Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so much?

Things that don't belong anywhere else. (Check first).

Moderators: Moderators General, Prelates, Magistrates

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:43 pm UTC

PAstrychef wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:
cphite wrote:But even if we look at the more stereotypical categories like literature, philosophy, language, history... these things are all extremely important to society.


I would disagree with that. Let's say every college scrapped every philosophy class, and ceased to offer it after the current lot graduated. What would you expect the net effect to be?

Compare vs, say, chemistry.

You think that , ha ha ha, nothing noticeable would happen. But you're wrong. There would be a slow failure of civilization.
Eventually, a society that failed to contemplate itself and its place in the universe, that ran on a set of rigid rules, if it ran at all.


Nah. We're not extracting the idea of introspection forcibly from people's brains. Just removing a degree path, and with it, a lot of formalized training. Books, etc would still exist.

Removing formalized training for chemistry vs philosophy, which would impact society more drastically and rapidly?

The idea that a) a college degree is a kind of superior job-training exercise and b) therefore any studies that don't (semi) automatically bring a good chance of making a higher salary are silly is infuriating. (By that metric, you should all be trying to be football or basketball players. Those guys attend one or two years of college and then get to make millions playing a game)


They're not inherently bad. I just think there's a number of people who are set up with expectations of at least reasonable career options, who are very disappointed upon graduation. I don't object to the choice being available, merely that the advertising of the choice is accurate.

If you are fully aware that this degree will not improve your financial state, and wish to pursue it anyway, cheers.

It also doesn't follow that you should try to be a football or basketball player. The chances of getting a good salary from that are NOT high.

Zamfir wrote:I don't see the dichotomy between enlightening yourself as a human being, and doing applied work with directly clear uses. (Doogly and cphite are hinting at a similar divide). It's not like heavy industry is devoid of creativity, or the complexities of modern life, or people unlike oneself.

It won't be everyone's path to being a good person, but I am skeptical that other fields do so much better. Be it Norse poetry, or humanist sciences. There's beauty in well-designed machinery, and human tragedy as well.


This. Being useful or financially successful does not inherently make you a worse person, or an uncreative person. The apparent idea that choices must somehow be balanced like this is...just odd.

Some of the most fulfilling things I've created or helped to make* have also been the most useful/financially successful.

User avatar
TheGrammarBolshevik
Posts: 4878
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 2:12 am UTC
Location: Going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Fri Apr 24, 2015 5:41 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
cphite wrote:But even if we look at the more stereotypical categories like literature, philosophy, language, history... these things are all extremely important to society.


I would disagree with that. Let's say every college scrapped every philosophy class, and ceased to offer it after the current lot graduated. What would you expect the net effect to be?

Compare vs, say, chemistry.

Meditate on the difference between "extremely important to society" and "more important to our short-term well-being than chemistry."
Nothing rhymes with orange,
Not even sporange.

cphite
Posts: 1292
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:27 pm UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby cphite » Fri Apr 24, 2015 5:43 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
PAstrychef wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:
cphite wrote:But even if we look at the more stereotypical categories like literature, philosophy, language, history... these things are all extremely important to society.


I would disagree with that. Let's say every college scrapped every philosophy class, and ceased to offer it after the current lot graduated. What would you expect the net effect to be?

Compare vs, say, chemistry.

You think that , ha ha ha, nothing noticeable would happen. But you're wrong. There would be a slow failure of civilization.
Eventually, a society that failed to contemplate itself and its place in the universe, that ran on a set of rigid rules, if it ran at all.


Nah. We're not extracting the idea of introspection forcibly from people's brains. Just removing a degree path, and with it, a lot of formalized training. Books, etc would still exist.


A lot of philosophy majors go into law or government, others go into medicine, or even on to the hard sciences. Philosophy is more than just "introspection" it's logic, critical thinking, and morality. It's questioning the process of learning, of knowledge, etc. Three of the most useful classes I took in college, in terms of my career as a programmer, were elementary logic, symbolic logic, and critical thinking - which fell under the philosophy department.

Removing formalized training for chemistry vs philosophy, which would impact society more drastically and rapidly?


It's not like there wouldn't still be chemistry books, right?

I think we need them both. We need people who know chemistry, obviously, to do the things that chemists do - things that are essential for our society. We also need people who have the capacity to decide whether the "things that chemists do" are things that chemists ought to be doing, and whether or not those things are actually beneficial for society, and to address the times when the things that chemists do turn out badly.

User avatar
Quercus
Posts: 1755
Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2013 12:22 pm UTC
Location: London, UK
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Quercus » Fri Apr 24, 2015 7:00 pm UTC

cphite wrote:It's not like there wouldn't still be chemistry books, right?

One practical difference that I see is that it's pretty possible (correct me if I'm wrong on this by the way) to do advanced philosophy learning/research with books, a pen and paper and access to teachers and a community of philosophers.

