Brain Work and Manual Work [Unduh pdf] - Peter Kropotkin

Ebook Title          : Brain Work and Manual Work
Ebook Thickness  : 24 Page
Language : English

In olden times, men of science, and especially those who have done most to forward the growth of natural philosophy, did not despise manual work and handicraft. Galileo made his telescopes with his own hands. Newton learned in his boyhood the art of managing tools; be exercised his young mind in contriving most ingenious machines, and when he began his researches in optics he was able himself to grind the lenses for his instruments and himself to make the well known telescope which, for its time, was a fine piece of workmanship. Leibnitz was fond of inventing machines: windmills and carriages to be moved without horses preoccupied his mind as much as mathematical and philosophical speculations. Linnaeus became a botanist while helping his father — a practical gardener — in his daily work. In short, with our great geniuses handicraft was no obstacle to abstract researches — it rather favoured them. On the other band, if the workers of old found but few opportunities for mastering science, many of them had, at least, their intelligences stimulated by the very variety of work which was performed in the then unspecialised workshops; and some of them had the benefit of familiar intercourse with men of science. Watt and Rennie were friends with Professor Robison; Brindley, the road- maker, despite his fourteen-pence-a-day wages, enjoyed intercourse with educated society, and thus developed his remarkable engineering faculties; the son of a well-to-do family could ‘idle’ at a wheelwright’s shop, so as to become later on a Smeaton or a Stephenson.

We have changed all that. Under the pretext of division of labour, we have sharply separated the brain worker from the manual worker. The masses of the workmen do not receive more scientific education than their grandfathers did; but they have been deprived of the education of even the small workshop, while their boys and girls are driven into a mine, or a factory, from the age of thirteen, and there they soon forget the little they may have learned at school. As to the scientists, they despise manual labour. How few of them would be able to make a telescope, or even a plainer instrument? Most of them are not capable of even designing a scientific instrument, and when they have given a vague suggestion to the instrument-maker they leave it with him to invent the apparatus they need. Nay, they have raised the contempt of manual labour to the height of a theory. ‘The scientist,’ they say, ‘must discover the laws of Nature, the civil engineer must apply them and the worker must execute in steel or wood, in iron or stone, the patterns devised by the engineer. He must work with machines invented for him not by him. No matter if he does not understand them and cannot improve them: the scientist and the scientific engineer will take care of the progress of science and industry.’

It may be objected that, nevertheless there is a class of men who belong to none of the above three divisions. When young, they have been manual workers, and some of them continue to be; but, owing to some happy circumstances, they have succeeded in acquiring some scientific knowledge, and thus they have combined science with handicraft. Surely there are such men; happily enough there is a nucleus of men who have escaped the so-much-advocated specialisation of labour, and it is precisely to them that industry owes its chief recent inventions. But they are the exceptions; they are the irregulars — the Cossacks who have broken the ranks and pierced the screens so carefully erected between the classes. And they are so few, in comparison with the ever-growing requirements of industry and of science as well, as I am about to prove that all over the world we hear complaints about the scarcity of precisely such men.

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