Thursday, April 16, 2009

Round 2

Studying Math vs. Studying Philosophy

Qualifications: Lifelong affirmation of my math skills, BS Mathematics, BA Philosophy, first year in Math PhD program, deep love for and interest in philosophy, and an interest in (and perhaps love for) math.

Arguments for Studying Math:
Questions often have answers. (+5)
Develops logical thinking skills applicable to more relevant fields. (+3)
Teaching kids math is important for our future. (+3)
The triumph of the proof, safer than mountain climbing but same rush. (+4)
Astound cashiers. (+1)
Good job market. (+2)

Arguments for Studying Philosophy:
Questions often have real world implications and significance. (+4)
Encourages critical thinking crucial for a functioning democracy. (+3)
Humanities purpose, relation with the world, and moral obligations require contemplation. (+4)
Will call into question every single belief you have ever held. (+5)
Facilitates discussion with amazing thinkers and doers. (+3)
Quoting Hume sounds impressive. (+1)

It seems that I would prefer to be studying philosophy, something I certainly feel at times here. However, I think that two flaws exist in my analysis, boiling both sides down to 6 arguments oversimplifies things, and I may have weighted two things differently when I made my decision to apply in mathematics. Firstly, while I don't care too much about the status of the job market at the moment, it is likely that I will be very interested in it at some point in my life, so this future weight played into my decision. Secondly, while philosophy does have more real world implication and significance in my opinion, it is precisely that which scares me at times. I feel inadequate to live up to the obligations which I believe that philosophy reveals to me. On the whole, I do think studying philosophy is more enjoyable though, except those darn papers, *wink*.

1 comment:

Annette said...

yes. and yes. do both. the job market's going to suck for at least another Ph.D or two, right? By then, you'll be so ridiculously skilled in both math and philosophy you'll find some sweet niche (probably working for 'the' government, or, erm, 'a' government), figuring out crazy things like, I don't know, the human cost of bombs and stuff? The moral implications of military actions? No, that doesn't sound right. Anyways, you'll think of something. OR, alternatively, something will think of you! How 'bout them apples?