Monday, November 17, 2014

The Propriety of Assisting Others


“In some instances it may be necessary for a man to keep knowledge to himself, as his own property, and upon which his bread may depend; but I do not see any impropriety in persons of the same branch informing each other. In trades where their arts depend on secrets, it is right for men to keep them from strangers; but the art of cabinet-making depends so much on practice, and requires so many tools, that a stranger cannot steal it. But in every branch there are found men who love to keep their inferiors of the same profession in ignorance, that themselves may have an opportunity of triumphing over them. From such I expect no praise, but the reverse. Their pride will not suffer them to encourage any work which tends to make others as wise as themselves; and therefore it is their fixed resolution to despise and pour contempt upon every attempt of this kind, in proportion as it is likely to succeed. But those I will leave to themselves as unworthy of notice, who only live to love themselves, but not to assist others.”

 -Thomas Sheraton, 1793, “The Cabinetmaker’s and Upholsterer’s Drawing Book”

5 comments:

  1. There is much good here...but... if there is such a natural impediment for someone outside the field, all the more reason to share as there is no risk to one's "bread". Most breakthroughs come not in truly novel innovations, but in "remixing" and applying ideas from one area or trade into a new one. (is there really anything new under the sun?) I suspect carpenters can benefit from machinists techniques, and likely surgeons something from carvers. Most likely that is why polymaths are able to succeed in so many branches, not solely from their own genius but by their ability to cross pollinate many branches of knowledge.

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  2. "But in every branch there are found men who love to keep their inferiors of the same profession in ignorance, that themselves may have an opportunity of triumphing over them."

    And within cabinetmaking, this guild mentality seems the most prevalent with those that finish and refinish furniture.

    And so...thank you for sharing your knowledge and techniques!

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    1. My thoughts exactly. It's my mission to share this knowledge and spread enthusiasm for restoration/conservation. Glad you are enjoying the reading here.

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  3. If we had the viewpoint that all mankind is connected as in"The Family of Man". We might have a greater understanding of what to do in any area of life. Just spit-balling.

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