Ersatz Robots

Philosophy of Mind and Graduate Philosophy Study

Category Archives: Graduate Student News

The Paper That Didn’t Get Me Into a Good PhD Program

Assuming my audience is the same audience I have set out to entertain (graduate students in philosophy), I doubt I am the first one around here who’s applied to multiple PhD programs only to find that none of the good ones saw fit to send them a golden ticket in the mail. Assuming I’m not alone in this, I doubt I am alone in wanting to share my writing sample with the masses. I, like so many before me, spent quite a bit of time writing and editing my writing sample, and it seems like such a waste for it to sit on my hard drive gathering dust while I wait to apply again next year with a different writing sample. Now, seeing as how I have this here “blog” about philosophy of mind, I have an excuse to share my sample which—surprise, surprise—has to do with philosophy of mind.

This paper was originally written over a year ago for a survey course I took in the 20th century analytic tradition, and has since been beaten into submission through multiple re-writes and edits. I’d like to believe the rough edges are all nice and polished, but I doubt that is the case. Regardless, it might be of some interest to those reading this blog. The paper is a relatively basic response to David Chalmer’s “Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness”. It is not an entirely friendly paper either; I vehemently disagree with Chalmers on mind and I think it shows. I just hope my vehemence does not deter the reader.

Before I get to the paper, I should note that if others would be so kind as to submit a paper of theirs (past writing sample or otherwise) I’d be more than happy to read them and post them with permission. For this particular project the papers need not be directly or even tangentially related to philosophy of mind. I’m more interested in providing fellow graduate students (or those wishing to become graduate students) an avenue by which they can see what others in their position are writing. As graduate students or undergraduates in their final semesters, we don’t often have the chance to publish papers at the academic level, and so we miss out on a great deal of feedback and exposure to other ideas. I hope this sort of practice will help rectify that. Furthermore, these sorts of papers can be a great deal of fun to read, and highly enlightening for those of us without many classmates writing on our same interests. Submissions can be sent to ersatzrobots(at)gmail(dot)com.

With that said, on to the paper…

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The Beginning

Every blog has to have a beginning; this is this blog’s beginning.

So, what can you expect from this blog, and specifically from me, your intrepid blogerino? Philosophy. Specifically, philosophy of mind (broadly construed) and its interface with cognitive science along with its intersection with metaphysics and epistemology in general. Why? Because that’s what I’m interested in. I hope you’re interested in philosophy of mind too; if not, you may find that this blog will bore you. It is unlikely that you will find any ethical or political theory around here, so if that’s your thing, you may have to get your fix elsewhere—though I promise I will try my best to convert you to the odd and curiously scientific ways of contemporary philosophy of mind. There are certainly worse things to waste your evenings on (Jersey Shore, I’m looking at you).

In addition to the above, there seems to be a lack of good philosophy blogs directly relating to graduate studies. Seeing as I am a graduate student, this seems as good a place as any to discuss graduate issues. So, while I can’t promise to have a lot of content relating specifically to graduate students, I encourage people to point me toward anything relating to graduate studies they feel ought to be discussed. This includes information relating to the application process, faculty changes (though Brian Leiter does a pretty decent job cataloging those) and all the other little bits and pieces that relate to studying philosophy at the graduate level—such as where to get a decent pint near campus without being confronted by the musical aural stylings of Nickleback.

In short, I hope that this blog will function as something of an intermediary stop between post-lecture hallway discussions and more serious blogs like Eric Schwitzgebel’s The Splintered Mind (which you can always assume to be much better than this blog) and the more academia oriented blogs run by people like Brain Leiter. Along the way I will be posting drafts of papers I’m working on, as well as papers written and submitted by other graduate students working on issues relating to philosophy of mind. So, consider this an open call for such papers (preferably in good editorial condition as no one wants to read a 20 page jumbled mess, but at this point, beggars can’t be choosers). Submissions can be sent to ersatzrobots(at)gmail(dot)com.

Questions? Comments? Fully funded PhD positions at schools with top-rate people in philosophy of mind? Hit me up in the comments. I promise to respond, and I rarely bite—especially if you’re offering me five years of funding.