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Student’s philosophy essay shortlisted for global competition

Between graduating from Grade 11 and starting his final year at St. Andrew’s, William Wu ’23 spent part of his summer in a philosophical state of mind.

William participated in the John Locke Institute global essay competition and chose to submit to the philosophy category. Princeton University and Oxford University host the competition.
“I have had a huge interest in philosophy ever since I was young and wanted to take it further through writing and publishing my own essays,” he says.

William’s submission was shortlisted as a finalist out of more than 775 entries in the category, which were judged by senior academics from Oxford.

The question he answered was: If our actions are a consequence of our capacities and preferences, and if those things are, in turn, a result of our genetic inheritance and the external world in which we happen to find ourselves, are we ultimately responsible for our choices?

William took a trip to Prince Edward Island, where he reflected on the subject and wrote his essay.
“It was inspired by a spiritual experience I had walking around the lakes. It took me around a week to write and three weeks to research,” he reports, adding he was also inspired by Mr. Rush’s “amazing” philosophy course.

His short-listed entry got him an invitation to Oxford for the awards ceremony and gala dinner on Sept. 24, and he plans to be there in person when the winners and runners-up are announced. He’s also invited to an academic conference that includes lectures by academics from Oxford and Cambridge.
Learn more about the essay competition here.

Story by Julie Caspersen
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St. Andrew's College
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