Is Philosophy hard? Watch

aa_batteries
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I wanted to know if the subject was tough as I am struggling to decide between Philosophy or Politics as they are both new to me and I think I enjoy them equally. I would prefer responses from people studying the AQA board but would welcome responses about any others.
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historeek
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Yes, it's very difficult. I dropped it in my final year. But to be fair, every A Level subject you choose is going to be hard, it all depends on what you put in
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tomfailinghelp
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(Original post by aa_batteries)
I wanted to know if the subject was tough as I am struggling to decide between Philosophy or Politics as they are both new to me and I think I enjoy them equally. I would prefer responses from people studying the AQA board but would welcome responses about any others.
I finished AQA Philosophy this year (was one UMS off full 😭), so I hope I can help with this, although the new course is a little different.

Whether you find Philosophy difficult or not will really depend how much you enjoy it. I enjoy it quite a lot (my offer at University is for Philosophy), so I found it pretty easy. It is the kind of subject that you can and will think about all the time, since all the work is done in your head and is just about reasoning. The AQA course has a strong element of Epistemology, which IMO is the most fun and interesting part - you will presumably learn about arguments for and against the existence of innate knowledge, and about the types of knowledge and things such as that. It isn't exactly useful information, but I consider it to be by far the best subject for improving your reasoning skills. Like I said, though, it depends on if you enjoy it or not. I think people who do not enjoy it tend to find it very very confusing, because each argument needs to be considered at length, unlike other subjects where you can just absorb the information instantly.

The one drawback, particularly with the changes to the syllabus, is that there will now be a lot of compulsory god-themed units. It's not so bad, since most of them will deal with whether or not he exists, rather than being about studying the nature of God or anything like that, but it is just worth knowing that this stuff will be in there in case that sounds really boring to you - it does to me.

I don't personally know about the Politics A-Level
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AbubakarB
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(Original post by aa_batteries)
I wanted to know if the subject was tough as I am struggling to decide between Philosophy or Politics as they are both new to me and I think I enjoy them equally. I would prefer responses from people studying the AQA board but would welcome responses about any others.
Firstly, I do OCR Philosophy so forgive me for that. There are quite a few overlaps; the aqa is exam is worth more and structured differently (obviously)

anyways...

I personally love philosophy despite it being full of a load of crap. You literally say anything and as long as it makes some sort of sense, you'll get good marks for it. I got an A in it, carrying on with it next year.

It's very interesting and it ensures that you keep an open mind at all times. Another plus would be the fact that there is actually a book for it and several resources available to aid in your revision compared to Politics (quoting fellow class members who done both). With Politics they say - as much as they love the subject - is all about keeping up with the news and there isn't really any book to refer back to.

I hope this helps slightly.
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aa_batteries
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(Original post by historeek)
Yes, it's very difficult. I dropped it in my final year. But to be fair, every A Level subject you choose is going to be hard, it all depends on what you put in
Thanks for your reply! Do you think you found it hard because you might not have been so interested in it or because it was a genuinely hard subject? Also, which board did you do?
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aa_batteries
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(Original post by tomfailinghelp)
I finished AQA Philosophy this year (was one UMS off full 😭), so I hope I can help with this, although the new course is a little different.

Whether you find Philosophy difficult or not will really depend how much you enjoy it. I enjoy it quite a lot (my offer at University is for Philosophy), so I found it pretty easy. It is the kind of subject that you can and will think about all the time, since all the work is done in your head and is just about reasoning. The AQA course has a strong element of Epistemology, which IMO is the most fun and interesting part - you will presumably learn about arguments for and against the existence of innate knowledge, and about the types of knowledge and things such as that. It isn't exactly useful information, but I consider it to be by far the best subject for improving your reasoning skills. Like I said, though, it depends on if you enjoy it or not. I think people who do not enjoy it tend to find it very very confusing, because each argument needs to be considered at length, unlike other subjects where you can just absorb the information instantly.

The one drawback, particularly with the changes to the syllabus, is that there will now be a lot of compulsory god-themed units. It's not so bad, since most of them will deal with whether or not he exists, rather than being about studying the nature of God or anything like that, but it is just worth knowing that this stuff will be in there in case that sounds really boring to you - it does to me.

I don't personally know about the Politics A-Level
Thanks for your very helpful reply! I've been reading up on the subject over the past year and have so far found it interesting. Do you think that will transfer over to the actual subject? Also, you say it helps with reasoning, does that apply to the TSA (I'm looking to study PPE)?
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aa_batteries
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(Original post by AbubakarB)
Firstly, I do OCR Philosophy so forgive me for that. There are quite a few overlaps; the aqa is exam is worth more and structured differently (obviously)

anyways...

I personally love philosophy despite it being full of a load of crap. You literally say anything and as long as it makes some sort of sense, you'll get good marks for it. I got an A in it, carrying on with it next year.

