Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Syllabi for Fall 2010 posted

Syllabi posted for fall courses: Introduction to Ethics, Philosophies of Nonviolence, The Ethics of Love.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The value of work

I have just finished reading Matthew Crawford's Shop Class as Soulcraft. A really interesting book. In a nutshell it is about the nature of work and why, at times, work is very fulfilling and why, at times, it is burdensome. Crawford is a motorcycle mechanic, who took a PhD in political philosophy at Chicago, accepted a job in a DC think tank and gave it up after five months. He became a mechanic again and opened his own shop in Virginia.

The book is engaging, humorous, philosophically astute, and very challenging. Crawford critiques education, consumerism, and individualism. He sprinkles his writing with insights from Iris Murdoch, Marx and Aristotle. His challenge is to rethink work, meaning and human excellence. His conclusion is that we have got it very wrong! He wants a return to meaningful humanity working with hands, learning a practice that involves an excellence internal to the practice—a return to agency and meaningful communities based around trades and skills. There is much sense in this book.

My main gripe with the book is the very masculine nature of most of his examples. It would have been interesting to think through how meaningful work and craft would look for women.

Crawford defies many of the hobbyhorses of political correctness (to the right and left). That itself makes you think. Crawford is difficult to "put in a box"—in many respects a breath of fresh air.

Read it and think!