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Typical Week of Philosophy


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On 3/21/2019 at 6:12 AM, Prose said:

70-80 hour 'workweek'

6 hrs. in seminar / ~60 hrs. reading / ~14 hours writing

Writing hours can fluctuate depending on time of term.

How on earth could you possibly work a job (part-time or full time) ontop of all that?

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2 minutes ago, Syndicatte said:

How on earth could you possibly work a job (part-time or full time) ontop of all that?

I'm doing an MA so a full-time job isn't relevant, if by part-time you mean something like TA duties, I suppose I'll have to cut down on my reading hours when I start TAing, but probably not by too much.

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Just to place in perspective, and while not entirely analogous, my wife did a combo MD/PhD, and there were some portions, in both programs, that eighty plus hours a well were the norm. Now, there was a portion of her training on the MD side where that was for a prolonged period, like for almost a year. Certainly, it would be dishonest and pollyanish to say it doesn’t take a toll, on a variety of levels, physically, mentally, on relationships, on loss of many activities, and just that period of her life. It was a six year program, plus she did a 4 year residency and subsequently a two-year sub-fellowship, but if you asked her, not only would she say it was doable, but she actually loved it.

I can only surmise that there are some folks just cut of another cloth and meant for such grueling paces...

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1 hour ago, Boolakanaka said:

Just to place in perspective, and while not entirely analogous, my wife did a combo MD/PhD, and there were some portions, in both programs, that eighty plus hours a well were the norm. Now, there was a portion of her training on the MD side where that was for a prolonged period, like for almost a year. Certainly, it would be dishonest and pollyanish to say it doesn’t take a toll, on a variety of levels, physically, mentally, on relationships, on loss of many activities, and just that period of her life. It was a six year program, plus she did a 4 year residency and subsequently a two-year sub-fellowship, but if you asked her, not only would she say it was doable, but she actually loved it.

I can only surmise that there are some folks just cut of another cloth and meant for such grueling paces...

No, that's either impossible or inefficacious. I mean was she even counting meal prep? ;) 

But seriously, I've done 90-hour study weeks (with breaks, of course) when I was studying for the bar exam. I even experienced "car sickness" from reading all day. For me, that amount of study would be unsustainable, but for a few months, it was fine (and it was well worth it when I saw my name on the list of people who had passed).

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@The_Last_ThylacineNeither embellished nor inefficient. Consider why fairly recently that the AMA had to bar anything working pass the 80 hour work week—that is to say, it was so prevalent in some sub-specialties it was not just commonplace, but a twisted rite of passage. My wife did her training close to 16-17 years ago, so it was an entirely different environment without too much oversight or regulation. See-https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamasurgery/fullarticle/397284 or https://www.statnews.com/2017/02/01/doctors-medical-residents-work-hours/

I am licensed in four states, including N.Y. and CA, did a LLM and it was not even remotely as hard or difficult as my wife’s training....she has both the pants and brains in our family—wink.

 

 

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I really wonder what kind of work/study people are talking about. I spend most waking hours thinking about philosophy, but I couldn’t really call that work. I’ve been out of the academy for a few years now, but even when I was studying for my degree, I doubt I could manage more than about 10 hours of productive reading each week, on top of a few lectures. It didn’t hurt my grades, or—it seems—my chances w.r.t. PhD admissions. Talking to my undergrad professors (at a top 10 Phil. Gourmet department) this seems to capture their experience as well.

If you’re spending 70 waking hours reading papers and engaging in directed academic study each week, I imagine you’ll produce beautifully polished academic work, and be up to the minute on all the latest fads... but will it really be interesting, creative philosophy? (—I mean, perhaps you can make that work, but I feel it would hinder more than help?)

Wittgenstein was mentioned as an example of a hard worker. As far as I can tell from biographies etc., that meant open-ended pondering of philosophical questions, reading detective fiction, and discussing philosophy with his friends and students. I can’t imagine that’s the kind of study under discussion here.