It's very interesting and it ensures that you keep an open mind at all times. Another plus would be the fact that there is actually a book for it and several resources available to aid in your revision compared to Politics (quoting fellow class members who done both). With Politics they say - as much as they love the subject - is all about keeping up with the news and there isn't really any book to refer back to.

I hope this helps slightly.
Thanks for replying! I had the same idea about Politics I.e. There are not really any books to read up on it, which is why I am considering taking it and just reading about philosophy on the side.
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tomfailinghelp
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(Original post by aa_batteries)
Thanks for your very helpful reply! I've been reading up on the subject over the past year and have so far found it interesting. Do you think that will transfer over to the actual subject?
That's great! Enthusiasm will help a lot.

It depends what you're reading, but it could help a great deal. I spent my AS year (and the summer before) reading classical texts in the area, and I did find it very useful. In fact, I would say (depending on what kind of things you are reading) you should be very conscious of the potential application to your exams. I regretted towards exam period in AS that I hadn't kept some notes on my reading, because I covered a lot of material that could have been used directly in the exam, and they find that really really impressive - aside from it being generally helpful.
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aa_batteries
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(Original post by tomfailinghelp)
That's great! Enthusiasm will help a lot.

It depends what you're reading, but it could help a great deal. I spent my AS year (and the summer before) reading classical texts in the area, and I did find it very useful. In fact, I would say (depending on what kind of things you are reading) you should be very conscious of the potential application to your exams. I regretted towards exam period in AS that I hadn't kept some notes on my reading, because I covered a lot of material that could have been used directly in the exam, and they find that really really impressive - aside from it being generally helpful.
I've been reading mainly summary books (What does it all mean? -Thomas Nagel and Think - Simon Blackburn), not any primary texts. Should I be? Also, you say it helps with reasoning, does that apply to the TSA (I'm looking to study PPE)?
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Lord Kitchener
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I didn't find it particularly testing, I was more disappointed in the teaching and lessons than the content. I was hoping for debate and discussion on different views but most of the time it translated to copying off the board. Learning the content really isn't that difficult as maintaining solid exam technique as you have a lot to write about. I'm dropping it for A-Level, if you do chose it, good luck!

I would actually keep doing it a2 if it weren't for the teaching as it is very interesting and something that really broadens your understanding of cultures and moral theories, alas Economics is more appealing to me.
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tomfailinghelp
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(Original post by aa_batteries)
I've been reading mainly summary books (What does it all mean? -Thomas Nagel and Think - Simon Blackburn), not any primary texts. Should I be? Also, you say it helps with reasoning, does that apply to the TSA (I'm looking to study PPE)?
As it happens those are both on my reading list for University, although I haven't personally read them, so it's a fair guess that they are.

I would recommend reading primary texts, although it certainly isn't necessary. As far as I understand it, most people only study them at undergraduate level, so it will just put you ahead of everybody else and help your grades. 'An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding' by Hume would be a great start, IMO he's one of the best Philosophers of all time, and you'll cover it to a shallow degree in class (or the material in it, not the text itself).

Depending on which themes you take (do they even do 'themes' anymore?) there are other ones you can do. 'Utilitarianism' by Mill if you do morality, 'On Liberty' by Mill if you do Politics, Descartes' Meditations is great for any situation, and Berkeley's 'Principles of Human Knowledge' would be very useful if you did about Knowledge of the External World.

I'm not particularly familiar with the TSA, however I had to do a simple logic test for my Cambridge application and IMO it didn't help a great deal. Philosophy before undergraduate level (and mostly after) does not improve your skills on tests of a general logical nature in my opinion, although it will almost certainly help if there is an essay element. Generally reading around Philosophy will definitely help a great deal with applying for PPE, though. If you enjoy it (and you seem like you probably will, although I don't know enough about you to say for certain) and you become familiar with it, I believe it will potentially put you quite far ahead of other applicants. I am probably being a bit of a Philosophy fanboy, but in my case I think it encouraged me to spend my spare time thinking, as it is not really evidence based and memory therefore does not come into it, which was useful when interview time came around.

(Original post by Lord Kitchener)
I didn't find it particularly testing, I was more disappointed in the teaching and lessons than the content. I was hoping for debate and discussion on different views but most of the time it translated to copying off the board. Learning the content really isn't that difficult as maintaining solid exam technique as you have a lot to write about. I'm dropping it for A-Level, if you do chose it, good luck!I would actually keep doing it a2 if it weren't for the teaching as it is very interesting and something that really broadens your understanding of cultures and moral theories, alas Economics is more appealing to me.
Also, to add to this: if you have a bad teacher, it could be really horrible. I was blessed with a really good teacher for 3/4s of it, but for the other half we had an R.E. teacher (which is not particularly rare because Philosophy is not a popular major) and that was pretty dire.

