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Yarm School pupils essay shortlisted in prestigious competition

A philosophy essay written by a Yarm School pupil has been shortlisted in the John Locke Essay Competition 2020.

Yarm School pupils essay shortlisted in prestigious competition

"Atticus should be very proud to be shortlisted for the prestigious John Locke Essay Competition, and having read his essay, I can certainly see why he was!"
Dr Huw Williams, headmaster at Yarm School

Atticus Garlick, who is 17 and in Upper Sixth, submitted a philosophical essay answering the question ‘Is intuition to philosophy as observation is to science?’

All entries were assessed by university experts from Oxford, Cambridge, Princeton, Harvard and Chicago, who took into consideration independent thought, depth of knowledge, clear reasoning, critical analysis and persuasive style.

Atticus is hoping to study maths and philosophy at the University of Oxford and decided to enter the competition because he found the topic interesting and enjoyed the challenge.

The John Locke Essay Competition invites students from across the world to explore a wide range of challenging and interesting questions across seven subjects: philosophy, politics, economics, history, psychology, theology, and law. This year, the competition received almost 3,000 entries.

Atticus said: “I am so pleased to have been shortlisted in the essay competition. I really enjoyed challenging myself by researching a subject I am passionate about and trying to produce something novel and meaningful based on my own ideas. To have been noticed out of so many applicants is a great feeling.

“I am looking forward to finding out the judges final decision.  Whether or not my essay is awarded a prize, the whole process has helped me reinforce my ambition to study philosophy at university.”

Dr Huw Williams, headmaster at Yarm School, said: “Atticus should be very proud to be shortlisted for the prestigious John Locke Essay Competition, and having read his essay, I can certainly see why he was!

“As a school, we encourage our pupils to explore their subjects deeply and to showcase their talents in many different ways, including entering competitions which challenge them beyond the syllabus and really add to their skills and ambitions.  “Well done to Atticus for being recognised for his essay which, in such a highly regarded competition, is an incredible achievement.”

Here is an extract from Atticus’ essay submission:

When the philosopher encounters intuition it will always present a challenge to try to overcome, whereas the scientist cannot ‘encounter’ observation in the same way for it is omnipresent within science and cannot hide away as intuition often does. It is possible to dissect intuition’s role within philosophy, whereas observation engulfs science completely - making it impossible for examination as a discrete element in the same way, as it is the defining part of the whole.

Through the act of acknowledgement and inspection intuition loses its credibility, just as after repeating the same word over and over again it seems to devolve into meaningless sounds, losing its significance. Conversely unchecked intuition is as dangerous as it gets for philosophy, a state where everything is permissible for everything can be reasoned from a multitude of spontaneous intuitions. Paradoxically both these extremes, scrutinising intuitions ad infinitum and leaving intuitions unsupervised, lead to a definitive end to the possibility of progression and a state of paralysis, as in both cases everything is equally devalued. This presents an eternal problem for philosophy; how to navigate between these extremes, keeping only the bare necessities. In life intuition is necessary and hence it is indispensable to philosophy, however its seemingly irrational existence will perpetually hold back a universal, immortal philosophy.


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