Every paper that states fundamental questions or tries to find out how things really are can be called a philosophical one. When you take a critical approach and move in the sphere of thinking instead of retelling or fantasizing, you already take a philosophical position. However, some aspects characterize papers on philosophy as a subject. Here, you cannot produce a really great piece without knowing the history of philosophy, the paradigm you are working with, concepts, etc. That is why specific challenges can appear. In this guide, we will discuss the way to produce a good philosophical paper.
A couple of words about what is philosophy essay
When assigned to a college or university student, a philosophical essay should stick to a particular academic format. In your writing, you will provide a claim, support it with arguments, and prove that it has a direct application to reality. You have to present an idea, show it from different sides, defend it, and use persuasive arguments to support it. What is more, the opposing or different points of view should also be included in your text. Basing on the philosophical writings of authoritative authors, you shouldn’t present rough facts and dry information, but a product of your thinking and work with the materials.
How to choose a topic?
When writing a philosophy paper, you face challenges even before you start. The first one is connected with a topic choice. To pick a topic for your work, you need:
- Decide the branch
There are 5 major branches of philosophy: epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics. Your critical thinking should move within one of these branches.
- Make sure that your topic is not obvious
While you can philosophize on any topic imaginable, you should choose something complex and not obvious when it comes to an academic essay. A question that simply sounds interesting to you may not be relevant.
The writing process
Before you start writing your paper, make sure that you have a well-shaped and clear idea in mind. If you do, you will define the structure of your writing easily. Make sure that you have a solid background and a deep understanding of the topic before you start. If you don’t – do some reading. You need to have a full picture in your head before you start writing, and this is the trickiest part of a philosophical essay.
Like any other academic piece, this one should have a strict structure:
Provide your readers with relevant basic facts about the topic. Here you might add some historical background and a couple of words about the paradigm you will work with.
Your thesis statement should appear at the end of the first paragraph. Your task is to summarize the main idea and state your main argument in a clear form.
- Body paragraphs
In the body of your essay, you will reveal your argument step by step. Don’t forget that you should present the opposing point of view as well. Be sure that you are able to talk about other positions on your topic in an equally qualified manner.
In the last paragraph of your work, you are expected to sum up the arguments and counterarguments presented before. Also, you should explain why do you stand on this or that position.
How to organize your paper?
If you have no idea how to write a philosophy paper and organize it correctly, here are some golden rules to follow:
- Make your body paragraphs 6-8 sentences length
- Add transitional words and sentences
- Add one argument or counterargument per paragraph
- Don’t overdo with quotations
As we have already mentioned, ideas and arguments for a philosophical paper can come from anywhere, but in the academic environment, you should meet some criteria. Namely, make sure to use reliable academic sources only. Scholarly journals, books, critical articles, and reports can be easily found online and offline.
How to end your paper?
When writing a conclusion, you need to review the entire paper and read it critically. Are you sure that it meets the standards? Do you write to the point, or maybe you have lost your sight somewhere? If you see any inconsistencies or weak places in your work, you should revise and rewrite them.
Take a look at your thesis statement one more time and make sure that all of your further writing supports it. The arguments defend your central claim, so they must work on it during the entire piece. That is why you are recommended to start your philosophy paper as early as you can. You need plenty of time to reevaluate your arguments and fix the mistakes if you find any.
There is another aspect to consider when checking your essay – language. Philosophical concepts can be confusing. That is why you risk making your presentation of an idea blurry and unclear. Don’t use the specific terms if they are irrelevant! And remember about your target audience as well as their level of subject proficiency. Remind yourself that difficult things can be presented in a clear manner, and this is a real art. So keep it straightforward and don’t overcomplicate your language too much. Edit your paper a couple of times before you submit it. If you have someone to read and critique your writing, then ask him/her to do that. Your classmates, tutors, or family members can help you with that.
Hopefully, your essays won’t be that daunting from now! Use this guide whenever you feel confused and happy philosophizing!