Hey there! Sign in to join this conversationNew here? Join for free

I have grown sceptical of humanities &c. degrees Watch

Announcements
    Offline

    18
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by The Arsonist)
    I'm curious, would philosophy also probably fall under this category if you had not have studied it?
    good question. There is very little philosophy in the newspapers or in ordinary intelligent conversation or adapted by Andrew Davies for the BBC or taught to us compulsorily at school. So in that regard it isn't like the subjects I suggested myself as capable of boning up on, since with them I'd only be topping-up.

    And some philosophy is quite technical, I think of formal and philosophical logics and the philosophy of language. But then it is becoming ever more common for institutions to give a bye in these, where it would even a decade ago have been impossible to graduate without the formal logic that would be the sensible tester's first resort. So I dunno.

    My degree was half in linguistics, and this I would certainly put in the second group, subjects that would confound the bluffer.
    Offline

    18
    ReputationRep:
    University is teaching you *how to think*, not the information itself. It is much, much harder to develop critical thinking skills in isolation. Once you have those skills you can self-teach yourself almost anything, although subjects which require access to resources and labs are sometimes harder.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Puddles the Monkey)
    University is teaching you *how to think*, not the information itself. It is much, much harder to develop critical thinking skills in isolation.
    Rather, it teaches you to think like other people. Albeit, some of those people were great thinkers.
    Offline

    18
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by The Arsonist)
    Rather, it teaches you to think like other people. Albeit, some of those people were great thinkers.
    ... or does it?

    I felt very, very strongly about this throughout A-levels and my degree. I still don't know for sure whether our process of peer review is too insular.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    I find people who are negative about humanities degrees irritating.


    Most people who study STEM degrees don't end up working in a field directly relevant to their degree. Proving you are able to learn and developing core skills is part of what any degree will give that person (provided they do well)
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by cambio wechsel)
    good question. There is very little philosophy in the newspapers or in ordinary intelligent conversation or adapted by Andrew Davies for the BBC or taught to us compulsorily at school. So in that regard it isn't like the subjects I suggested myself as capable of boning up on, since with them I'd only be topping-up.

    And some philosophy is quite technical, I think of formal and philosophical logics and the philosophy of language. But then it is becoming ever more common for institutions to give a bye in these, where it would even a decade ago have been impossible to graduate without the formal logic that would be the sensible tester's first resort. So I dunno.

    My degree was half in linguistics, and this I would certainly put in the second group, subjects that would confound the bluffer.
    Perhaps we should create a metric: The cambio bluff test.

    If you can reasonably pass yourself off as a graduate of a subject without prior study, we deem it irrelevant to universities :yep:

    :borat:
    Offline

    16
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by cambio wechsel)
    good question. There is very little philosophy in the newspapers or in ordinary intelligent conversation or adapted by Andrew Davies for the BBC or taught to us compulsorily at school. So in that regard it isn't like the subjects I suggested myself as capable of boning up on, since with them I'd only be topping-up.

    And some philosophy is quite technical, I think of formal and philosophical logics and the philosophy of language. But then it is becoming ever more common for institutions to give a bye in these, where it would even a decade ago have been impossible to graduate without the formal logic that would be the sensible tester's first resort. So I dunno.

    My degree was half in linguistics, and this I would certainly put in the second group, subjects that would confound the bluffer.
    Yeah.

    Philosophy has been diluted these days and it ****ing pisses me off.

    Why does someone get the same degree as me if I do meta-physics, meta-ethics, formal logic, philosophy of language and philosophy of science when they do normative ethics, philosophy of religion, some random theology optional modules, some form of aesthetics and political philosophy.

    Totally different skill-set, totally different knowledge base. Not even remotely similar subject at all in data gathered; knowledge gained and methods used. Ridiculous.
    Offline

    19
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by The Arsonist)
    Perhaps we should create a metric: The cambio bluff test.

    If you can reasonably pass yourself off as a graduate of a subject without prior study, we deem it irrelevant to universities :yep:

    :borat:
    I think there are two types of course that fail the cambio bluff test:-

    1 Anything that involves the acquisition of a significant skill:- Latin, mathematics, golf, the trombone. Something requiring a skill is only bluffable if the skill is trivial.

    2 Anything that requires an arcana:- a method of discourse only known to initiates. Some subjects have an arcana which is non-compulsory:- English and history to name but two. You can get a perfectly satisfactory history degree without understanding any historical theory. You can get a perfectly satisfactory English degree by treating English literature as an historical rather than a theoretical construct. Philosophy, law, most true sciences, sociology and economics require the use of an arcana.
    • Very Important Poster
    • PS Reviewer
    • Clearing and Applications Advisor
    Offline

    21
    ReputationRep:
    I look forward to taking my BA Juggling at Cambio University

    Here is my PS http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/wiki...what_not_to_do
    Offline

    18
    ReputationRep:
    There are a wide variety of free on line courses from top universities like Harvard for anyone who wants to learn.
    Offline

    18
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by The Arsonist)
    Perhaps we should create a metric: The cambio bluff test.