It's not really possible to do advanced chemistry learning/research without access to a fully equipped laboratory, lots of specialist equipment and people with the technical expertise to run and maintain that. This is true for most of the natural sciences. Therefore, with modern communication technology, it's much less obvious that the traditional university environment is necessary for humanities and liberal arts as compared to the sciences (and I guess some of the performing arts).

Now I don't think that we should shut down all humanities and liberal arts faculties - universities provide a pretty unique environment for learning and thinking, and I think that should be valued. I actually see this as an opportunity that these subjects have which the natural sciences don't :- it's much easier to substantially broaden participation (e.g. via MOOCs) if you don't need loads of really expensive equipment in order to fully engage with a subject.

I think we need them both. We need people who know chemistry, obviously, to do the things that chemists do - things that are essential for our society. We also need people who have the capacity to decide whether the "things that chemists do" are things that chemists ought to be doing, and whether or not those things are actually beneficial for society, and to address the times when the things that chemists do turn out badly.

Word. I also wonder how well most chemists would get on if they didn't have music to listen to, or novels to read or plays to go to etc. - I know that I'd find life pretty tough and dull without them. I know that a liberal arts education is not the only route to these things, but it's a pretty common one and I think it's a reasonable statement that we would be significantly culturally poorer as a society without that.

cphite wrote:
Quercus wrote:
cphite wrote:For me, art is useful. Music is useful. Dance is... well, I could take or leave dance, but I suppose for a lot of people dance is useful. Because these things bring beauty to life. They make life more than just the act of staying alive. Making people happy is useful; and so is making them sad or angry, or anything really.

Math, science, engineering - all the "useful" things that keep society rolling are great. We need them. The arts are part of what makes it worth keeping society rolling.

I just wanted to say that I didn't study science purely, or even mostly, because it was useful. For me biology has been just as if not more beautiful than any work of art, poetry or music. My life is hugely enriched because of the science I have studied. The most beautiful thing I have ever seen was a piece of scientific data - the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field image.

I'm not saying you're doing this, but, well, I won't mis-categorize the arts as less useful than the sciences if you don't mis-categorize the sciences as less beautiful than the arts.


I wasn't doing that intentionally, sorry if it came across that way.

My point is simply that something doesn't have to serve some practical purpose to be useful. The arts are useful in that they enrich our lives. To be able to find art inside of science, even better.

Thanks, and I suspected you probably weren't saying that, sorry if I came on a bit strong. I'm fairly touchy about anything which even approaches the whole "science isn't beautiful" line of thought, because it's actually pretty prevalent, and kind of invalidates a lot of my experience of beauty, and I don't particularly enjoy it when that happens.

Chen
Posts: 5482
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 6:53 pm UTC
Location: Montreal

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Chen » Fri Apr 24, 2015 7:06 pm UTC

Philosophy may be very useful to society, but are university degrees in Philosophy? At lower levels of education (high school and CEGEP here in Quebec) you do have an assortment of philosophy courses (or the equivalent) to take. But once you hit the university level I know a large number of people who never touched those courses. They are still able to contribute to debates, discussions and the like about all sorts of topics that affect the human condition. Someone mentioned the slow failure of civilization without these courses. I somehow fail to see why that would occur.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Apr 24, 2015 7:19 pm UTC

cphite wrote:
Removing formalized training for chemistry vs philosophy, which would impact society more drastically and rapidly?


It's not like there wouldn't still be chemistry books, right?

I think we need them both. We need people who know chemistry, obviously, to do the things that chemists do - things that are essential for our society. We also need people who have the capacity to decide whether the "things that chemists do" are things that chemists ought to be doing, and whether or not those things are actually beneficial for society, and to address the times when the things that chemists do turn out badly.


There would be, because apples to apples comparison. We're not comparing the concepts themselves, but how much value the formal educational structure adds to those concepts.

This is potentially quite different. If someone can get, say, 90% of the value of degree x with a given level of effort via self study, but a much smaller percentage of another field, then the formal educational path for the second field is more important, even if both fields are of equal value.

Nobody of import is advocating that we go around and burn books and art. They're just pointing out that with certain subsets of knowledge, taking the formal training provides you with fewer advantages as a student.

User avatar
TheGrammarBolshevik
Posts: 4878
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 2:12 am UTC
Location: Going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Fri Apr 24, 2015 9:06 pm UTC

Quercus wrote:One practical difference that I see is that it's pretty possible (correct me if I'm wrong on this by the way) to do advanced philosophy learning/research with books, a pen and paper and access to teachers and a community of philosophers.

I thought the thought experiment was that all the university philosophy departments get cut. If you do that, you aren't going to have teachers and a community of philosophers.

