Albeit, it is important sometimes to be reminded of the context of the when and who is writing such a paper, but if you want to disagree, disagree logically. When reading, set realistic goals. Was the author part of a movement or was he involved in a particular debate? ( Log Out /  So, the question here is: if you’re just getting into the subject, what are some of the best philosophy books for beginners to start with? First of all, a bit of context. It’s also okay to disagree. Fuck experts. Internet resources such as Wikipedia or Sparknotes. Try to get a sense for … This context can be found by consulting a philosophy dictionary or a good encyclopedia. One simple solution is to read these works with a dictionary beside you, and to take note of any words that are unfamiliar to you. First, don’t try to work it all out by yourself. Now that we have the right mindset to read philosophy, we must further comprehend it if we want to get anywhere. The summary usually found on the flyleaf or cover of … The textbook often provides background information about the text as well as commentary on individual parts of the argument. Philosophical criticism does not typically go well with speed-thinking. If you're reading for a class, you'll almost certainly be asked to write or speak about your response to the writer's argument. Your task as a philosophy reader is not just to take in information, as you would do with a biology textbook: you are engaging with an argument. To build great philosophical reading skills you'll need to cultivate some philosophical empathy and self-criticism. Read Secondary Texts. What excites me so much about reading philosophy is the opportunity to have my beliefs and values challenged. It is also, in my experience, something of an artform -- an artform which affects the way one does many other things (e.g. So, it’s okay to not know what they’re talking about especially with all the jargon used in academic writing. Keep a pencil and highlighter with you and mark down what seems to you the crucial passages: where the main thesis is stated; where key concepts are introduced; where key arguments or reasons are provided. Writing philosophy is challenging. How to Write Philosophy Papers 11 • Professor Pink’s 9-step Plan 11 • General Writing Advice: Dos and Donts 14 5. Reading is an enormous part of doing philosophy. From there, we can start deciphering their argument and logic they are implementing to reach their conclusion, as analytical philosophy tends to have a … So you have a philosophical piece in your hand, for the very first time. From there, we can start deciphering their argument and logic they are implementing to reach their conclusion, as analytical philosophy tends to have a structured essay. Some useful places to do pre-reading research include: The VCE Philosophy textbook. As you are sorting and fine-tuning your critical remarks, double-check the text to refresh your memory, sharpen your thoughts, and make sure you properly interpreted the author. How to Revise Philosophy Papers 18 References and Acknowledgments 20. How To Read Philosophy. As a result, I rarely attempt this sort of lengthy reading list. Who wrote it? All of which, now that I think about it, seems rather bizarre. This exercise can improve your understanding of a philosophical text dramatically, showing you viewpoints that were not clear to you before. Essentially, it goes expedition ( fancy word for background information), thesis, proof of that thesis ( should be multiple points) , rejections of the proof to the thesis, rebuttal to those rejections. ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. Seneca, like Marcus, was also a powerful man in Rome. Take care of yourself Take breaks, sit where you won’t be distracted, give yourself enough time to read well, sit in an uncomfortable chair to avoid dozing off, etc. However, philosophy is not the study of individualistic dispositions and experiences – discussing history would be better for such a topic. Philosophical writing is persuasive writing. Philosophy is a discursive subject; in other words it is about engaging with the thoughts and opinions and arguments of others, about debating arguments and clarifying concepts with others, and experimenting with these ideas to see where this takes you. Consider whether and how each sentence contributes to building an answer for any of those sentences. You can see it's nothing like a novel or an encyclopedia entry. Your brilliant insights and criticisms may turn out to be poorly constructed. However, let’s be honest. Step 1: Learn the basics Learn the basic issues of philosophy. But philosophy is more than just old guys throughout history in white togas, tweed jackets, or thick glasses. Another common structure is for a philosopher to explain the theories that have come before them, refute them all, and then provide their account of which they deem correct. Don’t expect to understand everything on the first reading. Mark-up the text as you go. read philosophy well we will increase learning and when learning is increased, student enjoyment and retention tend to rise as well. