It feels like summer is fast approaching, or at least the pressure of my deadlines makes it seem that way. After the summer, I will but have one year left in my project, so perhaps it is time to look back at what I have done up to now and still have to do in the time that remains. With time running out, however, the foremost thing on my mind is the task to formulate and submit a new research project for the NWO VIDI scheme and for an ERC Starting Grant.
Recently, I have been coaching and advising prospective PhD candidates as well as VENI and VIDI applicants regarding their research projects, and I have re-read my own VENI grant application several times in that context and noticed that I actually have already done quite a lot of what I had promised to do. One of the first things I wanted to provide was a more precise reconstruction of Brentano’s project of philosophy as science, specifically regarding the role of psychology as science of consciousness and as foundational discipline, which I addressed in “La science de la conscience selon Brentano” (in the aptly titled Vers une philosophie scientifique. Le programme de Brentano, edited by C.-E. Niveleau) and for a broader audience in “Making the Humanities Scientific: Brentano’s Project of Philosophy as Science” (in The Making of the Humanities. Volume III: The Making of the Modern Humanities). Moreover, I concentrate on more technical details of Brentano’s concept of intentionality in a forthcoming article in the venerable Brentano Studien (“Improper Intentions of ambiguous objects: Sketching a New Approach to Brentano’s Intentionality”), which takes into account many of his unpublished materials. In that respect, I promised that I would go to Harvard and Graz to examine Brentano’s manuscripts and see whether I could publish anything. Not only did I manage to do so, but found tons of interesting materials (which I hope to be able to make available soon). I recently published a previously unknown letter from Husserl to Brentano that I discovered at the Houghton Library (in Husserl Studies and also made publicly available here). Moreover, I am in the process of completing an edition of Brentano’s logic lectures based on four sets of notes from three different archives, as appendix to my book, and I will publish Ehrenfels’ dissertation and related materials in a forthcoming volume of Meinong Studies. The next “deliverable” on my list was to organize an international conference, which took place last month.
Yet, I realize that simply fulfilling promises and checking boxes for my current project will not automatically get me my next one. A VENI is an individual grant, but a VIDI, the next step up, is a grant to establish a research group, i.e. I will not only be the PI, but assemble and lead a team. In order to qualify for that it would be a good thing to get experience in leadership, advising, etc. which is of course hard to come by in the context of an individual research grant with no systematic teaching. Nevertheless, I think I am on the right track by setting up and coordinating a close reading seminar and a working group for the national research school in philosophy (OZSW), by organizing a series of workshops and a major conference, by co-editing and co-authoring volumes and articles, by coaching graduate students and postdocs, etc.
Moreover, in order to build up an appropriate CV, one has to work towards the topic of the future grant already in the present. If I want to obtain a grant on the “Mechanization of Consciousness” in the 19th century, I certainly need publications and talks about such a topic on my CV. This presents an interesting problem. Since the grant review process takes quite a while, I need to submit my application at the end of my third year in order to (hopefully) get it by the end of my fourth year. So by October my CV needs to fit my proposed research topic. Since it takes quite some time to research, write, submit, and get accepted and published, I should have started to do so even before getting halfway my current project … which I did, of course. I started publishing and giving talks with “science of consciousness” and “mechanization” in the title, precisely for this reason: “always have a second project”.