1101-391 Language and Identity.

Alexandra Sandoval                                                                                                             9/13/18



    Shop Class as Soulcraft

                                                                 Matthew B. Crawford

Matthew B. Crawford is an American writer and a researcher at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. He illustrated four books called The World Beyond Your Head, Love Yourself!, Joy Magazine, and Shop Class as Soulcraft. Shop Class as Soulcraft was originally published on May 28 the year of 2009.

Shop Class as Soulcraft is a eye opener to the differences of nature of work, the perspective of Manual Labor, etc…

In the beginning of the Shop Class as Soulcraft the author Matthew B. Crawford  states in the second paragraph ‘’ At the same time, an engineering culture has developed in recent years in which the object is to ‘’ hide the works’’, rendering the artifacts we use unintelligible to direct inspection’’ This Paragraph has me interested as to why they hide their works. There were certain words I didn’t know such ‘’Odyssey’’ meaning epic journey, the word ‘’Esoteric’’ meaning intended for or likely to be understood. The third paragraph quotes ‘’ A decline in tool use would seem to betoken a shift in our mode of inhabiting the world’’ The word Betoken means be a sign of indicate. The second sentence ‘’ More passive and more dependent. And indeed’’ I am very interested as to why the author finished the sentence and then started a new sentence with ‘’And’’ The second paragraph the word ‘’Cultivation’’ means the process of trying to acquire or develop a quality skill.  The Psychic Appeal of Manual Work the first paragraph ‘’I began working as an electrician’s helper at age fourteen, and started a small electrical contracting business after college, in Santa Barbara’’ I took this sentence as imagery I can picture when Crawford was an electrician. I want to know where Crawford was going with this sentence when he said he was an electrician’s helper how does that tie with the whole story and benefits the readers. The word ‘’Intrinsic’’ means belonging naturally. The fourth paragraph states ‘’The craftsman is proud of what he has made, and cherishes it’’ This quote caught my attention because it tells me whatever you are going to do in your life you need to be happy and cherish every moment you have. The word ‘’Autonomous’’ means having self government.

         The fifth paragraph the author states ‘’Toward the distinction between the Right Way and the Wrong way’’ The quote to me defines how humans always have to come to like an agreement with themselves and decide between good or bad. The title ‘’The Cognitive Demands of Manual Work’’ The author states ‘’From it’s earliest practice. Craft knowledge of their nature, acquired through disciplined perception and a systematic approach to problems’’ The author gives an example such as the steam engine saying how it was developed by mechanics who observed the relations between ‘’volume, pressure, and temperature’’  

In page nineteen, he states ‘’Scientific management introduced the use of “time and motion analysis” to describe the physiological capabilities of the human body in machine terms. This quote took me a while to understand what Crawford was talking about he explains topics way different in my opinion. “ As Braverman writes, “the more labor is governed by classified motions which extend across the boundaries of trades and occupations, the more it dissolves its concrete forms into the general types of work motions. This mechanical exercise of human faculties according to motion types which are studied independently of the particular kind of work being done, brings to life the Marxist conception of ‘abstract labor.’’  In page twenty he uses a word  in his paragraph that I didn’t know of or the meaning of it  ‘’This would seem to be a crucial moment in the history of political economy. Evidently, the new system provoked natural revulsion. Yet, at some point, workers became habituated to it’’ Revulsion means a sense of disgust and loathing. The sentence in my opinion means that the situation Crawford was describing was that it was a critical moment back then and how was system would rise to disgust.

The Cognitive Demands of Manual Work

    Crawford quotes a quote in his story stating “In our early work with HyperGami, we often ran into situations in which the program provided us with a folding net that was mathematically correct—i.e., a technically correct unfolding of the desired solid—but otherwise disastrous. Figure 7 shows an example. Here, we are trying to create an approximation to a cone—a pyramid on a regular octagonal base. HyperGami provides us with a folding net that will, indeed, produce a pyramid; but typically, no paper crafter would come up with a net of this sort, since it is fiendishly hard to join together those eight tall triangles into a single vertex. In fact, this is an illustrative example of a more general idea—the difficulty of formalizing, in purely mathematical terms, what it means to produce a ‘realistic’ (and not merely technically correct) solution to an algorithmic problem derived from human practice” After he finishes stating a quote he goes on to explain  I take their point to be that the crafting problem is in fact not reducible to an algorithmic problem. More precisely, any algorithmic solution to the crafting problem cannot itself be generated algorithmically, as it must include ad hoc constraints known only through practice, that is, through embodied manipulations. Those constraints cannot be arrived at deductively, starting from mathematical entities. It is worth noting in passing that this has implications for the theory of mind favored by artificial intelligence researchers, as it speaks to the “computability” of pragmatic cognition. It would be a task for cognitive science to determine if these considerations place a theoretical limit on the automation of work, but I can speak firsthand to how one area of work is resistant to algorithmic thinking. The way Crawford expressed his own opinion made it hard for me to understand because of how he words his statement.

Crawford expresses his emotions and beliefs differently from other authors ‘’I felt I was in the presence of some genius, and the man who bent that conduit surely imagined this moment of recognition as he worked’’ In this quote I can feel what he is expressing and how he feels through his emotions.  Crawford’s writing skills effects me because he uses contexts, meanings, and words that are hard to clarify as a reader. The book provides a difficult setting of vocabularies and narration and his values of Manual Labor in general. This causes the book to be difficult in my perspective because of how Crawford writing skills are as an author, how he words his sentences, grammar, and him expressing his emotions in an another way instead of being straight forward and specific.


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