la95
Badges: 12
Rep:
?
#1
Report Thread starter 5 years ago
#1
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?
0
reply
RamocitoMorales
Badges: 21
#2
Report 5 years ago
#2
Not at all.
0
reply
la95
Badges: 12
Rep:
?
#3
Report Thread starter 5 years ago
#3
(Original post by RamocitoMorales)
Not at all.
Care to expand? Do you study philosophy?
0
reply
BioStudentx
Badges: 16
Rep:
?
#4
Report 5 years ago
#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?
0
reply
RamocitoMorales
Badges: 21
#5
Report 5 years ago
#5
(Original post by la95)
Care to expand? Do you study philosophy?
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.
0
reply
Tabstercat
Badges: 14
#6
Report 5 years ago
#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.
0
reply
Juichiro
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#7
Report 5 years ago
#7
(Original post by 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.
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. -_-
0
reply
Tabstercat
Badges: 14
#8
Report 5 years ago
#8
(Original post by 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. -_-
Err what? Logic is about how to construct a valid argument, which is the basis of philosophical thought.
0
reply
miser
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#9
Report 5 years ago
#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.
1
reply
Kvothe the Arcane
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#10
Report 5 years ago
#10
I wouldn't have thought so. But I suppose logic would be a common skill.
0
reply
RamocitoMorales
Badges: 21
#11
Report 5 years ago
#11
(Original post by 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. -_-
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.
0
reply
TheTruthTeller
Badges: 17
Rep:
?
#12
Report 5 years ago
#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.
0
reply
somethingbeautiful
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#13
Report 5 years ago
#13
(Original post by 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?
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.

(Original post by keromedic)
I wouldn't have thought so. But I suppose logic would be a common skill.
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'?
0
reply
Kvothe the Arcane
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#14
Report 5 years ago
#14
(Original post by 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'?
I meant a skill that's common to both mathematics and philosophy. Sorry for being unclear.
1
reply
Juichiro
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#15
Report 5 years ago
#15
(Original post by Tabstercat)
Err what? Logic is about how to construct a valid argument, which is the basis of philosophical thought.
Saying that logic is the basis of philosophical thought is equivalent to saying that formal logic is the basis of mathematics: incorrect. There are areas of philosophical thought that are not logical. And certainly, a lot of philosophical thought is not logical, where logical means related to the construction of a valid argument, namely because the premises used are not true or uncertain. This would include stuff like metaphysics, existentialism and most of the philosophy of ethics, among others. And this is just the tip of the iceberg in the myth that most philosophers employ logical thought. Go and check philosophical systems in the Eastern world, you are going to find a trend where the majority of their philosophical thought is not logical but "mystical". Of course, some Western philosophers (namely Aristotle and mostly those philosophers associated with the philosophy of rationalism) have committed themselves to be as logical as they could in their philosophical thinking but I think saying that logic is the basis of philosophical thought is plainly false unless one believes that all philosophers adhere to the philosophy of rationalism. And a quick check will tell you that it is not the case.

(Original post by 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.
I did not say that there is an overlapd between maths and philosophy. But since you mention it, I would not say that there is an overlap between maths and philosophy anymore than there is between the social sciences and maths. It is more of a matter of borrowing tools from another field. Sometimes, philosophy employs the mathematical tool known as formal logic to formalise their thoughts (Spinoza's formal systems are a very clear example of taking this to an extreme). I think the comparison of physics-maths with philosophy-maths is inaccurate. Reasoning and experimentation in physics mostly relies on maths, but reasoning in philosophy does not mostly rely on logic (see metaphysics and ethics for a few examples). While for pretty much all physicists math is the number one/two tool to do their job, for most philosophers, formal logic is not necessarily the number one/two tool to do their job. Formal logic is only the number one/two tool for those philosophers who adhere to the philosophy of rationalism. I think the implicit assumption that you and Tabstercat are making is that all (or is it "most") philosophers (alive and dead) adhere to the philosophy of rationalism which I think is a false assumption.
0
reply
German123
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#16
Report 5 years ago
#16
Not neccasarily although it will be handy.
0
reply
Juichiro
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#17
Report 5 years ago
#17
(Original post by 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'?
Worth mentioning that symbolic logic was developed by and for mathematicians. Reasoning and experimentation in the social sciences is statistical in nature but statistics is not a branch of social sciences. It is a tool borrowed from mathematics even if some statistics are developed by people who work as social scientists. And while you might see many statisticians working in social sciences and many social scientists working on statistics, it does not affect what I said above.
0
reply
whorace
Badges: 2
Rep:
?
#18
Report 5 years ago
#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.
0
reply
Professor Oak
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#19
Report 5 years ago
#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.
1
reply
Octohedral
Badges: 16
Rep:
?
#20
Report 4 years ago
#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.
1
reply
X

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
Reply
new posts
Back
to top
Latest
My Feed

See more of what you like on
The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

Personalise

Regarding Ofqual's most recent update, do you think you will be given a fair grade this summer?

Yes (306)
34.3%
No (586)
65.7%

Watched Threads

View All