Philosophy discussion essay
Is it regularly referred to by other writers? When you have finished a cursory reading of the text, you should re-read the same text carefully, taking notes, and trying to understand as much as you can, before moving on to other relevant texts.
That will give you confidence and get you into the right psychological position for tackling that nasty final question which you were unsure about when you read through the paper first.
If your position is worth arguing for, there are going to be reasons which have led some people to reject it.
As you write, you will be considering carefully your choice of words to express your thoughts. Gorovitz et al.
Philosophy discussion essay
Virtually everyone "has a philosophy" in the sense that we have many basic beliefs about the world and ourselves and use certain key concepts to articulate those beliefs. Is it written or revised relatively recently? The trick here is to anticipate the kinds of objections that your critics would actually raise against you if you did not disarm them first. This is another common problem in student essays, so continually ask yourself "Am I addressing the question here? But often in philosophy there are no very technical terms involved, and the focus is on the puzzling nature of very familiar concepts. In this context, "argument" means any form of rational persuasion, including formally set out deductions as in logic, but also the pointing out of inconsistencies, vagueness, ambiguities, concealed presuppositions, false or dubious factual claims, and so on. If an idea is a good or important one, it will usually deserve its own sentence. Almost all philosophy relies on the use of examples, both for illustrative and persuasive purposes. It is part of the skill of paying sustained and focused attention to something put before you - which is one of the most important skills you can develop at university. Human beings across the world have been engaged in this sort of dialogue of question and response for many centuries - even millennia - and a number of great traditions of reflection and inquiry have evolved that have fundamentally influenced the development of religion, art, science and politics in many cultures. If you jump about in your essay, the reader will balk. It is especially tempting to exaggerate your accomplishments in a grand-finale-style concluding paragraph; resist this temptation. With regard to problem-focused topics, you will often find your exploration of the problem aided by taking some text or texts which have dealt with it as reference points or prompts. But you may of course know straight away which three or four, as the case may be questions you want to tackle.
Now you are not only expounding theories or critically evaluating them; you are also developing your own philosophy! Finally, do not try to compose your paper, from start to finish, in one session — especially not the night before it is due.
An uncontroversial initial definition is often impossible, but what you can seek is conceptual clarification or elucidation — a clear overview of the basic concepts involved and how they relate to one another.
On the other hand, beware of always trying to focus very narrowly on what's 'relevant': often one doesn't know when one starts a topic what exactly is relevant, and it is often very rewarding to read material which at first sight seems to be tangential to one's concerns as one reads the apparently tangential material, one finds that it is not so tangential after all, or that one's interests change to take in the new material.
There is some place, though, for interrogative sentences, ie. Make sure that you understand what you are writing, and that your reader can do so too.
At each stage, show clearly the logical relations between and the reasons for your points, so that your reader can see clearly why you say what you say and can see clearly the development in your discussion.
Allow yourself time to think about the topic you have been asked to write on and the reading you have done, and to plan your essay.
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