Mathematics and Philosophy Personal Statement Example

Philosophy attempts to understand the world as a whole, but also us humans including our thoughts, language, and even the mere fact why we exist in the first place.

To achieve this, philosophers ask questions and define rules on how to answer them. One of these rules, formulated by Ludwig Wittgenstein, was that every thesis had to be compared to reality and proven empirically, which makes it essential to understand the world around us.

If we improve our understanding of the countless mathematical patterns that appear in nature, we will acquire a deeper understanding of nature itself. Thus, philosophy and mathematics lead us to question reality and enhance our understanding of it.

I first came into touch with philosophy 4 years ago, when I took a course called “Applied Ethics”. Ever since, I have engaged in philosophical texts and written my own essays, which I then submitted to the Swiss Philosophy Olympiad.

I was called up to the semi-final 2 consecutive times, where I had the opportunity to meet with committed young thinkers, just like myself, from all over Switzerland. Our highly engaging discussions have motivated me to keep reading philosophical texts and discuss them with friends.

However, my view of philosophy changed abruptly, when I read Ludwig Wittgenstein's “Tractatus logico-philosophicus”, wherein he shows with astounding accuracy that language is the logical premise of philosophy.

This statement drew my interest to the philosophy of language and the structure of language. In the following months, I wrote a thesis analysing the relationship between the syntactical complexity of an article and the reader’s perception of the events.

For this, my school awarded me a prize and I had the opportunity to go to Bern and present my work to a number of specialists in syntax analysis.

As for maths, I have always been amazed at how easily we can describe natural processes through mathematical models and formulas. This fascination for mathematics has always led me to go beyond the school syllabus and dive deeper into the subject.

In grammar school, I attended a weekly preparation course for the Mathematical Olympiad at the ETH Zurich. Being around so many like-minded people inspired me to further study and discuss number theory in general, and exponential Diophantine equations in particular. The culmination of this experience was my participation in the Swiss Mathematical Olympiad.

I want to study at your university because I aspire to have the best possible prerequisites to one day go into research and contribute to mankind’s acquisition of knowledge. What makes me suitable, is my deep interest in both subjects and my strong intrinsic motivation to achieve my goals.

My drive to excel at school earned me three awards for my leaving certificate: a prize from my grammar school for having the highest grade average in my year, one from my home canton for being among the best students on a cantonal scale, and the highly prestigious Novartis award for “remarkable achievements and exceptional commitment”.

I am proud of these awards, however I believe there is more to me than my academic achievements that make me suitable for the course: My devotion as captain of my floorball team as well as my role as coach of a junior team, have taught me how to lead, teach and bring diverse groups of people together to achieve a common goal. To do justice to my academic as well as my sporting goals, it was essential for me to develop good time management skills and the ability to study efficiently.

In conclusion, I want to further pursue all aspects of my interests and get the best possible prerequisites to one day conduct research myself. I believe I can greatly contribute with my enthusiastic dedication and excitement to the community as a whole. My experiences, namely writing my thesis, participating in science Olympiads as well as my extra-curricular studies have hopefully prepared me well for the challenges I will face at your university.

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Author's Comments

I am happy with my personal statement, however I think I focussed too much on philosophy of language. This is partly due to the fact that I want to get accepted into University College Oxford and their philosophy professor is a specialist on this subject.
I applied to Oxford, St. Andrews, Durham and Southampton, main goal being Oxford.

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