After graduating as a political philosopher, Matthew Crawford fell into a lucrative job as director of a think-tank, yet got no fulfilment from it. Boldly deciding to break out and follow his real passion for motorbikes, he found intellectual and personal freedom in fixing motorbikes. With simplicity and depth, wit and wisdom, the author tells his story with a superb lightness of touch. Subjects such as the cognitive demands of manual work, the meaning of the Greek concept of sophia (in Homer this related to skill, or knowing about one’s materials), the degradation of white-collar work, the separation of thinking from doing in Western culture, how we are infantilised by our technologies, the satisfaction of giving form to things when making or fixing, are succinctly unpacked.
Resembling a kind of post-consumerist Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance mixed with gems from the likes of Aristotle, Marx and Heidegger, The Case for Working with Your Hands offers an enduring personal tale at its heart. Crawford’s struggle for individual agency is an inspiration for anyone struggling with those vast impersonal forces that define our age, and his recording of that struggle deserves high recognition. A wonderful book to cherish indeed.
The Case for Working with Your Hands by Matthew Crawford (Viking) £16.99