Saturday, October 23, 2010

On Writing Philosophy Essays

Writing a philosophy paper?  Here are a few phrases you should probably avoid:

1) "Socrates* feels that X is true."  (We don't know much about his feelings, do we?  Focus on what he said rather than on what you think he felt, unless you're also prepared to explain your insight into his feelings, and the relevance of that insight and of those feelings.) (*Or any other philosopher who doesn't tell us how she is feeling.)

2) "There is no answer to this question." (Do you mean no correct answer?  Why do you think I asked it, by the way?  Let me suggest that, at a minimum, there is an answer given in the texts we read.  If you think it's wrong, I'd be delighted to hear why you think it's wrong, once you've told me clearly what it is.)

3) "I've decided to ignore what the books say and focus on my own opinions here." (Not that your opinions don't matter, but they're deucedly difficult to grade.)

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