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Epicurius and the joy of learning

Cornelius Kopf writes for the student philosophy magazine “Die FUNZEL”

Freiburg, Sep 11, 2019

The supraregional student magazine “Die FUNZEL” aims to communicate philosophical topics in a simple way and promote and exchange of ideas. Pascal Lienhard spoke about the publication with one of the editors, Cornelius Kopf, who is studying Philosophy, Theology and Latin at the University of Freiburg.

With “Die FUNZEL” magazine, Cornelius Kopf aims to contribute to a rediscovery of humanities content which is relevant to our everyday lives. Photo: Harald Neumann

Mr. Kopf, how did “Die FUNZEL” come to be?

Cornelius Kopf: The magazine was launched by two Munich students who wanted to revive an old Munich University of Philosophy magazine. I was also studying philosophy in Munich and have been involved since the first issue in the summer semester of 2018. Now, along with the editors in Munich, there is an editorial team in Freiburg, which other students and I started. FUNZEL is well received here, and we are happy with the sales. I think there is broad interest in philosophical and humanities topics.

Where do the articles come from?

We aim to promote interdisciplinary discourse at the university and to rediscover the humanities’ relevance to life. We are open to texts from across the humanities - and from anyone who enjoys writing and has something to share. I think that there is a philosophical element to every discipline and that, at some stage, everyone has asked themselves philosophical questions. That's the great thing - if you approach things with a philosophical attitude to life, exciting discoveries can be made everywhere. When someone has recognized something that is important to him or her, we will publish that. The thoughts of a historian from Vienna can be valuable to a Freiburg philosopher - just as they may be to a doctor who is also interested in the humanities.

What are the typical themes in the FUNZEL?

The notion of education and human development is important to me. At the university today, the focus is very much on passing exams, getting a degree and learning by heart. We want to take a step back from this, because these things are not always good for personal development. For the development of character, two things are needed above all - time and freedom. When these are restricted by the study treadmill, we take them back with FUNZEL. We also seek to present philosophical and humanist content in everyday language, which can be more to the point.

Which branch of philosophy can best help students manage university life?

I recommend Epicurianism. Epicurus is often seen as advocating of a hedonistic, excessive lifestyle. I think there’s more to it than that. I think he also addresses the need for real meaning, education and literary activity. That can be applied to the university. If I get involved in something honestly, I can develop an enthusiasm for it. This works especially well when I really want to learn something which will be of use my whole life long and am not just studying for the ECTS credits. If you take academic content at an existential level, you can find joy in things where you would not have expected it.



Join the magazine

The student philosophy magazine “Die FUNZEL” comes out once per semester. It is available at the university on days announced in advance, or at the Walthari and Jos Fritz bookstores. Or you can order it online via the magazine’s blog. Ideas and contributions for the next edition - a “Future FUNZEL” - are welcome. Interested parties can take part in FUNZEL’s open meetings or send in their own texts.