Commendation for Philosophy student

A PRIESTLEY student has received a commendation from a leading university for his essay challenging the arguments of an Ancient Greek philosopher.

Jake Burke, who studies Philosophy, was one of 10 entrants to be acknowledged by The University of Sheffield following their UK-wide essay competition.

“It really feels great getting praise for independent work because although you receive marks back in class, knowing your work was of a high standard in a national competition feels like an even greater achievement,” said the former Bridgewater High pupil.

The university posed several questions and Jake decided to answer ‘Is Epicurus right that the wise man should not fear death?’

In his response the 17-year-old argued that Epicurus’ view was incorrect and that he failed to acknowledge the ways in which death could be seen as a bad thing and, therefore, that it is right to be feared.

It took him three days to research, plan and write his essay after delving into sources including Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy and a lecturer’s thesis.

“The question first attracted me because I remembered seeing Epicurus’ arguments in a book I had read and being initially confused by it,” he said.

“It seemed really weird to me that someone could really try and argue death was not to be even remotely feared.

“Even though I had this initial disagreement with Epicurus, I wanted to explore his views more closely and actually find the genuine flaws or merits of his arguments in order to develop a more informed opinion.

“In the end it just so happened that I agreed with my first response.”

Jake studies English Literature, Drama and Classical Civilisation alongside his Philosophy A-Level.

The teenager, who is from Appleton, has also added the Graduate and Extended Project to his studies at Priestley College as he aims to secure a place at one of the UK’s most competitive universities.

“My only plan at the moment is to give myself as many options as possible to do something that I really enjoy later down the line,” he said.

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