    If you can reasonably pass yourself off as a graduate of a subject without prior study, we deem it irrelevant to universities :yep:
    Hmmm. That's your test and not mine.

    Mine differs in that:

    1. The test candidate is already a university graduate, such that what is common to undergraduate degrees in the arts or social sciences - reasoning and register and so on - can be assumed to be in the skill-set.

    2. The test candidate is a capable ********ter.

    3. He is given a month before the viva.


    Economics -> Politics = YES
    Politics -> Economics = NO
    Classics - > English = YES
    English -> Classics = NO
    Law -> History = YES
    History -> Law = NO
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by cambio wechsel)
    Hmmm. That's your test and not mine.

    Mine differs in that:

    1. The test candidate is already a university graduate, such that what is common to undergraduate degrees in the arts or social sciences - reasoning and register and so on - can be assumed to be in the skill-set.

    2. The test candidate is a capable ********ter.

    3. He is given a month before the viva.


    Economics -> Politics = YES
    Politics -> Economics = NO
    Classics - > English = YES
    English -> Classics = NO
    Law -> History = YES
    History -> Law = NO
    It seems what is most important is those subjects that are contingent on cumulative knowledge like language acquisition are not able to be bluffed easily. Perhaps for similar reason this is why we see mathematicians able to move into other subjects so easily but not so much in the opposite direction.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by TorpidPhil)
    Yeah.

    Philosophy has been diluted these days and it ****ing pisses me off.

    Why does someone get the same degree as me if I do meta-physics, meta-ethics, formal logic, philosophy of language and philosophy of science when they do normative ethics, philosophy of religion, some random theology optional modules, some form of aesthetics and political philosophy.

    Totally different skill-set, totally different knowledge base. Not even remotely similar subject at all in data gathered; knowledge gained and methods used. Ridiculous.
    No it's not ridiculous at all. what else should they have? An 'almost philosophy but not quite philosophy degree because the fields aren't that good?'

    Most universities have things like formal logic, metaphysics, epistemology as part of their core modules before allowing students to specialise in their area of choice since a lot of the content permeates throughout other modules (Phil of religion for example). However, somebody who doesn't choose to specialise in the modules you list doesnt in any way dilute the subject in particular when you mention political philosophy and philosophy of religion. Indeed, you can answer questions relating to philosophy of science better than they can, but they'll be better at answering questions to do with the topic of politics than you, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Part of philosophy that it is so diverse -- at the end of the day it's all part of philosophy regardless of whether or not you like it. Aesthetics isn't my speciality or interest either, but it's required to answer aesthetic questions and has a significant cross over with other fields (ethics for example). Things like this have been emphasised by some important philosophers such as Heidegger or Wittgenstein. I doubt you'd be so quick to dismiss them. Philosophy of religion includes a variety of themes related to religion (e.g. religious experience), and even the question of whether God exists typically intersects and has informed a wide variety of philosophical topics (e.g. epistemology [e.g. Plantinga's engagement with foundationalism], metaphysics [e.g. the philosophy of causation in relation to cosmological argument], ethics [e.g. voluntarism in relation to divine command theory. So really, there isn't really some kind of digression as your post implies

    Haven't seen any reputable place that leaves out the subjects that you mentioned and doesn't allow specialisation (the same time) to some other diverse fields. Of course, some of the weak universities might, but they're irrelevant when it comes to profession of philosophy- and they're not how an institution should operate

    ...Consider posting this question to
    /r/askphilosophy and you'll get the same kind of reaction
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    I wish we still studied Classics and Mathematics.
    • TSR Support Team
    • Very Important Poster
    • Reporter Team
    • Welcome Squad
    Offline

    19
    ReputationRep:
    From my understanding, they encourage students to think more critically. You might be able to read books to your heart's content at a library but you wouldn't have an expert in your field critiquing your prose and rhetoric. And it's a high pressure environment where you have to consume a large amount of material -- more than might be reasonable doable using personal motivation.