It is worth bearing in mind, although I maintain that the subject itself is great.
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historeek
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(Original post by aa_batteries)
Thanks for your reply! Do you think you found it hard because you might not have been so interested in it or because it was a genuinely hard subject? Also, which board did you do?
No, I was very interested in the topics. I enjoyed it and honestly I'm not really sure what went wrong. In class exams I kept getting A's and B's, I even found the exams to be easy. But it turns out I didn't do as well as I expected, I ended up getting a C. So it must have been a lot more difficult that I thought. I also did AQA
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aa_batteries
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(Original post by historeek)
No, I was very interested in the topics. I enjoyed it and honestly I'm not really sure what went wrong. In class exams I kept getting A's and B's, I even found the exams to be easy. But it turns out I didn't do as well as I expected, I ended up getting a C. So it must have been a lot more difficult that I thought. I also did AQA
Do you think it could have been a bad teacher or was it just the hard content?
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Lord Kitchener
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Is AQA the course with Kant, Mill, Bentham and Aquinas? It's an interesting course definitely, i'd recommend looking up Act and Rule utilitarianism, Causitry, Christian teachings on abortion, Moral agency, Free will. Kant in my opinion was the hardest to understand so maybe pick up a book about his teachings or just look online.

I think it's easy for people to make A levels daunting when really it's a relatively average climb from GCSE. Don't get overwhelmed as you learn things as you go so what seems impossible on the 3rd week will be routine by the 10th.
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somethingbeautiful
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I did it at A-Level and I have degree in it (2.1). If it interests you, it will be as hard as any other subject. If it doesn't interest you, it will be difficult - but you can say that about any subject which doesn't interest you.

If you are good at writing essays (are you good at English?) and you're interested in life's biggest questions then you'll be fine. You need a critical/analytical mind, you need to enjoy solving puzzles and being open to new ideas/opinions. If you can say yes to all of that then you should be fine. Don't be intimidated by Philosophy, it's a wonderful subject - incredibly engaging and will help you to learn about your own values. Since it involves a fair bit of discussion/debate it really helps to have a decent teacher and a class full of intelligent pupils. I enjoyed it more at uni since my school didn't contain many bright minds or great teachers.
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aa_batteries
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(Original post by Lord Kitchener)
Is AQA the course with Kant, Mill, Bentham and Aquinas? It's an interesting course definitely, i'd recommend looking up Act and Rule utilitarianism, Causitry, Christian teachings on abortion, Moral agency, Free will. Kant in my opinion was the hardest to understand so maybe pick up a book about his teachings or just look online.

I think it's easy for people to make A levels daunting when really it's a relatively average climb from GCSE. Don't get overwhelmed as you learn things as you go so what seems impossible on the 3rd week will be routine by the 10th.
This is the spec, I think it was new for 2014 so I'm not sure if it's the one you're referring to... http://filestore.aqa.org.uk/subjects...75-W-SP-15.PDF
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aa_batteries
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(Original post by somethingbeautiful)
I did it at A-Level and I have degree in it (2.1). If it interests you, it will be as hard as any other subject. If it doesn't interest you, it will be difficult - but you can say that about any subject which doesn't interest you.

If you are good at writing essays (are you good at English?) and you're interested in life's biggest questions then you'll be fine. You need a critical/analytical mind, you need to enjoy solving puzzles and being open to new ideas/opinions. If you can say yes to all of that then you should be fine. Don't be intimidated by Philosophy, it's a wonderful subject - incredibly engaging and will help you to learn about your own values. Since it involves a fair bit of discussion/debate it really helps to have a decent teacher and a class full of intelligent pupils. I enjoyed it more at uni since my school didn't contain many bright minds or great teachers.
Hmm... That was the one thing that worried me: I didn't particularly enjoy English this year and I'm waiting for my results. Is this a major problem?
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Lord Kitchener
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(Original post by aa_batteries)
This is the spec, I think it was new for 2014 so I'm not sure if it's the one you're referring to... http://filestore.aqa.org.uk/subjects...75-W-SP-15.PDF

It looks like your course looks at big questions then draws the views of different philosophers. I done a search and Kant Bentham Mill and Aquinas feature but its not as focused as it was in my course as it was about their theories and how they would treat different moral situations such as abortion and then analyse their actual philosophies.

I think it would still be good to read about Kant as he is very influential and features a lot with things surrounding human rights and medical ethics.
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aa_batteries
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(Original post by Lord Kitchener)
It looks like your course looks at big questions then draws the views of different philosophers. I done a search and Kant Bentham Mill and Aquinas feature but its not as focused as it was in my course as it was about their theories and how they would treat different moral situations such as abortion and then analyse their actual philosophies.

I think it would still be good to read about Kant as he is very influential and features a lot with things surrounding human rights and medical ethics.
Are there any specific texts you think I should read?
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Lord Kitchener
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(Original post by aa_batteries)
Are there any specific texts you think I should read?
Ground work of meta physics is a great read. I noticed Hume comes up a lot in your course spec so maybe research him find out his views and try to consider how this may relate to your course next year. Just general research on different views will put you in good stead for next year.

I saw you said you hadn't got your results, be careful because I think you need a B in english to take Philosophy at A level. Also it's all essay writing so maybe do a lot of practice tests throughout the year.
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