Matthew Crawford

Biography

Matthew B. Crawford is a philosopher, New York Times bestselling author, and mechanic. His latest book is The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction.

In 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. With implications for the way we raise our children, the design of public spaces, and democracy itself, this is a book of urgent relevance to contemporary life.

In his first book, Shop Class as Soulcraft, Crawford brings alive an experience that was once quite common, but now seems to be receding from society— the experience of making and fixing things with your hands. Those of us who sit in an office often feel a lack of connection to the material world, a sense of loss, and find it difficult to say exactly what we do all day. Shop Class as Soulcraft seeks to restore the honor of the manual trades as a life worth choosing.

As a speaker, Crawford draws from the history of philosophy to consider how our economic choices form us (and deform us). In doing so, he turns an inquiring gaze on the absurdities of the modern workplace, the psychology of consumerism, and some of the weirder consequences of our technological enthusiasm. Often darkly funny, he mixes stories of contemporary life with careful arguments to illuminate our ongoing struggle to live a fully human life, and to figure out what such a life might consist of.

Crawford majored in physics as an undergraduate, then turned to political philosophy, earning a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Currently a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, he also runs a motorcycle repair business in Richmond, Virginia.

Video of Matthew speaking: