On circular learning

In medical school, we were often told that in Chinese medicine, we are engaging in circular learning. The process of learning to be a member of this Profession indeed involves repetitive examination of a relatively small number of concepts and tools, such that you can be studying Qi in the very first lecture of your education, and still be confounded by the same study of Qi twenty years after graduation.

This isn’t unique to Chinese medicine, of course. It seems to happen with pretty much everything in my life. A repetitive meditation on a few themes, a few topic areas, from decade to decade.

In this way, Philosophy has come back around again. In the department where I was initially trained we were said to be interested in “Applied Philosophy” and the department in general was often found showing people outside the discipline how it might be applied to their work, their lives. So, in that way, I’ve always been studying Philosophy, using it, living it in my practice, in my business, in my everyday home life.

But there is, for me, something different about taking the Philosophical mindset and applying it to a set of ideas or questions in a more... formal (?) way. I’m speaking of that concentrated time reading, analyzing, writing, considering, re-reading, all with the hope to unearth some clarity in thinking. There’s not much room for that in the speed of medical education, or licensure, or the early days of practice... or the later days of practice...

In fact, It’s only by a series of risks and unusual circumstances that suddenly I find myself again preoccupied with Philosophical thinking yet again. I have some time, some headspace, combined with a powerful urgency to do this work. For once, I can find no particular impediments that should stop me from doing what I am here to do.

So, here goes nothing. Again.

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