Remember, the reason that we got on to thought experiment is that Tyndmyr thought it would somehow challenge the claim that philosophy is extremely important to society. If you twerk things so that there still is philosophy, but practiced in a different organizational format, then the experiment becomes even less relevant to that claim.

Chen wrote:Philosophy may be very useful to society, but are university degrees in Philosophy?

Where do you think philosophers come from, if not degree programs? It's not as if Quine sprang fully formed from Carnap's head. You speak later of people being able to contribute to discussions without philosophical training, but of course training undergrads to discuss things isn't the extent of what philosophy departments do, any more than chemistry departments are just there to teach orgo to premeds.
Nothing rhymes with orange,
Not even sporange.

User avatar
Quercus
Posts: 1755
Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2013 12:22 pm UTC
Location: London, UK
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Quercus » Fri Apr 24, 2015 9:18 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
Quercus wrote:One practical difference that I see is that it's pretty possible (correct me if I'm wrong on this by the way) to do advanced philosophy learning/research with books, a pen and paper and access to teachers and a community of philosophers.

I thought the thought experiment was that all the university philosophy departments get cut. If you do that, you aren't going to have teachers and a community of philosophers.

Remember, the reason that we got on to thought experiment is that Tyndmyr thought it would somehow challenge the claim that philosophy is extremely important to society. If you twerk things so that there still is philosophy, but practiced in a different organizational format, then the experiment becomes even less relevant to that claim.

Sorry, I lost that bit of context through skimming the thread too fast. Mea culpa.

Edit: Although, to be precise, Tyndmyr suggested a thought experiment where we cut philosophy classes, rather than philosophy departments. It would still be possible to have philosophy research under those conditions, if people received their philosophy training from sources other than classes. It would not be possible to have (decent) chemistry training under similar conditions, because it's not viable to do practical training in chemistry outside of a system of classes (being too expensive to do alone and too dangerous to do unsupervised). But I agree - that doesn't really get us any further along in the argument that's actually being discussed.
Last edited by Quercus on Fri Apr 24, 2015 9:43 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
studyinserendipity
~Hanners~
Posts: 417
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 5:30 am UTC
Location: teaching your children about cephalopods
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby studyinserendipity » Fri Apr 24, 2015 9:43 pm UTC

Quercus wrote:Edit: Although, to be precise, Tyndmyr suggested a thought experiment where we cut philosophy classes, rather than philosophy departments. It would still be possible to have philosophy research under those conditions, if people received their philosophy training from sources other than classes. It would not be possible to have (decent) chemistry training under similar conditions, because it's not viable to do practical training in chemistry outside of a system of classes (being too expensive to do alone and too dangerous to do unsupervised).
I would feel that doing an apprenticeship would be a viable option. Probably cheaper than a university degree too.
People wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.

she/her/hers

User avatar
Quercus
Posts: 1755
Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2013 12:22 pm UTC
Location: London, UK
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Quercus » Fri Apr 24, 2015 10:27 pm UTC

studyinserendipity wrote:
Quercus wrote:Edit: Although, to be precise, Tyndmyr suggested a thought experiment where we cut philosophy classes, rather than philosophy departments. It would still be possible to have philosophy research under those conditions, if people received their philosophy training from sources other than classes. It would not be possible to have (decent) chemistry training under similar conditions, because it's not viable to do practical training in chemistry outside of a system of classes (being too expensive to do alone and too dangerous to do unsupervised).
I would feel that doing an apprenticeship would be a viable option. Probably cheaper than a university degree too.


Possible, but only if the structure of research was changed substantially. At least in my experience it tends to be quite disruptive to a research lab for someone who is unexperienced in lab work to be doing work there. People suck it up for summer projects and similar, because they recognise how important it is for people to get a taste of how a real lab operates, but longer term I can't see it working. If the career progression metrics for graduate students and post-docs are changed such that they can afford to spend weeks of their time individually mentoring apprentices, fine, but not without that. You also run into the issue that scientists tend to be fiercely sceptical of things they haven't done with their own two hands - if, say, a masters student produced an interesting result during a lab rotation I don't know of a single scientist who would not re-do that work from scratch themselves before being happy to put their name behind a publication including that data.

It takes a substantial amount of time developing practical skillls before someone becomes an asset rather than a liability in a lab. Given the constant pressure to publish, few research labs can afford that liability.

Also, teaching labs and the experiments undertaken in them are rather carefully designed to ensure that there's nothing there that's likely to kill or maim people who make mistakes (or people who happen to be standing close to them). You don't get that luxury in a research lab - if the stuff you're working with happens to be dangerous, you can't just change the field of your lab to accommodate training apprentices safely.

