Re: SV: [OPE] Philosophical development of graduate students today

From: Paul Cockshott <>
Date: Thu Aug 27 2009 - 09:58:20 EDT

Anders Ekeland wrote:
> Besides the question of which names to have on the list, I think the term "familiar with" is too open to interpretations, so I would try to measure the level of knowledge of the various scientist:
> a) Do not know the name
> b) Heard the name, but unfamiliar with ideas
> c) Have heard about him/her and have general idea of main contribution
> d) Have read a short presentation in secondary source (less than chapter/article)
> e) Have read article/chapter in secondary source
> f) Have read a book or more - secondary source
> e) Intimate knowlegde - both primary and secondary sources.
> Or less precise 1-7 (unfamiliar, intimate knowledge) - given cultural differences I wold prefer the more objective chapter/book approach, more invariant over time too. One might use "read about in lexicon/handbook/wikipedia" as an category too.
> My two cents
> Anders

That is very helpful. I had initially wanted just a total of how many of
the people they were familiar with or had read. If one breaks it down
like you suggest one ends up with a bigger form which is harder to fill
in and analyse. I think some sort of compromise may be possible.
>> From: Paul Cockshott []
>> Sent: 2009-08-27 11:13:52 CEST
>> To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list []
>> Subject: [OPE] Philosophical development of graduate students today
>> This is slightly at an angle to the list topic but I am addressing list
>> members as a selection of presumably philosophically aware
>> academics, in the hope of useful feedback.
>> I am concerned that a significant fraction of PhD students are
>> reading and studying only within a rather narrow corpus. Talking to some
>> of our doctoral students, I observe that some have not really
>> appreciated that they are studying for a degree that is still called a
>> doctor of philosophy.
>> Advances in computer science have often depended upon either borrowings
>> from other disciplines, or upon problems posed by other disciplines. One
>> thinks of Turing's original work arising out of mathematics and logic,
>> the development of neural nets, simulated annealing, genetic algorithms,
>> agent based systems. None of these would have been possible if the
>> computer scientists pioneering in this work had lacked a broad
>> scientific and philosophical training. Today, research continues to be
>> informed by borrowings from physics and biochemistry among other areas.
>> We want our doctoral students to have an a conceptual lexicon drawn from
>> multiple areas of science and philosophy. With such a lexicon, they are
>> in a much better position to come up with novel solutions to the
>> problems they will encounter.
>> I would like to undertake an anonymous survey of PhD students to
>> investigate the extent of their reading outside of their specialist
>> subject area. This could initially be done in Glasgow CS, but I would be
>> interested in the possibility of broadening it accross departments. This
>> survey can serve two functions.
>> 1. It will provide information about our students reading that
>> we would not otherwise obtain.
>> 2. It may also serve as an exhortation to students who are to
>> narrowly focused, to broaden their horizons.
>> Below I give an outline of such a survey questionaire. I would like
>> feedback on whether the subject matter mentioned is appropriate or
>> sufficient. It is inevitably the case that when one academic drafts such
>> a survey, the corpus to which they refer will be partial and incomplete.
>> Suggestions from colleagues as to additions or deletions would thus be
>> welcome.
>> The University of Glasgow, charity number SC004401

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Received on Thu Aug 27 10:00:11 2009

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