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. How to Read Philosophy (Warning: Do not use a highlighter when reading this. Much of that advice survives in the form of letters. What reading Philosophy can feel like sometimes! You might not think writing style matters in philosophy. The entirety of Philosophy is like one continuous story. If it's an essay, read the first and last paragraphs in their entirety. Attached below is an explanation of how to outline a text, and my outline of the Pojman reading. Not only will this help you make more sense of the work that you are reading, but it may also improve your vocabulary at the same time! 2. It is a way of learning how to think and essentially how to find meaning in existence. ( Log Out /  Disagree upon premises, find fallacies, and contradictions. As you're reading, look for flaws in the writer's argument, and mark them. So we recommend, when you read and analyse these texts that you compare your analysis with other people … I read a lot of philosophy during my graduate years. While reading philosophy, even if it is philosophical fiction, you have to give yourself the time to understand the material. It’s okay to not understand right away. A helpful step when you have a philosophy text in your hands is to place it in its context. His research focuses on metaphysics, ethics, and philosophy of biology. The reader of philosophy must, therefore, discover what the philosopher means by his terms: “The words that express his terms are usually taken from common speech, but used in a very special sense. Reading philosophy is still difficult for me, despite having been at it for ten years. In sum, if (i) the skills required to read philosophy well are dif-ferent from other reading skills, (ii) reading philosophy well is doing philosophy, and (iii) people build new skill more completely when they To decide you'll need to fully understand the ideas being presented and the rhetorical strategies employed. In contemporary philosophy, the mind-body problem and the problem of consciousness are often viewed through the lens of physicalism, which claims that all that exists is physical. In the early days of history, almost all human knowledge could fit into a single academic discipline, and that was philosophy. This can be done by asking yourself a series of questions, like when was it written? Go Back and Read the Article Carefully Evaluate the Author's Arguments Skim the Article to Find its Conclusion and Get a Sense of its Structure A good way to begin when you're trying to read a difficult article is to first skim the article to identify what the author's main conclusion is. Therefore, our dispositions are inherently different as no one can experience the world as you. Some of them are very old. So, remember: be humble, patient, and meticulous. Hey Reddit, So I've recently taken a keen interest into learning Philosophy and I've begun by watching the lectures "Justice" by Harvard lecturer Michael Sandel. The most important to learning philosophy is the proper mindset. 1. Philosophical writings are dense and difficult. It isn't always easy to find friends interesting in discussing philosophy at length — but often other members of your class will be willing to talk about the content of assignments. Understanding philosophy is almost like learning a new language –it’d be too harsh to compare a beginner to someone who is fluent. As we accumulated more and more knowledge, thinkers started to specialize in particular areas, since they couldn’t accumulate all existing knowledge. Andrea Borghini, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy at the University of Milan, Italy. After all, when the student is ready the teacher appears. Letters from a Stoic by Seneca. Begin typing your search above and press return to search. So try reading a book of philosophy as if it were a comic book or pop song — only one’s that’s demanding but, in any case, one that is not the purview of experts. If you're reading for a class, you'll almost certainly be asked to write or … Philosophical writing comes in many different varieties: essays, books (primary texts), textbooks (secondary sources), dialogues (e.g., Plato), meditations (e.g., Descartes), novels (e.g., Dostoevsky), plays (e.g., Sartre), etc. Bear in mind that when you are reading philosophy what you are actually doing is trying to understand a piece of writing. If you need help, ask for help. As such, reading philosophy is an act of creation, self-creation of perspicuous wisdom regarding how to live well with others. The books can be dense and you may need to re-read the same sentence, passage or page more than once to truly comprehend what the philosopher is saying. Even though I absolutely love philosophy, I’m not blinded to the difficulties novices face. Reading philosophy can reaffirm your beliefs or open the door to a new perspective. How to read philosophy books: 4 things to know 1) Philosophy is the root of almost all sciences. The Basics 1. Your task as a philosophy reader is not just to take in information, as you would do with a biology textbook: you are engaging with an argument. He shows how a single strange sentence from the American philosopher Quine unsettles our familiar sense of the world. to read great works of literature and philosophy. It also often helps to quickly look up the author and see what her/his main philosophical contributions are in order to understand what she/he is up to in the text or which background assumptions she or he is relying on. You may agree or disagree — but either way, you need to know why you've formed a particular opinion. Here are three tips that I consider to be useful when trying to understand such an ancient adversary. how to read philosophy papers. I read philosophy to identify, clarify, and test my current beliefs and values. How I Read Philosophy [This is a draft of a tutorial I’m working on to help my students feel more comfortable reading philosophy. Philosophical reading is an exercise in understanding and should be treated as such. Try also to get a sense also of the weakest points in the overall piece. Reading Philosophy is a difficult task, especially coming to uni with little or no background in the subject. So, there’s really no one way to read philosophy. Read it, it is practical philosophy embodied. Be empathetic: after you come up with some possible criticism, imagine taking the role of your opponent and try to answer your criticisms. If you need a burger, then get a burger. But if you want to get the most you can out of your philosophy class, you won't want to do this often. As you read slowly, scrutinise the text with the questions above in your mind at all times. I also cannot recall ever discussing how to read philosophy with anyone. