My summer ended today when I taught the first class of my “Introduction to Philosophy” course at 12:30 pm.
I’m pleased to report that my work on my dissertation went quite well over the summer. I’ve worked at least two hours each day, six days per week, all summer. I’ve never worked so steadily before while on summer break. It has worked wonders. I’ve made good progress without any of the backsliding and refreshing that comes with my usual hit-or-miss schedule. So since late May, I’ve developed my arguments in some depth, although I still have work on my outline to do. I’ve surveyed the whole of my initial hefty stack of literature on my topic of moral luck, such that I have good notes on 84 (!!) articles. I’ll have more to read on related topics later, but the literature on moral luck is well-chewed. My prospectus will be completed in the later half of September. Once that is approved by my committee, I’ll be writing the dissertation in earnest. Most surprising of all, I’m actually enjoying my work, even if only modestly, for the first time in about three years. That’s beyond fantastic.
I’ve found that dissertation work has some unexpected side effects, some possibly relevant to readers of this blog. Mostly, I’ve found that all of my philosophical energies are devoted to the dissertation. I’ve found that I’m not interested in any other philosophic or intellectual issues, at least not in any significant way. I won’t spend any time studying them, nor I am particularly interested in discussing them. My brain is simply too wrapped up in the dissertation for such distractions. The only significant exception is matters pertaining to the course I’m teaching this fall.
That’s a very significant change for me, as I’ve always enjoyed a wide range of philosophic interests. For the time being, however, my intellectual horizon has shrunk. I’m not quite sure what that’ll mean for NoodeFood. Probably, it just means more of what I’ve been doing this summer, namely nothing more than occasional philosophic tidbits. I’ll keep posting so long as it doesn’t interfere with my work, but beyond that, I make no promises. I’d actually like to blog on some of the philosophic issues of moral responsibility pertaining to my dissertation, so long as I can do that with minimal extra work.
Also, my focus on my dissertation means that I have no time whatsoever for e-mail correspondence. I’ve implemented the GTD policy of “inbox zero,” with the provision that if I don’t have time to reply to an e-mail that very day with just a few lines, then it probably won’t be replied to at all. I’ve allowed e-mail to suck up too much of my time for years, but now I just can’t afford that. Also, I’ve found it immensely liberating to have an empty inbox: those waiting messages were always something of a psychological burden. (I hope to write a bit more about my experience with “inbox zero” later.) Of course, I do want to keep up with friends, but that’s far easier to do over the phone than by e-mail.
Even offline, I’ve become something of a recluse. I’m perfectly happy working, eating, and sleeping at home, day in and day out, with only Paul and the beasts for company. I aim for one social engagement once per week, but no more. One is a fun change of pace; more is draining.
In short, I’ve become much, much more choosy about how I spend my time. I’m delighted by that change, as I think it’s long overdue. Speaking of which, I’ve spent too long writing this blog post. It’s time for me to get back to work!