Learning For Learning

Hi – education again (spoiler alert)

I just finished watching Bon Iver’s 22, A Million Press Conference on YouTube. The whole 90 mins. Well worth a watch if you like his music. Can see here!


There was a moment where he spoke about the impact of university on his music. Reflecting on his university education he said he was lucky enough to “just go and learn about people for four years and…it absolutely is in my fabric as a person”.

This idea of just learning about people struck me as being so fundamental to the university experience (and life as a whole), yet perhaps often overlooked. At university we fret so much over this theory or that methodology, over which expert has said what on what, often overlooking that the people-aspect of university is perhaps the most crucial thing we learn. What we learn about can of course be condensed into theories and reduced to abstraction, and this has its value, but we must also remember we are always learning about the human condition. How different humans encounter different problems and live different lives to what we know as our own is at the centre of the learning process. Each subject in its own way in some way relates to the human condition and our Being in the world.

This constant learning process (which has to be seen as a lifelong cumulative project – “the capstone to end all capstones”, if you will) is of paramount importance to our development and understanding. I probably chose philosophy as my major because I wanted the most direct path to ‘learning about people’. Only by reading and learning about others can we come to understand ourselves and come to appreciate our position in the world – ‘the human condition’.


We learn as it gives us a sense of growth. We grow to feel a sense of progression. We progress so that we can lead a fulfilling life. What fulfilment means to each individual differs vastly, however I strongly believe that the learning process is at the centre of fulfilment for everyone. Without a constant feeling of growth, of progression, of succession I wonder if life really reaches anything near fulfilment. Learning doesn’t need to come from an institution, although it is quite helpful when it does. We learn in all manner of situations, be it interacting with friends on a daily basis, reading articles online, reading books, listening to music etc… Perhaps we don’t always acknowledge these activities as being carried out as part of a learning process, but they certainly must count as learning.

Perhaps we need to appreciate learning as learning. For what it is. For it is at the very heart of everything which drives us on in life. It drives us forward and encourages us to keep wanting to fulfil our desires and explore our talents and interests. Without learning we would be lost.

I guess hearing Bon Iver discussing learning about people as being “in his fabric” triggered this article. It also links to some thoughts I’ve had recently about the idea of self-fulfilment and how it is often, wrongly, overlooked as being too general a concept to talk about. I think it is incredibly important that everyone should have the chance to explore what fulfilment means to them and what self-fulfilment would look like. For me it amounts to something centred around continual learning. Learning as a process. Learning to learn, perhaps.

Should we all excessively spend time considering what is important to us? Reflecting on our lives. Reflecting on other people. Considering our selves in relation to the World? In relation to Other people? ……. Probably…yes, to a certain extent. It’s probably quite a good idea to spend some time reflecting on what’s important to you, what would go some way to being self-fulfilling. I mean one life to live and all of that! I think learning about yourself, learning about others…eventually learning about what you love and trying to do that. That seems to me to heading in the correct direction, as far as self-fulfilment is concerned anyway. < Philosophy – yikes!

(On an unrelated note I just finished reading Brazzaville Beach by William Boyd. It’s an excellent book which offers a fascinating interpretation of human (?) nature. Definitely would recommend it!)

Anyway – hoping that there is love for learning out there!

Take care

Finn x

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