Techne, or techné, as distinguished from episteme, is etymologically derived from the Greek word τέχνη (Ancient Greek: Template:IPA2, Modern Greek Template:Audio-IPA) which is often translated as craftsmanship, craft, or art. It is the rational method involved in producing an object or accomplishing a goal or objective. The means of this method is through art. Techne resembles episteme in the implication of knowledge of principles, although techne differs in that its intent is making or doing, as opposed to "disinterested understanding."

As one observer has argued, techne "was not concerned with the necessity and eternal a priori truths of the cosmos, nor with the a posteriori contingencies and exigencies of ethics and politics. [...] Moreover, this was a kind of knowledge associated with people who were bound to necessity. That is, techne was chiefly operative in the domestic sphere, in farming and slavery, and not in the free realm of the Greek polis."[1]

In The Republic, Plato wrote that techne (in the sense of an art or craft) represented a threat to peace, order and good government for which Reason and Law “by common consent have ever been deemed best.” Aristotle saw it as representative of the imperfection of human imitation of nature. For the ancient Greeks, it signified all the Mechanical Arts including medicine and music. The English aphorism, ‘gentlemen don’t work with their hands,’ is said to have originated in ancient Greece in relation to their cynical view on the arts. Due to this view, it was only fitted for the lower class while the upper class practiced the Liberal Arts of ‘free’ men (Dorter 1973).

Socrates also compliments techne only when it was used in the context of episteme. Episteme sometimes means knowing how to do something in a craft-like way. The craft-like knowledge is called a ‘technê.' It is most useful when the knowledge is practically applied, rather than theoretically or aesthetically applied. For the ancient Greeks, when techne appears as art, it is most often viewed negatively, whereas when used as a craft it is viewed positively: because a craft is the practical application of an art, rather than art as an end in itself. In The Republic, written by Plato, the knowledge of forms "is the indispensable basis for the philosophers' craft of ruling in the city" (Stanford 2003).

Techne is often used in philosophical discourse to distinguish from art (or poiesis). This use of the word also occurs in The Digital Humanities to differentiate between linear narrative presentation of knowledge and dynamic presentation of knowledge, wherein techne represents the former and poiesis represents the latter.[citation needed]

See also Edit


  1. Young, Damon A. (Apr 2009). "BOWING TO YOUR ENEMIES: COURTESY, BUDŌ, AND JAPAN.". Philosophy East & West 59 (2): 188-215. 

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Additional ReferencesEdit

Dunne, Joseph. Back to the Rough Ground: 'Phronesis' and 'Techne' in Modern Philosophy and in Aristotle. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1997. (ISBN 978-0-2680-0689-1)