Philosophy: the 2013 Edition

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I know you are all waiting with bated breath for this year’s essay questions so that you can wonder what you would have written and share the topics at home or at work! So here are this morning’s exam questions.

Philosophy is a compulsory subject for all French students at the end of the high school years unless they are preparing a vocational degree. The students sit for four hours and have to write about one question out of a choice of three – two in the form of a question and one text.

– Is language a tool?
– Is science limited to recording facts?
– What do we owe to the state?
– Do we interpret because we cannot know?
– Is it possible to act morally without being interested in politics?
– Does work allow an awareness of the self?
– An extract from a letter to Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia by René Descartes
– A extract from De Concordia by Anselm of Canterbury
– An extract from The Creative Mind: An Introduction to Metaphysics by Henri Bergson

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6 thoughts on “Philosophy: the 2013 Edition

  1. Goodness me! This reminds me a little bit of one of the areas I studied during my Law degree! I would be interested to know if there was one question/subject that was almost universally avoided, and if there was one that was most popular. Four hours…. That makes my brain hurt!

    • I heard on the radio that the question about science ‘Is science limited to recording facts?’ was widely avoided while the one about language was quite popular. My colleagues, who will mark 120 papers each, might have more reliable statistics later.

        • Fast? It is one reason philosophy is always the first exam so that the teachers have more time for marking. I am not sure how many days they have but would say about a fortnight.
          A couple of weeks ago, our assignment was 60 papers in two days! You do feel drained afterwards.

  2. My, my. “Is it possible to act morally without being interested in politics?” – I would hope so. But then I doubt I could write an essay to back this up. “Does work allow an awareness of the self?” – that sounds scary, that the answer could possibly be no? Gosh, I don’t think I would do well at all.

    • I had a feeling the question about morality and politics would not leave you indifferent! I assume the word ‘politics’ is to be understood in the original sense of the term – ‘of, for, or relating to citizens’. I am afraid numerous pupils will forget this and list all the politicians who act immorally and unethically instead!
      As for the other question, one pupil remarked that when women did not work they still had an idea of ‘self’, which was a clever remark. But then again it depends what you call ‘work’.
      It is a good job the purpose is to demonstrate their ability to think rather than find the right answer!

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