2006 06 15

O! If only I weren’t spending all my time disagreeing with Matt Yglesias on this in my dissertation, I could spend time disagreeing with it here. So sad. I guess I’ll just have to insist that Rawls’s position is much more attractive than Matt paints it in his three sentence discussion.

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2005 02 01
Aristotle’s Ethics

Recently, I mentioned that this semester I am teaching a class on Aristotle’s ethics, auditing a class on Aristotle’s ethics, and working on my dissertation on Aristotle’s ethics. You were probably thinking, is he really focusing closely enough on Aristotle’s ethics? The answer was: Hell, no! So I’ve now added a Greek reading group on Aristotle’s ethics.

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2005 01 27
Aristotle’s Ethics

In previous semesters, my plan has always been to teach and audit classes on subjects that are well outside the topic of my dissertation, Aristotle’s ethics. The thought was that this would keep my mind limber and flexible, and prevent me from getting sick of Aristotle. Alas, the other subjects always turned out to be completely engrossing, and the semester would dwindle away without much progress on my dissertation. Not this semester. This semester, in addition to (ahem) making astonishingly rapid progress on my dissertation, I will be teaching a class on Aristotle’s ethics, and auditing a class on Aristotle’s ethics. As I remarked to a friend the other day, my motto for this semester is: “Aristotle’s ethics, Aristotle’s ethics, Aristotle’s ethics . . . until I put my fist through a wall.”

Howls of outrage (4)

2004 12 08

Posted by in: Dissertation

I’m a Ph.D candidate as of 30 minutes ago. Yippieeeeee!

Howls of outrage (13)

2004 09 05
Song of the day

Posted by in: Dissertation, Music

The song of the day is Doctoral Dissipation, by the Dutch Elms.

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2004 05 03
Fantasy Thesis Blogging

My dissertation is on Aristotle’s view of pleasure, but part of my work requires me to get clear on Aristotle’s main interlocutors on the subject, these being Plato, Speusippus and Eudoxus. Speusippus was Plato’s nephew, and his successor in the Academy1. Nothing of Speusippus’ actual writings survive. What we have are fragmentary reports of his views, mostly from hostile sources. It is from these fragments that we try to reconstruct what he might have thought about pleasure, among other things.

In my fantasy thesis, which is not the same as my real thesis, I introduce the problem in this way:
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A single voice crying in the wilderness (1)

2004 05 02
Thesis Blogging

Posted by in: Dissertation

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2004 04 22
Notes From a Chronic Procrastinator

Posted by in: Anecdotal, Dissertation

In case you’re curious why I blog so much, well, there are lots of reasons. Some of them are good: I’m upset about things; I want to express my views; I want to persuade and amuse; I want to practice my writing; and so on. But part of the reason, I confess, is simply that it is easily the best form of procrastination I have ever discovered. I have a long-overdue thesis on which I am supposed to be working non-stop, but it is a project I have been very stuck on for a long time. Instead of trying to work it out, I’ve done a lot of writing on other things. And so when I am honest with myself, I have to admit that there is a, um, healthy dose of self-destructiveness about the whole business.

I have recently turned back to my thesis in earnest. It’s slow – painfully slow – and it may also be too late for me to rescue, but I do notice a striking change in my approach to it now that I come at the thing after a year’s worth of blogging: I’m writing much faster, and with much more confidence, than I did before. This isn’t just a matter of coming to the subject fresh after a long break. I’ve tried that too. It seems that the daily practice of writing on my blog has really improved my ability to express myself (improved – that’s a relative, not an absolute standard, ok). Who knew that writing every day could end up helping you to write better?

Anyway, I just finished the very rough draft of another chapter of my dissertation. It’s crap, but it’s a finished rough draft – something I can work with. And as a result I am now savouring the rather unfamiliar feeling of accomplishment.

So I’ve spent countless hours blogging away when I should have been doing more constructive things with my time. But I am now glad that I spent the last year engaging in this particular variety of self-destructiveness, as opposed to another. I could, after all, have been drinking heavily1, or playing video games2, or whacking off non-stop3, or whatever.

So, three cheers for blogging, the best form of self-destructive behaviour around!

1. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a teetotaller. I think I’ve had at least a dozen drinks so far this year.
2. I’m not knocking video games. I’m just saying that if I spent as much time playing them as I do blogging, I might have better reflexes, but I might also be a bit less articulate.
3. Most certainly not knocking that. Just, you know, if I spent as much time whacking off as I do blogging, I would probably end up in the hospital.

Howls of outrage (5)

2004 04 18
Promise kept, reluctantly

Posted by in: Aristotle, Dissertation

Well, I finished an absurdly rough draft of my thesis today, as promised. I’m very proud. For example, just today I said to myself, “Well, I’ll be darned if that isn’t the crappiest chapter in the whole craptacular history of crappy dissertations!” Very encouraging. If it weren’t for the incomplete bibliographical information, missing portions of text, bad arguments, confusions and vague patches taking up most of the thing I would be ready to publish!
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Howls of outrage (6)