Theory As Poetry: C. Wright Mills’ “On Intellectual Craftsmanship” (1959)

c-wright1

Thinking
is a struggle
for order
and at the same time
for comprehensiveness.

Thinking
of the opposite
of that with which
you are directly concerned.

Orient [yourself]
to the central and continuing task
of understanding the structure and the drift,
the shape and the meanings, of your own period.

Do not allow public issues
as they are officially formulated,
or troubles as they are privately felt,
to determine the problems
that you take up for study.

Above all,
do not give up your moral and political autonomy
by accepting in someone else’s terms
the illiberal practicality
of the bureaucratic ethos
or the liberal practicality
of the moral scatter.

– C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination, “Appendix: On Intellectual Craftsmanship” (pp. 195-226).

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