How to Write a Philosophy Essay

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Articles full of expert guidance and advice on improving your writing skills and your time at university

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Etymologically, the term “philosophy” means the love for wisdom. This discipline has preoccupied some of the greatest minds in history since ancient times. Fundamental questions regarding truth, beauty, the origin and purpose of man, life or ethics have been discussed time and time again by philosophers, each one of them offering his or her own view on such subjects. Given the vast number of philosophical attitudes, the student who wants to know how to write a philosophy essay needs to be aware of what he or she is writing about; the first step is getting to know the subject of your essay and this means performing a thorough research for finding the best bibliographical sources.

The research stage

Therefore, you should first build yourself a plan, making sure you have enough time to perform every step. First, you need to have a good understanding of your subject. Gather as many sources as possible, in order to offer a good portrayal of the manner in which a certain subject has been regarded throughout the years. Online sources such as http://scholar.google.com are a good starting point, but avoid the use of general information websites like Wikipedia, because such sites are not considered trustworthy for academic purposes. However, you might not find everything you need on the web. This means that you should spend a day or two at your local library, if the online sources prove too scarce. Knowing how to write a philosophy essay implies a good knowledge about the main philosophical trends of certain time periods; the more you learn about the history of philosophy, the better your chances are of receiving a high mark.

Things can be somewhat easier for you if you are given the freedom of choosing the subject of your essay. A more appealing subject will stimulate you to perform a more thorough research and be more convincing when you plea for or against an idea. Knowing how to write a philosophy essay requires the use of your communicative skills as well. Unlike hard sciences and other more rigid disciplines, philosophy allows a greater degree of flexibility and the possibility of taking sides with a certain philosophical perspective; thus, more creative and outspoken students will enjoy writing such essays more than the ones who have a more pragmatic personality.

The writing stage

Good organisational skills are very important when learning how to write a philosophy essay: in this regard, we strongly recommend that you devise an outline of the paper before you actually begin to write its body. A good outline will allow you to stay on topic and keep the information flow steady and clear. Moreover, it will prevent you from forgetting certain aspects or ideas that need to be included in the discussion. Learning how to write a philosophy essay becomes easier once you simply have to expand on each of the points you have outlined. By highlighting important or relevant passages in your sources, referencing will be much easier, and you will be able to sustain your opinions in a more concise and convincing manner. The better you organise your materials, the easier it will be for you to learn how to write a philosophy essay.

After writing an outline for your essay, you may proceed with writing the actual body of the paper:

  • The introduction needs to draw your reader’s attention to the issue under discussion. A student who knows how to write a philosophy essay should be able to portray the subject in a clear and relevant manner. Mention whose points of view you are going to present and comment upon, and other general information about the paper.
  • The next section of your essay will present the subject that you discuss. After you write the main ideas concerning the issue under discussion, proceed with presenting the perspectives of various philosophers on your subject. Use quotes from the original texts and explain them in your own words, in order to be more convincing. When learning how to write a philosophy essay, keep in mind that it is better to present the philosophical ideas in a chronological order. For example, discuss about how the ancient Greek philosophers regarded a question, followed by the perspective of Arab philosophers of the first millennium AD, and afterwards discuss the views of European philosophers of the Renaissance and later periods. The use of bullet points will allow you to focus the attention of the reader to the main points of your paper. Moreover, the arguments you offer will be better understood if you maintain an organised manner of writing.
  • As we have already underlined, a philosophy essay allows you the liberty of siding with a certain philosopher, perspective, or movement. After the stage of presenting the bibliography, you may want to state your own opinion regarding the subject of your essay. A student who knows how to write a philosophy essay would offer sensible arguments to justify his or her stance; thus, the student may stand a better chance of receiving a top mark. Be straightforward and to the point, but be careful not to spend too much time discussing your views; remember, you need to focus on the main subject of your paper.
  • The conclusion should bring the discussion to an end. Briefly go through everything you have discussed in the paper, and try to underline how the philosophical views have influenced society, politics, aesthetics or ethics of the historical periods during which they have appeared. Speculate about how the attitudes about the subject might evolve in the future. However, avoid losing yourself in too many details, because the conclusion needs to offer a sense of closure to the audience and readers.
  • The reference list documents all the sources you have used in your research. Remember to use the MLA referencing style in your paper, or any style specified by your examiner.

Revising the paper

After finishing your essay, proofread and check for errors. Use a spell check and consider offering your paper to a friend, asking him to spot any errors. Knowing how to write a philosophy essay requires attention in every aspect: in this regard, you could use our proofreading and editing services to make sure that your language and spelling are optimal. Furthermore, if you are unsure of your research and writing abilities, our essay writing services might provide the solution.

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