Shop Class as Soulcraft
An Inquiry Into the Value of WorkBook - 2010
Called "the sleeper hit of the publishing season" ( The Boston Globe ), Shop Class as Soulcraft became an instant bestseller, attracting readers with its radical (and timely) reappraisal of the merits of skilled manual labor. On both economic and psychological grounds, author Matthew B. Crawford questions the educational imperative of turning everyone into a "knowledge worker," based on a misguided separation of thinking from doing. Using his own experience as an electrician and mechanic, Crawford presents a wonderfully articulated call for self-reliance and a moving reflection on how we can live concretely in an ever more abstract world.
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Mastery of a stochastic art is compatible with failure to achieve its end. As Aristotle writes, "It does not belong to medicine to produce health, but only promote it as much as possible..."
Fixing things, whether cars or human bodies, is very different from building things from scratch. The mechanic and the doctor deal with failure every day, even if they are expert, whereas the builder does not. This is because they fix things that are *not of their own making* and are therefore never known in a comprehensive or absolute way. This experience of failure tempers the conceit of mastery; the doctor and mechanic have daily intercourse with the world as something independent and a vivid awareness of the difference between self and non-self.
Fixing things may be a cure for narcissism.
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