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2009-05-20
What are your pure research goals?

I would like to ask each of you two questions.

We all have some goals that I will call professional goals.  For instance, you want to publish such-and-such a paper of yours or institute such-and-such a change in your department or university.  Those are fairly specific goals.  A less specific one might be the goal of making a significant contribution to the profession by advancing the discussion of a certain topic.

We also have various goals having to do with teaching.  For instance, you might want to mentor more PhD students or significantly improve your ability to help your students write better.

I hope that those two characterizations are not too vague.  My first question is: what pure research goals do you have that do not fall into either of the above two categories (at least not primarily; naturally, there will be plenty of overlap)?

 

An outrageous example: you want to solve the mind-body problem, the determinism-free will problem, and liar paradox (all this afternoon, of course).  A less ambitious but vague example: you want to understand the notion of agency better.

 

My second question: do you think you will accomplish those pure research goals?

 

Now, you might not have any pure research goals at all.  Perhaps you just really love to do research in philosophy and you have no goal other than the pursuit of that kind of pleasure (if that can be called a goal here).

Thanks

2009-05-20
What are your pure research goals?
Reply to Bryan Frances


What a generous and poignantly intelligent question aimed at no one in particular. (For one nice moment I thought this might have been a follow up in an existing thread, aimed at 'you two'.) Mightn't it be a decent ambition of a sort to eradicate the slightly collegiate tone of some unspecific exchanges in philosophy?

2009-05-21
What are your pure research goals?
Reply to Bryan Frances
It is true that the original post was aimed at no particular person.  I would like anyone's answers to the two questions.  They are for a book I am writing on philosophical disagreement.

2009-05-21
What are your pure research goals?
Reply to Bryan Frances


I'm not happy with the idea of pure research goals, you made me realize. I don't think I have them. I also don't think I'm just being odd about this -- though obviously I'm pretty useless to you as I can't give direct answers to your two questions. Sorry.

2009-05-25
What are your pure research goals?
Reply to Bryan Frances
Bryan, I didn't understand your question, because I didn't understand the "above two categories" that you were trying to exclude. I think the categories were (a) professional research goals, and (b) teaching goals. But I don't follow the distinction between the professional research goals like advancing discussion of a certain topic, and the "other research goals" like solving the mind-body problem. Obviously, solving the mind-body problem would advance discussion of that topic quite a bit. Are you just distinguishing between more and less ambitious goals?

2009-05-25
What are your pure research goals?
Reply to Bryan Frances
Hi Michael,

One might have what I'm calling a "pure research" goal that has nothing to do with what I"m calling "professional" or "teaching" goals.  For instance, I might want to understand some philosophical notion better even though I don't plan to write about it or bring it up in any teaching context.  One way to get at the notion of a research goal: supposing you weren't going to be part of the philosophy profession (so no publications, no conferences, etc) and you weren't going to do any teaching, what goals would you have in your philosophizing--assuming you would continue to do philosophy?  Think of professional and teaching goals to be "other-directed".

2009-05-25
What are your pure research goals?
Reply to Bryan Frances
I see, so these are goals of purely intellectual interest. On the most general level, I think we all have the goal of increasing our philosophical understanding of all the topics we research. I'm always trying to solve some intellectual problem. Right now, for instance, I'm trying to figure out when infinite series are impossible. And yes, I think I am going to succeed. In the past, I've tried to understand such things as how perception gives us knowledge of the external world, and how we know things about good, bad, right and wrong. And I think I succeeded in understanding those things, even though, obviously, not everyone agrees.

2009-06-02
What are your pure research goals?

One can see Huemer's response as almost wanton (to Frances' previous which was brazen). Why tolerate a knowing oblivion or apparently gratuitous or improbable dissociation, or a (held to be obscure) connection via levels, in professionals who are being asked to comment on motivation? Or if the motivation is obscure, then why not own up to it and accept that that obscurity would be basic in a sense that drives interest, and which requires an outcome.

2009-06-02
What are your pure research goals?
Hi Matthew,

I'm sorry but I don't quite understand your last comment.  How was my attempted clarification "brazen"?  Again, it was this: your pure research goals are the goals, if any, you would have if you continued to do philosophy even though you were never going to participate in the profession or teach.

I thought Michael's response was interesting and informative, and I didn't see anything wanton in it.


2009-06-02
What are your pure research goals?
Reply to Bryan Frances

I think that you could be accused of anticipating. One easily imagines (lots of people would, I think) a philosopher capable of sustaining professional presence as being typically someone skilled at just that, and I think that that point and response is somehow in your original question, but so your original point is only artificially divisive ....  It's something like one skill set -- having goals that are to seem to be distinctive, at one level, but which will merge (typically) under examination. Or they are in danger of appearing to be subject-matter of a trumping, in a facilitated context-shift. 'Brazen' was strong. I should have said 'unblushing'. Of course Huemer's response was interesting; 'wanton' carries a connotation of gamboling, quite heedlessly -- bit like a lamb.

