Thursday, 27 October 2011

The Philosophy of Studying Philosophy...

So my course this year - Medical Humanities -  is almost like doing Joint Honours in English Literature and Philosophy (which has a bit of history thrown into it) in a year. And so far I'm loving every moment of it. Doing first year English modules is something like a dream; I love how I've only got a compulsory two hour seminar for Critical Issues AND THAT'S IT!!!! In medicine we would have at least five hours a week per module, with four/five modules a week. Naturally this year is bliss :) There is a lot of reading to do, and I'm finding it hard to concentrate on anything for any length of time (a side-effect of the joys of last year) but there's a Starbucks up the street and I'm happy so everything is peachy :)

If I'm being honest I mainly wanted to do the degree for the English side of things. Most of you know that English has always been a passion of mine. The philosophy was just an added bonus. And it is. Don't get me wrong, I'm loving the philosophy. I'd much rather get out of bed to attend the first year Intro to Philosophy lectures (optional) than I would to go to the Approaches to Poetry lectures (also optional). But philosophy is so...mind boggling.

Seriously, that's the only adjective I've been able to use to sum it up.

Our compulsory philosophy module this semester is Philosophy and History of Medicine, which is a third year/Masters module. That kind of scared me. How were we meant to attend lectures/seminars with people who have done/almost done a whole philosophy degree?? So I thought I would go to the Introduction to Philosophy A lectures, a compulsory module for the first years (don't tell anyone - I'm not technically allowed to my defence the lecturer said it was fine for me to attend, as long as I don't tell the admin staff...). I thought it would...well, be an introduction.

It's not.

I hoped it would ease me into philosophy.

I feel like I've been thrown of a cliff and told to fly.

Like I said, it's interesting. I love it. But I come out more confused than when I went in, which I suppose is the point with philosophy. After all, it's all about the big questions. But on Tuesdays we have lectures about Descartes. Descartes decided to pretty much re-write and question everything we as a race "knew" up to that date. Do I know that I'm sitting in my room, typing out my blog. No. Do I know that my hot water bottle is on my right and there's a pile of dirty dishes on my left. No. We can't trust our senses. Everything may have been fed to us by a demon. But apparently he can prove that God exists and, what more, that we exist. The rest is questionable.

As an aside, if a demon/higher power/super computer is feeding information into my mind to make me believe that I'm in Bristol, studying Medical Humanities and sneeking into first year philosophy lectures, then why would he let me believe I'm being lectured on the possibility that all this is false and there's a demon telling me things? Surely that's risky for the demon. Or maybe he's just a sadistic bastard who likes to watch the first year's heads explode.

Anyway, I get my first Philosophy and History of Medicine essay question tomorrow. It's due in on November 7th, which is a Monday. I forgot this and decided to go home for Eid at the weekend. I leave on Friday 4th and don't come back till the Tuesday. The essay has to be handed in at the office, in person. Which means it really needs to be pristine by Thursday. Yeah...this weekend is going to be...well, mind boggling :)

Lexie :D


  1. Boo :) You'll be fine - philosophy gets easier the longer you do it.

    Just have to say though: I love that you say that the point of philosophy is to confuse haha - brilliant! (the worst of it certainly does!)

  2. "I feel like I've been thrown off a cliff and told to fly."

    That's precisely how I felt. And once Descartes appears to prove the existence of God, you spend the rest of the semester picking apart the argument and discussing why he HASN'T actually proved his existence at all. But of course, because it's philosophy, there are no right or wrong answers. However, there are the kind of answers which get you Es and Fs in essays. Do have fun.

    Seriously though, I'm so glad you're enjoying it! And I'm impressed you aren't totally stressing about the mind-boggleness of philosophy like I did. Probably best that way. It's better for your friends/loved ones if you can refrain from spontaneously going into murderous rants about some guy from the seventeenth century who makes you wonder if an evil demon is deceiving you into thinking you are a human when in actual fact you could be a chicken.

    Clearly I'm still traumatised.

    And omg, you get whole lectures on poetry?! We're not even doing poetry this semester. So jealous!

    Good luck with the essay :).

  3. Hi Ben :) Certainly hope it gets easier! Maybe by the end of the year I'll come out of a lecture feeling like I've followed everything that's been said.

    Hi Rosie :D I think you are still traumatised :P You've done it now, it's over. And you know it well enough that when I inevitably come to you with questions you'll be able to help. Only kidding, I won't put you through that!
    I haven't really been going to most of the poetry lectures, but I do intend to. At some point. Heaven know's how I'm going to go back to getting up at 6am every morning when I can't even get out of bed for an 11am lecture :)

  4. I am a little jealous, I wish we had an opportunity to intercalate in something so interesting. Studying Literature and poetry was my second choice and I'll always wondered what if...

    I love the theory on demon, he should know better than to indirectly reveal his presence LOL ;-)

    Good luck with the essay, I am sure you'll get it done in time!

  5. Hi Audrey :D English at uni was my second choice too, hence why this is such an amazing year for me.
    You would think, wouldn't you. Stupid demon!
    Thanks. I hope so!


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