My name is Mike Fogg and I’m the course leader for Philosophy A Level. I’m looking forward to welcoming you to the department in person at the beginning of the academic year, but before then, I’d like you to complete a series of tasks and activities in preparation for the A Level course.
Many of you won’t have studied Philosophy as a separate subject before, so we’re really keen you have a good understanding of what the course is about before you start. These tasks have been designed with that in mind and are for you to complete independently at home over the coming months. There’ll be the chance to discuss what you’ve learnt when you start at College in September.
All of the tasks should be completed by Choices Day on 25 August. Please allow sufficient time for each one, and above all, enjoy what you’re learning!
The tasks will be released here in three phases:
Explore your Subject – 4 May
Introducing Philosophy – three philosophical questions
a highly regarded academic subject, held in the greatest esteem by the top
universities, such as Oxford and Cambridge. It’s relevant to numerous different
areas of study from Law and Politics, to History and Mathematics. Indeed, some
of the greatest thinkers in human history have studied Philosophy, including
Einstein and Aristotle. However, Philosophy is not simply a way of gaining
access to the top universities, or honing one’s reasoning skills. You should
choose Philosophy because you find it exciting and interesting.
introduction to some of the topics studies in Philosophy, we’d like you to
choose one of the questions below:
One: The existence of God
existence of so much pain and suffering in the world show that an all-powerful,
all-knowing, all-loving God does not exist? If He was all-powerful, then He
could stop our suffering. If He was all-knowing, then He would know we were
suffering. And if He was all-loving, then He would not want us to suffer. Yet
there is so much suffering in the world. Arguably, the existence of war,
famine, disease and death, show that God cannot exist.
Watch the following trailer for the film 1917, which depicts scenes from World War 1, when around 40 million people died.
answer the following question, including your response to the above issues:
Does the existence of so much pain and suffering in the world, show that God does not exist?
Question Two: Knowledge
Can you really know anything for certain? You undoubtedly believe that there is a world outside of your own mind. But can you know this for sure? You could only know that there is a world outside of your mind if you know that you are awake. But you could be having a vivid dream right now!
Watch the following clip from the film Inception, where one of the central characters, Ariadne, realises that she’s currently dreaming.
answer the following question, including your response to the issues raised
Is it possible to prove that you are currently awake? If not, thenwhat can you know, if anything?
Question Three: Ethics
kill animals because we like the taste of their flesh? It’s accepted by
virtually everyone that animals can feel pain and pleasure. And most people in
Western countries don’t need to eat meat to survive. There are plenty of
healthy substitutes which provide us with protein, like Quorn, falafel and
different pulses. Indeed, many people adopt a vegetarian life-style, because
they think it is healthier. Is it right, therefore, that people in rich Western
countries should eat meat?
Watch Joaquin Phoenix’s impassioned speech concerning animal welfare, when he won the Oscar for his role as the Joker.
answer the following question, including your response to the issues raised in
the above paragraph.
animals be killed because we enjoy eating them? What do you think?
You should complete this section of tasks by 1 June.
Get Going – 1 June
You should complete this section of tasks by 1 July.
There are some excellent introductions to philosophical
issues on the Wireless Philosophy YouTube page:
The most relevant material for the first year of the Philosophy
A Level course is in the sections on ‘Introduction to Philosophy of Religion’
and ‘Introduction to Epistemology’ (you can find these in the Introductory
Series by Topic under the Playlists tab.)
TASK Using a
note-taking technique such as mind mapping or Cornell notes, please create a
summary page for each of the videos.
To explore these and other topics in more detail, go to the Philosophy Bites website which has a downloadable introduction to Philosophy as well as hundreds of downloadable podcasts:
Once you’ve taken part in the College’s first ever Virtual Introductory Day on 30 June, you will be asked to complete a more formal Aim High task (posted here) that it is mandatory for all new students to complete before Choices Day on 25 August.