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  • Writer's pictureCrone

A breath of fresh air

Actually, although I promised more animals, I figured you deserved a break.

The photo shows my 'new' college, Kellogg. During my two weeks in Oxford I managed to collect my university card from the reception and while I was there I booked in for 'dinner' that night.

When I was at Oxford in the late 80s and early 90s, I very seldom ate 'in Hall'. But it seemed a good opportunity to make use of the facilities - it's not as if I'll be able to benefit that often.

The hall is very informal and it's canteen style. I had some vegan curry with rice and a poppadum and a dessert of some kind of cake. It cost £5 and I have to say that the food was excellent. I was seated at a table two metres across from a young man who turned out to have come over from Ireland to do a Masters in Maths and Theoretical Physics. He was very excited about the Physics and please that Oxford and Kellogg in particular was so quiet - he comes from the country and a bustling city feel would have been too much of a culture shock. It was good to meet someone who was not doing Practical Ethics, to be honest.

I did have three 'social' interactions with people on my course over the fortnight of lectures. On one evening, I met with Clodagh, a psychiatrist originally from Ireland but now in London, to discuss our presentation. We ate in a very pleasant cafe where they made these delicious complex salads. It was so good that I went back for take away food the following week. I spent an our at the outside table of a pub with two young women - Rebka and Anya. Rebka is a practicing Jew who has just finished an undergraduate degree at UCL. She seems to favour some continental and feminist approaches to ethics and a more situationist and context driven style of analysis. Anya is from Austria and works in computational genetics. She's done one or two degrees already and is perhaps also doing a PhD along with this MSt. She appears incredibly bright and is probably in her mid twenties.

The highlight though was an evening with Esther, a 25 year old doctor from Germany with a philosophy degree. She is very left leaning and, like Rebka, inclined to favour a more particularist approach. It was fascinating listening to her. She has read a great deal and has a wonderful mind as well as, to put it in non philosophical terms, a big heart. Indeed, I think she was by far the most 'human' of everyone on either of the two modules.

As for the content, as I mentioned before, the tutors were excellent. I think I preferred the first week - an introductory and general module - to the second (Well Being, Disability and Enhancement). That said, I am interested in the issues - but I found that, with the exception of the conversations on disability, the content was far too abstract and divorced from practical concerns. One real high point was a talk by Elizabeth Barns on Disability as Mere Difference not Bad Difference and a talk on enhancement by Anders Sandberg, who is a rock star! Metaphorically speaking.

Finally, some very good news for me: my supervisor will be Ben Davies who, wait for it, gave the talk on non human animals in week one! How great is that?

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