For our first installment of the “Reading Together” series, we’ll look at Matthew B. Crawford’s Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work (2009). This book speaks to a variety of concerns raised by community members, in a text that is at once philosophically rigorous and readily accessible.
Among the questions addressed:
- How do we encounter the world, and ourselves, through our work, and especially through manual work?
- How does the work we do shape our character, both as individuals, and as members of a democratic community?
- What are the relevant differences—cognitive, epistemic, and moral—between work that engages with tangible external things, and work that trades mostly in abstractions?
About the Author
Our author is a professional motorcycle mechanic, with a Ph.D. in political philosophy, who reads Aristotle in the original Greek, and who draws on all these facets of his own experience and expertise in his work.
Our plan is to break the book into two parts, discussing the first half (through chapter 4) in the first week, and the second half the following week. If we find ourselves needing more time to fully dive into the details, we might decide as a group to add an extra week. Because this is a reading group, all attendees should read the relevant chapters prior to each session, so that we’re all (figuratively and literally) on the same page, and the depth and richness of the book can structure our conversation. We’ll be posting a few thoughts and questions, which you can use to guide your reading, here in early February.