Philosophy Personal Statement
My personal fascination has always been in how things work. While this seems to lend itself to study of engineering or the natural sciences, my particular focus has always been on concepts. Rather than being only concerned with the validity of knowledge, I find equally interesting the question posed by Hume; how can what we know about the world translate into statements about how the world ought to be? As subjects that were historically part of philosophy have become their own branches of knowledge, this function remains in my view one of the most important philosophy has to offer. It is this issue that initially sparked my interest and continues to appeal to me, and is reflected in my inclination towards moral and political philosophy.
My wider reading around the topic has included the subject of logic to better prepare for the logical elements of the course and to improve my ability to assess arguments. I particularly enjoyed A.J. Ayer's 'Language, Truth, and Logic' and although the concepts in the book proved a challenge, the idea that philosophy is a process of refinement rather than a special branch of knowledge appealed to my interest in clarity. In the same way that language can be seen as a source of mistakes in philosophy I believe that culture can have a similar impact, especially with regards to ethics and political philosophy. For this reason my study of Sociology has proved useful as it has helped me to overcome cultural biases and assess arguments more objectively. Study of absolutist monarchies and the Enlightenment in History has also provided valuable insight into my interest in political philosophy, particularly Rousseau's Social Contract.
Participating in my school's Debating Society has improved my aptitude in arguing a case, especially concerning subjects such as economics in which I have no formal education. Arguing a case that is radically different from my own personal beliefs has also sharpened my ability to both critically examine my own position and gain a better understanding of other arguments. I look forward to continuing debating both in an forthcoming competition in November as well as at university level. In March I entered the Heythrop College Theology Essay prize on the question 'how can God be known?' Though I did not win, I enjoyed the challenge of adapting my ideas from the study of philosophy of religion to a discipline related to my own interest. Earlier this year I helped at a day aimed at teaching Citizenship lessons to lower years in my school. This aided my ability to communicate my ideas clearly, especially to students who were not necessarily receptive.
I enjoy reading, especially science fiction and speculative fiction. I maintain a keen interest in current affairs and retain a membership of the British Humanist Association, and I believe that a through awareness of modern issues is necessary for moral and political philosophy to be truly useful. Aside from this I volunteer at a local greyhound kennel by fostering retired racing greyhounds; the dogs' unfamiliarity with a domestic setting and sometimes troubled background has required perseverance and flexibility on my part. It is this perseverance, combined with the adaptability demonstrated by settling into an entirely new school last year, that I feel will allow me to contribute fully both to my course and university life.
Universities Applied to:
- Edinburgh - Rejected
- Sheffield - AAB
- St. Andrews - AAB
- Warwick - AAB
- York - AAB