Philosophy/Philosophy and Physics Personal Statement

Someone once said "God does not play dice". And someone else answered "Einstein, stop telling God what to do with his dice!".

The concept of free will has always intrigued me. How can we decide something voluntarily if all our decisions are merely determined by electrochemical reactions between neurons in our brain, subjected to the universal laws of physics? Given the Big Bang, from that moment onwards everything happens necessarily, as a logical and causal consequence. I used to continuously come up with new paradoxes to explain it: If we could create an universal calculator, and input all the data about everything that exists into it, wouldn't we obtain the future handed to us on a silver platter?
Then one day, while exchanging views with an older student, he told me about quantum physics. I discovered nothing is determined, but everything undetermined. The causality nexus was definitely broken, substituted by odd probabilistic deviations. I was astonished. Even if we succeeded in annihilating all our epistemological limitations, we would never be able to predict anything, due to the fact uncertainty resides in the ontological essence of the object studied. I felt almost unbearably relieved. Could our dear free will perhaps be hiding somewhere around here? Einstein, just leave God to his dice!

However, I believe philosophy should not be left segregated into theory, but also turned into praxis, meaning ethics. Having done an extended project comparing utilitarianism and deontology it made me wonder about themes like bioethics: cloning, life extension, human genetic engineering - How can we judge them right or wrong? Should we put limits on scientific development?

Since I started studying philosophy an insatiable desire to comprehend how the world works permeates my life. Is it reality that we see or only shadows projected on the wall of a cave? What truly lies beyond the veil? These questions awakened my thirst for knowledge, modelling my all-embracing attitude and stretching my energies over the most diverse interests. What is life - negentropy or something else? Are we selfish, or maybe our genes are? That's how I became the avid bookworm I am now. In parallel, I play in a rock band and I fight in a medieval re-enactment group, besides being an amateur naturalist. I also worked in the eco sustainable laboratory of my school, which taught me the importance of playing my part. This principle led me to apply to become the student representative and this is what guides me in all my life choices. I long to be able to help society in a relevant way, and make a change.

Last year I was chosen by the prestigious University "Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna" to attend its summer college fair. This was decisive in helping me choose my future academic path. I am now determined to study at a University of excellence, in which I can grow both intellectually and personally through comparison and exchange of views, especially with those who are better than myself. As happened when I was told about quantum mechanics, I am always open to constructive criticism and constantly revising my older ideas in the light of new notions I discover, ready to improve and learn from my mistakes.

To conclude, I believe our society needs philosophers to deal with contemporary problems. The massive development of technology has broadened the fields of both biology and physics, and the new problems which have arisen need new approaches to be solved. An approach which I simply cannot find in Italy. Having been in the UK, USA and Australia not only improved my English, but introduced me to a different and stimulating international reality. I would love to be part of that Scottish reality, and to attend the prestigious Gifford Lectures.

"Two things awe me most, the starry sky above me and the moral law within me". This course offers the opportunity of comprehending them both, shaping a complete and universal vision. My hope is to deserve it.

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Author's Comments

I wanted to go to university in Scotland due to the low tuition fees, and that's why nevertheless my first degree choice was the Bsc Joint Honours Philosophy and Physics - offered in Scotland only by St Andrews and Aberdeen - I applied also for MA philosophy in St Andrews, Glasgow and Edimburgh.
In the end I was offered a place at Glasgow, Aberdeen and St Andrews ( the last one for pure philosophy ).
My firm choice has been St Andrews for the flexibility of the degrees offered: in fact I'm hoping to change my degree from pure philosophy to the Bsc Philosophy and Physics in the second year.

What do you think it's the reason I wasn't offered a place for Philosophy and Physics at St Andrews?
The department of philosophy ( firstly ) accepted me, so the refusal should have come from the Physics department.
Any other opinions or advice or whatever?

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