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!


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