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Students share their experiences of philosophy masterclass at Corpus Christi College

07 May 2021  |  Jill Lundberg  |  Posted in: ,

Hayleigh Mclean and Archie Marshall, Year 12 students, were selected by the Department of Theology & Philosophy to attend a virtual philosophy masterclasses at Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge.  Hayleigh and Archie found the Masterclass to be highly beneficial and we are really pleased to share their experiences of the event and why they find philosophy such an interesting subject.

Archie Marshall

I am currently studying Philosophy at Richmond Sixth Form College. The course is split between two teachers; Mr Coldwell, who is covering the metaphysics of God, and Mr Bunce, who is covering moral philosophy. In moral philosophy we are studying the work of utilitarian philosophers Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill and their ‘Act’ and ‘Rule’ forms of utilitarianism. In the metaphysics of God we are currently studying religious language, more specifically whether religious language, such as that found in the Bible, is intended to be cognitive or non-cognitive.

I personally find moral philosophy to be the most interesting aspect of my philosophy studies because there are no definitive answers – what one person sees as a perfectly moral way to act will be seen as completely immoral by another. This means that you can debate with others and see other’s perspectives on moral issues.

The day began with a subject talk from Professor James Warren titled ‘Three Problems With Truth’ and an open Q&A about the problems with knowledge he had outlined., There was then a virtual tour of Corpus Christi and a Q&A with some of the current undergraduates studying philosophy alongside a talk on how to make a competitive application to Cambridge University. Finally there was a second subject talk from Dr Dan Williams titled ‘The Nature of Self-Deception’ alongside a Q&A about the concepts he outlined.

I found both subject talks interesting and highly engaging, with my preferred of the two being the talk given by Professor James Warren. I found it particularly interesting because it is a topic that we haven’t looked at in any significant detail in our A-level course, as of yet, and I think one of the problems that he raised was fascinating – if we had a heap of sand, and we removed one grain at a time, at which point do we no longer classify it as a heap? And even then, why would a one grain difference change how something is classified?

I would highly recommend any student with even a passing interest in any aspect of philosophy to attend a masterclass. I think they are highly captivating talks given by experts in the field that encourage you to expand your knowledge. Following the masterclass, I think I am more willing to study philosophy further at university.

Hayleigh McLean

Philosophy has been the most intriguing subject so far especially when it comes to bizarre analogies philosophers have made to explain their theories. I find philosophy interesting because it teaches you how to think rather than what to learn, and this helps improve the ability to reason – a skill highly valued in many careers.

The masterclass day was directed by Corpus Christi, a college in Cambridge University. At 10:30 we had a one-hour live on “three problems with the truth” with Professor Warren discussing the logic and meaning of the word “truth”, followed by a large Q&A and a virtual tour around the historic college by one of it’s students. Next, there was a talk on “advice on making a competitive application to Cambridge University”, finishing off with Dr Dan Williams “The nature of self-deception” and how philosophers and psychologists have dealt with this mental mystery, which I personally found the most fascinating because it joined philosophy with psychology into a world-relevant discussion.

The masterclass provided me with truly useful information as well as a direction on where my interests lie. This knowledge will guide me in the future (especially for university and academic discussion) and it was an experience just to be present at the class.

I highly recommend that anyone interested in a subject provided in a masterclass to do it: the experience is invaluable for guiding your interests or preparing your future, and I will be applying a lot of what I learnt in my own life.

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