Homo faber (Latin for “Man the Smith” or “Man the Maker”; in reference to the biological name for man, “Homo sapiens” meaning “man the wise”) is a concept articulated by Hannah Arendt and Max Scheler. It refers to humans as controlling the environment through tools. Henri Bergson also referred to it in The Creative Evolution (1907), defining intelligence, in its original sense, as the “faculty to create artificial objects, in particular tools to make tools, and to indefinitely variate its makings.”

In Latin literature, Appius Claudius Caecus uses this term in his Sententiæ, referring to ability of man to control his destiny and what surrounds him: Homo faber suae quisque fortunae (“Every man is the artifex of his destiny”).

In anthropology, Homo faber (as “the working man”) is confronted with “Homo ludens” (the “playing man,” who is concerned with amusements, humor and leisure).

It can be also used in opposition or juxtaposition to “deus faber” (god the creator, the making god), an archetype of which are the various gods of the forge.

Homo Faber is the title of an influential novel by the Swiss author Max Frisch, published in 1957. The book was made into the film Voyager starring Sam Shepard.

Homo Faber was one of the five IBMYP areas of interaction, before it was replaced with “Human Ingenuity.”

“Homo Faber” is also the title of a short poem by Frank Bidart that is included in his collection Desire (1997).

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