Philosophy Personal Statement Example 20

The ability to call into question our fundamental beliefs is surely the most powerful tool humans can possess. It is this challenging of prior knowledge that makes philosophy so irresistible to me; it seems to satisfy my long standing need for a subject which is deeper, less restricted. To me, Philosophy liberates thought to stretch the boundaries of what we know- or we think we know.

It is fascinating to see how classical philosophy links with our everyday lives; I recently read Simon Blackburn's Mirror Mirror, which I found intriguing as it charted views of self-love from Murdoch, Adam Smith and Rousseau, linking them to modern obsessions with selfies and L'Oréal adverts. I found his discussion on the difference between pride, vanity and narcissism particularly thought provoking as it challenged my existing perceptions of these characteristics and gave me a greater understanding of the human condition; something I feel philosophy constantly offers me.

Blackburn's exploration of our relationship with the 'self' left me curious about what exactly the 'self' is and whether it exists at all; I discovered some intriguing answers to this in Descartes' Meditations. The method of extreme doubt employed by Descartes was pleasing to me and I was thrilled by his journey from the world of the Evil Demon to the Cogito; however, I was somewhat disappointed by the ontological basis of Descartes' proof for the external world. I was more convinced by the empirical approach of Hume, who I feel offers the most robust explanations for what we perceive, especially in terms of cause and effect. My fascination with this topic inspired me to undertake an EPQ, in which I am contrasting explanations of the external world from Descartes with Locke, Berkeley and Hume. I am enjoying the challenge of the EPQ, as it is allowing me to critically analyse texts from these philosophers for myself.

I have relished Religious Studies A level; my course has not only allowed me to familiarise myself with some of the greatest and flawed arguments for the existence of God, but it has also opened the world of ethics to me and provided an interesting perspective for my study of History A level. We have examined the role of America in the Cold War in Asia which has wide ethical implications that I was able to link with Just War theory. By applying my ethical understanding of Just War theory to events such as the My Lai Massacre I was able to give a sounder condemnation of America's actions; I have found both Ethics and Philosophy have given new depth to the conclusions I draw in History. Studying the Cold War also inspired me to read political philosophy; I enjoyed Marx's explanation for why the capitalist system is flawed by nature and found it particularly interesting to see how Marxist theory was adapted inside the communist nations of Asia.

I have had many opportunities outside of my studies to cultivate skills which are useful for the study of philosophy. I have been a frequent speaker at my school's debating club and a regular member of a book club; these activities have furthered my analytical skills. Moreover, the adversarial nature of debate has enforced greater rigour into the formation of my arguments and ensured I fully consider others' viewpoints. Debating, along with my position as Head Girl, has also given me many opportunities to speak publicly which I greatly enjoy; I have received an award from the Jack Petchey foundation for my public speaking skills which demonstrates my ability to convey ideas clearly.

The questions of philosophy could consume a lifetime; their overwhelming scope has the ability to challenge firm held beliefs in a way that no other discipline can. I would love the opportunity to appreciate both the academic beauty of philosophy and the magnitude of its importance in the wider world in more depth- a desire I feel can only be met by studying philosophy at a higher level.

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Applied to:

Cambridge (interviewed and pooled but ultimately no offer)
St Andrews (offer)
Bristol (offer)
Exeter (offer)
Durham (no offer)

predicted grades on UCAS (a*a*a)


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