2009-07-19
What are your pure research goals?
Reply to Bryan Frances
Dear Bryan Frances,   Thanks for the questions. For the first question, I do not think people initial choose pure research goals, but end up at them. Curiosity drives people into certain areas. In other words, you do not realize you are working on a pure research goal until you look in your rear view mirror. For instance, I noticed physicians employ different notions of personhood or "quality of life" in explanations involving fetuses and neonatal care versus when they explain end-of-life care and palliative issues. So I started researching personal identity and personhood. After sometime, personhood became a pure research goal, but it didn't start out as one, it just ended up that way.
 I also do not think I will accomplish my goal and answer the question of personhood. There are far smarter people out there and if they couldn't, my odds are not good. Still, just grappling with pure research goals (or Wittgenstein) ends up helping you become a better philosopher.


2009-07-26
What are your pure research goals?
Reply to Bryan Frances

Dear Bryan, a last go. If you were an artist, say (and artists are frequently people with very considered professional goals), you would, if it was perceived that there was any type of dissociation of the kind you are assuming, suffer professionally. I know this is not the point that interests you, but, assuming you are right in identifying otherwise specific research goals, beyond some "professional goals", why are they not linked in in some appropriately limited fashion to the pursuit of your/one's professional goals? And that was just that. Is there actually a question about the appropriateness of limiting expectations or are you interested in whether people keep separate levels? Anyway, I'm relying on your experience to answer the question.

2009-12-07
What are your pure research goals?
Reply to Bryan Frances
Dear Bryan Frances,I  welcome your inquisitive question, however, I would like to put it a bit differently, but,not surpassing the "philosophy"behind.


To begin with, I ask what a professional life is meant for?
Answer might be , for one's life.


Secondly I put, What a life is meant for?
Now our problem set becomes segregated.


In general my second question refers to, "Why have I taken birth? What is its purpose?"
Now before proceeding any further, let me put my presupposition first,i.e,we have intellect.


Now,let me come to your questions in terms of mine:


(1)Do I live to fulfill my life goal? Obviously, being lovers of intellect,( philo-sophical) continue to be inquisitive with respect to the "purpose" of life?
(2) Do we have the goal of mere survival, superimposed to,  as if it is  our Life Goal?


With respect to the term "Profession" the second one might be consoling but might certainly, not be acceptable with respect to the first.
We may very conveniently ask ourselves, are we really leading toward the real purpose of our life or simply passing our days with excuses for becoming fittest to survive with respect to the space and time imposing conditions upon us.


Hope reply is not so easy, unless we are ready to accept our own blunders.
Regards
Sati Shankar
www.globalsynergetic.org





2009-12-22
What are your pure research goals?
Reply to Bryan Frances
Bryan,

To answer your first question: If I understand what pure research goals are, I would have to say that mine are to have some well worked out justification for holding the beliefs that I in fact have.  I was originally going to do English literature for my undergraduate degree, but when I took an introductory philosophy course I was hooked given the fact that I was amazed how many of my beliefs upon further inspection looked to be at best, poorly justified, and that through my entire 'web of belief' into a state of crisis.  Most of the areas I do research in are areas where I would have originally found certain positions to be obviously true or obviously false.  However, every time I read a good argument for or against a philosophical position it throws me into a state of 'cognitive dissonance' until I tackle the issue enough to either revise my original belief or come to form a more sophisticated understanding and justification of my beliefs, and that the pursuit of minimizing that feeling of 'cognitive dissonance' is one of the things I aim to do when researching.  To answer you second question: I don't find it implausible that philosophy will never fall short of having a wealth of clever arguments for and against beliefs, so it would somewhat quixotic to presume I could ever come to a point where I felt the justification for my views was so strong that no challenge could upset them.  However, what I do think is feasible is that I can minimize the extent to which I feel that the justification for my beliefs is flimsy. 

2009-12-29
What are your pure research goals?
Reply to Bryan Frances
When I'm in a particularly ambitious mood: The utter destruction of every argument in favour of platonism, and a formal demonstration that a system of logic which does not rely on platonistic assumptions (or, in any case, things which look dangerously like platonistic assumptions) can suffice for all the uses we put mathematics/logic to in natural science. When I'm finished with that, or perhaps while I'm at it, a demonstration of some sort of sentimentalist/particularist account of ethics, along with decisive reflections on pratical ethical issues which are of concern to me. Then, finally, reflections on Kierkegaardian faith and the Nietzschian hero - because that would be a nice way to spend one's retirement, and I take it I'd have to be a very old man indeed to have fully completed this.

When I'm in a more realistic mood: To go some way towards showing that there is a viable account of logical consequence which doesn't offend against nominalist principles, to understand (something of) the relationship between sense perception and moral judgment, to contribute towards the defense and development of enlightenment liberalism.