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Crowdfunding for PhD studies - Samuel de Paiva Pires

por Samuel de Paiva Pires, em 14.08.13

Earlier this year, I publicly exposed, at the Portuguese Parliament, the more than dubious and unfair functioning of the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology, the governmental body responsible for PhD scholarships in Portugal. This happened after I wrote a post at Estado Sentido where I explained my experience with this Foundation and my reasons for asking the Parliament for a hearing. To cut a long story short, I applied to these PhD scholarships three times, from 2010 to 2012, and I was pretty sure that if the jury was fair, I would get the scholarship in 2012. It wasn’t, and hence the feeling of injustice that inspired me to expose this situation. Following up on my first post, I received several e-mails from people in similar situations. And after the hearing at the Parliament, a group of MP’s asked the Ministry of Education for explanations. These came in a kafkian form, not answering any of the MP’s questions. I also submitted to the Foundation my request for the review of the evaluation, and even though I improved the project in response to the comments of the first evaluation (the comments pointed to the need of making the objectives clearer and including more bibliography – when the system only allowed the inclusion of 20 bibliographical references), the response was still negative, stating, again, in a very kafkian way, that the jury had already pointed out what needed to be improved.


Before all this Twilight Zone material, back in September 2012 I started my PhD at the University of Durham, United Kindgom, from which I had to withdraw. To support myself during those months and over the time where I had no source of income when I came back to Portugal (I couldn’t get my old job back), I spent my savings and asked for a bank loan.


Nowadays, I wish to pursue my PhD in Portugal, at the School of Social and Political Sciences of the University of Lisbon, where I did my BA in International Relations and my MA in Political Science (with a dissertation on the concept of freedom in Friedrich Hayek). Unfortunately, although I am working, I am not able to pay for the total of 6000 euro fees, and I will also have to buy part of the bibliography which I could easily access when I was in Durham, and that is why I launched myself in this project of crowdfunding my PhD, which has also been publicized by one of the main Portuguese newspapers, Público.


With this, not only do I intend to raise the funds necessary to pay the fees to the University by appealing to society at large, but also to raise awareness on the need to completely restructure this governmental agency and, especially, the urgency for other institutions, especially from civil society and the private sector, to fund doctoral scholarships, thus reducing the influence of the monopoly exercised by the Foundation and its network that have deliberately harmed so many researchers in Portugal.  


I am not able to allow myself to give in to evil, to give up, to resign. I believe that non-conforming and revolting against injustice strengthens us and allows us to change what surrounds us, especially the way many people think, the ones who just prefer to resign and be imprisoned by the shackles of those who think that we and our lives are their property. As the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa wrote, “The State is above the citizen, but Man is above the State”. Rebellion, boldness, daring, creativity and even a certain insolence have always been with those who do not fear fighting the establishment, especially when its proceedings are unfair. And if something is unusual in a given society, that is no reason to resign and paralyse ourselves. As Balzac would say, “Resignation is a daily suicide”. On the contrary, one must find in difficulties the stimulus to keep looking up and going forward.


This being said, allow me to shortly present my research project, whose title is “Overcoming Nihilism: The Spontaneous Order and the Role of Tradition in Liberal Thought”. Considering that the liberal strain of political theory has become the dominant mode of political thought in the western world, the central purpose of this thesis will be to enquire if the notion of tradition as used in classical liberalism has the resources to overcome the moral failings of modern and post-modern political thought and rescue liberalism from its more rationalist, abstract and ungrounded forms and, if so, to contribute to the formulation of a political theory grounded on the rationality of traditionalism that might serve as a starting point for overcoming those moral failings. Drawing on the concept of spontaneous order and evolutionary or critical rationalism, and the work of Friedrich Hayek, Michael Polanyi and Karl Popper in particular, will be essential for this project, as well as contrasting them with other strains of political theory, such as conservatism, communitarianism and relativism, to which thinkers like Edmund Burke, Michael Oakeshott, Roger Scruton, Alasdair MacIntyre and Richard Rorty are essential.


The project, which will be developed in English, can be consulted here, as well as my CV, my BA certificate and my MA certificate.


To who is able to help and cooperate in this crowdfunding project, I would like to thank in advance and leave the details of a bank account that has solely this purpose:


Bank: Santander

IBAN / IU: PT50 0018 000328368991020 63



Furthermore, I also thank those who would like to help me in spreading the word and publicizing this post.


Please, do not hesitate to reach me at if you would like to know more details on the whole story or if you are able to fund my project, so I can properly thank you. Also, full access to the bank statements and the fee receipts will be granted.


Thank you very much. 

publicado às 14:45


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