Why I want to do a PhD

Inger Mewburn at The Thesis Whisperer asks what to say when asked “Should I do a PhD?”

The responses in the comments got me thinking about why I want to do my PhD. There are a whole variety of reasons given on the post for doing (or not doing) the doctorate. I think it must be a good idea to be honest with yourself (and probably others) about your motivations. I don’t think there can be one true motivation for doing it. We will have all sorts of reasons, some very instrumental or pragmatic, others much “nobler” or more intrinsic.

My motivations, as I am aware of them, are (in order!):
1. I want to build a career as an academic scholar because I love it and I think it makes a very fulfilling career. In order to do that I realistically have to complete my doctorate at the very least (a necessary but not sufficient condition!)
2. There is so much out there that I am interested in and want to read and digest and analyse. Doing a PhD gives me the time and purpose to do more of that. At the moment I am a hopeless generalist; the PhD would force me to narrow my focus and go deeper into a particular area of specialism rather than trying to keep up with loads of different areas of research
3. I would love to be a “Dr”! (I said I was going to be honest!)


Update: Well, I applied a few weeks ago to start a PhD. I’ve been accepted but “only” onto the MPhil at first, which of course I should have known, this is quite normal practice. So as of 1st Feb I should be enrolled on an MPhil, but I won’t be able to call myself a PhD student for several years, if ever! I think the MPhil will be quite enough of a challenge in itself.

I will continue to think about my motivations… :-)

I might post a summary of my initial research degree proposal at some point. It’s full of holes of course, but it’s a start.


Play, playfulness and the notion of technology

An evolving explanatory post about the title and themes of this site.

This site is intended to explore philosophical themes relating to play (and what I might mean by that is a topic in itself) and the idea from Heidegger via others, including Bruno Latour, Graham Harman and Don Ihde, of what technologies are.

I am also fascinated by the non-representational theory approach of Nigel Thrift and others within human geography and anthropology (Tim Ingold, Jon Murdoch) and how this might illuminate how play and space are related.

My hunch is that these two thingies are related. Thrift after all writes on technology, and the influence of Bruno Latour is huge on Thrift and Harman alike.

Another common thread is Alphonso Lingis, whom I have not yet read. Both Harman and Thrift have cited Lingis in their work.

My own tendencies are towards the posthumanist, including cyborg theory, and the eliminativist (I spent the majority of my three years as an undergrad at Sheffield reading Daniel Dennett, and he remains a favourite writer: a writer I find endlessly entertaining, but even more importantly a writer I trust).

I think a huge proportion of what is written about play is very “romantic,” and I acknowledge that play represents, for adults as well as for children, important time/space for the experience of exultation, joy and restoration. I don’t want to knock those things at all (if I’m honest I am usually a hedonist myself) but I do expect that I will be rather sceptical of glowing assumptions about the humanist, liberal and developmentalist virtues and functions of play. It has been good to read the work of Tara Woodyer recently, whose take on play I wholly concur with. So I will blog here about play as children’s activity in the world and how it is mediated by technologies (in the broad discursive sense rather than primarily the electronic sense).