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Why should I obey the government? Is Art just an expensive luxury? Is war immoral? Right and wrong – aren’t they just matters of personal preference? Can computers think? Can we know anything for certain about God? In fact, can we know anything certain about anything?

If these questions interest you, then you might be a Philosopher. Philosophy seeks to ask fundamental questions about life, the universe, and everything; to study the ways that great thinkers have tried to answer these questions; and to learn methods through which we might answer them for ourselves.

AS Philosophy, which is examined by AQA, consists of a wide introduction to themes in philosophy. We focus on four areas:

  1. The Theory of Knowledge – what certain knowledge can we have, and how do we obtain it?
  2. Political Philosophy – why do we need a government, and what makes a government legitimate?
  3. Philosophy of Religion – what is the idea of God, what arguments are there for and against His existence, and is religious language meaningful?
  4. The Value of Art – does Art matter, what makes good Art, and is it all a matter of taste?

Extracts will be considered from the writings of great philosophers, for example Plato, Locke, Hume, Descartes and St Thomas Aquinas.

A2 requires an in-depth study of two areas of philosophy, and a set text – probably Plato’s Republic.

Philosophy is emphatically not an easy option. It requires willingness to do individual study, to think deeply, and to strive to express your thoughts cogently in speech and on paper. It requires the willingness to learn to write good academic essays, to consider arguments in depth, and to argue your own case with evidence. You should be expecting to achieve an A grade in English Language and Religious Studies GCSEs, to have a reasonable chance of making a success of Philosophy. It is highly recommended for pupils who are intending to excel academically, and wish to apply for highly selective university courses – in either the sciences or the humanities – since it develops the skills necessary to do well at interview and in entrance tests.

Mr D. Forster MA MSc NPQH