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Philosophy Degree - Interest and Curiosity only

(13 Posts)
HocusUcas Tue 09-Feb-16 21:56:00

I was chatting to Ds the other day and he is doing History at a good university - so - not a genius but reasonably bright. He was waiting for a friend of his and snuck in to the back of a Philosophy lecture. He said to me that he understood the words but couldn't make them make sense. smile A friend of his is doing Philosophy at another good university and said it can be very mathematical.

This is purely for my own interest but what is it makes it difficult? How is it mathematical? Does anyone know from experience ? (Of course we cannot discount the fact that Ds is not actually as bright as we think- grin )

nlondondad Tue 09-Feb-16 23:44:48

Philosophy, as an Academic (University) subject, is, partly for convenience divided into a number of areas. Some of these can be highly technical with their own specific jargon. I can see why dropping in on a non intriductory lecture, if you have no prior exposure to the subject, and if you hit one of the technical areas could be an issue.

If the lecture was on Logic, well then the study of modern logic is the study of symbolic logic which of course looks like a form of algebra, as it uses a specialist notation. Logic as a subject is always taught in Philosophy Departments as an essential part of the discipline, but it is also taught in the mathematics department AND the computer science Department! (But philosophers were there first!)

noblegiraffe Tue 09-Feb-16 23:55:11

Philosophy is about forming logical arguments using words. Maths is about forming logical arguments using symbols. They use a few of the same tricks.

HocusUcas Wed 10-Feb-16 02:22:03

Thank you both. I'm just a bit interested in this.

nldad "If the lecture was on Logic, well then the study of modern logic is the study of symbolic logic which of course looks like a form of algebra, as it uses a specialist notation." - I guess I can google but could you point me to somewhere that gives a reasonably accessible explanation of this. ?

Noble - "Philosophy is about forming logical arguments using words. Maths is about forming logical arguments using symbols. They use a few of the same tricks."
You see, I find that fascinating, but not really sure I understand it properly. I sort of see what you are saying. Is there anything I could read that you know of?

And please no-one spend too much time on this because it really is just an "of interest" thing. I do appreciate you replying though.

Thanks both.
Hocus.

MaryRobinson Wed 10-Feb-16 02:38:35

Yes, there is a series of podcast lectures as an introduction to philosophy from Oxford university.

Link here

HocusUcas Wed 10-Feb-16 02:53:33

Thank you Mary. Shall be downloading. Very many thanks.

nlondondad Tue 16-Feb-16 12:06:02

There is a good article on logic in Wikipedia.

Part of the article describes formal systems of logic which, to the untutored eye, look like algebra. See section of that article here:-

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propositional_calculus#Generic_description_of_a_propositional_calculus

HocusUcas Tue 16-Feb-16 14:04:07

nlondondad shock
Sweet Jesus - I tried to read through that and I now think I need to go for a lie down.

However, I do appreciate you taking the trouble to post it. It has answered

1. What is "mathsy" about Philosophy and
2. Why DS had no idea what they were on about

grin.

HocusUcas Tue 16-Feb-16 21:21:15

Further to my rather flippant post - just had a conversation with Dh (Maths background) - I do see now the point. Thanks Noble for your post - DH said a similar thing.

Genuinely thanks for all answers.

Oh and btw Ds did a bit of logic ( nowhere near that stuff) in his A level Philosophy (well, Theology and Philosophy) and said he thought if if ever he came to power ( very unlikely smile) he would make some logic compulsory in schools. Think it is just because he gets bored with discussing/ arguing about something where people don't have anything like a (sustainable ) argument (where logic counts) . But he is young grin

nlondondad Wed 17-Feb-16 20:34:34

I would stress that symbolic logic is merely a (highly technical) part of what is covered in Philosophy as an academic subject.

Most philosophy is arguing in words......

Noitsnotteatimeyet Thu 18-Feb-16 07:04:55

It is perfectly possible to do a philosophy degree with only a brief flirtation with formal logic. In my course after the first year when logic was compulsory you had a very wide choice of topics. I did feel quite envious of my more mathsy friends when it came round to finals though as they could get 100% in the logic paper, which was absolutely impossible in topics like ethics or aesthetics

OllyBJolly Thu 18-Feb-16 07:11:45

My degree is in philosophy and I was hopeless at that bit of it (maths is/was beyond me) I do understand how it makes sense but just can't work through it. Chose my topics very carefully in finals to avoid any formulae and calculations

Similarly when I did an OU course in psychology - found the statistics really challenging.

treaclesoda Thu 18-Feb-16 07:12:17

I studied philosophy. It is absolutely fascinating.

But it is staggering how many times people have told me that it's one of those 'modern, made up degrees for people who aren't very academic', or who think it is the same subject as psychology.

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