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A philosophy friendly discipline?

  1. Nov 27, 2014 #1
    Which scientific discipline is the easiest transition from an academic philosophy background. My proficiency in high school mathematics is non existent. I also lack physics subjects because of the particular high school I attended. My intelligence level is "dull" - 88 IQ.

    I can't find a way out of my particular situation, knowing full well no realistic opportunities are in front me, being a mathematical idiot, and every program of interest requiring mathematics. I won't be able to compete even if I make it.

    Theoretical physics interests me in it's philosophical implications and logical strings. However, the way in which I am told physicists come up with theorys, throwing around equations in their heads, is completely foreign to me.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 27, 2014 #2


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    We don't normally throw around equations in our heads, there's normally blackboards/whiteboards/paper involved, but I take your meaning. ;)

    Could you consider studying the philosophy of science? It's going to be a shorter step from philosophy. Some sciences use less formal mathematics than physics, like biology, but you've got to be comfortable with statistics and probability theory in biology.

    But otherwise, if you're interested in physics, you really need to be comfortable with mathematics. But! You can probably become comfortable with maths, it's a lot like logic, which you've undoubtedly come across in philosophy. If it's been a few years since high school for you, perhaps pick up a basic maths book and see how you go?
  4. Nov 27, 2014 #3
    Well, philosophy of science does not generate money and is of no bearing on science without mathematical models. I couldn't possibly make a living out of it, for that matter. I want physics to be applied philosophy. My mind is great in association and analogy, less so in mechanical models. Einstein had his wife do the math for him in undergraduate physics, and was reportedly terrible at it. I don't have a girlfriend!
  5. Nov 28, 2014 #4
    I despise my lack of mathematics and discipline. This life has been a total waiste. I am 25 years of age and have accomplished absolutely nothing. When I read up mathematics in school I feel as if my IQ lowers. It's a very demoralizing environment. I can't take it.......

    It's 5 years away + basic physics. I don't think I will make it. If I were to excel at math, me going back to school would make some sense...

    Yet everything requires math!
  6. Nov 28, 2014 #5
    But maybe it can be a good transitional thing to study along with some mathematics? (and "Philosophy of mathematics"? I know that "Physics and philosophy" or "Mathematics and philosophy" aren't uncommon undergrad things here in EU)
    Most likely not true :/
  7. Nov 28, 2014 #6
    You can only learn new things through struggling. If math came easy to your brain, you would only be strengthening current pathways and not changing things much. To master a whole new topic and make all new thoughts and discoveries, and to think in a new way, you'll be making entirely new pathways. At the moment that you feel that your intelligence is dropping and you feel foolish, your intelligence is actually likely growing exponentially as you eventually work through the things you couldn't even remotely understand a week before, If nothing else, I would imagine that applying yourself in math would better prepare you for challenges in the future since you'll be much better prepared to handle new challenges, new situations, and new problems than if you just stuck to what you know.

    Now here's a question: in your philosophy studies, have you done many deductive arguments? And in your intellectual adventures as a whole, have you done any proofs? If you were great at deductive arguments, or even just have a good amount of experience with them, you may be surprised at how well you can do in upper level math courses. Some of the best of the separate worlds of math and philosophy have been masters of both (Descartes. Need I say more?). It is my (limited) understanding that passed calc 1-3 and differential equations, a great deal of the math work done is through proofs and logic, and arithmetic and number crunching are a minority of what you do. You may consider trying to write some proofs of your own, or seeing if math as a whole is something you would be interested in, bearing in mind that it isn't just more and more complex and complicated calculations as time goes on. Contrarily, keep in mind that physics will in fact be primarily more and more complex calculations as time goes on.

