Artes mechanicae

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As artes mechanicae , practical arts or seven own arts were in antiquity , the Middle Ages and Renaissance of skills craft referred that in contrast to the seven liberal arts served the immediate livelihood. In a broader sense, the practical arts can be summarized under the collective term technology ( ancient Greek τέχνη [ téchne ] = "ability, artistry, craft").


A first medieval list of the Seven Practical Arts can be found in the 9th century by the scholar Johannes Scottus Eriugena , who came from Ireland and worked in Western France :

In the writings of Hugo von St. Viktor , head of a convent school in Paris since 1133 , the seven practical arts are listed as follows:

  • Weaving art
  • Gunsmithing
  • Building trade (stonemasons and masons)
  • shipping
  • hunt
  • Healing art
  • Acting


The appreciation of handicraft, first propagated by the monasteries, was "officially" confirmed in the 12th century when the seven liberal arts were juxtaposed with seven mechanical arts. The view that the Artes mechanicae were applied geometry was first spread in the West in the 12th century by Dominicus Gundisalvi on the basis of the Aristotle-related writings of Arab scholars who he had studied and translated into Latin. These included, as armatura, trades and, from the Middle Ages, also those of the fine arts and architecture (work in stone , wood , metal , weapons, sculpture , painting , architecture ), agricultura (agriculture) and the lanificium (clothing trade). The latter arts included u. a. the tailors, tanners and cobblers .

The artes mechanicae were viewed as inferior to the septem artes liberales ( seven liberal arts ). While it was necessary to be a "free man" to practice or study the liberal arts, unfree people could also practice the practical arts. The activity of slaves in ancient times was therefore also called Artes illiberales . It was therefore impossible for the unfree to study the Artes liberales , because only free were allowed to do this. These Artes mechanicae also had a lower social standing than the Artes liberales. And the activities of the unfree were, in turn, in an even lower regard than those of the free (such as those of the craftsmen ) within the Artes mechanicae.

Even in ancient Greece there were statements that disdain practical activities. In his “Politics”, Aristotle gives free rein to his disdain for the craft : the artisans often neglect their work out of slovenliness and only need a “ virtue ” as the slave needs, only insofar as they have a share in the slave labor; namely, the position of the craftsman is that of limited slavery (Pol. I, 13), and therefore he is not a citizen either (Pol. III, 5; VII, 9). (In 317 BC Attica had a slave population of 400,000 versus 21,000 free citizens.)

See also


  • Jutta Bacher: Artes mechanicae in: Hans Holländer (ed.): Knowledge, Invention, Construction , Berlin 2000, pp. 35–49.
  • Ria Jansen-Sieben: The Artes mechanicae. In: Ria Jansen-Sieben (ed.): Artes mechanicae in middeleeuws Europe. Brussels 1989 (= Archief- en bibliotheekwezen in België , extranummer 34), pp. 7–15.
  • Gerhard Eis : The seven own arts and their old German literary monuments. In: Researches and Advances. Volume 26, 1950, pp. 269-271.
  • Hartmut Broszinski : Siben is the arts. In: Author's Lexicon . 2nd Edition. Volume 8, 1991.

Individual evidence

  1. Marcus Popplow: Discourses on Technology in the Early Modern Age . In: Herbert Jaumann, Gideon Stiening (Hrsg.): New Discourses of Scholarly Culture in the Early Modern Age: A Handbook (=  De Gruyter Reference ). De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2016, ISBN 978-3-11-028999-2 , pp. 752 ( limited preview in Google Book Search [accessed January 9, 2020]).
  2. Andreas Hüttner: Technology didactics . In: Martin Rothgangel, Ulf Abraham, Horst Bayrhuber, Volker Frederking, Werner Jank, Helmut Johannes Vol (eds.): Learning in the subject and beyond the subject: Inventories and research perspectives from 17 subject didactics in comparison (=  subject didactic research ). 1st edition. tape 12 . Waxmann, Münster 2019, ISBN 978-3-8309-9122-9 , pp. 419 f . ( limited preview in Google Book Search [accessed January 9, 2020]).