New: Book Report: The Craftsman

In a passing reference to this book, The Craftsman, I got the impression that it was a book that studied how people think when they're working. But it isn't that at all. I wish instead people had pointed out this sentence from the book's Prologue:

I am a philisophically minded writer asking questions about such matters as woodworking, military drills, or solar panels.

There might be some useful information in this book. But I'll never find it. I gave up on this book. It is larded with philosophy. One imagines that the author, Sennet, felt compelled to write this book because he is surrounded by philosophers who are unfamiliar with doing real work and he felt he had to explain the process to them in their own language...

First and foremost, by putting manual pursuits on an equal footing with mental labors. The general idea had a sharp edge; the Encyclopedia scorned hereditary members of the elite who do no work and so contribute nothing to society. By restoring the manual laborer to something like his archaic Greek honor, the encyclopédistes mounted a challenge equal in force to Kant's attack on traditional privelege but different in character: useful labor rather than free reason challenges the past. The very march of the alphabet aided the Encyclopedia's belief in the ethical equivalence of manual work to supposedly higher pursuits. In French roi (king) lies near rôtisseur (a roaster of meats or fowl), just as in English "knit" follows upon "king." As the historian Robert Danton observes, the Encyclopedia seized on such couplings as more than happy accidents; these take the authority of a monarch down a beg by making it prosaic.

So the real is problem is that I misunderstood what the book was about. This is not a book about how we think when we work. It is a book about professional thinkers thinking about work. What did Kant have to say about work? Diderot? If I cared about these things, then I guess I could read this book to find out. But hopefully one of my friends would cajole me into caring about something important instead and I'd get back to doing real work.

Labels: ,

Posted 2008-12-11