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Philosophy Personal Statement Example 19
The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates said, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing”. Taking this literally, it seems that wisdom is a consequence of knowing nothing. However, I believe that the extent of comprehension of the surrounding world is what makes one wise. At risk of sounding cliché, this idea resonates with me because I have a strong desire to learn, often finding myself pondering the nature of existence and other such wonders. Until recently, I did not understand that what I was interested in was, in fact, philosophy, thinking I just had an enquiring mind. For me, philosophy is not necessarily about learning an encyclopaedia of knowledge, but recognising what I think about certain aspects of thought, and learning about other opinions in order to think more clearly.
I am especially interested in René Descartes’ work on mind-body dualism, encouraging me to write an essay titled “Is it more important to understand the mind or the brain?” for a Corpus Christi Cambridge competition. My research included reading VS Ramachandran’s ‘Phantoms in the Brain’ in which he talked about an experiment that he conducted on anosognosic patients. This experiment intrigued me as it feels inconceivable that the placebo effect is more powerful than medication, giving me an insight into an aspect of philosophy of mind that was new to me. Furthering my interest, I read Sam McNerney’s article “Modern Art Is Indebted to Descartes” where he writes about how Descartes’ work sparked an influx of questioning ourselves and the world around us. This brought to mind Nozick’s ‘experience machine’ where he invites us to question whether we value authenticity over happiness, or in Nozick’s case, ‘fake’ happiness. Further intrigued as to how philosophy affects our daily life, I attended a lecture by Dr Julian Baggini who spoke about virtue ethics, proffering the question: “What is a good life?” Although I have yet to figure out my settled view on this, I love learning about other opinions which will, in turn, shape my own and allow me to crystallize my thoughts.
A discussion about Michael Sandel’s trolley car problem in my PPE class inspired me to look more into his work, leading me to his Harvard University online lectures, ‘Justice: What’s The Right Thing To Do?’ where Sandel highlights the advantages in life that we are unaware of; he then theorised that first-born children are more likely to get into Harvard. The offering of opportunities as a consequence of ‘accident[s] of birth’ upsets me, which is why I find the idea of equal opportunities so important. Having read ‘Applied Ethics’, in which Janet Radcliffe Richards decries the “separate spheres” that society places men and women in, I was driven to talk about inequality with my peers. I co-run a discussion group in which we address different topics and how we can have an effect on equality in the school community through our ideas. This has developed my communication skills as I have learnt to express my opinions clearly and to hear other points of view whilst enjoying participation in the debate.
I have been volunteering at my local farm since 2010 and in 2013 was appointed Team Leader, managing teams of 10 volunteers of differing skills and experience. I ensure that jobs are completed, developing my skills of teamwork and adaptability. Furthermore, I have been volunteering my local Preschool for two years which is an incredible experience as I teach the children basic skills such as reading and writing. These leadership qualities carry through in my position as Year 8 Prefect and co-running Junior Classics Club, where I enable the lower school to see the fun behind learning and teach them the importance of mental enrichment.
I am excited by the prospect of studying philosophy. I would be privileged to join this course, which will enable me to evaluate and analyse myself and my thought process, in order to make a positive contribution to society.
There is no profile associated with this personal statement, as the writer has requested to remain anonymous.
This statement got me offers to: St Andrews, Durham, Edinburgh, Kings and York so I'm pretty happy with it :)
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