Can mathematics be seen as anything more than a useful tool in everyday life?

YES: The comprehensive knowledge and aspects of mathematics makes it applicable to all aspects of human experience and well-being apart from everyday life.

  1. The critical thinking processes one acquires in studying complex mathematical topics help shape our holistic development, going effectively beyond the immediate material ends that we normally apply mathematics to.

  2. At higher levels of study, mathematics is integrated as a component both vital and applicable to a wide variety of seemingly unrelated disciplines, including economics, psychology and social work, helping to raise society’s level of intellectual engagement and cross-disciplinary fertilization.

  3. The more advanced levels of mathematical study aim to identify and contribute practical solutions to our collective societal problems, such as complex formulations to calculate the rate of melting polar ice-caps, that areinfinitely more complex and far-reaching than the issues we confront in everyday life. 

NO: The application of mathematics is largely confined to everyday life and its more sophisticated specializations are esoteric pursuits with little relevance to wider human experience.

  1. The critical thinking processes we acquire through studying mathematics help us to solve everyday problems more efficiently, contributing to the convention belief that mathematics is largely a practical subject rather than a complex cognition enhancement tool. 

  2. Studied on its own at the undergraduate level, mathematics may appear to be a highly abstract and specialized discipline for enthusiasts, leaving many to prefer using mathematics in confined, everyday transactions and endeavors.

  3. The majority of mathematical applications and studies are used in everyday life, assisting us in innumerable practical operations such as building skyscrapers, timing traffic light operations and calculating flight paths, and more complex societal problems are rightly recognized as solvable only through political or social action rather than mathematics.

Author’s Note

This question resembles 2005’s Qn 10 ‘Consider the view that the study of mathematics is intellectually satisfying, but of little practical use’ to some degree.

 I have adapted relevant points in that essay to the question here.