begin.
2. The good craftsman places positive value on contingency and constraint.
3. The good craftsman need to avoid pursuing a problem relentlessly to the point that it becomes perfectly self-contained; then, like the rooms in the Kundmanngasse (Wittgenstein’s house) it loses its relational character.
4. The good craftsman avoids perfectionism that can degrade into a self-conscious demonstration — at this point the maker is bent on showing more what he or she can do that what the object does.
5. The good craftsman learns when it is time to stop.