Edited by Scoots
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4 minutes ago, Boolakanaka said:

@The_Last_ThylacineNeither embellished nor inefficient. Consider why fairly recently that the AMA had to bar anything working pass the 80 hour work week—that is to say, it was so prevalent in some sub-specialties it was not just commonplace, but a twisted rite of passage. My wife did her training close to 16-17 years ago, so it was an entirely different environment without too much oversight or regulation. See-https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamasurgery/fullarticle/397284 or https://www.statnews.com/2017/02/01/doctors-medical-residents-work-hours/

I am licensed in four states, including N.Y. and CA, did a LLM and it was not even remotely as hard or difficult as my wife’s training....she has both the pants and brains in our family—wink.

 

 

You two sound like the ultimate "power couple." That's amazing. My Dad was a chief resident (graduated medical school in '87), and he used to assure me that the residents used to work 120+ hours per week. He also told me that he timed himself as only sleeping 20 hours one week. I don't know if this story is apocryphal, but I sincerely doubt that he would exaggerate about this (he also graduated with the highest GPA in medical school).

Suffice it to say, I could not write philosophy papers with that little an amount of sleep. That's also incredible that you're licensed in some of the jurisdictions with the most difficult bar exams! My only passage was in Virginia before I "jumped ship" for philosophy.

I know this would exemplify the fallacy of relative privation, but I really couldn't imagine complaining about a 60-70 hour work week, given how much residents are required to work, and how much I saw my Dad working when I was growing up.

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52 minutes ago, Scoots said:

I can’t imagine that’s the kind of study under discussion here.

Idk, it seems to me that the nature of our job is such that thinking really hard about counts as working. I'd say at least 30% (probably more) of my reading and writing time is spent either thinking carefully about what I've just read or considering what I am about to write. And why wouldn't talking to one's friends about philosophy count as work? Again, it seems to me that this is part of the job. 

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11 hours ago, Scoots said:

I really wonder what kind of work/study people are talking about. I spend most waking hours thinking about philosophy, but I couldn’t really call that work. I’ve been out of the academy for a few years now, but even when I was studying for my degree, I doubt I could manage more than about 10 hours of productive reading each week, on top of a few lectures. It didn’t hurt my grades, or—it seems—my chances w.r.t. PhD admissions. Talking to my undergrad professors (at a top 10 Phil. Gourmet department) this seems to capture their experience as well.

If you’re spending 70 waking hours reading papers and engaging in directed academic study each week, I imagine you’ll produce beautifully polished academic work, and be up to the minute on all the latest fads... but will it really be interesting, creative philosophy? (—I mean, perhaps you can make that work, but I feel it would hinder more than help?)

Wittgenstein was mentioned as an example of a hard worker. As far as I can tell from biographies etc., that meant open-ended pondering of philosophical questions, reading detective fiction, and discussing philosophy with his friends and students. I can’t imagine that’s the kind of study under discussion here.

only 10 hours of productive reading a week? what? If that works for you then great but that's not and should not be the norm.

also I'm not sure what the last two bits are about at all - I'll try working less than 70 hours a week and see if I feel closer to writing the next Tractatus? Philosophy is hard work, whether you're Kant or an assistant professor, and the image of some manic, genius mind sketching up groundbreaking work is poor fantasy (this is probably even more true now in contemporary, professionalized philosophy - which everyone here wants to do - than ever). 

Edited by Prose
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@The_Last_ThylacineVery kind of you to say —but hardly. That said, and in attempt to lasso this back to the topic at hand and perhaps offer why medicine is probably not the the best example, is that it’s a trade, a highly specialized one no doubt, but has many of the attributes of say a plumber or electrician. And for that reason, it amplifies the importance of logging in copious hours, repeating procedures and gathering a encyclopedic volume of experiences, so that it  can then be transformed into seamless decision making during the actual practice of medicine. In that way, it does follow Malcolm Gladwell’s outlier of obtaining 10,000 hours to obtain expert status in most tasks. Twenty hours a week over ten years would place you at the the threshold of the 10,000 hour rule, and thus by multiplying it by four, you could cut it down to roughly 2.5- 3 years, which is roughly the period of a medical residency.

