Yesterday I handed over my thesis to the university print shop. Finally I’m done with it. I made a special download page for the electronic version. There you also find the source code for typesetting if you want to print it in some other format or just make it nicer. I’m not very good at layout, so if anyone makes a better looking version, just let me know.
I invite anyone to attend my dissertation defence (see details at the University Calendarium). For some reason the “Stora Hörsalen” (Great Lecture Hall) was booked for the occassion, and last time I gave a lecture there I checked a fire-safety sign saying this room hosts more than 280 people. So, there will be plenty of space, to say the least 🙂 The more people that come, the more public the arguments will be. According to scientific ideals going back all the way to 17th century British empiricism, this means that the more “witnesses” there are to a scientific fact, the more true it becomes.
A dissertation defence can be anything from extremely interesting and challenging to boring and sleep-inducing. I have attended both kinds over the years. I hope this one will not only be of interest to theorists of science, but to a general public as well.
The procedure (which I think is typically Swedish rather than local Gothenburg) usually begins with the opponent summarizing the main arguments of the thesis (this means you don’t really need to read it in advance). Then follows the actual defence in which the opponent asks critical questions and the respondent (in this case, me) defends the arguments made. Then the committee that actually has the power to pass or fail your thesis gets a round of questions, and then the floor is open to the public.
It usually takes two hours. However, the rule of thumb is that the subject matters that are put forth must be discussed until they have been resolved. So, it could, theoretically, extend to a longer period of time.
Although I felt very tired after far too many nights in a row of writing past the midnight hour, I feel very relieved now. I told a colleague this morning that I felt 90 per cent relieved and ten per cent worried. I sense a slight fear every time I think about the manuscript. I suspect that I forgot something. Some key argument, or a sloppy error when I was tired.
Moreover, writing a thesis in English when it’s not your native language is sometimes a nightmare. Maybe not writing as such, because it is quite unproblematic to think in a foreign language and just write these thoughts down. It is rather the process of transforming those first manuscripts into proper English, this very imperial major language, which is the real problem. When each chapter was done, they were sent to proof readers in the US. When they were returned, I must confess, they were so full of errors that it took more time than I expected just to insert the suggested changes.
Since my thesis relies very heavily on specialized philosophical concepts, I haven’t accepted all changes. So, in terms of language, I think my thesis is quite a hybrid in between American English, French philosophy and some Swedish creolization. If I think positively about this, it would be that such a weird creation makes the perfect type of pragmatism.
Feel welcome to attend my dissertation defence on April 13th. Maybe finishing this project means that I will write more here on this blog, maybe not. I haven’t written a coherent text in Swedish for a long time now. Maybe I’m forever lost in the weird glitch in between American pragmatism and French philosophy, unable to return to the Scandinavian type of totalitarianism.