My concentration is on three areas, two are more academic than the third (which will not be discussed here). Those two are language/literature and philosophy/history. Why do I designate these as duel topics? Language may be seen as a science: knowledge of language development, language learning, the speaking apparatus, and so on; or art, the spoken word, rhetoric, and writing. Language (or linguistics) is the science, and literature the art. As for philosophy, this means the “love of knowledge.” In Chinese the word is 哲学 zhe’xue, the study of wisdom. May we say, the love of knowledge for the sake of wisdom – the knowledge of ultimate rather proximate causes (as one might discover in science). Wisdom, like art, is intuitive, and is built on a foundation of knowledge and observation. Philosophy is the love of knowledge and is usually associated with observation, musing and dialectic (language as a mode of discovery). I pair this with history because this builds a framework of knowledge to work with, and feeds the intuition to seek ultimate causes which the conscious effort cannot attain.
As for language/literature, I currently divide this into three sections: Chinese language practice, linguistics (a science), and the history and practice of literature or writing (English, English translations of other languages, and Mandarin). While I have spent much time on this (lacking mostly in linguistics) over recent years, by speaking fluently in and teaching Mandarin, and reading extensively of classic literature, I am more focused on the philosophy/history partition of my studies now.
As for those philosophy and history studies, I am surveying Western philosophy by way of some books on history of philosophy, and reading several philosophers (pre-Socratics, Plato, Marcus Aurelius, Lucretius, Epictetus, Seneca, Cicero, Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Bacon, Machiavelli, Descartes, Spinoza, Voltaire, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Emerson, Thoreau, Steiner, Gibran, the Chinese classics Laozi, Zhuangzi, Kongzi and Mengzi, and Youlan Feng, and the study and practice of Buddhist philosophy, ethics and meditation, some dabbling in others and more to come). I am now concentrating on learning The Trivium, the classical, Medieval, liberal education (grammar, elementary logic and rhetoric), after which I intend to study mathematics and Aristotle. It was said that a student must be adept at language and mathematics before becoming a pupil of Plato, so this I intend to do (though only a student of text). In addition, I have begun a survey of world history and basic prehistory of humans and anthropology. Also, I intend to put to use a side interest in mnemonics and the history of memory techniques, using mental imagery to memorize several of these subjects.
a. Mandarin (interests in Cantonese, Japanese, Thai, German and Russian)
b. Linguistics (speaking apparatus, language learning and development)
c. Literature (and rhetoric, reading and writing, logically and poetically)
a. Pre-requisites (The Trivium, Quadrivium, Plato, Aristotle, other Ancient philosophy)
b. Texts (reading actual philosophical texts)
d. History (world, philosophy, pre-history)
The intent is to combine all of these studies in the art of self expression, i.e. writing, speaking, and in turn, continued character development, applying myself daily in the world. Without this, philosophy is nothing, rabble. Philosophy does not make one good, but it does make one informed, for thoughtfulness is the only true information, true knowledge, true power, to be, something.