    Furthermore, you seem to be being too hard on yourself. The only way you can really fail at something is if you give up. As the mythbusters say, "Failure is always an option." Quitting is far less acceptable, in my humble opinion, and far easier to regret. After all, trying a math major and giving it your all, only to find out it isn't going to work out is far better than to never even try it when you just as easily could have succeeded.
  8. Nov 28, 2014 #7


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    OK, that's one number to which you should be paying no attention whatsoever. IQ tests have wide error bars and do not effectively measure all forms of mental capacity, and your demonstrated ability to write clearly and correctly suggests that in your case the problem is with the test and not you.

    So what? Despite our fascination with the "Live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse" crowd, most of the important stuff in this world is not done by the likes of Evariste Galois. In fields as diverse as law, creative writing, competitive bridge, medicine, and financial analysis twenty-five years of age is a mere child and many practitioners will not reach the height of their powers until decades later.

    (Also be aware that feeling as if your life has been a total waste, especially in one so young, may be a sign of clinical depression. That's not a mental disease, it's a real physical disease caused by real physical processes in your body, it can kill you if it's ignored, yet it is often easily treatable - ignoring it because "it's just in your head" is no more rational than ignoring a cancer. If you are feeling as hopeless as you sound in this thread... Please, please, consider mentioning it to your doctor).
  9. Nov 28, 2014 #8
    I flunked "intermediate level" logic in philosophy. I am terrible at diagrams, proofs etc. I left the class and haven't been back to philosophy since. It's like beating a dead horse. I didn't even bother to show up for the examinations. The progress with my teacher before examinations was very slow. I don't get it, like the other students. Some philosophy professors concider me gifted, creative thinker, but scholastic logic and math is my cryptonite.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2014
  10. Nov 30, 2014 #9
    Math does not come easily with me. I had a rotten series of math teachers; memorable only in the ways they managed to take a beautiful subject and turn it in to a virtual assault against students. And yet, I survived a degree in electrical engineering. I graduated at age 28, attending college part-time in the evenings.

    So don't worry about your age. And don't berate yourself over the math. Usually when people encounter difficulty in such fields it is because there is some key fundamental that the teachers are glossing over. If you're taking that extra step questioning things --that's a GOOD thing. Too many teachers presume you know something that you may not have seen. The language itself for discussing mathematics is quite presumptuous that way. So it is important for you to ask yourself what it is that you do not assume that others do. You must then find answers to those things.

    Many see these problems, but are instead looking at the procedures for getting the "right" answer. They don't know why these procedures work, but they use them. This is disingenuous and actually dangerous because they may make assumptions that aren't true.

    As for IQ scores, give it a rest. As a student of philosophy, you should ask yourself what intelligence is and how you measure it. You will quickly realize that there are flavors of intelligence and that there are problems measuring each of them. That doesn't mean there aren't smart people. It's just that measuring smartness is like measuring strength as an abstract concept. There is endurance, there is cardiovascular performance, there is also short term power (such as a dead-lift of weights).

    Good Luck!
  11. Dec 1, 2014 #10


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    I think TheGeometrist has touched on something important. Probably the most important part of success in science/research is your resilience to feeling like an idiot most of the time. If feeling stupid spurs you on, and makes you persist, then you'll be ok. If it makes you throw up your hands and quit something, then you'll not do well in science at all.
  12. Dec 3, 2014 #11
    when i was in highschool i got d's and f's in basic algebra. back then i had just given up because i felt stupid.
    Now i know what is generally accepted as "higher math" proofs included (atleast i can understand the proofs, i cant imagine coming up with some of them on my own lol)
    Believe me when i say, 99% of learning math is not giving up
    IQ is just a number, and its well known to be a number that lies. i think somewhere along the line you got this idea that youre dumb and started to believe it. the same thing happened to me. the only thing that is wrong with you is your self esteem, and that will grow as you accomplish things. but first you need to get your momentum going. study constantly i know it gets boring but once you get over the "learning curve" the rest is easy.
    you keep at it you might surprise yourself ;)
  13. Dec 13, 2014 #12
    I've spent time in both disciplines and I can tell you that all science is fundamentally more practical oriented then philosophy even the softer ones. if you really care about philosophy then science won't do it for you but it seems like you want to switch to something more practical. I think the sciences that require a lot description like human sciences, psychology, or the softer parts of biology. or maybe the social studies like history, economics, politics. i know politics and law go really well with philosophy, especially being a lawyer that will really use your philosophy rhetoric skills.

