I planned to spend much time on philosophy this summer, but due to some family affairs I was not able to do so. But I do come up with some thoughts about the following years, so it might be nice to put them down at this point.
Now I am pretty sure that I will move to University College, London in Fall 2012. CUNY Graduate Center is a wonderful place for philosophy, and people there are generally nice to me. It is just that my topics and approaches do not fit very well with them. And for both philosophical and non-philosophical reasons I would like to spend more time in Europe. I can keep going forever in listing reasons for this decision, but anyway I have made it.
I will spend another year at CUNY to get the M.A. degree, and for this purpose I will need to write a Master thesis. The topic will be the relations between phenomenology and cognitive accessibility, and the main target is Ned Block's 2007 BBS paper. I have come up with a significant part of that project, temporarily named "How Attention Shapes Phenomenology," and it will be presented at the summer school held by The Center for Subjectivity Research of the University of Copenhagen. I have also submitted the paper to other occasions, but it is hard to expect too much. In that paper, I propose a specific understanding of cognitive accessibility, "weak identification," which is between Block's sense of identification (being able to pick out the identity of the stimuli) and Michael Tye's demonstration (being able to ask "what is it?" in relation to given stimuli). I then argue that the degree of weak identification co-varies with the degree of phenomenology. The motivation of this proposal is to capture the fact that both cognitive accessibility and phenomenology come in degrees.
Maybe I will change my mind about the position or the way to conceive the debate, but I am pretty sure that I like the topic and I believe it is a good one: it is philosophically significant, and it is a good starting point for many interesting further inquiries.
At UCL, I will start with M.Phil and pursue Ph.D later, so I will need to write two more big things for my student career. Although it is almost impossible to predict what will happen, it is fun to do some daydreaming. For M.Phil, I would like to pursue further the project I developed at CUNY, since it is very rich and convoluted and I do not believe one or two years are enough for that. However, I will focus on different aspect of the debate. At CUNY (i.e., now), I am basically working within Block's framework, and the main theme is consciousness. In M.Phil, I would like to focus more on content, if possible. I believe there are strong connections between consciousness and content, and Block's Overflow debate is a nice entry point to show how contents are shaped by consciousness. Details are impossible to be spelled out here, but anyway I have some ideas about it. At UCL, I hope to be able to work with Dr. Ian Phillips on this topic. He has a wonderful paper on Block's debate ("Perception and Iconic Memory"), and he has many interesting things to say about experiential content. It will be really nice if I can pursue this line during M.Phil.
For Ph.D, it is even harder to predict, but if possible it is good to further extend the above project. I would like to think more about epistemological issues then. I am interested in both philosophy of mind and epistemology, and my current position is that the former should constrain the latter, not the other way around. A one-sentence argument is that our minds are not evolved to refute skepticism. Anyway, after establishing some views in consciousness and content, it seems natural to extend the whole thing to epistemological issues. Epistemological disjunctivism should be highly relevant, and self-knowledge should be interesting too. But at this point it is really to difficult to predict the details.
If feasible, I also hope to pursue a MSc in psychology in London. In the year at CUNY I have been converted into a naturalistic philosopher (at least methodologically), and I become more and more interested in psychology itself. Although there is no denying that I find it hard to study science, I will try my best to dive into it.
That's it for now. Let's look forward the Copenhagen summer school and other adventures in the world!