I wrote this draft nearly a year ago (2009-11-28) and just unearthed it. So, I’m going to post it without edits. And add some new thoughts below.
For nearly a decade now I have wanted a PhD. I know this sounds strange, I mean wanting a PhD like I crave a favorite food dish or a particularly lovely new piece of technology. The point is however, that I thought the PhD was really important, it meant that I could reach a particular point in my intellectual travels. The PhD had specific conntations of who I wanted to be and where I would be. Now I don’t think the same way. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to study and receive a PhD, but it does mean that I have changed how and where I place importance in my work/research. Let me Explain.
I saw a film recently, it was called Tum Mile, it was a bollywood piece and it wasn’t too briliant. The film did however feature at least one interesting line and it was spoken by the male protagonist, a self confessed artist: “I make my art for the common person”. Now, while I hate the words ‘common person’, I can see what the character means, in his context he is speaking of making art that isn’t for fellow artists, art critics of gallery people, who think of art as a business or as ‘high’ culture, he wants his art to speak to everybody else. In this way I am the same, I want to transform and change myself and others, which also feature in magic, but we’re not going there, yet. I have moved from caring about the needs and interests of academia, which is loosely thought of as the lecturers, professors and students in a high tower separated from the rest of the world, only talking to each other about how their work changes the world but never actually getting involved in changing the world, or trying to live in it. These reasons also seem to be why academia hasn’t been badly effected by any economic downturns but we can get into that later, and in another piece.
Now, where was I? I place meaning, and direct my research to something academia calls the ‘public’ outside the tower .
The Philosopher, A C Graying has said numerous times that philosophers have to communicate their ideas and views to a wider public if they are to ave any importance. He even takes it further, he thinks that it is the philosopher’s role to communicate, share and educate everybody they can, breaking the barriers of academia and not, which only disadvantage all concerned.
I am currently finishing my MPhil, and do not want to pursue a PHD right now. In the year since I’ve written the above, my thoughts on life have changed, resulting in the fact that most of what I want to do now is not myopically limited by the PhD. I want to venture into other things, and other realms without thinking that my life and career don’t start until I have a PhD. Maybe in the future I will find something I really want to dedicate to a PhD. We’ll see. For now though, look forward to me annoucing and doing other things.
I’d like to say the Future’s bright…
ground up knowledge sharing
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how knowledge is created and shared, in fact my current thesis is about how this happens within archaeology, and I hope to take it further. I am currently investigating a ‘disunified’ approach to knowledge production and meaning, an approach which is heavily influenced by the ‘disunity of science thesis’ and it is from this work that I will draw an example.
The ‘Monte Carlod Method’ stemmed from the research into the creation of the Thermonuclear bomb in America, specifically the use of computer simulation in the research. What quickly became apparent during the research was that not everybody was using the simulators in the same way or for the same thing. The researchers did all however, use the computer simulators. The way the researchers used the computers it really was a version of virtual reality, the aim being to reconstruct real world conditions that weren’t possible or safe to at the time. Which leads into how the Monte Carlo research is an example of ‘disunified’ science.
The striking feature of inter-disciplinary research is the hybridisation of skill sets and knowledge which lead to a synthesis of new knowledge and new skill sets that straddle two or more disciplinary fields. Trading zones do not require such hybridisation. It is the phenomena and how to study it that locates a new trading zone, or research group. Therefore researchers may only focus on one facet of work within one methodology. This ability can lead to multi-vocality – an integral constituent of a trading zone. It was not necessary for everybody involved in the Monte Carlo experiments to have the same skills. This meant that some researchers could focus on the game-theory aspect, or convergence problems, while others focused on particular problems or methods, and other researchers yet exploited basic results (Galison 1996: 153).
This then means that not everybody has to share the same thoughts, and feelings about a specific study, discipline or discourse. People may disagree on a word to describe a set of phenomena, but they don’t disagree about the phenomena itself, or its importance, although it is entirely possible that they’ll disagree about the actual, specific importance. What usually happens is that a ‘pidgin’ language will grow up around the researchers, which is intrinsically linked to their group, and often meaningless to anyone outside it.
Book Mentioned: Galison, Peter. Image and Logic: A Material Culture of Microphysics
Credit(s)/Acknowledgment(s): I’ve posted this after talking to Matt Webb about some of these ideas which got me thinking, and made me spray my thoughts out here.
One of my views on the ‘living landscpaes’ section in the ‘Handbook of Landscape Archaeology’
“The work on offer is not simply an engagement with or application of philosophy but instead, a creation and dissemination of the contributors own philosophy. In many ways a positive act for archaeology. A positive act because twelve years ago, as well as before and since, Thomas’ ‘Time, Culture and Identity’ was heralded by some authors in ‘Archaeological Dialogues’ as mis-appropriating Heidegger, or of creating an application for Heideggerian thought. The same has often been said of Tilley and Karlsson. The point I make here is that by offering chapters that reference only archaeologists, and present a mature thought structure for each approach, the move from applying philosophy to actively creating it has become more apparent.”
“Strangely enough, man – the study of whom is supposed by the naive to be the oldest investigation since Socrates – is probably no more than a kind of rift in the order of things, or, in any case, a configuration whose outlines are determined by the new position he has so recently taken up in the field of knowledge. Whence all the chimeras of the new humanisms, all the facile solutions of an ‘anthropology’ understood as a universal reflection on man, half-empirical, half-philosophical. It is comforting, however, and a source of profound relief to think that man is only a recent invention, a figure not yet two centuries old, a new wrinkle in our knowledge, and that he will disappear again as soon as that knowledge has discovered a new form.”
Michel Foucault. The Order of Things 1.970. pp. xxiii