A guide for my intermission. I am in the process of applying for a semester off from my PhD (minimum 3 months) in the new calendar year. I am extremely looking forward to it, and a plan has arisen from the scraps of the time I have had to think about this over the past few months.
Here is the overall statement for my intermission:
- A C A D E M I A
What is an 'academic'? What is the academic process? Where has it come from? What is the development and history of the modern-day PhD as we know it. The thinking is that if I can understand the basis for a PhD, historically, etymologically, semantically, and most importantly its practicality for society and myself, I can have a better sense of perspective of what I am doing in the micro every day and how it lends itself to the macro, to the big picture. A sense of purpose; perhaps, that is too strong of a word. I don't quite have a full plan of how I would do this, but I think I would start with the modern-day and work backwards.
- Richard Feynman – Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman (just read for the first time, absolutely loved it), and The Pleasure of Finding Things Out
- The Structure of Scientific Revolutions – Thomas Kuhn
- How to Solve It – George Polya
- Karl Popper – The Two Fundamental Problems of the Theory of Knowledge, The Logic of Scientific Discovery
- Noam Chomsky – Language and Mind, Syntactic Structures
- Nassim Taleb – Antifragile, Black Swan
- Tim Ferris Podcast with Naval Ravikant as a starter
- Tim Ferris Podcast with Hugh Jackman as a starter
Just as an aside – I have an idea to screw all these books and just go through the entire Feynman lectures on Physics from start to end. This is very appealing to me for two reasons. 1: I won't have the time again for such a pursuit for a while and 2: they are so comprehensive that if I really work hard, I will really know what an education and what physics means (to me) by the end of it. It is also quite appealing in the simplicity of only going through one volume, and slowly mastering some topic within it. Of course, I understand that 3000 pages is pretty extreme and it was a multiple-year course in Caltech so I would not get a chance to go through everything, but it would be beautifully straightforward.
- H I S T O R Y
I would love to read through many classical sources and have time to think about their impact on history and philosophy. I am already a great fan of some A-list stoics: Seneca, Epicurus, and Marcus Aurelius (though I have yet to read Meditations properly). However, it would be pertinent, in the interest of my own self-development and well-roundedness, that I have read and thought about more classical works including:
- The Odyssey
- Histories – Herodotus
- Commentaries of Caesar
- Man's search for meaning – Victor Frankl
- Guns, Germs and Steel – Jared Diamond
Finally, I have a bucket list of things to figure out which I'm sure I could do all in one day, but I just have not got around to it, some examples include a deeper dive into the topics below and their ultimate application in the world:
- Vector addition, what does it mean?
- Active vs passive sentences
- Among(st) vs among, whil(st) vs while
- Geometric series
- Cube roots of unity
- Binomial expansion
It's in very draft stage, and not particularly grouped in the right order or themes. But a bad plan is better than no plan, right?