Yudan Taiteki wrote:The character 寺 was made from 寸, which at the time represented a hand, and 之, which was used purely for sound to express walking. The original meaning was to work with hands and feet, then to types of buildings associated with work, which later came to refer specifically to where priests stayed, thus a temple.
Do you have a source on this? I have examined every kanji that contains 寸
as a radical and have not found anything that would indicate that it does or has ever meant "hand", with the possible exception of 肘. I am not a scholar of ancient Japanese, nor am I trying to be argumentative (though as text lacks any inflection, I can easily see this query being interpreted as a challenge... which it is not meant to be), but from a practical stand point, I can't see why 寺 would be considered a combination of 之＋寸 when it appears to me that the かんむり／かしら is clearly 土. Not to say that a system as complex as a language isn't riddled with such logical traps, but hey.
Yudan Taiteki wrote:In the rest of the kanji having 寺, the kanji acts mostly for sound value, although it tends to lend some meaning of work/movement (i.e. in 時, 持, 侍). But this isn't necessarily relevant to remembering the kanji in the modern language.
The main problem is that none of this has anything to do with Japanese. The big step you need to make is to apply what you're doing with these symbols to actual Japanese words, sentences, and paragraphs. Learning kanji means learning to read Japanese, it doesn't just mean making sense of abstract collections of lines.
I also have to disagree with you here, as my goal is to not to 'make sense of abstract collections of lines' but rather to construct a mental framework that I can act upon. True, learning Japanese (and therefore applying the symbols to actual Japanese words, sentences, and paragraph) is a worthy goal, but saying that ignores the means by which you get there. I'm not saying that my way is the best way, but I think you're dismissing it out of hand. I see no difference between the example I outlined and the act of remembering english roots:
"polis" means city, ergo:
metropolis, necropolis, politician, etc...
knowing that "micro" means small and "scope" means 'to see' is enough to derive the meaning of 'microscope'/'microscopic' even if you've never encountered the word. You could probably easily parlay that into periscope and microcosm, and build that into peripheral and cosmic. Likewise, knowing that 言 means speech or language, I can glean information about 詩 that I would not otherwise have been able to. Even if I can't say a priori that 詩 means poetry, once I look it up, I will see that there's some sense to having 言 as a radical in there (since poetry does indeed involve words), and as I'm reading something moths down the road, the radical will serve as a reminder to me of the kanji's meaning. Again, I'm not saying it's for everyone, but I find it to be a perfectly viable way to expand my English vocabulary, because knowing the atoms reduces the need to remember each word individually, and likewise, to learn kanji (which incidentally I always learn in conjunction with a vocabulary word, as a matter of course).