Philosophy/English Literature Personal Statement

My desire to study philosophy could probably be best described as fledgling, given that my first true exposure to the subject was only a few months ago. However, to say I am enamoured with the discipline today would be an understatement.

Pure excitement mixed with a sense of anticipation and wonder is an admittedly poor attempt to describe how I feel when I contemplate the idea of trying to answer some of life’s most fundamental questions. How can one fail to be utterly enthralled when pondering the question of whether or not human beings are truly free? Can the debate over what constitutes “the good” ever be definitively settled?

It is these limitless possibilities that have given me a passion for philosophy and the aspiration to study it at university.

Since my first class in August we have covered the free will versus determinism debate, as well as Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn’s accounts of the progress of science. I found both Popper’s notion of verisimilitude and Kuhn’s theory of the paradigm shift particularly engrossing, challenging as they did the conventional view that science is constantly proceeding along a linear path towards some objective “truth”.

The true nature of philosophic enquiry is of course to break down our preconceptions, and I feel both philosophers do this brilliantly. I believe Descartes’ statement in The Meditations, that in order to establish some indubitable truths he must presume all his previous opinions are false, epitomises this concept of free thought unfettered by prejudice and dogma.

It is this ability to banish our long held assumptions through the use of pure reason that, in my opinion truly sets philosophy apart from other disciplines.

I am also fascinated with the intricacies of the English language, having been an avid reader since early childhood. This love of literature has instilled in me a strong desire to embark on a degree course, having pursued the subject enthusiastically at Higher level.

Among my favourite works is Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, the author’s alluring use of language giving the novel an almost dreamlike quality and providing a sterling example of writing as an artistic gesture.

In my free time I am a keen track athlete, training six days (12 hours) per week. I have represented Scotland at junior level on a number of occasions, and feel athletics has helped me to develop a strong self discipline which is reflected in my approach to my studies.

Towards the end of fourth year I was selected after a stringent trial and interview process to attend the Glasgow School of Sport. I believe my ability to successfully balance my sporting commitments with academic life shows effective time management and good organisation, which I know would be crucial when coping with the rigours of a degree course (and indeed life beyond university).

Another positive experience I have taken from my sporting career is the opportunity to coach younger children, which has been extremely rewarding and confidence building. I feel it has also helped me develop a greater sense of responsibility, as well as a more mature and measured approach to tasks which may have previously overwhelmed me.

Attending open days and mock lectures at both Strathclyde and Glasgow University have helped give me a real flavour of what university life would entail, as well as reinforcing my desire to study the aforementioned courses.

I must confess to having little idea of what career I would like to pursue, however I know many employers highly value the analytical and logical skills I would develop during my degree. I am well aware of the challenge ahead, and only too eager to begin.

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This personal statement was written by sean123 for application in 2011.

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