Towards the end of my second year (i.e. after about 300-400 hours of practical work each) one of our professors ran a practical class utilizing radioactive 35S methionine to trace protein synthesis in chloroplasts. The point of this class was to demonstrate how much better we all needed to become in order to work in a lab safely. Radioactive material got everywhere - underneath benches, in the water baths, all over centrifuges, on several people's lab notes. It wasn't a problem because the material we were using was barely radioactive. If that had benn something properly radioactive that sort of occurrence is "serious incident" and "official investigation" level bad.

As an analogy - would you place someone who has never played an instrument before in an orchestra performing for the public? All experiments done in a research lab need to be performed to publishable levels of quality, otherwise there is no point in doing them (with the exception of troubleshooting, which tends to require more skill than other experiments, not less). In that sense everything that goes on in a research lab is "performance".

quantropy
Posts: 192
Joined: Tue Apr 01, 2008 6:55 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby quantropy » Sat Apr 25, 2015 12:15 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Where do you think philosophers come from, if not degree programs? It's not as if Quine sprang fully formed from Carnap's head.

Note that Quine did an undergraduate degree in mathematics
(edit: and Carnap studied physics)

User avatar
TheGrammarBolshevik
Posts: 4878
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 2:12 am UTC
Location: Going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Sat Apr 25, 2015 5:25 pm UTC

Sure. Then they did graduate work in philosophy. Just like 99% of the other 20+th century philosophers.
Nothing rhymes with orange,
Not even sporange.

quantropy
Posts: 192
Joined: Tue Apr 01, 2008 6:55 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby quantropy » Sat Apr 25, 2015 6:15 pm UTC

xkcd wrote:Warning: this comic occasionally contains ... advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors).

So I don't think that philosophers who have studied advanced mathematics can be grouped with liberal-arts majors in this context.

User avatar
TheGrammarBolshevik
Posts: 4878
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 2:12 am UTC
Location: Going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Sat Apr 25, 2015 6:59 pm UTC

"This context" would be a discussion of the value of philosophy and philosophy education.
Nothing rhymes with orange,
Not even sporange.

User avatar
Mighty Jalapeno
Inne Juste 7 Dayes I Wille Make You A Hero!
Posts: 11262
Joined: Mon May 07, 2007 9:16 pm UTC
Location: Prince George In A Can
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Sun Apr 26, 2015 2:15 am UTC

I would expect a liberal arts major to know what "may" means.

#NotAllLibs

User avatar
studyinserendipity
~Hanners~
Posts: 417
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 5:30 am UTC
Location: teaching your children about cephalopods
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby studyinserendipity » Sun Apr 26, 2015 4:41 pm UTC

Now that I've written all this it seems more like a tangent because I'm talking about the university system in general and what should be included and why. Feel free to skip it!

Quercus wrote:As an analogy - would you place someone who has never played an instrument before in an orchestra performing for the public? All experiments done in a research lab need to be performed to publishable levels of quality, otherwise there is no point in doing them (with the exception of troubleshooting, which tends to require more skill than other experiments, not less). In that sense everything that goes on in a research lab is "performance".
That's not quite how I view the apprenticeship model, but I appreciate your analogy. I also raised the option as a point - doing it outside the community with access to the materials in a safe environment is necessary for the education to take place. I believe it's true for liberal arts as well, although we're not always dealing with health standards, having direct access to materials, professors, and a learning community can lead to a better education. Materials (especially for creative fields, but I'm sure it can apply to other subjects) can only be found in these environments, and I'd argue that community is even MORE important in humanities since it's focused on, well, humanity. For example during my time getting a teaching degree I worked in the lab preschool, where things could be specifically set up, directed, and watched by professors while we taught in a way that couldn't be set up in the field in a neighborhood school. Although fields like these can be taught and learned effectively in other environments (especially with the internet being the way it is), for some people having a physical *place* to learn with people who are also learning the same thing is valuable in its own way.

Additionally I'm sure you and others are not saying, "These fields don't DESERVE to be in the university system" but often the reason TO include them is just to establish the legitimacy of such a field. I mean, one of the things I did in both of my degrees was take a class designed to allow me to argue why people should keep my programs and pay me for what I do. We (people in my liberal arts classes) make lots of jokes about never making any money, or about getting cut, and so perhaps we are a little defensive of our programs.

doogly wrote:
BattleMoose wrote:
If writing code leaves me richer and miserable, but studying Nordic poetry leaves me poorer but happy, which is a better choice?
This is such a false dichotomy. You can be happy doing something and be paid for it. That's the goal I strive for.

