Matthew Crawford - electrician, motor-cycle mechanic, professor of philosophy - on why Office Work is bad for us and Fixing Things Feels Good.

The most thought-provoking discussion about work, modern society and living happily that I've read in many years.



The UK edition

What is 'culture'?  

Culture is our unseen assumptions about the nature of our world.   So commonly held and so ingrained, our assumptions are experienced not as beliefs, but as reality, simply as the way things are.  

These assumptions become apparent when looking at another culture (such as statements and actions about gender roles).   That may be the only way to become aware of what your own group's culture is.

 cheshire cat


I have an eighty/twenty approach to a lot of things.   I get to a pretty good result with a reasonable effort.   I think of that reasonable effort as the easy bit - so 20% of a major effort.   And I think most people are happy with Very Good since it will usually suffice and costs less than Excellent.   I think Very Good is about 80% of Excellent.   So that's my working of the 80/20 Rule.   I can do Excellent but that extra level of finish at every stage takes a lot of extra effort, time and can be a drag because the thing doesn't get 80% better than Very Good.   Another 80% effort only adds 20% quality and most of us aren't even going to notice that since the thing meets requirements at 80%.   We'll only notice the higher price!

You've met them!   Ordinary people somehow in-the-know on some incredible plots:  Sinister powers caused the Christchurch earthquake to put pressure on the New Zealand government;  CIA orchestrated nine-eleven;  Moon-landing all filmed in a studio.    They've found it on the internet so it must be true!

Here are two great tools for thinking about this stuff.  

The whole problem of the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.

- Bertrand Russell

We are made of words! 

What is this person we know ourselves as?  This individual with our name?  Who walks about (or struts his hour upon the stage) amazed at the fact of his or her very existence in the Universe?  Who wonders at his or her relationship to this surrounding, separate, reality? Who lives in fear of its life ending?!

How did a 'Rob' or a 'David' or a 'Susan' or a 'Helen' come to be inhabiting this human body?  Where do we go when this body dies?

You can have

or do

or become

anything you dream;

just decide what that is

and determine to pay the price.

Phoenix seminars 1980's

Some books I've read.

Profundities, philosophical and otherwise.

A collection of quotations.