Friday, March 18, 2005

Personal studies

A few days ago, I overheard a couple of guys on an inter-city bus talking about what they would have done if they had missed it and had to wait a couple of hours for the next one. Since the terminal was downtown, the library was close by. I would have been happy go to there for a couple of hours, but this thought never occured to these other two men. I have a great love of reading; perhaps an inordinate one. But we have so much potential to learn and do things, and there is so much to learn and do in this life, that it saddens me a little to see people wasting what time they have while the resources about them go unused.

The category I call Personal studies deals with people as individuals, rather than in groups. It includes three principal areas:
1) Human body
2) Psychology
3) Biography

The first two of these are considered sciences, although they are not quite as well organized and developed as the physical and natural sciences. Studies of the human body are often grouped with medicine, but I reserve that category for the diagnosis and treatment of disease, and place it in culture. This is a fairly well developed area.
Psychology is the study of the human mind and behavior, with the focus on the individual.
Biography is more often considered one of the humanities and could easily be grouped with history, if I were using a different approach to organizing history. I include it here because of the focus on particular individuals.

These studies are fairly close to physical and natural science. People do not exist in isolation, and have to be considered in social context. They also change by learning and acquiring culture, by participating in social institutions, and are members of communities and cultures. The methods of history are also useful in studying biography and the personal sciences.

One exercise I would recommend in this are is to make a list of people, with a few notes about them. These may be historical figures, prominent people, or aquaintances, if it's not a violation of privacy. Include contact information, if they are living.

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