The thread should really just be renamed "false dichotomies."
Haha, word. At some point we're going to pick apart majors and fields so much we'll just say "Hey be respectful of others' right to choose their interests and careers based on their own criteria" and be done with it :)
People wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.

she/her/hers

User avatar
Quercus
Posts: 1755
Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2013 12:22 pm UTC
Location: London, UK
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Quercus » Sun Apr 26, 2015 5:27 pm UTC

studyinserendipity wrote:Additionally I'm sure you and others are not saying, "These fields don't DESERVE to be in the university system" but often the reason TO include them is just to establish the legitimacy of such a field. I mean, one of the things I did in both of my degrees was take a class designed to allow me to argue why people should keep my programs and pay me for what I do. We (people in my liberal arts classes) make lots of jokes about never making any money, or about getting cut, and so perhaps we are a little defensive of our programs.

I absolutely don't think that arts and humanities should be cut in any way from the university system. In fact I think precisely the opposite (I've signed petitions and supported protests against the closure of smaller languages departments at my university). When I wrote this:

Quercus wrote:Now I don't think that we should shut down all humanities and liberal arts faculties - universities provide a pretty unique environment for learning and thinking, and I think that should be valued. I actually see this as an opportunity that these subjects have which the natural sciences don't :- it's much easier to substantially broaden participation (e.g. via MOOCs) if you don't need loads of really expensive equipment in order to fully engage with a subject.

I was meaning that arts and humanities have the opportunity to explore alternative modes of teaching and learning in addition to the university system, and it's a bit of a shame that that's more difficult in the sciences because I think it's a good thing and I'd like "my" field to get involved in it too.

User avatar
studyinserendipity
~Hanners~
Posts: 417
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 5:30 am UTC
Location: teaching your children about cephalopods
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby studyinserendipity » Sun Apr 26, 2015 8:02 pm UTC

Ah, I think I misread that trying to catch up with the thread. Thanks for clarifying!
People wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.

she/her/hers

cphite
Posts: 1292
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:27 pm UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby cphite » Mon Apr 27, 2015 3:15 pm UTC

Chen wrote:Philosophy may be very useful to society, but are university degrees in Philosophy?


Yes. Because these degrees are often the stepping stone to a career in law, government, medicine, ethics, and so forth... and occasionally an actual Philosopher pops up. A degree in Philosophy is not limited to introspection or thinking about "deep" issues... it's symbolic logic, deductive reasoning, critical thinking, and so forth.

The ability to think critically, to use logic (symbolic or not) and deductive/inductive reasoning... these are things that, in my opinion, are pretty important for a functioning society; to the point where having at least some folks specialize in them and even advance them is a Good Idea. This includes the actual study of (as opposed to simply gaining by happenstance) ethics and morality.

At lower levels of education (high school and CEGEP here in Quebec) you do have an assortment of philosophy courses (or the equivalent) to take. But once you hit the university level I know a large number of people who never touched those courses. They are still able to contribute to debates, discussions and the like about all sorts of topics that affect the human condition.


Sure; and there are people who've never taken a physics or chemistry course that can contribute to conversations on those topics.

Someone mentioned the slow failure of civilization without these courses. I somehow fail to see why that would occur.


I don't think anyone is suggesting that we'd fall into a Mad Max sort of society... a more likely scenario would be 1984 or something along those lines.

User avatar
doogly
Dr. The Juggernaut of Touching Himself
Posts: 5453
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:31 am UTC
Location: Lexington, MA
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby doogly » Mon Apr 27, 2015 3:23 pm UTC

cphite wrote: A degree in Philosophy is not limited to introspection or thinking about "deep" issues... it's symbolic logic, deductive reasoning, critical thinking, and so forth.

These are so awesome in fact that essentially every other field uses them. Generally with different symbols for their logics, but the other two really without much modification. To say that philosophy has a special claim on 'critical thinking' is jokes town.
LE4dGOLEM: What's a Doug?
Noc: A larval Doogly. They grow the tail and stinger upon reaching adulthood.

Keep waggling your butt brows Brothers.
Or; Is that your eye butthairs?

cphite
Posts: 1292
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:27 pm UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby cphite » Mon Apr 27, 2015 6:05 pm UTC

quantropy wrote:
xkcd wrote:Warning: this comic occasionally contains ... advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors).

So I don't think that philosophers who have studied advanced mathematics can be grouped with liberal-arts majors in this context.


Pure mathematics is generally considered a liberal art. :wink:

cphite
Posts: 1292
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:27 pm UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby cphite » Mon Apr 27, 2015 6:21 pm UTC

doogly wrote:
cphite wrote: A degree in Philosophy is not limited to introspection or thinking about "deep" issues... it's symbolic logic, deductive reasoning, critical thinking, and so forth.

These are so awesome in fact that essentially every other field uses them. Generally with different symbols for their logics, but the other two really without much modification. To say that philosophy has a special claim on 'critical thinking' is jokes town.


I never said anything about philosophy having a "special claim" on any of them; I simply pointed out that it is more than just introspection and thinking about issues. Philosophy does specialize in these areas, however, and so tends to take them a bit further.

