There are two types of love regarding learning. The first is the love of pure learning. This is the absolute thirst for coming to know things that one didn’t before. This love is derived from the immense pleasure that comes from figuring out what a factorial is, finally being told what MSG is, learning about the actual anatomy of the human shoulder, seeing the elegance of the periodic table, and finally having grammar concepts make sense. This love could be called the love of knowledge. It shows itself in everyday life – the spark of passion that is alive when one comprehends the factoid that will allow a person to ace a test is the same spark that is ignited by a conversation about something out of the blue with a stranger on a bus. I see this love expressed as a disposition; those who do indeed possess it act a certain way – they are inquisitive, obviously, but more precisely, they are interested in everything. This love is not bounded by an academic subject or aim. To a person that loves in this way, the world is a fantastic place, full of wonder, intrigue, and enchantment at every juncture.
The second type of love is the love of a subject. By this, I mean love for math or writing or history or anatomy or soccer or computer games or ultimate frisbee or herb gardening or whatever! The specific subject is not important – the critical factor in this love is one’s approach to a subject. These lovers devour the knowledge contained in their field of study. They MUST learn more and more – they have an insatiable hunger to learn everything they can about the thing in which they are interested. The level of understanding in their subject is not necessarily important: the highschooler who cannot get enough of his AP Biology textbook displays the same love as the PhD who spends 70 hours/week in his laboratory – they differ not in kind but in degree, and only really in degrees that matter little: maturity and market value. While love of knowledge is a disposition, this love for a subject is akin to a quest. This type of lover is on a journey to find more of the magical world of study he finds himself in. He travels with deliberate pace. While the world comes to the lover of learning, the lover of subjects goes to it – he hunts it down. This second love grows from, and is sustained by, a recognition and appreciation for the true, innate beauty that lies within their subject of study. It is this beauty that drives their quest forward: the sublime is a powerful motivator if only it can be comprehended. This love manifests itself quit visibly - if you could access the sublime and the beautiful inside a textbook or Wikipedia site or seminar wouldn’t you act a little crazy about that fact too? These loves for the subject are certainly not mutually exclusive; one may have as many passions as they like.
Not everyone who is interested in a subject is a lover of that subject. In fact, someone could spend many many hours participating in something and not love it as a subject of learning. The computer gamer who spends the majority of the day online doesn’t necessarily want to learn about their game of choice. The lover of the computer game as subject wants to know about who made the game, what the best players in the world are like, how he can contribute to the online community. He probably has a blog about his gaming experience.
I will expound on these two types of people in future posts. The preceding have been some initial thoughts that came to me very clearly one morning.