What's next? That's always the question, an occasion for judgment.
Here's an overview for first-timers of what-happens-where, and for many-timers, too. What we do on A Place to Study differs from what usually happens on websites. We use a clickable map to keep the whole place in mind. Use it to get about and choose where your active study might take place. We describe the main districts here, but if you prefer to just look and see, skip the descriptions and use the schema to go exploring. Whenever wherever, clicking the top elliptical link will bring you back here.
Remember our intent: to provide free, unencumbered, comprehensive resources to persons seeking self-formation and liberal learning in the digital commons. Treat each Place page as a resource. Check it out and take it in, the actual study that takes place depends on what we then do, contributing what we have to say to the Study page or simply thinking a passing thought while moving on.
In the world of instruction, knowledge has a scope and a sequence; in contrast, study has a situation and an occasion. A Place situates it; our choice to study occasions it. We don't think of our schema as an ordered list to be followed from top to bottom. It's a visual composition, each part serving with the others to comprise a whole, each part distinctively significant within the whole.
Our schema has an upper and a lower part and the content of the lower part will vary, depending on what component of the upper part we activate. A circle of circles makes up the core of the upper part. The five outer circles link to our places of substantive activity — the museums, monuments, stadia, parks, schools, churches, offices, and fancy stores, so to speak. The inner circle links to enabling functions — the streets, the buses and subways, the sewers and conduits, warehouses and workshops, and the smarts that enable a complex infrastructure to never let our city sleep. Two reflective discourses frame all this activity, a set of dialogs and a discussion of lifeworlds, which may serve to institute the flow of diverse activities with a sustained sense of direction and coherence.
To elaborate . . .
Through A Place to Study, we explore the spiritual aspirations that move us, personally and in common, in the course of life. We do not live in the world, one world the same for all. Each vital agent lives in a unique world, inner and outer, that each constitutes as the circumstantial correlate to our intentions and capacities. Our lifeworlds comprise the significance, meaning, and worth that we institute as self-directing agents in, for, and around ourselves as we seek to actualize intentions in living our lives. We study these matters in our lifeworlds to better inform our powers of judgment, taste, and understanding. These works of the spirit provide the experiential context of our studying.
With intended action, living action, the outcome is always contingent, unclear, potentially ironic. As doubts, concerns, and possibilities of import to us take place, we inquire into them: Who?, What?, How?, Where?, and Why?. Hence our assemblage of circles, which indicate major modes of concentrating our attention on what we do not fully fathom and therefore want to study. By posing these questions to orselves, we reflect discursively on key forms of the primordial ignorance that moves us to study here. They are places where we study study, so to speak. Here's a quick bit on each. They work together, so don't hole up in only one of them.
Who studies? — here on A Place to Study? Here "study" is an active verb. As an active verb, it sounds awkward when used in the passive voice; study calls for an agent as its subject, a person or a polity, an actor that forms, performs, and pursues purposes. Here we study agency as agents, as persons, but persons deciding what they, personally and as members of collectivities, can and should choose to try to do.
What sorts of resources repay study by persons seeking self-formation and liberal learning in the digital commons? Here, and in the district for How?, we substantively engage what the verb, to study, indicates by reflecting on the cultural resources with which we study (the what) and then on the active capacities we employ in doing so (i>the how).
How will we, as persons, engage in studying our cultural resources; how will we employ our capacities in doing so? That, too, calls for reflection, which we pursue in this district and then orchestrate as shared activities in the district that follows.
Where? That's where the action is, where persons [Who] intentionally seek to form themselves and learn liberally in the digital commons [Why], studying resources of human culture [What] in the various ways suiting the complex conditions of human life[How]. Here we put in practice what we are thinking.
In engaging the complexities of life, why might persons pay particular attention to forming themselves and learning liberally in the digital commons? Responses to this question, framed by each person, not for each or everyone, have much to do with shaping the cultural import of what we can and should do here.
These are our places of public activity — the museums, monuments, stadia, parks, schools, churches, offices, and fancy stores. In addition, we have the streets, the buses and subways, the sewers and conduits, warehouses and workshops, a complex infrastructure that never lets our city sleep. All that is here too, and many visitors will get to feel at home in it. You'll see in the center of our schema three of them.
Everyone shapes themselves by gearing up, by selecting and using tools of various sorts to advance their purposes. Here's the heart of A Place to Study as a democratic effort: in a fully developed digital culture, everyone can, should, and will have full access and use of the most effective, powerful tools for creative cultural activity. That is becoming feasible in a fully developed cultural commons and it stands here as the compelling goal of democratic aspiration.
Dialogs groups short instances of a literary form, not a special topic. It includes a set of conversations about aspects of A Place to Study and the sort of activities that can and should take place on the site. They're like street corner conversations about the why and the wherefore of A Place to Study, and its place in the larger world. These are important for sensing the distinctive character of study as our effort to form our agency, purpose, and meaning in all the many domains of our life activity.
That's it. All these represent common foci of attention, loci jumbled up in the processes of life. They don't form a sequence and bouncing around among them continues through life as we form and focus judgment on the ever-changing vicissitudes of life. Explore as you wish, free to go as you want, and to come back when you will — as the spirit moves you. We hope that'll be often, in active, intermittent residence — study takes place best in the company of others over extended time. But it's your choice — the incentives come from within.
- On A Place to Study, we are unabashed about taking spirit seriously as the generative attribute of life, distinct from force and matter alone. Spirit is that mysterious capacity with which life functions, as a natural phenomenon by which it counters the 2nd law of thermodynamics, to construct ordered activity in the universe in non-random ways. Each living instance of life will succumb to the 2nd law, but so far, since its advent, life as a natural wonder has lived counter to entropy for nigh an eon. We define spirit as living agency. It works to create a cosmos from the chaos.