Dr Penelope Rush

About me

Beginning my university career in the early 90s, I wound up taking a double major in philosophy and pure mathematics at Monash University. I deeply loved pure mathematics, finding it finally gave real and whole sense to all of the mathematics I'd done up until then, which seemed in comparison, somehow piecemeal: promising but never quite revealing the full story. I chose philosophy in the end, but always intended to go back to mathematics. Instead, I ended up focusing on the philosophy of mathematics, but not before completing a pure mathematics project on Gödel's incompleteness theorem.

My Honours thesis was in philosophy, on Platonism (with John Bigelow).

I took logic right throughout my undergraduate years at Monash, with many memorable classes taught by Lloyd Humberstone.

I won a scholarship to St Andrews shortly after beginning my PhD (which was also on a scholarship: the APA - Australian Postgraduate Award). Rather than continue with my thesis in Scotland, I chose to take a year off the PhD, to enrol in a course work Masters there. This was in order to learn everything I possibly could about as much as I could fit in, during my time at St Andrews. And during that year I wrote papers in aesthetics; ethics; the philosophy of mind; the philosophy of language; epistemology and, of course, the philosophy of mathematics. My major thesis for the Masters degree was on possible world semantics (supervisor Stephen Read).

I returned to my PhD after returning from Scotland to Australia in 1997. Not long after this (i.e. not quite long enough to finish my thesis), marriage, followed very quickly by the birth of my two wonderful children (twins), intervened. I finished the final draft of my thesis about a fortnight before the twins' births. Needless to say, it was quite some time before I revisited that draft.

It was in 2005 that I was awarded my PhD (supervised by Graham Priest, through the University of Queensland).

Since then, I've worked for La Trobe University in Melbourne (mainly teaching introductory logic); with Ross Brady on his ARC funded project: Entailment: A Blueprint and, since moving to Tasmania around ten years ago, in casual and contract positions for the Philosophy department at the University of Tasmania. In 2010, I was invited to visit Stephen Read's Arché project Foundations of Logical Consequence at the University of St Andrews. This visit inspired me to return to the Philosophy of Logic, in particular, to begin asking the sorts of metaphysical questions of logic as have been asked for hundreds of years of mathematics. The recent publication of a collection of essays on just this topic from many world leaders in the field, taught me that I'm most definitely not alone in my interest in this area.

In other recent work, I have returned to the subject matter of my PhD thesis: how to account for and justify the notion of independent reality, particularly in the philosophy of mathematics, but also elsewhere.