Much in the same way that a Mathematics degree has no "special claim" to various forms of math; essentially every other field uses them.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Apr 27, 2015 7:25 pm UTC

Quercus wrote:Edit: Although, to be precise, Tyndmyr suggested a thought experiment where we cut philosophy classes, rather than philosophy departments. It would still be possible to have philosophy research under those conditions, if people received their philosophy training from sources other than classes. It would not be possible to have (decent) chemistry training under similar conditions, because it's not viable to do practical training in chemistry outside of a system of classes (being too expensive to do alone and too dangerous to do unsupervised). But I agree - that doesn't really get us any further along in the argument that's actually being discussed.


*shrug* It plays into perceptions of necessary, importance, difficulty, stuff like that. One can acknowledge that both things are useful, yet still feel superior on such a basis.

studyinserendipity wrote:I would feel that doing an apprenticeship would be a viable option. Probably cheaper than a university degree too.


I dare say there's actually some strong points in favor of encouraging apprenticeship in a few instances over our current system. Universities are useful places, of course, but the current model of education has gotten fairly expensive. This isn't really chemistry specific, just an aside.

And I'm not really arguing for the actual removal of anything from universities(except, possibly, admin bloat), more of an open system in which one can view actual data regarding a degree beforehand(say, an average rating of the degree's worth x years after graduation by graduates, graduation rate, average post-grad salary, etc), and have that information be fairly accessible. Yeah, you CAN find a lot of that now, but the college itself often tends to portray everything in the best possible light.

And I'm generally fine with a broader acceptance of other educational paths. Apprenticeship? Sure. For some stuff, that makes a great deal of sense. Self taught subjects? For some stuff, that works pretty well.

cphite wrote:
At lower levels of education (high school and CEGEP here in Quebec) you do have an assortment of philosophy courses (or the equivalent) to take. But once you hit the university level I know a large number of people who never touched those courses. They are still able to contribute to debates, discussions and the like about all sorts of topics that affect the human condition.


Sure; and there are people who've never taken a physics or chemistry course that can contribute to conversations on those topics.


And all too often, their contribution is "have you considered the DANGERS of injecting MERCURY into our CHILDREN?!!!!11!!!eleven".

cphite wrote:
doogly wrote:
cphite wrote: A degree in Philosophy is not limited to introspection or thinking about "deep" issues... it's symbolic logic, deductive reasoning, critical thinking, and so forth.

These are so awesome in fact that essentially every other field uses them. Generally with different symbols for their logics, but the other two really without much modification. To say that philosophy has a special claim on 'critical thinking' is jokes town.


I never said anything about philosophy having a "special claim" on any of them; I simply pointed out that it is more than just introspection and thinking about issues. Philosophy does specialize in these areas, however, and so tends to take them a bit further.

Much in the same way that a Mathematics degree has no "special claim" to various forms of math; essentially every other field uses them.


I enjoyed the critical thinking class I took, but it was WAY less formal with logic than my introductory EE class was.

I'm not sure that it takes it further. I think it's more akin to sociology. Different subject, but using methodologies that are commonplace in other fields*.

*Rants about participant observation aside.

User avatar
CelticNot
Posts: 111
Joined: Tue Jul 16, 2013 3:18 pm UTC
Location: A Little North of the Great Albertan Desert

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby CelticNot » Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:09 pm UTC

Coming in way late, but back in high school, I personally found humanities far, FAR more difficult (and much less enjoyable) than the science and math classes. Why? I'm not really sure, but I have some guesses.

When it comes to literature, I tended to have radically different interpretations of the material than the teachers expected us to have... and more often than not, there was only one correct answer. I will occasionally rant about how my Grade 10 Literature instructor largely ruined any interest I had in the classics by refusing to consider any interpretation for Shelley's "Ozymandius" than 'arrogance'. (To be fair, my interpretation was based solely on the poem, and I wasn't aware until... thirty seconds ago? that the words from the poem are an extremely loose interpretation of the original inscription.) As a consequence, it was the first class I failed, because I couldn't be given to care any more; if my opinions were to be dismissed and ridiculed, what was the point?

As for history, interpretation wasn't the problem so much as memorization. My memory is probably average with the exception of two notable holes - I can't remember dates for the LIFE of me (which is why I use day planners religiously), and I have difficulty retaining vocabulary when I haven't seen or heard them in a while. I actually have a sizable English vocabulary, but I've never gotten the hang of foreign languages specifically because I can't seem to retain more than thirty words at a time.

(Either that, or I used up all my brain slots for language on computers. I speak more computer languages fluently than human ones.)

Ironically, I probably still would've excelled in certain humanities classes had I gone to university instead of tech school - I like to write fanfic and roleplay online extensively, so my creative writing skills are fairly good.
This sig for rent. Rates negotiable.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Apr 27, 2015 9:40 pm UTC

ClockworkSky wrote:Coming in way late, but back in high school, I personally found humanities far, FAR more difficult (and much less enjoyable) than the science and math classes. Why? I'm not really sure, but I have some guesses.

