19 June 2010

Reader questions about the thesis

Lots of questions from readers about the thesis. . .

1).  Can I get a copy? 

Hmmmmmm. . .sure.  Do you help with your afternoon naps?  :-)  Let me get some help converting the thing to pdf, and I'll email you one.  I appreciate the interest, but don't say I didn't warn you!  It's not exactly beach reading. 

2).  How long did it take to write?

This one is difficult to answer b/c my writing process is chaotic.  Basically, the research started in Oct of 2008 with a seminar I took with Fr. Albert Bagood, OP.  He heads up the university's Templeton Foundation project called Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest.  The seminar was called "Science, Philosophy and Theology:  Convergence in Ideas and in Persons."  The idea was to read and discuss the works of individuals who have contributed significantly to our understanding of how science, philosophy, and theology relate to one another.  My presentation was on John Polkinghorne.  From the presentation material, the thesis was born.  The final draft was completed in Jan. 2009.  The first rough draft was written over the course of one week, but revisions, additions, supplementary material, etc. took several months of tinkering.

3).  Hope you enjoyed the experience!  Is it a pager turner?

Yes and no.  Learning something new is always exciting; however, I was under the gun to complete the license in one year.  This meant learning Italian, French, the basics of philosophy of science, completing all the coursework, and writing the thesis.  I managed everything but the French, which is why I've yet to graduate.  Writing philosophically is very, very different than writing literary criticism.  Philosophers--the Anglo-American kind, anyway--run from metaphors like the Borg run from Janeway!  Basically, I had to unlearn a style of writing that I had spent two decades learning and using.  Philosophers want clarity and logical coherence above all else, so the creative impulse to make intuitive jumps in logic and use metaphorical language had to be viciously suppressed.  Not fun at all.  I found myself writing and re-writing the thesis literally phrase by phrase, trying to make sure that each one came out as philosophical as possible.  My only concession to literature is one paragraph given over to Emily Dickinson's poem, "Tell All the Truth But Tell It Slant"--a poetic tribute to truth understood as verisimilitude, or "truth-likeness."

4).  So are you finished now?

No.  Not quite.  There are oral and written exams to take and a presentation and defense of the thesis yet to come.  But none of these can happen until the foreign language exam is done.  That could take another two or three years!  ;-)  If I don't pass the French exam in Oct. I won't be able to take the required PhD seminar in the fall.  It won't be offered again until the fall of 2011.  This means I will be starting another dissertation at the ripe old age of 47.  Yeech.  

A final Mille Grazie:  Research on the thesis would not have been possible had it not been for the incredible generosity of my book benefactors.  Our library here is great for research in the history of philosophy, especially medieval philosophy.  But material on contemporary philosophy of science is very limited.  My book benefactors provided me with the material I needed to get the job done.  I pray for them daily and will continue to do so for as long as the Good Lord keeps me around! 

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1 comment:

  1. Dear Father,
    If you don't mind sending a PDF of the thesis in due course, I would be interested. Only half way my Philosophy, but might give it a go if possible!
    Luuk Dominiek Jansen OP
    [luuk at vodafone.ie]

    Ps. you might appreciate the paper of Bishop Fisher OP on the Dominican Priesthood given here in Ireland which can be found at<a href="http://www.dominicanfriars.ie>Dominicanfriars.ie</a>