Getting Out of Your Head

During his unsuccessful presidential campaign Senator Marco Rubio suggested that, “We need more welders and less philosophers.” Matthew Crawford in his 2015 book The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction proves why it’s important to be a welder and a philosopher.

Crawford’s believes that certain unquestioned philosophical assumptions dating from the enlightenment are at the heart of our current malaise, specifically the notion that we are all independent and separate logical beings with the location of our consciousness and ethics living entirely within our noggins.

Immanuel Kant and René Descartes are the baddies of Crawford’s book, the advocates of this separateness and the related notion of idealism, the philosophical term for the idea that reality is only comprehensible through internal mental imagery. Idealism will lead you to skepticism about the nature of reality which will, in turn, send you on a trajectory towards the absurd musings of Elon Musk who, apparently, can’t tell if he’s living in a simulation. People who wonder if they are in a simulation tend not to be the people who garden, dig ditches, weld things, read this blog or form meaningful face to face communities.

It shouldn’t be surprising that our culture’s philosophical assumptions about reality lead to things like virtual reality, video games and cryptocurrencies. Through positive examples such as a hockey player, a motorcycle racer, a jazz musician, a glass blower and an organ maker Crawford shows us a way out of our simulated and alienated reality.

And we can look to Crawford himself as an example of where we should take our education system. As both a motorcycle mechanic and a first rate philosopher Crawford proves that a well balanced person can tackle a blown head gasket by day and wrestle with Heidegger in the off hours.

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    • i usually just start with Diogenes the Cynic (google-image him for some great memes) and end with the Book of Job 38 (i read it daily to start the day off).

      everything in-between is just fluff. fun , yes; but fluff , intended to pass the time.

      the excretion of bodily fluids is the point of life, if not being undertaken (in a regular manner) life is not lived, suffering is enjoyment/enjoyment is suffering.

      in-between this, is fluff.

      (but i’m just a google philosopher , having only graduated– with a C+ average– high school)

  1. This does sound interesting- philosophy is something that didn’t feature highly in my time at school but I find it intriguing now.

    On a lower note, apologies (I’m never sure how well Monty Python travels outside of the UK) but I can’t read Immanuel Kant, Descartes and Heidegger in the same article without singing The Philosophers Song in my head. That’ll be it for the day now…

    • When I was in high school our French teacher would spend the first part of every Thursday’s class discussing (in English) the previous night’s Monty Python program. I had strict parents who did not allow us to watch such tomfoolery so I always felt very left out. Now, of course, I can watch old M.P. programs whenever I want. As an aside, my mother-in-law came from England (Essex) and she sounded exactly like the woman at the counter in the Spam skit. Always makes me think of her.

  2. I recently heard a couple of young people articulate the modern condition in an interesting way. In the past people grew up generic and had to work to become individuals. Today everyone is unique (or so the theory goes) and the big task is to find your tribe to become part of a larger group.

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