# Is it necessary to be good at maths to study philosophy?

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I have applied for a degree whereby philosophy is likely to be a major component, and I am interested in doing a PhD in a philosophical area as well. However, I'm totally useless at maths.

I've noticed that historically, many philosophers were also mathematicians, and I've seen multiple people recommend maths/further maths as good A Levels to take in preparation for a philosophy degree.

Is it necessary to be a good mathematician in order to be a good philosopher?

I've noticed that historically, many philosophers were also mathematicians, and I've seen multiple people recommend maths/further maths as good A Levels to take in preparation for a philosophy degree.

Is it necessary to be a good mathematician in order to be a good philosopher?

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(Original post by

Not at all.

**RamocitoMorales**)Not at all.

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#4

I never thought you had to be good at anything really to study philosophy - I had a friend who smoked **** tons of weed and ended up doing philosophy at Cambridge haha. Maybe i'm just ignorant as hell?

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#5

(Original post by

Care to expand? Do you study philosophy?

**la95**)Care to expand? Do you study philosophy?

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#6

No. I got a C in maths and study Philosophy at a Russell Group University. Most of the Logic and mathematical areas of philosophy are not compulsory. Worst case scenario you might have to take one compulsory Logic module in your first year, which will be very basic and you should still be able pass it with some work.

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#7

(Original post by

I'm a mathematics student who took modules in undergraduate philosophy.

**RamocitoMorales**)I'm a mathematics student who took modules in undergraduate philosophy.

**There are certain fields of philosophy which are 'mathematical' in nature, such as logic**, but generally it's just essay writing.
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#8

(Original post by

Err. what? Logic is a mathematical discipline. The only reason it is tied to philosophy is become its founder was a philosopher (when philosophy was also synonymous with science) and because it allows you to formalise some thoughts. -_-

**Juichiro**)Err. what? Logic is a mathematical discipline. The only reason it is tied to philosophy is become its founder was a philosopher (when philosophy was also synonymous with science) and because it allows you to formalise some thoughts. -_-

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#9

For the most part, I don't think an aptitude for maths is required at all, except that there might be some overlapping skills, such as thinking carefully.

I'm not very good at maths really - particularly arithmetic - but I've always enjoyed and felt comfortable reading and debating philosophy.

I'm not very good at maths really - particularly arithmetic - but I've always enjoyed and felt comfortable reading and debating philosophy.

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#11

**Juichiro**)

Err. what? Logic is a mathematical discipline. The only reason it is tied to philosophy is become its founder was a philosopher (when philosophy was also synonymous with science) and because it allows you to formalise some thoughts. -_-

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#12

Yes for example you must use mathematical concepts. Plato said 2+2=5 , therefore you must be able to argue against it mathematically and philosphically.

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#13

(Original post by

I never thought you had to be good at anything really to study philosophy - I had a friend who smoked **** tons of weed and ended up doing philosophy at Cambridge haha.

**BioStudentx**)I never thought you had to be good at anything really to study philosophy - I had a friend who smoked **** tons of weed and ended up doing philosophy at Cambridge haha.

**Maybe i'm just ignorant as hell**?OP. For the most part, you won't need any mathematical knowledge but if part of your philosophy course involves Logic or Philosophy of Maths, then an understanding of Maths is required.

For those ignorant wisecracks who think Philosophy is all about lounging around, smoking weed and nonchalantly asking why a chair is a chair and not a dog, take a look:

http://www.philosophy-index.com/logic/symbolic/

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/logic-modal/

There are so many branches of Philosophy. Logic will require a grasp of Mathematics.

(Original post by

I wouldn't have thought so. But I suppose logic would be a common skill.

**keromedic**)I wouldn't have thought so. But I suppose logic would be a common skill.

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#14

(Original post by

You are.

OP. For the most part, you won't need any mathematical knowledge but if part of your philosophy course involves Logic or Philosophy of Maths, then an understanding of Maths is required.

For those ignorant wisecracks who think Philosophy is all about lounging around, smoking weed and nonchalantly asking why a chair is a chair and not a dog, take a look:

http://www.philosophy-index.com/logic/symbolic/

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/logic-modal/

There are so many branches of Philosophy. Logic will require a grasp of Mathematics.

Your layman's definition of logic is not the same as a Philosophy student's definition. So many people get that wrong. See either of the links above - would you say that was a 'common skill'?

**somethingbeautiful**)You are.

OP. For the most part, you won't need any mathematical knowledge but if part of your philosophy course involves Logic or Philosophy of Maths, then an understanding of Maths is required.

