The Oxbridge Project: I think therefore I am

The Oxbridge Project group attended an enlightening discussion about philosophy last week, delivered by writer, broadcaster and journalist Mark Vernon.

Here’s what 9B’s Saleem had to say about the event:

On the 7th October we had a Mark Vernon (a writer) come in to talk to us about Greek philosophy. During the evening we had discussions about what philosophy truly is and different philosophical views from philosophers such as Socrates and Plato. From this speech given to us by Mark Vernon, we discussed how philosophy could be the study of morality, character and knowledge; how philosophy in a sense could be the basis of what we think is morality.

We were told that Pythagoras’ Theorem may actually not have been discovered by Pythagoras (sorry Maths Department) and we were given an insight on his views of beauty in nature. We also learnt about the pre-Socratic philosopher Parmenides and how he believed that everything in life doesn't change and appearances deceive; he argued that everything in life was not in a state of fluctuation. However another Post-Socratic philosopher challenged his views (Heraclitus). He stated that ‘You can never stand in a same river twice’ – this is because he thought that everything was in a state of flux and without this flux, things cannot be what they are.

We learnt about how Socrates believed humans were not content with their lives as he stated ‘We yearn for more in life’ and ‘the unexplained life is not worth knowing.’ We had a debate about what Socrates intended in saying about the second quote and in my opinion he was trying to say that; if we are curious or care about something then there is no point of knowing what it is or no point in its existence. Plato’s opinion was that in life, education was very important (I completely agree).

Lastly we learnt about the two systems of philosophy in Athens (Epicureanism and Stoicism). Stoicism believed that we should notice are emotions and to an extent believes to learn to live without them. Epicureanism believed to seek pleasure in the littlest things thus avoiding pain. We talked about how Stoics were saying that we should learn to explore our emotions and see how they affect our everyday actions. Whereas we also talked about how Epicurus believed to notice the small things in life and appreciate them so you do not feel pain.

Overall I think that the discussion about Greek philosophy was very insightful and I thank Ms Grainger and Mark Vernon for organising it.