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Status: Birkbeck (Autumn 2007)
(Text as at 18/12/2010 19:58:05)
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Research Students: End of Term report (student version)
Name of Student: Theo Todman (part-time)
Name of Supervisor: Jen Hornsby
Term: Autumn 2007
- In what subject area were you scheduled to work? Thesis – Personal Identity.
- How many tutorials have you attended this term? Four. 28th September, 22nd October, 12th November and 19th November 2007.
- If you have attended less than the prescribed number (once every three weeks for a part-time student), what are the reasons for this? I had a fifth supervision scheduled for Monday 10th December which I had to postpone because I hadn’t completed the draft Thesis Chapter (on “What Are We?”).
- What work did you aim to complete during the term? This varied somewhat as the term progressed. My initial intentions were to use the web-technology I’d developed before commencing the course to document the thoughts arising from the pre-reading I’d done. Only then did I intend to start writing essays. However this doesn’t make much use of a supervisor, so I agreed to write an essay on Dennett’s “Conditions of Personhood” and then draft a Chapter (on “What is a Person?”). The Chapter topic was subsequently changed to “What Are We?”.
- How many pre-submissions/chapters etc. are actually in hand as a result of the term’s supervisory work? I submitted one rather poor-quality essay on the Dennett paper above, a draft Thesis Chapter-breakdown and a paper on the use of internet technology in philosophy. I’ve started the draft Chapter on “What Are We?”, for which I have done the bulk of the reading, but have otherwise not made much progress (though not because I’m “stuck”). My original research proposal contains a lot of material hyperlinked together on my web-site that I intend to develop as my research progresses.
- Where the work scheduled isn't complete, please indicate how much more remains for you to do. The missing chapter could probably be bodged together in a couple of weeks, but I’d prefer to adopt my “method”. That is, document all my animadversions on the items on the reading list; transfer these to the relevant sub-topics (whether or not these are relevant to the Chapter in hand), and then generate the Thesis Chapter from these. This will probably take a month. If I can complete this chapter, and expand the Thesis Chapter breakdown, I will have fulfilled my objectives for the year, so have no reason to despair.
- What general comments do you have to make on the overall development of your work? I am very dissatisfied. I think I was well prepared to start the course, but the way I wish to proceed isn’t the way things are done at Birkbeck (or presumably elsewhere). I’ve suffered from a lack of motivation, and have not really kept to the 20-hour-per-week expectation of a part-time student. My timesheet tells me that I’ve achieved 96% of expectation, but after non-core activities are removed, this declines to 50%. I’m conscious of footling about somewhat, rather than addressing my Thesis head-on.
- Do you have any particular comments that you would like to make to the Graduate Standing Committee concerning your supervision this term? I’m not very demonstrative face to face, and haven’t made my feelings plain to my supervisor. We have discussed the use of web-technology. My intended approach was to have a host of sub-topics simultaneously bubbling away and gradually revised in the light of my own thoughts and the continual reading of books and journal articles in the general subject area, or focussed on particular Chapters of the Thesis. The majority of the sub-topics would fall within the scope of the Thesis and would be linked into Thesis Chapters, and from time to time one of these would be worth discussing. The primary reason motivating my studying for the degree is to have someone to talk to on the subject. However, I see no reason to start talking until I have something to say. I do appreciate that I cannot, and should not hoard 5 years’ worth of supervisions until my final term, but need a bit of time to get the process going. In retrospect, I should have deferred entry for another year as I’d only just completed writing the software to enable me to start work when term began, and had not had time to populate the database with previously accumulated material. However, now I’ve started I do intend to persist with the course (if permitted) and accommodate myself to it as best I can. However, I will need to adopt my “method” if I’m to proceed in a manner that will both be enjoyable and likely to lead to success.
- I produce a monthly status report for my own record at Link.
- A paper outlining my thoughts on the applicability of web-technology to philosophy is at Link.
- My Thesis Chapter breakdown is at Link, and
- My research proposal is at Link.
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