For those ignorant wisecracks who think Philosophy is all about lounging around, smoking weed and nonchalantly asking why a chair is a chair and not a dog, take a look:

http://www.philosophy-index.com/logic/symbolic/

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/logic-modal/

There are so many branches of Philosophy. Logic will require a grasp of Mathematics.

Your layman's definition of logic is not the same as a Philosophy student's definition. So many people get that wrong. See either of the links above - would you say that was a 'common skill'?

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#15

(Original post by

Err what? Logic is about how to construct a valid argument, which is the basis of philosophical thought.

**Tabstercat**)Err what? Logic is about how to construct a valid argument, which is the basis of philosophical thought.

(Original post by

Yes, there is an overlap between mathematics and philosophy. The same can be said of mathematics and physics. The experimentation that is done in physics is certainly not 'mathematics', but the theoretical side is more or less applied mathematics. In the same manner, the branches of philosophy which deal with ethics and moral philosophy have nothing to do with mathematics yet, as already mentioned, there are branches which are mathematical.

**RamocitoMorales**)Yes, there is an overlap between mathematics and philosophy. The same can be said of mathematics and physics. The experimentation that is done in physics is certainly not 'mathematics', but the theoretical side is more or less applied mathematics. In the same manner, the branches of philosophy which deal with ethics and moral philosophy have nothing to do with mathematics yet, as already mentioned, there are branches which are mathematical.

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#17

**somethingbeautiful**)

You are.

OP. For the most part, you won't need any mathematical knowledge but if part of your philosophy course involves Logic or Philosophy of Maths, then an understanding of Maths is required.

For those ignorant wisecracks who think Philosophy is all about lounging around, smoking weed and nonchalantly asking why a chair is a chair and not a dog, take a look:

http://www.philosophy-index.com/logic/symbolic/

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/logic-modal/

There are so many branches of Philosophy. Logic will require a grasp of Mathematics.

Your layman's definition of logic is not the same as a Philosophy student's definition. So many people get that wrong. See either of the links above - would you say that was a 'common skill'?

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#18

Most of the early 20th century philosophers who actually wrote anything decent were also mathematicians interested in the philosophy of their field, particularly logic and set theory.

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#19

Not necessarily.

Some branches of philosophy idolise the methodology of proving things mathematically--notably logic, (some) epistemology, (some) metaphysics, (some) philosophy of language. A level maths doesn't really go into proofs, so I wouldn't worry too much about studying it but reading about it would give you a massive step up.

Other branches/disciplines of philosophy aren't particularly interested in porting mathematical methods into philosophy and natural language. Their argumentative styles is more akin to evaluating themes in English Literature. They can have no clear methodology of argument or anything that resembles a structured, logical mathematical argument. So in these areas mathematics is mostly irrelevant.

I would say, though, whichever path you take an awareness of the methodology of proving truths in mathematics will be useful.

Some branches of philosophy idolise the methodology of proving things mathematically--notably logic, (some) epistemology, (some) metaphysics, (some) philosophy of language. A level maths doesn't really go into proofs, so I wouldn't worry too much about studying it but reading about it would give you a massive step up.

Other branches/disciplines of philosophy aren't particularly interested in porting mathematical methods into philosophy and natural language. Their argumentative styles is more akin to evaluating themes in English Literature. They can have no clear methodology of argument or anything that resembles a structured, logical mathematical argument. So in these areas mathematics is mostly irrelevant.

I would say, though, whichever path you take an awareness of the methodology of proving truths in mathematics will be useful.

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#20

I haven't seen the syllabus, but I know some of my friends have had to take logic modules.

I suspect you can get by without being a mathematical genius. I would imagine you can get a good degree and avoid the formal logic by picking your branches / modules carefully. However, that's just a case of jumping through the right hoops. I think that to really make an impact, it would be very beneficial to be able to hold complex logical arguments in your head and pick out the logical flaws, and maths trains you to do that.

I stress that I'm not a philosopher (I'm a mathematician), so my post is only speculation.

I suspect you can get by without being a mathematical genius. I would imagine you can get a good degree and avoid the formal logic by picking your branches / modules carefully. However, that's just a case of jumping through the right hoops. I think that to really make an impact, it would be very beneficial to be able to hold complex logical arguments in your head and pick out the logical flaws, and maths trains you to do that.

I stress that I'm not a philosopher (I'm a mathematician), so my post is only speculation.

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