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your account. Therefore, if you need to re-read, re-read. By using ThoughtCo, you accept our, Cultivate Philosophical Empathy and Self-Criticism, Stoics and Moral Philosophy - The 8 Principles of Stoicism, René Descartes' "Proofs of God's Existence", The 5 Great Schools of Ancient Greek Philosophy, Moral Philosophy According to Immanuel Kant, B.A., Philosophy, University of Florence, Italy. One of the best ways to understand and analyze a philosophical piece is to discuss it with others. These e-mails are delivered every morning so that you can read about philosophy with your morning coffee. Our experiences have given us certain dispositions on how we view the world. How to Read Philosophy So you’ve made the leap from learning philosophy out of bland and banal course textbooks to doing philosophy by interacting directly with philosophers and their arguments from the horse’s mouth. Enjoy what you enjoy — its use of language (or not); its rhythm; its humor, or lack thereof (Heidegger is humorless and hence, for me, unreadable). While incredibly useful in expanding our minds, many great philosophical works tend to be packed with dense or archaic writing. develop paper topics, etc.). Before actually starting to read, skim the paper to get a sense of the main point the author is trying to make and the structure of the piece. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. Instead, you'll want to read the papers that your instructor has selected, and read them properly. Introduction Even if you are very smart and very literate, as I assume you are, confusion and frustration may occur if you do not read philosophy in the way philosophers expect you to. There is more than one way to read. Now, reading anything takes time, but reading philosophy can be especially time consuming if you’re not practiced in efficient reading strategies. When you read philosophy you should look for arguments, reasons, and conclusions. 3 5 Myths about Philosophy Philosophy is very different, in several ways, from other subjects that are offered at high school or college. As you're reading, look for flaws in the writer's argument, and mark them. I am not an expert on Nietzsche, but in my exploration of philosophy as a philosophy major, I've noticed that it's very difficult to predict ahead of time which works of philosophy will provide me with the most value at a given time. Philosophy, like all great literature, is not the jurisdiction of academia. How to read philosophy. Comments, critiques, and additional tips would be welcome!] While reading a page of a novel can take as little as thirty seconds, some pages in philosophy require at least ten minutes or even more. Once you've skimmed the piece, you'll be better equipped to dive in and read the entire text intelligently. Reading lists can look long and daunting, vocabulary can be confusing and it seems... Read moreHow to read Philosophy (a step-by-step guide for confused students!) How do you approach it? As you read on, you’ll learn why.) If your interest in philosophy stems from wanting to do well on the LSAT, which relates to logical reasoning and reading comprehension, the skill of finding the objective of the paper and stance of the philosopher may be the most important to hone. Congratulations! This demands special care from the reader. Philosophy is reflective: while it's perfectly OK to think while you are reading, you should go through your responses at least three times to be sure they really hold up. When you read a philosophical piece you are reading the opinion of an author who is trying to persuade you of the plausibility or implausibility of a position. ( Log Out /  Now that we have the right mindset to read philosophy, we must further comprehend it if we want to get anywhere. You may agree or disagree — but either way, you need to know why you've formed a particular opinion. Change ). He was also a great writer and from the looks of it, a trusted friend who gave great advice to his friends. How to read Philosophy? All are difficult. When we read philosophy books and study philosophical ideas, we learn more about logic, imagination, ethics, morality, and self-awareness. If it's a book, look at the table of contents and go through the opening remarks. The easiest way to decipher the paper is to understand what the author’s objective is and what overall point of the paper is. Philosophy is hard, so work hard and set yourself up to be able to pat yourself on the back. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. But Kwame Anthony Appiah – a professor of philosophy who’s also a literary scholar – argues that style is crucial for understanding almost all the great philosophers. You will be assigned to read selections from significant pieces of philosophical literature. Many of these philosophers are polyglots and have Ph.Ds. The easiest way to decipher the paper is to understand what the author’s objective is and what overall point of the paper is. Will you buy the author's position? If one attacks personally, they allow themselves to be attacked personally. They’re undoubtedly more knowledgeable than a typical undergrad considering we’re reading their papers and not the other way around. Below is some general advice on reading philosophy. Together, you may come to conclusions you wouldn't have thought of on your own. Philosophy, but also Wikipedia will normally give you a su cient understanding of the other concepts. This is remarkably different from other forms of reading, like — say — going through a newspaper page to collect information or reading a novel to enjoy a good story. How to Read Philosophy Papers 8 4. Press Esc to cancel. Let’s be honest: sometimes you’re going to read an assigned reading (if at all) at great speed just before class. P.S. Do not use intuition alone. ( Log Out / 

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