When it comes to literature, I tended to have radically different interpretations of the material than the teachers expected us to have... and more often than not, there was only one correct answer. I will occasionally rant about how my Grade 10 Literature instructor largely ruined any interest I had in the classics by refusing to consider any interpretation for Shelley's "Ozymandius" than 'arrogance'. (To be fair, my interpretation was based solely on the poem, and I wasn't aware until... thirty seconds ago? that the words from the poem are an extremely loose interpretation of the original inscription.) As a consequence, it was the first class I failed, because I couldn't be given to care any more; if my opinions were to be dismissed and ridiculed, what was the point?


That happens with bad teachers, unfortunately. It's *less* a problem in college, but sadly, opinion does seep into evaluations even there, and the more subjective the topic, the worse the issue, though no subject is truly immune. Good teachers are precious.

But better liberal arts classes will allow more diverse interpretations if you justify them well. For entertainment, I frequently would use papers to advocate for communism or whatever else might be shocking or unusual. It's always easier to just google the accepted interpretation(or go off your teacher's stated preferences) and just halfass it with that, but if you've got the freedom to amuse yourself, you might as well.

User avatar
Euphonium
Posts: 161
Joined: Thu Nov 12, 2009 11:17 pm UTC
Location: in ur bourgeois bosses' union, agitating ur workers

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Euphonium » Sat Jun 20, 2015 10:37 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote: Is there a place in the economy for the skills that you are learning?


Why in the hell is that relevant?

It's not a goddamn trade school.

The importance of the humanities is very closely related to the fact that it is not directly transferable to economic benefit for the capitalist class. The humanities equip us to take a critical eye to the status quo, to recognize that it is not the only possibility, and to explore and analyze possible alternative modes of social organization. This is very problematic towards those who benefit from the way things are, which is precisely why they push "economic return" as the marker of validity of a course of study.

User avatar
Euphonium
Posts: 161
Joined: Thu Nov 12, 2009 11:17 pm UTC
Location: in ur bourgeois bosses' union, agitating ur workers

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Euphonium » Sat Jun 20, 2015 10:48 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:There's objectively something to be said about students who go above and beyond. If the essay question was 'discuss the sociopolitical elements that lead to the rise of the Third Reich' and you list those elements, sure, that's the right answer. If your listing is organized, supported with specific examples, discusses their interplay, and references counter examples or such, that's the better answer. It's a 'show your work' kind of thing.


I'm a grad student in history and regularly TA intro-level freshman World History classes. This is exactly what I tell them: if you simply give a stock answer, with some support based on evidence, your ceiling is a B, because I've got to have room to give proper credit to those students who make a serious attempt at original, insightful, creative arguments that offer a fresh perspective on the material. Which does happen from time to time, and needs to be evaluated as it deserves. If stock answers that are "right" in the sense that they reveal a baseline grasp of the material (remember, history isn't just memorizing "this happened then this happened" but understanding the various interplays of cause and effect and being able to weigh different and sometimes conflicting forces at play against one another and sometimes making inferences and judgment calls based on a balance of probabilities) get an A, where do I place those that go above and beyond?

On our rubrics, "B" is explained as "meets expectations," and "A" is explained as "exceeds expectations."

And no, I can't tell you what you need to do to get an A. Because that's the whole point: it means you're going above and beyond what is expected of you, in a direction that we didn't foresee but is nevertheless defensible based on the evidence at hand.

User avatar
Liri
Healthy non-floating pooper reporting for doodie.
Posts: 1113
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:11 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Liri » Sun Jun 21, 2015 4:34 am UTC

I'm a double major in biology and music (with a French minor), so I probably have some good perspective. My music history classes have been some of the most rigorous I've taken in my 4 years of university, both in terms of the amount of material and the expectations for the analysis of that material and our writing of extensive research papers*. This past semester, I got As (including an A+) in 7 classes and a single B in my "History of Western Music III" course.** That's not to say that it was necessarily the hardest class that I took, but it definitely wasn't something that could be half-assed and expect to get even a passing grade.

On the other hand, an art history class I took last fall - which was incredibly fun and taught me a lot - was almost entirely memorization.

*I was actually at a biology conference in Chattanooga writing up a paper on the tintinnabuli style of Arvo Pärt. It was very stressful.
**I have to take a lot of classes
There's a certain amount of freedom involved in cycling: you're self-propelled and decide exactly where to go. If you see something that catches your eye to the left, you can veer off there, which isn't so easy in a car, and you can't cover as much ground walking.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7505
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Zamfir » Sun Jun 21, 2015 9:37 am UTC

Euphonium wrote:
It's not a goddamn trade school.

