Friday, June 08, 2007

Wizard philosophy at Cambridge

It seems that Emily Watson, 'Hermione' in the Harry Potter films, has decided that she wants to come to Cambridge to study philosophy. Good for her. It will probably be a bit dull after saving the world with a stick and a scarf and what-not, but she will at least be used to the gown-wearing and the dining halls.

She might already be used to some 'philosophical' disagreements. The metaphysics of the Harry Potter world is already a touchy subject in some quarters, what with the books being in some people's minds tantamount to witchcraft... (It seems to me that there really ought to be a fairly clear line between fiction and non-fiction, but apparently not.)

If she's thinking about choosing a Cambridge college, she could do worse than consider coming to Corpus (plug). After all, there are some Open Days soon. I've just finished judging our first schools philosophy essay competition and found some extremely good entries on all sorts of topics. We asked for a short (2500 words) essay on one of the following:
  1. Can a computer have a mind?
  2. Is it possible to alter the past? If so, how? If not, why not?
  3. ‘This sentence is false.’ Is it?
  4. What is the best argument against democracy? Explain your choice.
  5. ‘The value of a work of art is entirely dependent on the amount of pleasure it produces in its audience.’ Discuss.

I was pleasantly surprised by the range of answers (all 5 options got plenty of takers) as well as by the quality of the best essays. There's a brief report on the college website here and here.

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