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Escaping From the Woods – Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work

You want to buy your favorite motorcyclist an awesome holiday gift to get them through the long, cold, lonely winter?

How about a little reading material?

Shop Class as Soulcraft became an instant best-seller and attracted readers with its radical revision of the merits of skilled manual labor. On economic and psychological grounds author Matthew B. Crawford questioned the educational and philosophical sense of making everyone into a “knowledge worker.”

From his own experience as an electrician and mechanic, Crawford presented a realized call for self-reliance and a reflection on how we can live, really live,  in a world driven into insensate abstraction.

“Wood was for hippies,” Crawford wrote. “The wood whisperer with his hand planes, his curly maple, and his workshop on Walden Pond is a stock alter ego of gentlefolk everywhere, and I wanted none of it.”

But the gentle craft of woodworking failed to offer the requisite thump and thunder, Crawford found his place in the world with his motorcycle repair shop.

Crawford holds a Ph.D. in political philosophy from the University of Chicago, so expect him to deliver an intellectual take on his topic.

The book is timely and provocative, and centers on Crawford’s exhortation that we’d all do well to  “extend our moral imagination to people who are conventionally beneath serious regard” and recognize “the intellectual accomplishments of people who do work that is dirty.”

It’s also about bikes, and that makes it a worthy read…

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