The importance of the humanities is very closely related to the fact that it is not directly transferable to economic benefit for the capitalist class. The humanities equip us to take a critical eye to the status quo, to recognize that it is not the only possibility, and to explore and analyze possible alternative modes of social organization. This is very problematic towards those who benefit from the way things are, which is precisely why they push "economic return" as the marker of validity of a course of study.

I find it odd for a grad student to have such disdain for trade schools. The career system of academics is very close to the traditional trade guild model, more so than many other modern career paths. Underdgrad is essentially trade school for academics, followed by apprenticeship in grad school, a thesis that functions as a masterpiece, then a period as postdoc journeyman until you can hopefully settle as a master in your own right.

And every stage is extremely reluctant to accept members who did not come through the standard progression, which inforces the importance of the trade school aspect. This might be different in other places, but around here it's much rarer to become a professional historian without going to history school, than to become a professional engineer without going to engineering school. And engineering is already fairly trade-like. When you get closer to the capitalist system, in finance, or sales, or management, or as businessman, then specific degrees become yet less important to progression.

Which brings me to a wider point: how are you so sure that the humanities are better preparation to evaluate the status quo than alternatives? You are not the first person in this thread to make that claim, and I'd like to see some flesh on that idea.

After all, a humanities degree does not free people from the need for an income, they still need to serve the powers that be. If anything, academic grants are more fickle aspects of the status quo than most sources of income. And outside of academia, humanities students are no different than the rest of us.

User avatar
Angua
Don't call her Delphine.
Posts: 5805
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 12:42 pm UTC
Location: UK/[St. Kitts and] Nevis Occasionally, I migrate to the US for a bit

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Angua » Sun Jun 21, 2015 9:55 am UTC

Medicine is totally a vocational subject.

Also, I find it interesting that a lot of the humanities feel they have a monopoly on being able to form your own ideas and insights into things. That history grading system sounds suspiciously like my pre-clinical medicine exams.
Crabtree's bludgeon: “no set of mutually inconsistent observations can exist for which some human intellect cannot conceive a coherent explanation, however complicated”
GNU Terry Pratchett

User avatar
doogly
Dr. The Juggernaut of Touching Himself
Posts: 5453
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:31 am UTC
Location: Lexington, MA
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby doogly » Sun Jun 21, 2015 11:50 am UTC

I can be a fairly tough cookie, but if I expected freshmen / intro students to be able to surprise me with physics thoughts I'd be cruel. If anything, I warn them about this when I tell them to write haiku for me. "You may think the best way to please me with a haiku is to make it about physics; be cautious. I do like physics, but I like other things. To have a good poem, you must be playful and creative. Even if you have an A in my class, you may still not be sufficiently playful and creative to write a pleasing physics haiku. I recommend topics like turtle, frog, snail. God help you if you make a Heisenberg uncertainty joke."
LE4dGOLEM: What's a Doug?
Noc: A larval Doogly. They grow the tail and stinger upon reaching adulthood.

Keep waggling your butt brows Brothers.
Or; Is that your eye butthairs?

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7505
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Zamfir » Sun Jun 21, 2015 1:19 pm UTC

That depends somewhat on the style of questions. I remember a mechanics problem that depended on the moment of inertia of a car around some axis. Which was not given, so you had to make assumptions. What are typical car dimensions? Do you assume the mass evenly distributed, or more towards the outsides, or the bottom? What about the engine, does it make sense to assume such an extra level of detail? Do you want a conservatively high value, or low? There's no single correct answer, but there is plenty of room for good or bad approaches

User avatar
doogly
Dr. The Juggernaut of Touching Himself
Posts: 5453
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:31 am UTC
Location: Lexington, MA
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby doogly » Sun Jun 21, 2015 1:34 pm UTC

OK so you get freshmen whose abilities vastly exceed what goes on over here.
LE4dGOLEM: What's a Doug?
Noc: A larval Doogly. They grow the tail and stinger upon reaching adulthood.

Keep waggling your butt brows Brothers.
Or; Is that your eye butthairs?

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jun 22, 2015 4:11 pm UTC

Euphonium wrote:
BattleMoose wrote: Is there a place in the economy for the skills that you are learning?


Why in the hell is that relevant?

It's not a goddamn trade school.

The importance of the humanities is very closely related to the fact that it is not directly transferable to economic benefit for the capitalist class. The humanities equip us to take a critical eye to the status quo, to recognize that it is not the only possibility, and to explore and analyze possible alternative modes of social organization. This is very problematic towards those who benefit from the way things are, which is precisely why they push "economic return" as the marker of validity of a course of study.


....it's relevant if you want to not be poor. Everyone wants to talk about the non-monetary benefits, but those seem a lot less important when you can't get a job and have a pile of debt.


Return to “General”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Obsoal and 14 guests