I don’t know enough about philosophy to say if that is analogous, except to say, if it’s anything like law, periods of contemplation and introspection are necessary to not only digest the material, but moreover, to think about it in way that lends to creativity and exploration ...

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I think I've already made my position clear in this thread, but I wanted to directly answer @DoodleBob's initial question based on my experience, and in a bit more detail. My guess is that I spend an average of about 50 hrs/wk doing grad school work over the course of the semester. During busy times in the semester, it's more like 60, but at the beginning of the term when things are more chill, it's closer to 40. During most of the semester, I work 8 or 9 hours a day during the week, and on the weekends, put in perhaps 5 hours each day. During busy times, I'll work something closer to a full day on the weekends, and a bit more each day through the week. For most of the semester, this leaves me with a bit of time daily to do things like unwind and watch a bit of TV, prepare meals, work out, etc.

FWIW, I'm at one of the top 5 "Leiter-ific" MA programs. I'd say I work more than most people do in my program. I know of no one in my program who works anything like 70+ hours on a regular basis.

My hours estimates are inclusive of teaching duties (perhaps 6 hrs/wk) and the time sitting in seminars (about 7.5 hours/wk), but not of time going to colloquia, times when I'm chatting with my classmates, nor times during the day when I get distracted and do things like replying to GradCafe threads.

Edit: I should also add that during the summer between the first and second years of my MA, I spent about 30 or so hrs/wk on grad-school related work (prepping to teach a course, studying to re-take the GRE, working on my writing sample). I didn't do any work the first several weeks of the break, and I took off a few days during the course of the summer, but otherwise I did at least some grad-school work every day, all summer.

Edited by hector549
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1 hour ago, hector549 said:

I think I've already made my position clear in this thread, but I wanted to directly answer @DoodleBob's initial question based on my experience, and in a bit more detail. My guess is that I spend an average of about 50 hrs/wk doing grad school work over the course of the semester. During busy times in the semester, it's more like 60, but at the beginning of the term when things are more chill, it's closer to 40. During most of the semester, I work 8 or 9 hours a day during the week, and on the weekends, put in perhaps 5 hours each day. During busy times, I'll work something closer to a full day on the weekends, and a bit more each day through the week. For most of the semester, this leaves me with a bit of time daily to do things like unwind and watch a bit of TV, prepare meals, work out, etc.

FWIW, I'm at one of the top 5 "Leiter-ific" MA programs. I'd say I work more than most people do in my program. I know of no one in my program who works anything like 70+ hours on a regular basis.

My hours estimates are inclusive of teaching duties (perhaps 6 hrs/wk) and the time sitting in seminars (about 7.5 hours/wk), but not of time going to colloquia, times when I'm chatting with my classmates, nor times during the day when I get distracted and do things like replying to GradCafe threads.

Edit: I should also add that during the summer between the first and second years of my MA, I spent about 30 or so hrs/wk on grad-school related work (prepping to teach a course, studying to re-take the GRE, working on my writing sample). I didn't do any work the first several weeks of the break, and I took off a few days during the course of the summer, but otherwise I did at least some grad-school work every day, all summer.

A "top 5" Leiter MA program? I didn't realize there was an ordinal ranking of MA programs. 

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34 minutes ago, The_Last_Thylacine said:

A "top 5" Leiter MA program? I didn't realize there was an ordinal ranking of MA programs. 

All the MA programs Leiter lists are good ones, but he does rank them in groups according to faculty strength.

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It has been five years since I finished my MA in philosophy, but my typical week included about 8 hours preparing and teaching a lower division intro course, 9 hours attending my own seminars, about 12 hours a week reading, and an average of 4 hours a week writing. Some weeks this would be less than an hour spent on a short reflection or reading presentation, and other weeks it would be upwards of 15 hours spent on multiple term papers. So, I would say I got by on just over 30 hours a week and feel I did quite decent work while enjoying myself.

...

If you include the navel gazing I probably put in about 70 hours a week.

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