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Doing and thinking: the same thing ?

There are barriers in our society erected by a false dichotomy between practical work and theoretical reflection. If someone develops early on a skill at repairing cars, she may falsely assume that she will not be adept at literary analysis or theorem proving. This robs not only her of opportunities but also society of a potentially important contributor to literary analysis or mathematics. The reward structure of society also assumes it, reflected in both the pay and the cost of pursuing what are thought of as the theoretical pursuits. The supposed distinction also operates on an everyday level. If one spends one's time repairing cars, one may think that one does not have the appropriate capacities to evaluate the arguments of economic "experts" on television. One might then feel alienated from such discussions and find one's sense of alienation reflected in the angry rhetoric of propagandists.

The distinction between the practical and the theoretical is used to warehouse society into groups. It alienates and divides. It is fortunate, then, that it is nothing more than a fiction.

-- Jason Stanley


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