This book concentrates on the processes of human learning. But research into learning itself has been unsystematic and, for a while, mainly psychological. In the first part of this volume the author argues that learning is existential, and so its study must be multi-disciplinary - an approach that will be assumed here. Since it is existential, it might be expected that all these different theories of learning should fit into the same model of learning - one that is applicable to the whole of life producing a more comprehensive understanding of learning, although it is acknowledged from the outset that a totally comprehensive theory is not possible. Consequently the second part of this volume will examine all the major theories of learning to see how and whether they can be combined, and at the same time to see how they criticise the theory of learning presented here. Learning is an individual act but one not undertaken in isolation, so that there is always an interplay of the individual process with the demands of the social environment, which produces paradoxical results.
Some of these paradoxes will be revisited in the discussion in the third part of this book, which looks at becoming an individual in the social context. While totally stand-alone this book also provides the theoretical underpinning for the other two books in this series: Lifelong Learning and the Learning Society and Realising the Learning Society?