Masters of Philosophy

Personal Statement : Masters of Philosophy

I’m applying for to a Master of Philosophy program and needed to write a Personal Statement paper for part of my application. This is my Personal Statement:

I’m religious, devout even. Why is it that people say if you’re religious you can’t embrace philosophy, and if you’re an intellectual philosopher you can’t be religious? The very basis of that conflict excites my mind. 

Philosophy and religion pressure one another and cause tension, but the pressure and tension it creates can be extremely valuable when it is confronted with wisdom. Otherwise, it’s merely a strong wind blowing through a canyon without a wind turbine to channel its power. 

Take, for example, the word submission. It is used throughout many religious texts persuading the faithful that it is a noble attribute to develop: “Becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble…willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” 

While submission is legitimately honored and praised by some, it is legitimately repelled by others. Submitting to authority can weaken an individual and a society while simultaneously creating vulnerability, and not the Brene Brown kind of vulnerability. But submissive behaviors can also be an act of moral courage and create strength. Submission isn’t always destructive and harmful, nor is submission always honorable and morally courageous. Religion and philosophy create tension around ideas like submissive behaviors, and pressures one to think more deeply about them and to understand what makes it is morally courageous or morally weak.

I have an intense desire to make sense of what makes things morally permissible or not, or what makes something an act of weakness or an act of strength, or what makes one action virtuous and what makes the same action void of virtue?

This desire is the driving force behind my decision to work towards a Master’s and a Ph.D.of Philosophy. I’m pursuing a graduate degree and a Ph.D. degree to increase my capacity to think critically about what makes actions morally permissible, what is just and unjust, what is right and wrong, and what influences and increases one’s capacity to act with moral integrity. 

That desire has also fueled the creation of my blog, Ten Thousand Hours of Writing: sorting out faith, morals, and ethics. I started this blog three years ago in part to create an opportunity for me to develop my writing, thinking, and ability to articulate my views by selecting compelling topics to discuss and question. The blog Ten Thousand Hours of Writing is more like an art studio rather than a gallery.  It’s where I sit and create and try new things and different techniques. It’s honest, it’s transparent, it’s incomplete. It’s a place where I write daily, pressuring myself to write and think and articulate. I want to become more skilled in writing and thinking analytically on topics of moral permissibly and challenging current views and perspectives.

My long term goals and desires are to write articles, books, and podcasts that will cause others to consider a different perspective and view with the intent to challenge them to think more deeply for themselves rather than letting culture and others think for them. 

A couple of years ago I was captivated by the story so artfully told by Mark Sullivan in his book Beneath a Scarlet Sky. In the preface of his book, he describes his 10-year journey in writing his book talking to Holocaust historians, interviewing Catholic priests and members of the partisan resistance. He consulted with staff at Yad Vashem, Israel’s main Holocaust remembrance and education center. He talked with historians in Italy, Germany, and the United States. He spent weeks in the war archives in those three countries and the United Kingdom. He interviewed the surviving eyewitness that he could find as well as descendants and friends of those long dead. When one contemplates the amount of work that he poured into this single book, it’s impressive that it only took him a decade to write it.

That gave me a valuable perspective on the necessary process I need to take to develop good writing for the things I have envisioned myself creating. It’s not about how fast I can write a book, it’s about how well I understand what I’m writing about. Studying philosophy provides me with a valuable opportunity to settle in and work on my projects and to learn about my subject. 

I want to pursue a study in philosophy because it will help me to develop a greater understanding for differing beliefs of others, it will pressure me to examine my current beliefs and way of thinking, it will enhance my ability to formulate and ask questions, it will increase my ability to develop productive and respectful arguments, it will help me develop a greater capacity to think about what is morally good and what is just, and it will increase my ability to clearly state and critically defend my views and beliefs.

August 29, 2019

Time on this Article: 3 hours (maybe more I lost track)

Total time writing on this blog: 14 hours