intellectual craftsmanship

I was recently referred to a most interesting article, Intellectual Craftsmanship, via Nicole Martin who had recently completed my PKM Workshop. It is a part of C. Wright Mills’ larger work, The Sociological Imagination (1959).

“Hailed upon publication as a cogent and hard-hitting critique, The Sociological Imagination took issue with the ascendant schools of sociology in the United States, calling for a humanist sociology connecting the social, personal, and historical dimensions of our lives. The sociological imagination Mills calls for is a sociological vision, a way of looking at the world that can see links between the apparently private problems of the individual and important social issues.” —Google Books

The above description aligns with the personal knowledge mastery framework: PKM is a unified framework of individually-constructed enabling processes to help each of us make sense of our world, work more effectively, and contribute to society.

In summarizing his chapter on intellectual craftsmanship, Wright Mills puts forth eight precepts and cautions, which are applicable to the practice of PKM.

  1. Master your craft as an individual and avoid set procedures. Be original and true to yourself.
  2. Communicate as plainly as possible.
  3. Research deeply and develop explanatory models, but don’t get too attached to them.
  4. Always look at the broader social and historical context of what you are examining.
  5.  Go broad and deep in your studies.
    “In formulating and in trying to solve these problems, do not hesitate, indeed seek, continually and imaginatively, to draw upon the perspectives and materials, the ideas and methods, of any and all sensible studies of man and society. They are your studies; they are part of what you are a part of; do not let them be taken from you by those who would close them off by weird jargon and pretensions of expertise.”
  6. Continually revise your understanding of history [perpetual beta].
  7. Remember that all people are historical and social actors.
  8. Do not let others dictate your fields of study and your lifelong learning.

Intellectual craftsmanship, like PKM, is personal. As David Croteau says, “If C. Wright Mills were alive today, he’d be blogging”.

“And there you have it; the making of a blog: systematic reflection, capturing ‘fringe-thoughts’, keeping your inner world awake, and developing the habit of writing regularly.  Mills even encourages the reader to share some of these early thoughts with others.” —David Croteau


C. Wright Mills

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