Why You Should Study Philosophy as a STEM Major

July 25, 2022
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"Philosophy is a chain which inextricably binds humanity’s endless quest for knowledge with society’s naïve insistence for an ideal world.” – Haristotle (me)

Empty assertions like those exemplified in the previous sentence are what cause the discipline of philosophy to garner a negative reputation amongst university students majoring in STEM. Often, philosophy is viewed as no more than ambiguous statements proposed by an author to foster conversation. However, contrary to popular belief, philosophy involves more than simply generating declarations that “sound impressive”.

I believe that studying philosophy at university has supported me in my current internship at Arcurve in numerous ways. Hopefully, by the end of this blog post, I will have convinced some STEM majors reading this to give philosophy a try!

The ability to communicate effectively by utilizing a voice that is both assertive and clear is a skill that any professional must possess no matter the occupation. What constitutes a convincing argument? What are common logical pitfalls that should be avoided? These are the types of queries addressed in philosophy.

Formal writing is a skill that must be honed through practice. Many diverse University disciplines provide exposure to formal writing; however, it is rare for a class to do so with the level of freedom provided in philosophy.

Unlike classes that strictly judge grammatical syntax, philosophy classes aim to judge the merits of one’s argument where the syntax is merely treated as a means of expressing ideas. Students are often given the freedom to express their arguments in whichever form they see most fit to best communicate their understanding. Although the lack of guided instruction on how one should formulate their papers may seem daunting at first, successfully submitting a paper is supremely rewarding because of it.

It is crucial to foster an adversarial mindset when attempting to persuade another party that they ought to accept a position. The author of an argument should be that argument’s greatest critic. In my time with Arcurve, there have been many instances where developing an adversarial mindset towards my own ideas has been extraordinarily helpful.

In my current internship, the interns were split into groups of three and given the task of pitching and executing a plan to support a charity of our choice. Our group decided to raise awareness for a local charity known as Inn from the Cold by selling customized socks from a local company. During the pitch, we ensured to tackle many possible rebuttals before they arose naturally which drastically enhanced the credibility of our arguments.

Many of the reasons provided so far to study philosophy can apply to students outside of STEM so why gear this post towards STEM majors specifically? In STEM classes, there is a level of certainty one can possess that those who disagree are objectively incorrect based on certain facts which are evident based on pre-determined rules. In philosophy, the author must be open to altering their arguments in the face of contradictions made evident by scrutiny.

An effortless trap to fall into involves the failure to notice the merits of studying a discipline varying wildly from one’s field of study. The greatest benefit of taking philosophy classes would be that they encourage empathy towards those with differing ideas. Providing strong arguments forces the author to truly understand their opponent’s position, it is impossible to cast aside those who disagree as uneducated or uninformed. Rather, arguments themselves

must be analyzed and contended with. A common effect after submitting a paper is gaining newfound respect for proponents of an idea that the author initially vehemently disagreed with.

Are the arguments provided in this paper fallacious? Quite possibly. However, that shall be left as an exercise for the reader to determine.


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