    Learning to effectively skim read, condense large amounts of material into a few lines as well as argue from different positions are skills which, I believe, have their uses in the workplace.
    You mention STEM lab sciences but there are degrees like Computer Science which could be taught at home. Granted, perhaps not to the rigour that world class Universities demand but it's certainly mostly doable.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    If you're going to use that argument, then how about the creator of Tumblr who left school at like 15? He never needed a computer science degree - and arguably now he's more successful than those who do have a degree in computer science. Couldn't the same be applied to him, just like the Brontes and Shakespeare?
    I think you misconstrued what I said - of course someone wouldn't choose a good book as an alternative to life saving treatment. That's not the point. The point is science and humanities coexist - we need books, art, literature just as much as we need life saving treatment and science.
    Also I never said that a write would need to study humanities to be able to write. I said Harry Potter *probably* wouldn't have been created if JK Rowling had no taken a Classics degree. A lot of it is influenced by Classical mythology and Latin and Greek. I never said anything about her ability to write, nor that she would *never* be able to come up with the story if she hadn't taken a humanities degree. She may well have, but the story might have been very different.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Maker)
    I doubt many people would choose a good book as an alternative to life saving treatment. Its a bit daft to conjecture a writer has to study humanities to be able to write. Many writer like Shakespeare, The Brontes and Jane Austen did not or could not go to university but that did not stop them writing fiction to a high standard. I am sure there are good reasons to study humanities but you haven't made a good case so far.
    If you're going to use that argument, then how about the creator of Tumblr who left school at like 15? He never needed a computer science degree - and arguably now he's more successful than those who do have a degree in computer science. Couldn't the same be applied to him, just like the Brontes and Shakespeare?I think you misconstrued what I said - of course someone wouldn't choose a good book as an alternative to life saving treatment. That's not the point. The point is science and humanities coexist - we need books, art, literature just as much as we need life saving treatment and science.Also I never said that a write would need to study humanities to be able to write. I said Harry Potter *probably* wouldn't have been created if JK Rowling had no taken a Classics degree. A lot of it is influenced by Classical mythology and Latin and Greek. I never said anything about her ability to write, nor that she would *never* be able to come up with the story if she hadn't taken a humanities degree. She may well have, but the story might have been very different.
    Offline

    19
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by The Arsonist)
    It seems what is most important is those subjects that are contingent on cumulative knowledge like language acquisition are not able to be bluffed easily. Perhaps for similar reason this is why we see mathematicians able to move into other subjects so easily but not so much in the opposite direction.
    If you look at my posting:


    I think there are two types of course that fail the cambio bluff test:-

    1 Anything that involves the acquisition of a significant skill:- Latin, mathematics, golf, the trombone. Something requiring a skill is only bluffable if the skill is trivial.

    2 Anything that requires an arcana:- a method of discourse only known to initiates. Some subjects have an arcana which is non-compulsory:- English and history to name but two. You can get a perfectly satisfactory history degree without understanding any historical theory. You can get a perfectly satisfactory English degree by treating English literature as an historical rather than a theoretical construct. Philosophy, law, most true sciences, sociology and economics require the use of an arcana.
    I don't think it is knowledge. Mathematics is a skill; a technique. Someone could learn Euclid as an author in the same way one learns Wuthering Heights, but that doesn't mean one could solve a typical problem in classical geometry.
    Offline

    19
    ReputationRep:
    I have to say I think the real world problem with humanities degrees is simply the extent to which applicants are misled about the employability of graduates,

    Applicants do not understand how many graduates there are; how many of those graduates are likely to get graduate level jobs (it isn't that they are eligible to apply for 80% of graduate vacancies, or whatever the number is, but rather the proportion of humanities graduates who are converted into graduate level employees); how many of those jobs are in teaching humanities; and of the rest how many have required the deployment of significant levels of parental connections to achieve the role.

    Likewise, they are misled as to the limited extent that the skills (as opposed to knowledge) they acquire are different to the life skills acquired by anyone who works in an office environment for a similar period of years.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    From my experience, English Literature teaches you how to encounter texts, arguments, records, etc. and decipher/analyse them. It teaches you how to independently research, utilise archive materials appropriately and develop novel arguments and contributions.
    But what it also does, is expose you to philosophy, cultural theory, history, sociology, psychology and science. I had a seminar last week about the 4th dimension. I've had seminar discussions and conducted research on cybernetics, trauma, attachment theory, medieval sexual ethics, social shifts in the post-atomic era, greek mythology, nuclear mutation, translating old English, post-humanism, late capitalism, etc. It's not just about reading stories and talking about what they mean or if they are good; it's about using literature as an access point to a whole host of other knowledge.

    Personally, I think it's a valuable experience.
 
 
 
Reply
Submit reply
TSR Support Team

We have a brilliant team of more than 60 Support Team members looking after discussions on The Student Room, helping to make it a fun, safe and useful place to hang out.

Updated: February 6, 2016
  • 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.

  • Poll
    Should Spain allow Catalonia to declare independence?
    Useful resources
    Uni match

    Applying to uni?

    Our tool will help you find the perfect course

    Articles:

    Debate and current affairs guidelinesDebate and current affairs wiki

    Quick link:

    Educational debate unanswered threads

    Groups associated with this forum:

    View associated groups
  • 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.

  • The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

    Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

    Quick reply
    Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.