Friday, December 1, 2017

APO Essay Contest Stage 1 Topics

Did you know that the philosopher, Diotima, was a woman who lived at the time of Socrates? In Plato's Symposium, Socrates tells a story about one of the lessons that Diotima gave to him. I don't have my own photo of a bust of Diotima, but I do have one of her student.

A photo of a bust of Socrates by Rembrandt,
which I took at the Rembrandt House in Amsterdam

Here are the topics for Stage 1 of this essay contest. The two topics are published here and nowhere else, as it says in the 2018 brochure. For Stage 1, a student contestant must submit an English essay of no more than 800 words via email that responds to one of the two philosophy topics below.

Topic 1:

"No knowledge is intellectually respectable unless it can be put into words."

Topic 2:

Is there in fact objective reality or is your nervous system creating it?

You may respond to either one of these topics in the most philosophical way you can. We will judge the essays and choose a number of finalists who will proceed to Stage 2. The instructions for Stage 2 will be given to the finalists at the appropriate time.

You may want to consult our guide to writing philosophy essays called, How To Write a Philosophy Essay, A Guide for IPO Contestants that you can find at the following URL:

If you don't have an APO 2018 brochure to read all about our contest, take a look it in the previous post in this blog.

The address to which you will send your essay is on the brochure, but for your convenience I will include it here as well. You may send in your essay using one of three methods: Send it to our US mail address to Joseph A. Murphy, American Philosophy Olympiad, Ethics and Philosophy Chair, Dwight-Englewood School, 315 East Palisade Avenue, Englewood, NJ 07631 Or send it by email to or to If you email it, please write "APO and IPO" in the subject line. If you want or need to fax it, the number is 201-569-0047.

Good luck!

Monday, June 12, 2017

APO Team in Rotterdam for IPO 2017

The American Delegation to the IPO in Rotterdam. From l to r, Frank Murphy, Associate Delegate, Anna Stoneman and Gustavo Berho, APO 2017 winners, and Joseph Murphy, USA Delegation Leader.
From 25 to 28 May 2017, the 25th International Philosophy Olympiad took place in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. No less than 95 competitors from 45 countries participated in this Olympiad. The Organizing Committee, as well as the local and national partners, are proud to look back on a very successful event. They have made a short film to document the events within the full Olympiad. I present it to you here with thanks to the full team of professors, teachers, professional organizers and volunteers from Rotterdam.

All footage by Rachel Visscher, music by Tom Nestelaar. This video is also available on Youtube: #ipotolerance

Memories of hundreds of people from 45 nations are fresh and full of joy from the wonderful IPO2017 in Rotterdam. Stories are now being shared in the home countries of the extraordinary people who took part in the Olympiad in The Netherlands. Congratulations to our two American winners. Cheers to all my friends from the IPO! I look forward to seeing all of you again next year in Montenegro for IPO2018.

To read more about this wonderful event and about the IPO in general go to and/or

Sunday, May 21, 2017

USA Delegation To IPO Is Ready To Go

The USA delegation to the International Philosophy Olympiad will be leaving for Rotterdam, The Netherlands on Tuesday evening May 23, 2017. The two APO winners are Anna Stoneman from Wisconsin and and Gustavo Berho the State of Washington. They will be writing an original philosophical essay on Friday competing with high school students from 45 other countries. The 46 National Delegations will also attend lectures on the theme of the IPO conference; TOLERANCE. We will also be doing philosophical tours of the hometown of Desiderius Erasmus and visiting the world famous shipyard there. This is a once in a lifetime chance for students from around the world to get together to have some serious fun and share stories and perspectives of their lives.

Check out the website of the event:

Wish us luck.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

APO 2017 Essay Contest Results

We're Going To Rotterdam 

The choice of the two top essays this year was very difficult. But our judges have finally made their decisions and we have confirmed the APO 2017 winners. They are Gustavo Berho from Washington state and Anna Stoneman from Wisconsin.

If you are not yet a senior in High School as of the date of this post, you will be able to participate in the APO 2018. Announcements for it will be published on this blog, the first blog address given below. On that same blog spot you will be able to read about the IPO 2017. Also, the format for the APO 2018 might be a little different and the topics will be different from the APO 2017, so read the AP-CP blog to be informed about that when the time comes in the fall.

I thank all of those who participated in the APO 2017. Thank you for your efforts to write and submit a philosophical essay to the APO. Bright students like this year’s contestants need critical and philosophical thinking to see beyond the limits of your common core of subjects in high school. Philosophical training and thinking will help high school students to go into an unknown future and make it better than any of their teachers know how to now.

I encourage all of this year’s contestants and, indeed, all of my readers to keep reading and ‘doing’ philosophy. Share your thoughts with your friends and always remember that some other people always know more than we do. But through dialogue we can all learn from each other.

By the way, you may all become a members of the AP-CP blog. The more members we have, the bigger voice we have to speak up for pre-college philosophy in the USA.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

How To Write a Philosophy Essay

"How To Write a Philosophy Essay
A Guide for IPO Contestants

Many guides exist on how to write a good philosophy paper. This guide is tailored to suit contestants competing in the annual IPO essay contest but it uses many of the same strategies employed in guides written by renowned philosophy professors from around the world. It is not intended to be a guarantee for writing an award-winning essay at the IPO. Rather, it outlines one method that can direct your efforts toward writing a sound, logical, persuasive essay."

This is how the new guide begins. It has just been published on the Netherlands' International Philosophy Olympiad website at As of today, 25 January, 2017, it is also published on the IPO website. Go to where you can also find it. You may consult it at anytime except at the IPO essay contest itself.

Good luck to high school students from the approximately 50 countries from around the world who are expected to send students to the IPO 2017 in Rotterdam. See you there!

May 25 — 28, 2017
The Netherlands

Friday, January 6, 2017

APO 2017 Brochure and Essay Topics

Here is the 2017 APO Brochure followed by this year's topics.

The due date is February 17, 2017.

Here are the four question choices or topics for the 2017 APO. You may choose any one -- there is no preference or advantage to choosing one over the other -- and write an essay about it in French, German, or Spanish. Then carefully follow the directions in the brochure. If you'd like me to send you an original brochure, email or call me [201-227-3265] and leave your name and address. 

Chose one of the following topics and construct a well-reasoned, thorough and convincing philosophical argument in reaction to one of the following topics:

1.     Is there danger or irresistible beauty in creating artificial intelligence in any container that has the capacity to think for itself, learn on its own and replicate human cognition?

2.     Who or what am I?

3.     Human Consciousness shapes, informs and determines reality. Reality is dependent upon human consciousness. There is no reality apart from human consciousness.

4.     Is an act right because God commands it or because it is right?

Suggestion: Before you write your essay, studying the guide “How to Write a Philosophy Essay: A Guide for IPO Contestants” is highly recommended. Click on the link below.