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23 December 2006

Today's philosophic question is: What are hobbies?

Before you read my thoughts about the question, I suggest that you think about your own answer. I even suggest that you record your own ideas in a draft email, because that is what you think. If you write afterwards, then you will be writing partly in reaction to what I wrote, but I am more interested in what you think, not what you think about what I think. (I hope I already know my own mind.)

Shall I include a warning, too? Sometimes I upset people with my writing, even on philosophy. I think that's mostly because I write very firmly and clearly, even about difficult topics. It's actually my job as a professional editor to help other people write very clearly, and I believe I'm pretty good at it. However, the style sometimes creates the impression that I think I have absolute answers where I'm only describing speculations or ideas--but describing them very clearly.

What are hobbies? I think of them as things that I do with free time, but there are different kinds of hobbies. Some of them are things I do because I just enjoy them, but others are things that are just habits, and some of them are driven by various kinds of external factors.

For example, I definitely spend a lot of my free time reading. Is that a hobby? Or should I think of it as a habit from my youngest days? I do enjoy it, but sometimes I think it is kind of a pointless hobby. I even record all of the books I read in a large database that can be searched from the Internet. (That's mostly so I can check before buying books at used bookstores. I don't like to read the same book twice.)

Another free-time activity is collecting PassNet cards for the trains. I think of that one as almost a compulsive activity these days, though essentially harmless. I think about scanning them and making an interesting website about the Japanese trains, but so far I've made very little progress, even though I started several years ago.

Running is something that I could list as a hobby, though it's in the third category, basically driven by external factors. I was trained to do it, and it's good for my health, and so I try to keep it up, though it's more difficult these years.

However, my main free-time activity is probably messing around with computers, as in making such webpages. However, that's a complicated one, and my motivations seem to include all of the categories. Perhaps I'm not thinking about the 'problem' of hobby motivations from the right perspective?

If you wrote your own ideas before reading mine, then I'm very curious what they are. Also, I'm curious about your reaction to my thoughts. Perhaps I'm just a curious person?