The World Beyond your Head

The World Beyond your Head

On Becoming An Individual in An Age of Distraction

Book - 2015
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"In his bestselling book Shop Class as Soulcraft, Matthew B. Crawford explored the ethical and practical importance of manual competence, as expressed through mastery of our physical environment. In his brilliant follow-up, The World Beyond Your Head, Crawford investigates the challenge of mastering one's own mind. We often complain about our fractured mental lives and feel beset by outside forces that destroy our focus and disrupt our peace of mind. Any defense against this, Crawford argues, requires that we reckon with the way attention sculpts the self. He examines the intense concentration of ice hockey players and short-order cooks, the quasi-autistic behavior of gambling addicts, the familiar hassles of daily life, and the deep, slow craftwork of building pipe organs. He shows that our current crisis of attention is only superficially the result of digital technology and becomes more comprehensible when understood as the culmination of certain assumptions at the root of Western culture that are profoundly at odds with human nature. The World Beyond Your Head makes sense of an astonishing array of familiar phenomena, from the frustrations of airport security to the rise of the hipster. With implications for the way we raise our children, the design of public spaces, and even the survival of democracy, this is a book of urgent relevance to comtemporary life." -- Front jacket flap.
"Crawford investigates the challenge of mastering one's own mind by showing that our current crisis of attention is only superficially the result of digital technology, and certain assumptions at the root of Western culture are the root of the cause"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780374292980
Branch Call Number: 155.2 C858w 2015
Characteristics: x, 305 pages ; 24 cm

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CMcC
Sep 29, 2018

The World Beyond Your Head, by Matthew B. Crawford, as the title suggests, is a discussion of the importance of the world around you, whether individual people, communities, or things as they relate to you and your understanding of your “freedom” and place in the world. It is an argument against the idea that you create all your “truth” within yourself, that you are autonomous, and not dependent on the world outside. Instead you are very dependent on the world outside yourself to create your thoughts and skills. I found the book to be a challenging read. It did take significant concentration because he is a Philosophy Major and refered often to “old” philosophers who’s ideas he questioned and newer philosophers who brought in new ideas to the field. However, his examples, of how people in various activities adapt to their world are very interesting. He admires the short order cook as the demands of a busy restaurant morning are satisfied, a hockey player at one with the hockey stick, the motorcycle rider automatically responding to the situations encountered without deliberately thinking through every problem that pops up and a team of glass workers making an exquisite glass object. He discusses his interviews and visits with pipe organ builders who don’t build their understanding of the truths of their trade by just reaching deep within their minds. Instead they build their understanding of organs through their encounter with the materials they work with, the limits imposed by the physical world, and by other practitioners of their craft, both historic and current. He also has an extensive discussion about the ghastly environment of machine gambling in the modern casino and how the gambling industry takes advantage of devotees who chose to stop thinking. He also discusses how our belief that we are free and obligated to define ourselves becomes a threat as we discover that we cannot do it with only the tools within ourselves. He wants us to take advantage of our community and our opportunities to exercise real physical skills, to escape pure dependence on what we can find in our own heads. I found that the book gave me new ideas to ponder and was well worth the read.

j
jubs17
Sep 20, 2015

Although this book provides a kind of world view, it does not offer me anything other than an insight into how other people engage their world. Perhaps this is one of the goals Crawford has for the reader, but because I have a Christian world view grounded in a belief that the Bible holds truth and history, I already have answers for myself to most things Crawford addresses. Who I am and how I interact with the world are both answered by the Bible. My sociological understanding of the world is very different because of this.
However this book is interesting to read and easy to understand if you focus on it. I found there were some sections that didn't quite fit in and did not seem necessary (ex. Glass making section did not offer much for how In depth it went).

LPL_DirectorBrad May 06, 2015

Kant vs. Hegel. Hegel wins.

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CMcC
Sep 29, 2018

CMcC thinks this title is suitable for 20 years and over

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starsabove
Jun 12, 2016

P. 76 Whether you regard it as infantile or as the highest achievement of the European mind, what we find in Kant are the philosophical roots of our modern identification of freedom with choice, where choice is understood as a pure flashing forth of the unconditional will. This is important for understanding our culture because thus understood, choice serves as the central totem of consumer capitalism, and those who present choices to us appear as handmaidens to our own freedom.

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