Nov 20, 2009

Good show at the Baltic Sea Competition

On the auspices of the UNESCO Philosophy Day (19th Nov), Finland organizes a Philosophy competition for countries around the baltic sea. Since 2008, India also sent entries to this competition. Students are supposed to write an essay on 1 out of 4 topics given in a supervised span of 2 hours. The local organizer is then supposed to select 2 of the best essays and send them across to the Finnish organizers, who then go throug ha rigorous process of filtering the essays, quite similar to the International Philosophy Olympiad and declare the medals. Those who miss the medal by a very short difference are given an Honorable Mention. The result for this year has been good for India with Chitra Adkar (SYJC Ramnarain Ruia College, Matunga) getting Bronze and Prathamesh Kubal (SYJC, Abhinav Vidyalay & Jr. College, Dombivli) getting the Honorable Mention. Details will be shortly put up on the organizers web sites.

The topics for essay this year were:
1. ”The misfortune of a republic is when intrigues are at an end; which happens when the people are gained by bribery and corruption: in this case they grow indifferent to public affairs, and avarice becomes their predominant passion. Unconcerned about the government and everything belonging to it, they quietly wait for their hire.”  - MONTESQUIE, The Spirit of the Laws, 1748
2. "Some people have thought that it is never possible for us to do anything different from what we actually do, in this absolute sense. They acknowledge that what we do depends on our choices, decisions, and wants, and that we make different choices in different circumstances: we are not like the earth rotating on its axis with monotonous regularity. But the claim is that, in each case, the circumstances that exist before we act determine our actions and make them inevitable. The sum total of a person's experiences, desires and knowledge, his hereditary constitution, the social circumstances and the nature of the choice facing him, together with other factors that we may not know about, all combine to make a particular action in the circumstances inevitable." - (Thomas Nagel, "What does it all mean?", 1987)
3. "Knowledge and human power are synonymous, since the ignorance of the cause frustrates the effect, for nature is only subdued by submission, and that which is contemplative philosophy corresponds with the cause in practical science becomes a rule." (Francis Bacon, "Novum Organum", 1620)
4. "The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of." (Blaise Pascal, Pensees, 1670)