On Learning

This post is going to be quite rambly, but I just wanted to jot down a few thoughts circling in my head before I lose them. I've been thinking about learning lately, specifically how and what I learn, during my quest to become a more well-rounded individual, and leftist. Usually the source of my information ends up being various leftist podcasts. Of course, I started with Chapo, as most do, seeing as it is the most (monetarily) successful podcast on Patreon and an enemy of traditional media. Through Chapo I found shows like TrueAnon, which sparked my understanding of historical materialism, even though I take issue with some of the conclusions of the show.

As I discover my latest obsession, The Antifada, I am beginning to realize that maybe I actually am learning something. I have also been taking more and more philosophy classes which make me better at actually defending my points of view. Through all this I have discovered something about myself, and probably about learning in general. Humans absorb information from various sources all the time. I certainly do; I am listening to podcasts at obscene speeds a majority of the day. I receive all this content and all these conclusions from many people who I then begin to agree with.

As one of my philosophy professors told the young group (myself included) in the entry-level philosophy class he was teaching: Philosophy students tend to begin their learning process by enthusiastically agreeing with the latest thing they've read. First, they read Plato, and they think "oh man, this guy's really on to something here", and then they read Descartes, and think "wait this guy is totally right about everything, screw that Plato guy" and then they read something else, maybe Spinoza or Kant or whoever their professor assigns, and totally absorb the new worldview that was presented in a landmark work by a famous philosopher. Part of becoming a better thinker is to absorb and critically work through these systems of thought. That is something that I personally feel that I have become better at in the last few months. I can listen to the latest Chapo episode and allow myself to disagree with the takes they provide, and acknowledge that they are comfortably living in nice apartments in Brooklyn taking home a magnificent podcaster salary.

A phenomenon that I want to address, that happens personally, is forgetting where I heard something. Mostly in a podcast context, but also from lectures and assigned readings, I read a particular sentence, absorb its meaning and enjoy doing so, and store it for later in the ramen noodle brick that is my brain (so many wrinkles), and when later comes about I attempt to conjure it, but I can only repeat the idea itself, and I struggle to remember the source of the information. Sometimes I feel a little upset with myself that I am unable to quote specific passages from personally foundational readings, but now I am realizing that all things take practice, and that I am young in my career as a critical learner. Additionally, my strength comes from being able to acknowledge that I have learned something, and that I am progressing on the path to being, not necessarily a good person, because that is such an abstract concept, but just a better person, a better learner, and a better leftist.

Thanks for reading this little brain blast. I hope you enjoyed the peek.