Pupils in years nine and ten study Moral Philosophy. Our aims are to stimulate their philosophical imaginations, to give them a grounding in the great moral theories of western philosophy, to give them an understanding of the major religious traditions of the west, to give them an opportunity to reflect on the vital ethical issues of our time, and to hone and sharpen their critical reasoning skills.
Those opting for this course study the beliefs and teachings of the major denominations of Christian thought. Topics on the syllabus include Christian ideas about the universe and the place of humans in it, life after death, the problem of evil, the ethics of human relationships, the sanctity of life, social equality, etc. The course is accessible to all, regardless of religious commitments and personal beliefs.
Philosophy Pre-U aims to introduce pupils to the great questions of truth and human understanding and at the same time equip them well with the tools they will need to study successfully at university. Utilising the ideas of the canonical thinkers of the West - Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, Mill, etc. - we focus on ethics and the philosophy of religion, discussing issues such as what can be known, whether there is an objective right and wrong, whether we have free will, whether sacred texts can be trusted, whether a god exists, whether there can be life after death, and how we should respond to the pressing ethical issues of our time: genetic engineering, environmental degradation, war, euthanasia, etc.
Reflecting the keen interest that Paulines take in philosophy and theology, there are many school societies connected to the department. Our flagship Isaiah Berlin Society (named after the eponymous Old Pauline) meets every fortnight to hear the world’s top academic philosophers presenting their research. A Joint Theology Society runs according to the same format. There is also a weekly Junior Philosophy Society, a Joint Philosophy Society and a Joint Feminist Society (with the girls’ school), which give pupils a forum to present and discuss their own work. Finally, there is a Philosophy Reading Group which meets to discuss key texts in the history of philosophy and current research. In addition, there is the school’s Blumenau Philosophy Prize Essay competition, as well as several external essay prizes that pupils are encouraged to compete for. We also regularly take pupils to public lectures and conferences in London.
After St Paul’s
A high proportion of our pupils go on to study either Theology or Philosophy, or both, at university, before moving into a wide variety of careers — academia, working with charitable organisations, law, journalism, teaching, banking, business.
Amongst recent distinguished Old Pauline philosophers and theologians, particular mention should be made of Isaiah Berlin, the great historian of ideas, Benjamin Jowett, the great translator of Plato, Austin Farrer, Anglican theologian and philosopher and Warden of Keble College, Oxford, and Cornelius Ernst, Dominican theologian, translator of Volume 1 of Karl Rahner's Theological Investigations (1961) and an inspiration to both Rowan Williams and Timothy Radcliffe.
Theology & Philosophy Staff Members