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It began with a book. A simple title: “The Story of Philosophy”. I’m not quite sure how or why I came into possession of it, but one day I decided to take a peek into its well-worn pages. What is philosophy? I wondered. This was the first of a long string of questions that followed.
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From Plato to Descartes and Kant to Hume, the thoughts of great men long past were laid out before me. I was surprised to find many correlations between the ideas of the great philosophers and my own musings. It’s comforting to know that I am not the only one to feel infinitesimally small in this vast, impartial universe, or to have spent sleepless nights wondering “Who am I? What am I doing here? What is ‘here’?” Emulating Socrates, I used to pop open-ended questions into every conversation: “What is love? What is life? What is intelligence?” A few friends and teachers have been truly encouraging of my quest to know and have provided me with conversation (and sometimes quite heated debates) along with literature recommendations.
My search for answers has resulted in quite a library. Volumes of books line the shelves in my room; some of them are tattered from frequent reference while others still possess that crisp new-book smell. While taking classes in philosophy and psychology at Vassar College this summer, I became ill and had to be quarantined for some time with nothing but the books I brought with me. Steven Hawking’s Brief History of Time provided a great distraction to my stomach flu pains and introduced me to cosmology, a rational approach to the questions that bother me. I was intrigued to say the least. Frustrated by philosophy, which comes up with excellent questions but few answers, I discovered a solid start to understanding the nature of reality in modern physics. I went on to read the rest of Hawking’s books when I got home and am currently working my way through Feynman’s lectures. One friend and I have organized a two-person scientific book club that discusses all subjects ranging from branes to brains.
I envy those who are working on the scientific frontier today, breaking knowledge barriers and exploring workings of the vast universe. I hope to one day be able to contribute to our collection of knowledge. In the meantime, I wish to take full advantage of the range of different classes offered at Cornell. For the next four years, more than anything, I would like to study physics, astronomy, and psychology. I want to be immersed in a community of people who care as deeply and are as inquisitive about the world as I am. I want to learn from the top professors and build relationships with students from a variety of backgrounds. I want to solve problems and move humanity forward. I want to research, experiment, explore, create, and debate. And above all, I want to think.
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