Science (and Social Science, by extension) has its rightful place in the trenches, at the borders of human understanding.
Yet, I’m trying to reconcile the meaning of daily activity – reading of papers on 18th century mercantilism, and the endless debating of merits of Large-N studies, with the ‘Big Picture’.
Doing research requires you to focus your attention on one tiny aspect of one tiny problem – focus, and devote a large part of your life to ‘knowing’ it. With the hope that some day, in some way, this will fit into a larger puzzle and answer bigger questions.
As I’m trying to decide on dissertation topics, I’m mildly disappointed by how very inconsequential everything seems. I could conceivably spend a large part of next year studying (say) the effects of trickle down economics on the traditional power-base of Naxals in Andhra Pradesh, India.
But am still struggling to answer the essential question – what’s the point? (Aside from the mundane and obvious – i.e. I would finish a dissertation / get a degree)
And I wish, occasionally, that there was a conveniently located ‘zoom-out’ button on my life..