Töö ja vahendite filosoofiast / On the philosophy of work and tools

  • Kristjan Sisa


This article presents the Estonian translation of the book Hammer and Silence. A Short Introduction to the Philosophy of Tools by the Finnish artist andresearcher Jyrki Siukonen.

The topics covered in the book range from observing a tool as such to existential questions about human activity. It is a good guide for anyone with manual dexterity, and of great assistance to the rest who wish to understand them.

The book resembles a literary version of a meticulously detailed sculpture. Jyrki Siukonen presents the sculptor’s viewpoint. The author seems to havesympathy for a person like him: a bricoleur, a DIY enthusiast, a person who works with their hands and who, unlike most craftsmen, never takes the easy way out. The discussion of the relationship between tools and human beings is very enlightening: when do tools serve humans and when are humans at the service of tools? The book also examines the prospect of humanity’s manual and mental development. This discussion culminates in the following question: “What happens if people are offered the possibility of renouncing the selffulfilment they find in doing things with their hands?“ In other words, once the Industrial Revolution has reached its peak – what then?

This essayistic text has been structured into coherent paragraphs. The more the ideas of the book are thrown around, the more well-grounded the book itself is. The focal points of the discussion include visionaries such as Eva Hesse, Constantin Brâncuşi, Auguste Rodin, Antti Hyry, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. The translation into Estonian has been made with pinpoint accuracy. The translator, Jaan Pärnamäe, conveys the details of the source text with great finesse.

Siukonen argues that learning is not only a process of developing innate abilities by imitation. It is something more, something that seeps into a person through birth, space, time, and place; in some instances, this is successful. The author describes the indescribable in the context of human activity and creativity. He examines his topic from several viewpoints until his understanding assumes a clear shape in the readers’ minds.

The text is easier to understand if the reader has had contact with handicraft and creative work beforehand. The book provides a mental reference point for creative minds who express themselves by doing things with their hands now, in the twenty first century.


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