    None of the sciences really rely on philosophy skills at the end of the day
  14. Dec 13, 2014 #13
    Funny you would mention Law - I am actually contemplating studying it. There is a very small introductory type course which I am eligible for and actually applied to.

    You are quite right that my rhetorical skills will come to use being a lawer and I ought to understand law texts fairly well given my background.

    I never seriously concidered law before because of the studying. The number of pages to read daily is more than almost any other discipline. But I am told it's not as dry as I at first feared. Aloth has to do with a method and not memorizing law books. I don't know how good my job prospects are to get work as a lawyer after graduation and if I would find it stimulating. This too was part of the reason I shunned away from a potential Law degree.
  15. Dec 13, 2014 #14
    Just about the highest paying job I can think of that requires philosophy skills is a career in law so that is my recommendation.
  16. Dec 14, 2014 #15
    Every philosophy graduate would enter law if it were that simple. It's not easy becoming a lawyer.
  17. Dec 14, 2014 #16
    ...nor is it easy earning a living by practicing law. I know many people who went through the education, practiced law for a few years. And then they gave it up for some other career.
  18. Dec 14, 2014 #17
    So what is the most likely route for a philosophy graduate, if I even go as far? I have no idea what to do with my life. There was a time when I was obsessed with philosophy and science, without giving it much thought long term. I absolutely detest womens reactions to philosophy graduates and already know they don't take me seriously, for good reason. I HATE philosophy.
  19. Dec 14, 2014 #18
    I'm sure there's all kinds of stuff if one can identify and advertise the skills they've learnt. (As opposed to the knowledge)
  20. Dec 14, 2014 #19
    I can't think of one. Philosophy is pretty useless. Being a graduate in this subject is almost the same as having none at all.
  21. Dec 14, 2014 #20

    This is why after taking five classes in the subject I gave it up and focused completely on science. philosophy sucked me in when I was young but when I thought about job security (and also my passion for math and science) I threw it off. Well at least you can consider that philosophy as helping to have enriched your life.
  22. Dec 14, 2014 #21
    Actually, it might help me for higher studies having the 112 points from Philosophy. Problem is I don't know which discipline! Law is one option for sure and reachable.
  23. Dec 14, 2014 #22
    To put my question in perspective; I have always been the don't giev a sh*t guy in life. I am ultra hedonistic by nature. But reality caught up with me.

    A professor in theoretical philosophy, who also holds a bachelor in mathematics speaks highly of me. When my mother was searching for me, he instantly started talking about me - "ah, yes Pleonasm. his ideas are very interesting!" is what he reportedly told my mother who did not ask him anything about me.

    I was and still am depressed out of my mind and left philosophy, but I know this professor was very impressed by me.
  24. Dec 14, 2014 #23
    Pleonasm, not to put too fine a point on it, but what are you trying to do here? Please your parents? Please your professors? Please the school? Where are your ideas and dreams? Don't they count for something?

    You seem troubled by the lack of a job description that might require philosophy. Not every study has an application. Some studies may not have applications for centuries. Look at the history of the study of prime numbers. So meanwhile, you might need to find work and a social group. Some get that from school. Some look elsewhere. Some just fall in to a career without any plans. Others plan extensively and then discover it wasn't what they thought.

    The point is to have a dream and to pursue it, not to please people.
  25. Dec 14, 2014 #24
    Check out HPS.
  26. Dec 16, 2014 #25
    As a past philosophy major myself. I think ANY of the social sciences would be a great transition. If you've taken any type of logic, epistemology and philosophy of mind classes they would be a great help. Those help you develop theories and break down everything to an elemental level.
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