Metis and Design

Banished from the field of true knowledge, as defined by classical philosophy, mêtis does nonetheless pervade Greek mythology and social practice for a millennium, disappearing for good from both oral and written discourse after the 5th century AD. Homer’s epics represent a dual source that permits the reconstruction of the ancient Greek mêtis. Indeed, they reveal some of its aspects by narrating, on the one hand, the activities of cunning gods, among who, besides Zeus himself, we find prominent Athena and Hephaestus, who, by no fortuitous coincidence, are also the gods of technology; and, on the other hand, mostly human practices, and among them those of a human being cunning par excellence, namely the polumetis and poikiloboulos Odysseus. In this paper, mêtis is considered to cover all cognitive processes that are necessary for man to face adverse or confrontational situations against powerful adversaries in unstable and complex environments, about which there is neither documented knowledge nor the possibility of rigorous analysis. In modern terms, it corresponds to design — as a cognitive process employed by all those devising courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.”
“Mêtis and the Artificial” K. P. Anagnostopoulos and S. Chelidoni
History of Mechanism and Machine Science, 2009, Volume 6, XIII, 435-442, DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4020-8784-4_34