Philosophy is a subject that enquires into our fundamental beliefs about ourselves, about our obligations to each other, and about the world around us. It requires us to challenge and justify our most basic beliefs about morality, justice, freedom, knowledge, truth, and reality by formulating and assessing rational arguments.
The academic study of philosophy involves close engagement with philosophical theories put forward by great thinkers from Socrates to Sartre and beyond; however, philosophy at JAGS is practised as a collaborative activity and not merely a historical exercise: students are encouraged to criticise philosophical theories actively, and to support their assessment with reasoned argument as well as with insights from their own experience and perspectives. It is the essence of a philosophical approach that no ‘great thinker’ is beyond criticism, and that every theory is assessed on its own merits.
The study of philosophy encourages independent analytical thinking, develops students’ ability to present their own views coherently and persuasively, and gives them the intellectual resources to challenge dogma and irrationality when they encounter it in everyday life. Training in philosophy inculcates intellectual confidence, and aids effective critical thinking; moreover, it enables students to indulge their natural curiosity about foundational issues in a structured and intellectually rigorous setting.
JAGS girls have the opportunity to engage with the subject through the AQA philosophy AS & A2 courses, and through a popular lunchtime philosophy discussion group attended by girls from all year groups. The school also organises an annual one-day philosophy conference as part of the sixth form enrichment programme, featuring talks and Q & A sessions with academics engaged in active philosophical research at top Russell Group universities.