The Need to Move Beyond Homo Faber

Philosophy Now 106:13-15 (2015)

Maria daVenza Tillmanns
University of California, San Diego
The thinking employed by Homo faber, Latin for ‘Tool Wo/Man,’ and a concept articulated by Hannah Arendt and Max Scheler referring to humans as controlling the environment through tools, is instrumental in nature. Know-how is applied to the environment as one would apply a tool, in order to control it. In contrast, thinking that looks at how to engage the whole for the sake of solving a problem, is the thinking employed by Homo Cognoscens (a term I invented), referring to the Examining/Inquiring Wo/Man, from the Latin cognosco, which means ‘I inquire/examine.’ In my essay, I show why it is important to move beyond the limited thinking of Homo faber. Homo faber in some sense still views itself at the center of the universe and capable of controlling it. S/he lives in a geocentric worldview. Homo cognoscens has a heliocentric worldview. Homo cognoscens understands that the world is interconnected and that we do not control the universe literally or figuratively no matter how advanced our knowledge. Instrumental thinking also does not lend itself to developing self-knowledge, for it doesn’t involve awareness of the thinking that goes into solving problems “out there.” It simply applies reason for the purpose of solving problems. We tend to reason things through, but rarely to think through our reasoning. Yet, we live in an interconnected world and we are interconnected with the world we live in. Our thinking reflects our interconnectedness and we have to be able to view it critically and self-critically. Homo cognoscens restores our relationship with the world and other people. Homo faber has gone too far in its instrumental thinking and destroyed relationship in the process. Everything has become instrumental. To move beyond Homo faber is to evolve to Homo cognoscens and understand how we are intrinsically connected to the world we depend on and need to engage it, rather than assume we can control it at all cost.
Keywords Applied Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s) 0961-5970
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 40,000
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Homo Sacer.Christopher Budd - 1999 - The Philosophers' Magazine 7 (7):55-55.
Move Over Mill and Bentham.Julian Baggini - 1998 - The Philosophers' Magazine 3:52-52.
The Virtual Reality of Homo Economicus.Philip Pettit - 1995 - The Monist 78 (3):308-329.
Homo Viator.Christopher O. Blum - 2011 - Review of Metaphysics 65 (1):172-173.
Obituary: Hilary Putnam.Maria Baghramia - 2016 - Philosophy Now 114:48-49.
Imagination & Creativity in Sartre.Maria Perna - 2001 - Philosophy Now 32:15-17.
Vom Nutzen und Nachteil der Geisteswissenschaften.Dieter Teichen - 2005 - In Gereon Wolters & Martin Carrier (eds.), Homo Sapiens Und Homo Faber. De Gruyter. pp. 405.
Anmerkungen zum Begriff des Bewußtseins.Wolfgang Spohn - 2005 - In Gereon Wolters & Martin Carrier (eds.), Homo Sapiens Und Homo Faber. De Gruyter. pp. 239--251.
Homo faber et homo loquens.P. Lecène - 1931 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 111:169.
Experimentelle Wissenschaften und Werkstättentradition.Ursula Klein - 2005 - In Gereon Wolters & Martin Carrier (eds.), Homo Sapiens Und Homo Faber. De Gruyter. pp. 113.
Der Dualismus und die Rettung der Phänomene.Christiane Schildknecht - 2005 - In Gereon Wolters & Martin Carrier (eds.), Homo Sapiens Und Homo Faber. De Gruyter. pp. 225.
Lebenswelt und erkenntnistheoretische Fundierung.David Hyder - 2005 - In Gereon Wolters & Martin Carrier (eds.), Homo Sapiens Und Homo Faber. De Gruyter. pp. 297.


Added to PP index

Total views
8 ( #774,642 of 2,236,147 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #761,889 of 2,236,147 )

How can I increase my downloads?


Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

My notes

Sign in to use this feature