Monday, 9 July 2007

Stroking One's Beard

I don't know why, but whenever I tell people that my first degree was a Bachelor of Arts in Maths and Philosophy it surprises them. Since I first made my decision on the UCAS form over eight years ago I've grown accustomed to people saying, "Oh," tilting their head slightly to one side and continuing, "That's an interesting combination."

My reason for studying something other than just maths was because despite taking maths and further maths at A Level and enjoying them immensely I had an idea in my head that three years of nothing but maths would be incredibly boring. It had always been the plan for me to study in Liverpool, but at first I was actually set on studying maths with theology and religious studies at another university in Liverpool - until my head of sixth form persuaded me to look elsewhere and find a course with a better academic reputation.

Since cost was such a great concern in going to university the only real option I had was going to the University of Liverpool, and it was lucky that a friend of the family heard about the course in maths and philosophy. Over the course of three years I realised that while I enjoyed studying philosophy a lot I had been wrong to think that three years of maths would be boring, and so I ended up on the path that I'm on now, shifting after my first degree to a masters in mathematical sciences.

I never forgot what studying philosophy taught me, to try to think clearly, to try and understand things from different angles and different points of view. Although it very much became a second subject for me during my degree I still enjoyed the various courses that I attended, and some of the things that I learned on them have stayed with me ever since, as have the memories of some spectacularly bad courses that I attended.

Anyway, this slice of biography was just a roundabout way of saying that over the next few days (while I'm away) I'll just be presenting a few odd things that I thought about in my studies, and maybe the odd snippet from my old essays (isn't this digital age wonderful?), as well as a few words on the Feminist Philosophies course that I took, which for a semester became my academic nemesis.


noisms said...

Speaking of which, on University Challenge today somebody said they were studying a PhD in Womens Studies.

Now, Feminism is all well and good, and there's quite a lot of Feminist thought that I agree with. But Womens Studies? Please.

Unless it was just a fancy way of saying "Gynaecology" or however it's spelt.

mattiecore said...

What's wrong with womens studies?

noisms said...

Because I don't think it's a legitemate academic study. If you're examining the role of women in modern society, or in a particular era of history, or in an anthropological sense, or as authors, then great - but that's not a subject in and of itself: it's a facet of history, or sociology, or biology, or psyhology, or literature, or anthropology, or whatever else.

zero_zero_one said...

I think I know what you mean about this... But at the same time I do wonder if this is just some kind of academic snobbery, "My subject/specialisation is more worthwhile than yours..."

I'm not saying that you're wrong, but there is an element of that when people think about certain disciplines (reactions to media studies springs to mind).

noisms said...

It isn't that at all. I can see the worth of most academic study. But women are human beings; the study of them is surely as broad as the study of human life itself - which is why I say it is a facet of sociology, or history, or biology, or whatever.

Things like American Studies and European Studies work because there is a quantifiable, unique, separate culture and political system in those places that can be studied. But women are present in every society, in every culture, and everywhere on the globe, just like men. The very existence of Womens Studies implies that every other subject is only about men, which just isn't true.