Good Luck exam letter

April 28, 2015

Dear students in arms,

There are two aspects to consider here that are relevant in undertaking any exam. The first is the psychological and the second is technical; I will try to elaborate on both holistically.

Quote about teacher by NietzcheFrom the psychological side we have to realize that we ourselves are our greatest teachers; tutors and professors can show us the way but we have to travel that path ourselves. A person who is determined and keeps on pursuing ultimately gets his/her rewards, with or without any tutor.  Later onwards in our lives we will realize that ‘one repays a teacher badly if one always remains only a pupil’ (Friedrich Nietzsche).

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The problem of personal identity

April 13, 2015

The problem of personal identityExams are only weeks away. Perhaps many of you woke up earlier than usual this morning so that, after the usual chores, you could continue revising a subject that you began working on last night. I did. But as is often the case in philosophy, this very ordinary scenario raises some fascinating and remarkably difficult questions. One of them is called ‘the problem of personal identity’, which we could put, at a first pass, like this: How do you know that the ‘you’ who awoke this morning and continued revising is one and the same person as the ‘you’ who was revising and then went to sleep last night? Let’s call this the Basic Question.

I realize that this problem – or even the suggestion that it actually is a problem — may sound ridiculous to many of you. But I shall try, as Bouwsma said a philosopher must, to ‘quicken the sense of the queer’ – that is, to explain why it is in fact so wonderfully problematic. And later, I shall try to explain some of the practical implications that follow from how we ultimately answer questions like the Basic Question.

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What is it like to study philosophy as a University of London student?

March 27, 2015

Woman studyingQuestions about study habits and practices are very personal questions. They’re not personal in the impolite sense that to raise them evinces a bit of social ineptitude on the part of the enquirer. Rather, they’re personal in the sense that what ‘works’ for each of us will be determined by largely subjective or person-relative factors: What are our goals? What resources do we have access to? What sort of preparation have we undergone? What learning-strategies have we found to be most effective? What extra-academic obligations do we have? And so on.

Given that studying is so deeply personal in that latter sense, this post will only be about how I approach studying. Specifically, it will be about how I approach the study of philosophy as a University of London (UoL) student. My aim in sharing my approach to studying philosophy is threefold: first, I hope that it will provide those who may be interested in studying philosophy both with an idea of what it’s like to study it at the university level, and what it’s like to study it as a UoL student; second, I hope that others who are studying philosophy, or other essay-based humanities subjects, will glean some ideas from my approach that might help them with their studies; and third, I hope that others will share their ideas on studying with me (perhaps in the comments section of this post!) so that I might learn from them.

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“of cabbages and kings…”

March 24, 2015

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”

The Walrus and the Carpenter   – Lewis Carroll

Well for many of us in fact it is far from the time to be discussing cabbages and kings; with exams looming I’m imagining that most of our befuddled minds are wondering just what the heck we are going to talk about and are we able to do it in the required 45 minutes. So rather than add to anyone’s confusion by blogging on the 17 ways you can increase your memory overnight from that of a small invertebrate to Einstein on steroids, or the 743 absolute must-know contract cases, I thought I would pleasantly distract you with a few news stories that in fact do have anthropological, historical and legal significance but err on the lighter side of information provision!!!

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The most effective exam practice technique: sample answers

March 18, 2015

University of London study notesWith  exams around the corner, every student struggles to find the best possible technique of learning, preparing and understanding core concepts of subjects. Some prefer extensive reading, some make long notes, while others find it easy to memorize pointers.

When I was in my first year, I found it quite difficult to manage my studies. Basically, I was unable to explore the different ways of preparing for university examinations. However, the first time experience was both challenging as well as inspiring. Where there were subjects for which I had been preparing all year, through essential readings and past paper practice, there were some modules for which I had been making sample answers, or, answers to past examination papers for each chapter, for example.

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Why study philosophy?

March 16, 2015

Why study philosophy?

Philosophy students love questions. Most of us were introduced to philosophy through memorable encounters with particularly riveting questions – questions that gripped us as soon as we gripped them. Is there a god? What are rights? Do we have free will? Is any action really right or wrong? Why does anything exist rather than nothing at all?

But there’s one question that most of us don’t find particularly compelling. Unfortunately, it may also be the question that we are, as philosophy students, most frequently asked:

“What can you do with a philosophy degree?”

I’m going to try to answer that question. But first, I’d like to reformulate the question in the following way:

“Why study philosophy?”

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The Flighty Pen

March 13, 2015

BookBooks, how educational are they today? We all like to read, but the question is: what is the content of the books we read? And on what basis do we select the books we want to read? Why are there so many underrated talented authors who are writing down lines of poetry on scraps of paper and at the back of bills, and no one gives them a second look? Why are so many writers who are worshipped by large numbers despite their works having not much literary worth? Such were the questions I was musing today; I realised that I must board the time machine, and delve into the recent past, to find the answers.

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