# How can studying mathematics give a better understanding of philosophy?

Does studying mathematics at the high-school or undergraduate level help give an better understanding of philosophy (not counting philosophy of science, which has an obvious relationship)? If so how?

To put it another way, would studying mathematics be recommended for someone interested in going into the field of continental philosophy?

• I think boolean is used Mar 21, 2018 at 20:41
• Hi, welcome to Philosophy SE. Please visit our Help Center to see what questions we answer and how to ask. One-line posts are discouraged because it is hard to tell from them what people are looking for. What exactly are you looking for in connecting high-school mathematics to continental philosophy? And what is "ug-level"? Mar 21, 2018 at 20:55
• Mathematics is a type of philosophy, one with rigid rules. It's one of the few philosophies where you can definitively prove something right or wrong (usually). It makes a good comparison to other philosophies (which usually don't have an explicit method for determining whether something is right or wrong), but I don't think higher level mathematics is really helpful in continental philosophy.
– user935
Mar 24, 2018 at 15:02
• Does this answer your question? Does a Background in Mathematics Make One a Better Philosopher?
– user64125
Jan 31, 2023 at 1:07

I'm doubtful that mathematics help for understanding continental philosophy.

Reason: Mathematics with its method of definition, formalization, and proof is much more precise than philosophical concepts and argumentation. I do not know many philosophical texts where the strenght of mathematical thinking helps to understand the authors thoughts.

Mathematics and philosophy have had a long and intertwined history together. Ancient Greek philosophy is resonant with Euclidean geometry. The great Continental philosophers Rene Descartes and Blaise Pascal are as remembered for their contributions to the development and advance of mathematics as for their philosophical achievements, as is Leibniz. In the analytic world, figures such as Bertrand Russell and Alfred Tarski are noted for their work combining mathematics with the philosophical field of logic.

So mathematics is clearly relevant to philosophy. But the connections are not always direct. Given that, it is not as clear that studying mathematics would definitely aid the study of philosophy. It's also worth noting that contemporary continental philosophy is not particularly mathematical.

With that said, if you have an interest in mathematics now, and in philosophy later, I'd see no reason to discourage you from combining your passions. You'd certainly be following in the footsteps of some of the greatest practitioners of either field.

Do statistics. Understanding statistics is key to understanding what we know about the world. Yes in science like Type 1 & 2 hypothesis testing, but also https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayesian_inference

Continental philosophy is especially focused on language, and maths helps to analyse it and draw meaningful conclusions about information transfer, language evolution, and other patterns.

Basic mathematical proof theory, like https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantor%27s_diagonal_argument can give insight into mathematical Incompleteness, which is key to the rise of the Continental programme over the Analytic.

Maths is fun. Do it.