An essay on Understanding (or, understanding for an Understanding of UNDERSTANDING)
For the proper philosophical discussion about any particular thing, the identification of the thing itself is more important than the word used to refer to it: A word is merely a tool used to approximate the meaning of a concept, thus enabling an expedient means to refer to that concept in conversation or writing. In a way, this conventional approximation of conceptual meaning highlights the purpose of Philosophy, which I define here as the unmotivated, uncompromised expression of the innate need to Understand. And, Understanding is perhaps the most important concept to philosophise about—which I define here as the pure and thorough attempt to clarify the essence and significance of a thing. Thus for this essay, a cluster of related ‘things’ I consider worthy of discussion are most closely approximated by the word ‘understanding’, with each of these things representing a particular aspect of that concept, thereby being a different sense of its meaning. Hence, I will use the word ‘understanding’ in multiple senses, supported by my definition of each one; and by which I attempt to describe these particular aspects of Mind and Life.
In the second part of this article series, I identify twelve different subjects (including sub-types), which I classify by their ideal mood for comprehension; whilst also providing examples and photographic samples to support the description of each type and sub-type.
Having long had a personal interest in seeking and reading the most substantial literature available, I have in the process acquired an experience of book-reading that covers all of the major subjects in literature. As a part of this experience, my mind naturally formed classifications of the qualities and uses of each subject; as well as the particular ‘moods’ I found to be best suited for engaging with their different characteristics. The aim of this article, then, is to clarify and share this experience by making these classifications—hopefully to the interest, if not to the benefit, of fellow book-readers.
In the first part of this article series, I identify fourteen different types of book, which I classify by their required mode of concentration; whilst also providing examples and photographic samples to support the description of each type.
Over the course of the years during which I have been reading books regularly, a particular categorization of book-types naturally formed in my mind. Specifically, it is based on the distinct kinds of concentration I found to be demanded by different books. These different kinds of concentration can be thought of as different modes of reading; and the classification of them in this sense may be useful for a regular reader of books to consider and refer to, towards a more conscious and informed practise of book-reading.