Ponder what the author’s intent is in writing the assigned pieces. Did he or she succeed? Is the author persuasive? What would it mean if the author is right or wrong? What other arguments are compatible or incompatible with the author’s stance? Long baths, showers, walks, or aimless metro rides are perfect situations for contemplation. As to citation, though the Chicago Manual of Style is the preferred guidebook for philosophical writing, any scholarly format is acceptable, provided it is consistent throughout the assignment. All quotes and ideas taken from sources other than the student’s mind are to be scrupulously cited to avoid plagiarism and cheating. It is cheating to consult other sources to supplement your understanding of the reading. Part of the work of philosophy is interpreting the text, so students who look to other sources for guidance on interpretation inevitably adulterate their own views of the material.Generally speaking, philosophical writing is argumentative, in that it states a clear position the author means to defend at the beginning, and spends the rest of the paper proving the thesis. Great papers are equal parts textual evidence and author opinion. Students should refer to the texts and quote them throughout the paper. On the basis of the text, students should then assert their own voices, offering an interpretation or answer to a prompt that goes beyond mere summary of the reading(s) at hand. The most common types of poorly-written papers have unclear theses, over-cite the text, or devolve into unproven speculation. • Response Papers -1-2 pages in length, due at the beginning of a class. Students will select a short passage from the text that is especially fascinating, troubling, or important, and analyze it in the paper. Numerous techniques may be used to assess the passage: students might contextualize the passage within the work as awhole; they might show ways in which the passage opens up new avenues of thought; they might show how the passage throws the entire work into question; or they might try to make a confusing passage clear through their analysis. Students should offer both an interpretation of the text and some creative thought on it.
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