Literature & Your PhD Thesis: A Balancing Actmkoole, · Categories: PhD Studies, Research · Tags: phd, philosophy, readings, references
I consider myself fortunate in that I appreciate reading the “old” authors in my field and adjacently related fields. I am delighted when I read something written many years ago (such as from the late 1800s or early 1900s) and discover that it is still useful or somehow applicable—or somehow provides a different view on a current issue.
But, how should a student balance the sources in the literature review? I have heard that some students are criticized because they have cited nothing older than 10 years. To an extent, I agree with such criticism because it suggests that the student may not understand the origins of the philosophical or methodological ideas upon which they draw. On the other hand, too much reliance upon the classics in the field might leave little room for more current research.
To this point, I recently stumbled upon a different and rather unique view on this issue:
There are many reasons for scientists interested in these matters to examine the long history of philosophical inquiry when beginning their empirical investigations. In many cases we may find that earlier philosophers have provided the clearest delineation of paradoxes and problems for further inquiry, even when techniques to answer them were not yet available. In other cases, attention to prior philosophical debates may provide a map of intellectual space. For example, if two independently compelling claims are logically inconsistent with one another, then models that attempt to accommodate both claims must be dismissed as incoherent. A third, “therapeutic” role for attention to the history of philosophy was suggested by Wittgenstein and has been famously adopted by Daniel Dennett (1991): we may discover that outdated philosophical models continue to underlie our unexamined assumptions about some phenomenon. Alternatively, even discredited or incomplete philosophical models may serve as sources of inspiration that point towards innovative ways of thinking about familiar problems. (Chiong, 2011, p. 1)
Something to ponder.
Chiong, W. (2011). The self: From philosophy to cognitive neuroscience. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13554794.2010.532808.