The love of learning, and making of learning an ongoing pursuit.

Complementary virtues

Maybe helped by hope (as in “I don’t know this now, but I hope that I can learn it if I put in effort”)

Aided by tolerance of failure/ignorance: i.e. you have to be willing to admit ignorance in order to begin to learn knowledge; you have to be willing to fail at some new skill in order to practice enough to succeed at it. Confidence? Non-fragility? Perseverance?

Contrasting vices


Virtues possibly in tension


How to acquire or strengthen it


Notes and links

Intrinsic & extrinsic motivations: wanting to know, understand, etc. vs. wanting to be able to show off knowledge, know which horse to bet on, have classy cultural signals, etc.

“Gamifying” learning uses existing psychological motivators to help people learn useful things (e.g. not just arbitrary game mechanics/puzzles). E.g. Duolingo, etc.

Is this maybe an increasingly important virtue in that society is changing more rapidly and thoroughly now than in the past, so that you have to be willing to learn (e.g. new applications/interfaces/devices, new memes/language uses, new methods of social interaction) if you want to have any hope of keeping up. (Or is this a myth, and we’re in a paradoxical great stagnation in which things are actually changing more slowly than in e.g. our grandparents’ lifetimes.)

Possibly some people have to overcome traumas inflicted by institutional schooling that have infected the love of learning via a connection between learning & schooling. Maybe there’s a process for taking self-ownership of learning after the trauma of having school inflicted on one.

Mentioned elsewhere


Inspirational quotes

  • “The Master said: ‘Yu, have you ever heard of the six good words and the six things that obscure them?’ ‘Never,’ was the reply. ‘Sit down then, and I will tell you. Love of kindness, without a love to learn, finds itself obscured by foolishness. Love of knowledge, without a love to learn, finds itself obscured by loose speculation. Love of honesty, without a love to learn, finds itself obscured by harmful candour. Love of straightforwardness, without a love to learn, finds itself obscured by misdirected judgment. Love of daring, without a love to learn, finds itself obscured by insubordination. And love for strength of character, without a love to learn, finds itself obscured by intractability.’” (Analects of Confucius, XVII.VIII)
  • “Tzŭ Hsia said: ‘He who day by day finds out where he is deficient, and who month by month never forgets that in which he has become proficient, may truly be called a lover of learning.’” (Analects of Confucius, XIX.V)
  • “Tzŭ Hsia said: ‘As the various craftsmen dwell in their workshops that they may do their work effectively, so the Wise Man applies himself to study that he may carry his wisdom to perfection.’” (Analects of Confucius, XIX.VII)
  • “If you think it is ever warranted to stop on the path of further understanding, you are very far from the truth. The life which we received was given to us not that we might just admire it, but that we should ever look for new truth hidden from us.” —Tolstoy (riffing on John Milton)

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