Philosophy Personal Statement
The ancient Greek philosopher Plato said “philosophy begins in wonder”, and I believe this to be true. I think the wondering which Plato is speaking of, which leads to essential questions such as ‘why are we here?’ and ‘what is right and wrong?’, is one of the defining qualities of what it means to be human.
However, although philosophy may begin in wonder, analytical skills and critical thinking are required to develop this into coherent and rational thought. It is this that I wish to gain from studying philosophy at university, to learn the skills needed for the critical examination of other people’s thoughts and ideas, and to structure and develop my own ideas.
My interest in philosophy was first aroused during my AS Religious Studies course where I was able to read and critically examine some of the major arguments for the existence of God. However, I soon found myself reading beyond the syllabus into different areas of philosophy such as metaphysics, ethics, and epistemology. I am particularly interested in the rationalist-empiricist debate, the philosophy of logical atomism of Bertrand Russell and Wittgenstein, and the political philosophy of John Stuart Mill.
I have also been profoundly affected, among other works, by Descartes ‘Meditations’ and David Hume’s ‘A Treatise of Human Nature’, as both challenge some of our most basic assumptions. The latter challenges the reliability of our senses and the existence of the physical world, and the former the very idea of the self.
Studying these works, along with others has taught me never to believe something simply because it is considered ‘common sense’, or because it is believed to be ‘self-evident’ but always to ask what the reasoning behind our beliefs is, and whether this is in concordance with logic and rationality or not.
However, by reading Kant, I have also learned the problems of using pure speculative reason to find foundations for beliefs. Through studying philosophy of religion and participating in my school’s debating society, I am able to construct and appreciate arguments for their logical, rather than their emotional merit.
Additionally, I have developed the ability to identify and avoid various logical fallacies: through my reading of Wittgenstein, A. J. Ayer, and Russell I have learned how easy it is to be misled and deceived, and ‘bewitched’ by language, especially in the subject of philosophy, and how to avoid this ‘bewitchment’.
Through my study of sociology and psychology, I have developed and honed my essay writing skills, which I believe are necessary and beneficial to studying philosophy. I hope to adapt, add to, and improve these skills throughout the university course.
I also take an active role as a volunteer both in and outside of school: participating in an ‘in class support’ scheme at my school where I was placed into year 10 classes to support and aid pupils with learning difficulties, the volunteer work that I did at the British Heart Foundation and helping at various school events which led to me to receive a ‘services to school’ award. These activities have enhanced my communication and team work skills which will also benefit me during my university studies.
What I hope to get out of my time at university is not wholly academic, and I look forward to the cultural education and life experiences that only university can offer. Upon completing my degree I wish either to continue my study of philosophy to a higher postgraduate level, or pursue training and a career as a teacher of philosophy.
The inspiration I have received from my religious studies teacher has motivated me to pursue philosophy at a higher level, and I would like the opportunity to introduce the students I teach to the wonders of philosophy and inspire them like my teacher has done for me.
This personal statement was written by flabman999 for application in 2012.
flabman999's university choices
University of East Anglia
University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
University of Dundee
University of Leeds
University of Glasgow
Green: offer made
Red: no offer made
it sucks mann