Philosophy and Politics Personal Statement
Submitted by Isaac
My interest in philosophy came from my interest in politics; a quest for a deeper understanding of politics lead to much philosophical contemplation, particularly of ethics. I attended a 10 week course entitled ‘Contemporary Society and Great Moral Issues’ run by Oxford University, to develop my understanding. I am interested in agnosticism and I feel that it has been unfairly treated by scholars such as Richard Dawkins, however I found the book ‘Agnostic: A Spirited Manifesto’ by Lesley Hazleton to be very insightful, as it seeks not to paint agnosticism as a midpoint between theism and atheism but rather as a doctrine which has a unique grounding. As part of my A Level, I have studied Joseph Fletcher’s situation ethics. I read a description and critical analysis of the theory by William Barclay in which he criticises Fletcher’s supposed support of the actions of a character in the play ‘The Rainmaker’. However upon consulting Fletcher’s book, I found that this was actually a straw-man; Fletcher merely gives a quote from the play and puts it in context, he does not condone the actions of the character. Barclay presents Fletcher’s ethic in a twisted format, then criticises the twisted format he has created. I find this manipulation of academics’ work particularly interesting and look forward to exploring it more at university.
I am a member of the Labour Party and I am involved with local and national politics; I was a member of the Wokingham online campaign team for the 2017 general election, and I have canvassed in Stoke, Wokingham, Reading and several London constituencies this year. In May 2017 I joined Progress (the ‘New Labour’ faction within the Labour Party) and regularly listen to their Progressive Britain podcast. I also have an interest in economics, which again is rooted in politics. I have found that in order to engage in much political debate, one requires an understanding of economics, macroeconomics in particular. I have a specific interest in the economics of socialism; which appears to have had little success in recent history, yet socialism still seems to attract a large following, however I mainly attribute this following not to the economics of the ideology but to the social aspect of it.
After university, I intend to work in the public sector to put back into society, most likely as a teacher of religious studies. I worked as a learning assistant at Kumon (an educational company), in which I worked with primary school aged children, teaching Maths and English. Last year I volunteered as a classroom assistant in a Year 8 Religious Studies class to broaden my experience of teaching. I worked with one boy who struggled to understand the Buddhist concept of ‘annica’, but after working with him in one lesson and explaining and discussing the implications it might have on the rest of the world, he came to a full understanding, which I found very rewarding.
In 2016 I was nominated by my headmaster to become a Rank Foundation Leadership Award Holder. Award Holders are recognised as having ‘outstanding leadership potential’, must attend leadership days and complete two, two week Community Action Placements, one of which I have completed as a teacher at the Outdoor Educational Trust, Ufton Court. I competed in public speaking and debating on an international scale at the IISPSC in October 2017. I was formerly a triathlete and runner, competing at national level in Triathlon. I competed in the English Schools Cross Country final in 2014, coming 35th and securing a team victory, and the following year I ran a top 50 5km time for my age group nationally. In 2016 I was awarded the David Pearson Memorial Travel Award which allowed me to travel to Hyderabad, India, where I worked in an orphanage for 10 days. It was a truly eye-opening experience and was very influential in my decisions about a career. I look forward to similar activities at university and studying a course I will thoroughly enjoy.