Capital Ideas Blog

In defense of amateur hour

By Chelsea Vail
August 05, 2014

From: Blog


There is a time and place for amateur hour, and generally speaking it's not 9 to 5 at the office—but maybe it should be, if we are to take the advice of Chicago Booth Professor Harry L. Davis

"Amateurs are often derided as dabblers, second-rate people who tackle things superficially and without professional skills," Davis writes in Why Are You Here and Not Somewhere Else, a collection of his essays excerpted in the Winter 2013 issue of Capital Ideas. "But the dictionary also provides another definition of amateur derived from the Latin term for someone who works at an art or science for its own pleasure." 

One such person, Davis notes, is Wayne C. Booth, a professional literary critic and amateur cellist. Booth expounds on the idea of "amateuring" in the context of his own five-decades-plus spent practicing cello in For the Love of It: Amateuring and Its Rivals—and lucky for us, it is available from the University of Chicago Press as a free e-book during the month of August.

Between Davis and Booth, you'll be an expert amateur in no time. 

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