top of page

SOFIA is an essay competition for high school students


"An unexplored life is not worth living. "

What does Socrates mean? He is right?



Aneta Juhaniaková

Gymnasium  Jura Hronca


Karin Spišáková

Gymnasium  Postal



Lukáš Obermajer

Gymnasium Teplická



SOFIA 2020 prices

1st place

Bicycle from the BI&CI store

2nd place

Video course Master of Languages

from j

+ stylish Karouch notebook

3 . the place

Books from  Artforum publishing house

+ Marc Tanner leather notebook 

All 3 winners also receive for free

participation in  Summer  university for high school students

+ a gift from Marc Tanner


Why write an argumentative  essay?

Because love (philia) for truth and wisdom (sophia) helps us live better.

Because we find answers to important questions.

Because with that  we teach  think better.

Competition rules

  • Essay ( unsigned text  without contact details) send at the latest  until midnight on 29 February 2020  using this form.

  • Minimal  the length of the essay is 800 words,  maximum range of 1200 words.

  • An argumentative essay is  text s  solid structure  (introduction, core and  conclusion), which using the arguments a  evidence (examples, statistics, credible sources) defends the author's opinion. See the advice  How to write a good argumentative essay .

  • We recommend using the relevant literature.  However, make sure that the quotations and paraphrases clearly refer to the source from which you drew. In case of detected plagiarism, your essay will be excluded from the competition.

  • Cite sources according to this guide:  How to quote in an essay

  • We can only include one of your essays in the competition.

  • By entering the competition, you express your consent to the processing of your personal data. Read it  Declaration of consent to the processing of personal data .

  • Do you have questions? Ask us via e-mail:

Does SOFIA make sense?

"There aren't many moments etched in my memory like creating my essay for the SOFIA competition. I managed to cram the writing itself into one very long February evening, but while writing I realized that the biggest work was probably the minutes and hours of traveling by train, when I was able to think about the topic with my eyes closed and "philosophize".


Suddenly you have a new world before your eyes that invites you to discover and marvel. The essay and its structure were a great help to me, how to share thoughts or interpret the thoughts of the people in front of me with others.  I am very grateful for this experience, which I can say without remorse, that it changed my life. If you are considering whether to go for it, find courage in yourself and overcome fears or laziness. It's worth it!"

Sára Dobrovodská
1st place in the 7th year of the SOFIA competition  - Read the interview with Sarah



"An unexplored life is not worth living. "  

- Socrates

What your essay is about

We all understand the importance of sometimes thinking about what we do and how we live. However, Socrates says that if we do not make a lifestyle out of it, our life "is not the right one." Isn't it exaggerating?  We really should all be impractical  philosophers, otherwise we do not have a good life? Isn't Socrates an intellectual snob and an elite?


What should philosophical research look like? Should it lead to the rebuttal or confirmation of common opinions? Is philosophizing a solo activity on your own sofa or in the office, or does it require an interview, as Socrates suggests? It is to deal in particular with human life and society or the otherworldly  things?  Can philosophizing be bad for man?  Is it right to call on philosophizing and thinking about oneself and others, even against their will?


  • The most important source for you is t ext  from Plato called Defense  Socrates . You can find it easily accessible by a short search on the Internet, for example in the .pdf version. Concentrate well while reading it. The quote we chose belongs in particular  to part  38a5–6.

  • Listen to the regular dose podcast -  specifically his 103rd episode , which was created on this topic and will help you better understand Socrates (also available on Spotify, Apple podcasts and Google Podcast).

  • Listen to the radio performance of the Defense of Socrates here or by playing the video below.


Matúš Sitár

Chairman of the jury. He received a doctorate in philosophy at the Faculty of Theology of Trnava University in Bratislava. He currently works as a teacher at the University of Trnava, the Anton Neuwirth College and the Ladislav Hanus Society. He translates academic texts mainly from English and Latin.


Justina Betinska

She studied social justice and education at York University. She is a graduate of the seventh year of the Anton Neuwirth College. She lives with her husband in Durham in the north of England, most recently working in the financial sector for Santander Bank.


Jakub Betinský

He studied international relations and political economy at the Università di Bologna, later philosophy at KU Leuven and is currently pursuing a PhD in philosophy (department of meta-ethics) at the University of Durham. He is the founder of the Regular Batch podcast and co-founder of the Quantum Ideas podcast.


Michal Magušin

He graduated from the 3rd year of the Anton Neuwirth College. He studied journalism in Bratislava and London, where he later interned in the Financial Times. He likes sports, strong beer and real intellectuals, around whom he has been wandering in recent years mainly thanks to his work in the magazine .týždeň. He is currently its editor-in-chief and also moderates the discussion show Na hrane on TV JOJ.


Dušan Jurčo

He works as a teacher of Slovak language and literature at the bilingual CS Lewis Grammar School in Bratislava and as a member of the methodological team at the Academy of Large Works. He is a big fan of quality filmography, good books and music of all genres.


Kristína Hrehová

She studied mathematics at the Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Informatics, Comenius University in Bratislava. He is currently doing an American doctorate in economics at CERGE and studying the theology of Christian traditions at the Institute of Ecumenical Studies in Prague. She is a graduate of the 4th year of the Anton Neuiwrth College.

ak napisat esej

Competition partners

Screenshot 2019-11-29 at 12.26.07.png

Media partner

bottom of page