The work practices of different crafts are subjects of articles in Diderot’s Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, arts et métiers, in which writers, including Diderot and the chevalier de Jaucourt, reflect on the nature of work and contemporary economic activity. The distinction between the mechanical arts and the liberal arts was fundamental for Diderot, and he affirmed the importance of the former. Articles on pinmaking, watch-making and silk, and more general articles on masterpiece, commerce, art, manufacture, and industry are examined. In the latter, Jaucourt identified art exclusively with beaux arts, and underscored industry as a process of mechanical operations, foreshadowing a new economic system.
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