Explaining Steampunk to people who are entirely unfamiliar with the subject is enough of a difficult task to begin with. It seems as though people are first introduced to the concept most frequently through our aesthetic and find it surprising that there is more to Steampunk than just in the way something looks.
Steampunk as a philosophy, mindset, or lifestyle is a small but powerful subset of overall Steampunk and has a huge influence on the subculture’s focus on DIY and individual artisans. Explaining this facet of Steampunk to people who have just been introduced to Steampunk in general is particularly challenging because the topic is so hotly contested among its participants.
Adding to the discussion of philosophical Steampunk is the article Steampunk as a Philosophy by Inventrix at Clockwork Dreams. This is her take on the whole question of Steampunk as more than just an aesthetic, and you’re sure to find her commentary thought provoking at the very least. Check it out!