French high schoolers struggle with philosophical puzzles
One of the things that makes France so French is the annual philosophy exam that traditionally kicks off the week-long series of tests for the baccalauréat diploma at the end of the lycée (senior high school). While France is a proudly secular state, the questions asked often pose puzzles with ethical aspects that many religions also contemplate. They are usually very broad — some would say impossibly broad — questions, leaving the student to decide how to understand and discuss them in a long essay.
Here are some of the questions the nervous students were given four hours to sweat over today:
- Is it absurd to desire the impossible?
- Are there questions that no science answers?
- What does one gain by exchanging?
- Does technical development transform humans?
- Does language betray thought?
- Does historical objectivity presuppose an impartial historian?
Are 18-year-olds set questions like this in exams in your country? If not, would it be worthwhile to ask them?