skills and – or versus – knowledge?

A short passage from Hannah Arendt’s Human Condition, right at the beginning, shows the Poodel’s core …

If it should turn out to be true that knowledge (in the modern sense of know-how) and thought have parted company for good, then we would indeed become the helpless slaves, not so much of our machines but of our know-how, thoughtless creatures at the mercy of every gadget which is technically possible, no matter how murderous it is.


This was the poodle’s real core

Usually we read about the gadgets, being easily ready to blame them for everything but in actual fact it is not about machines, algorithm’s and the mathematisation of science as such. Indeed we are dealing with the alteration of substance by subordinating matters under alien standards, those of technology or of administrations

The death of the theorist and the emergence of data and algorithms in digital social research

What Hannah Arendt presents as us having

been forced to adopt a “language” of mathematical symbols which, though it was originally meant only as an abbreviation for spoken statements, now contains statements that in no way can be translated back into speech.

is exactly the inability to express ourselves, even more: the inability to be selves.

Indeed, there is no reason for Luddism. It is not about blaming instruments for what they are instrumentalised.

All this has a bit of the body snatchers – if you did not watch the film yet, try to get hold of it and watch it in the presented perspective.

The poodle’s real core – the translation of the phrase in different languages is exciting, allowing to play a bit:

the crux of the matter – fin mot de l’histoire – nocciolo della questione – madre del cordero

The cross we are bearing after committing the sin, confronting us with the end of everything, just reducing things on a nucleus that barely has space for much, and still, brought to explosion it reduces even this little, showing itself as mother of the lamb – and we know too well that the lamb had to be sacrificed.

Though we should not feel tempted to sacrifice the gadgets, we surely should get the brush ready to sweep away the ‘new thinkers’: those new priests that torture us by putting people into boxes and those new priests that ruin institutions by reducing them on administrative machines. It is one of the challenges to see that machines – be it in forms of boxes or administrators desks, are simply not able to engage in what would be needed: intellectual confrontation.

We may move from Arendt to Goethe’s Faust:

‘Tis written: “In the Beginning was the Word.”
Here am I balked: who, now can help afford?
The Word?—impossible so high to rate it;
And otherwise must I translate it.
If by the Spirit I am truly taught.
Then thus: “In the Beginning was the Thought
This first line let me weigh completely,
Lest my impatient pen proceed too fleetly.
Is it the Thought which works, creates, indeed?
“In the Beginning was the Power,” I read.
Yet, as I write, a warning is suggested,
That I the sense may not have fairly tested.
The Spirit aids me: now I see the light!
“In the Beginning was the Act,” I write.

If I must share my chamber with thee,
Poodle, stop that howling, prithee!
Cease to bark and bellow!
Such a noisy, disturbing fellow
I’ll no longer suffer near me.
One of us, dost hear me!
Must leave, I fear me.
No longer guest-right I bestow;
The door is open, art free to go.
But what do I see in the creature?
Is that in the course of nature?
Is’t actual fact? or Fancy’s shows?
How long and broad my poodle grows!
He rises mightily:
A canine form that cannot be!
What a spectre I’ve harbored thus!


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