- The fact that we are fundamentally doers means we are also inveterate makers. Making is doing that involves those extraordinarily sophisticated on-board tools, our hands. In Chapter 10 we find that human intelligence lives in our hands just as much as in our tongues and our brains. Making is in our blood, it seems. We have been crafted by evolution to be natural-born engineers, compulsive sculptors of our environments. Human beings are habitat decorators, toolmakers and workshop designers par excellence; we were Homo fabricans long before we were sapiens. Or rather, the sapiens grew out of the fabricans, and still relies deeply upon it. It is in our nature to amplify our intelligence by imagining, and then making, ever more powerful tools. We are only as smart as we are because we are enmeshed in a world of our own making: a vast web of books, spectacles, notes, printers, weblinks, diaries, calendars, maps, satellite navigation gizmos, computer programs, filing systems, Skype links, mobile telephones ... all of which I know, more or less, how to capitalise on. As Andy Clark2 puts it, 'we make our worlds smart so we can be dumb in peace'. My intelligence stretches way beyond what can be captured in an IQ test3.
- There are signs of a wider resurgence of the physical: a backlash, perhaps, against the intellectualisation of intelligence. Optimistically, you could discern evidence of a New Materialism on the rise: one which is not about conspicuous consumption, but about the quiet, protracted hands-on pleasures of making, mending, customising and perfecting physical skills. The Maker Movement in the States gathers strength, and puts pressure on manufacturers to make things mendable again. FabLabs, 'tinkering workshops' and 3D printers are springing up in response to the desire to engage with solid, workable stuff. The more the digital world4 takes hold, the stronger, for many of us, seems the compensatory desire to get back from the virtual to the real, from the symbolic to the material. And this signals a re-esteeming of physical delicacy, sensibility and creativity (beyond those protected 'Sites of Special Cultural Interest' called sport and art). Craft is cognition, people are saying5. Doing and thinking are not separate faculties; they are inextricably entwined6.
Footnote 1: Taken from "Claxton (Guy) - Intelligence in the Flesh - Limbering Up: An Introduction".
- Andy Clark, Being There: Putting Brain, Body and World Together Again, 1997, Bradford/MIT Press: Cambridge, MA, p. 180.
- Of course it does. But what IQ tests – whether they achieve their goal or not – are trying to achieve is to compare the general, unschooled intelligence that varies between individuals, to see who would be best schooled in particular ways.
Footnote 5: If so – depending on what they mean – ie. if more than “craft is cognitive” – then they are exaggerating.
- But, isn’t activity such as computer programming, or website building, just as much “making” as non-virtual fabrication?
- It gives the same level of satisfaction – there’s an end-product that can be seen and used.
- Maybe Claxton wouldn’t deny this.
- But separable – and often separated – as Hamlet found.
- But, maybe Claxton is saying that the separation is dysfunctional – again, as Hamlet found.
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