International Philosophy Olympiad (IPO)


Open to all 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students worldwide

Type(s) of Writing

Philosophical and critical analysis

Related Subject(s)

Philosophy (ethics), Politics, History, Psychology and Others

Expected # of References


Word Limit



January 2025


The International Philosophy Olympiad (IPO) serves as a prestigious platform where talented young minds from around the world gather to engage in intellectual discourse and philosophical exploration. Founded with the aim of promoting philosophical inquiry among high school students, the IPO has grown into a globally recognized event that encourages critical thinking, analytical skills, and a deep appreciation for diverse philosophical traditions. Participants, often selected through national philosophy competitions, converge to exchange ideas, challenge each other's perspectives, and deepen their understanding of fundamental philosophical concepts. 

During the International Philosophy Olympiad, participants are confronted with a series of challenging philosophical problems that test their ability to think critically, articulate complex ideas, and defend their positions through rigorous argumentation. These problems cover a broad spectrum of philosophical topics, ranging from ethics and metaphysics to political philosophy and epistemology. The competition not only fosters a spirit of friendly competition but also creates a unique cross-cultural environment where students from different backgrounds can share their philosophical insights, fostering mutual understanding and respect. 

The impact of the International Philosophy Olympiad extends beyond the competition itself, influencing the participants' academic and personal development. Many alumni of the IPO go on to pursue higher education in philosophy or related fields, becoming future leaders and contributors to the global philosophical community. The IPO, therefore, stands as a testament to the power of philosophical exploration in shaping the intellectual landscape and nurturing the next generation of thinkers and scholars. 


Essay Prompts

“Although the logos is common, most people live as though they had their own thought.” Heraclitus (6th – 5th c. BC), fr. DK B2, in Early Greek Philosophers, ed. A. Laks and G. Most [slightly modified]. Cambridge, MA: HUP, 2016, p. 138. 

“To know others is wisdom; to know oneself is acuity. To conquer others is power, to conquer oneself is strength.” Laozi (6th c. BC), Daodejing. A Philosophical Translation, ch.33, ed. by Roger Ames and David L. Hall. New York: Ballantine Books, 2003 

“Strictly speaking, however, perfection does not gain by beauty, nor does beauty gain by perfection.” I. Kant (1790), Critique of the Power of Judgment, § 16 [AA5: 231], trans. P. Guyer and E. Matthews. Cambridge: CUP, 2000, p. 115. 

“Many people today would agree that there is no such thing as collective guilt or, for that matter, collective innocence, and that if there were, no one person could ever be guilty or innocent. This, of course, is not to deny that there is such a thing as political responsibility which, however, exists quite apart from what the individual member of the group has done and therefore can neither be judged in moral terms nor be brought before a criminal court.” Hannah Arendt (1963), Eichmann in Jerusalem. A Report on the Banality of Evil. New York: Viking Press, rev. ed., 1965, p. 298