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UKZN Philosophy Student wins Canon Collins ‘Scholar of Scholars’ award 2017

06 Jul, 2017

Mr Phila Msimang with his supervisor Professor David Spurrett
UKZN Masters student in Philosophy Mr Phila Mfundo Msimang  has been named the 2017 recipient of the prestigious Canon Collins ‘Scholar of Scholars’ award.

The special award is funded by the alumni of the Canon Collins Scholarship.

Recipients are selected by alumni seeking to find and support exceptional individuals who, as the trust puts it ‘embodies and can meaningfully contribute to the Trust’s vision of an open and just society.’

‘Winning this award is a serious milestone. It is a humbling experience that, at the same time, encourages me to do more. It is something I couldn’t have done without the help and support of my supervisor, Professor David Spurrett,’ said Msimang.

His Master’s research explores  the critical evaluation of racial population naturalism. ‘My Master’s dissertation is on the problems of biological racial realism and why constructivist theories of race may be better suited for our common interests on the subject. In my coursework, I also looked at the evolution of cognitive systems with my focus being on what kind of cognitive agents plants can be said to be.’

On the relevance of scholarships such as the Canon Collins Scholarship, he said:  ‘These kinds of scholarships often fill the gaps our institutions leave open. Until education is affordable or free, these kinds of scholarships give students the financial means to pay for and focus only on their studies. This funding has relieved me of my part-time work and has allowed me to focus on research. Persistence towards your goals helps. Thank you, Canon Collins.’

Msimang already has a number of research publications in peer-reviewed journals, on topics including contemporary metaphysics, and semiotics.

He also finds time to do advance work towards his probable doctoral research, on the topic of minimal cognition and the representational and psychological capacities of plants.

Melissa Mungroo

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