What Is a Philosophy Essay
A philosophy essay is an essay that is written on a topic related to the philosophy discipline. Writing a philosophy essay envisages asking questions about fundamental ideas and concepts. A good essay should ask insightful, probing questions and provide reasoned and well-argued responses. For writing a good philosophy essay, you need to work at establishing logical relations between your thoughts. To write a philosophy essay successfully, you need to read our guide on how to write a philosophy essay.
Philosophy Essay Structure
In this part, key terms are explained, the question is stated, and the summary of what you are going to argue is presented. Write a thesis statement that will contain the main goal of your essay.
Here you need to include your arguments related to the topic. Show your positions about the main issue. If you are writing about a particular philosophy theory, you may include objections to it. All of the arguments that you present should be supported by evidence.
Here you need to restate your thesis statement. Summarize everything that you have said in your body paragraphs. Don’t include any new information. The conclusion should be of the same size as the introduction.
Steps for Writing a Philosophy Essay
Where to start? Start with the topic. It’s great if the topic is already set. You can write it at the top of the paper and build from it. If you don’t have a topic, you need to spend some time on finding the most appropriate one. But the topic, in most cases, is given to students by teachers. The topic can be broad (“My philosophy” – write about anything you want), or narrow (“the problem is … in the context of …” – example: “The ontological views of Democritus in the context of the development of European science.”). In our opinion, those who have a narrow topic are luckier – they at least immediately understand what to write about. The action plan here is:
- Find information about the sought philosophy, concept, or system on the internet.
- Look at what you have found.
- Choose the least suspicious source. It is desirable that the address should contain philosophy or another version of this word, but this is not necessary. A philosophical dictionary is also suitable. Or, you can use good, sensibly written books on the history of philosophy (“A History of Western Philosophy” for example).
- Study the selected sources.
- Retell the meaning of sources in your own words.
If you are a student of a non-philosophical direction, then these steps are enough. It will be even better if all this is supplemented with quotations from reputable sources. In this case, it is possible that it will be difficult to find fault with the essay. And, of course, add your opinion.
A broad topic is actually not bad, as you can think of a lot of things. For example, we will take the topic mentioned already, “my philosophy,” which frightens students of technical specialties annually.
At first, it would be advantageous to deal with what exactly you would mean by the word “philosophy.” Here again the internet is useful, which can offer a generally accepted definition. If you agree with it, then this is where you need to start. For example: “Agreeing with the generally accepted statement, I understand philosophy as …” and then the necessary text. If you do not agree with the definition, then find another, more appropriate one, for example, given by one of the philosophers. Or you need to tell honestly that you do not know what philosophy is. There is nothing wrong with that. Many philosophers also did not know the definition of philosophy, but they were successfully engaged in it.
Speaking of philosophers: the broad topic provides an opportunity to show your deep knowledge in the field of the history of philosophy. We warn you: do not trust your hearing, as even if you have heard some name in class, you should double-check its spelling, just in case. Due to a small mistake or poor hearing in the audience, the innocent Thales turns into Falos. Often names can be similar to each other, for example, Kant and Conte, but everyone knows that they are absolutely two different people.
So, you show your knowledge, but what next? Next is the choice of position. Before you choose a position, sit down, think, drink tea, understand that life does not make sense (you can do without the last item). The choice of life position is not easy. An elementary option is to support the opinion of one of the recognized authorities. You can’t argue against Aristotle at least because he has been dead for over 2,000 years. But this option is for the most lazy student. You can go further: make up your system from pieces of others. The next method is feeling yourself as Nietzsche. This is also possible, but requires a certain skill.
Include your own opinion. Your personal opinion is the most important thing in the essay. Without this component, it will immediately become a report of poor quality. That is why the personal position should be written out brighter, clearer, and more voluminous than the rest of the text. This does not mean that you need to make these paragraphs bold, just make them the culmination of the text.
Conclude everything that you have mentioned in your essay. Make it brief and without any new information. Your introduction will help you to write a conclusion.
Philosophy Essay Example
Here is a sample of a philosophy essay that will help you to write your own paper if you need to write about yourself.
Am I a Moral Person?
Obviously, a moral person is a person who follows moral rules. The definition may differ from person to person, from society to society, because it depends on the understanding of what is moral. I believe that I am such a person.
Morality may be considered as a system of standards in a certain society that establishes what is good and what is bad (“Morals, Ethics, and Metaethics”). In my society, morality is formed under the influence of Christianity because most of our people are Christians. It means that in order to be a moral person you should follow rules provided in the Bible. But I think that a moral person is not a matter of religious belief. An atheist also may be a moral person without confessing the commandments of God, but at the same time, lives in a way that does not contradict the Holy Scripture. The main principle of morality is not to do bad things to other people. Morality helps people to live and progress together in society.
My moral compass coincides with the views of Michael Stuben. He proposed three rules, which, when adhered to, define a person as moral. These rules are accepting the disadvantages that come with life, to be able to sympathize and forgive anyone for anything (TEDx Talks, 2014). I apply these rules every time; they make me feel good and give personal growth.
I would highlight the ability to sympathize as the core of my moral beliefs. Sympathy helps to prevent the commitment of bad actions because it means to realize what other people feel. I always try to walk in other people’s shoes before I do something that relates to this person.
To conclude, I consider myself as a moral person.
“Morals, Ethics, and Metaethics.” Philosophy.Lander.Edu, https://philosophy.lander.edu/ethics/types.html. Accessed 26 Oct. 2018.
TEDx Talks (2014). How to Be a Moral Person | Michael Stueben | TEDxTJHSST. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWpzFffXdco [Accessed 26 Oct. 2018].
Tips for Writing a Philosophy Essay
- When reading philosophy papers, try to find and also state clearly, without wasted words, what the writer is trying to argue. This is rather difficult, since authors often argue a lot of different claims, and also they do not differentiate as clearly as they might when they argue one main thing. In case you think that the author is arguing many different claims, try to seek and state exactly what such different claims are.
- Whenever you may identify a claim that the writer is arguing in a philosophy essay, try to construct a sound argument that pertains to the philosopher’s claim. It’s important that this is not simply a list of claims which the author makes, but rather an argument in which the conclusion that the writer wants to prove comes from the premises. Most arguments have such form: p; if p then q; so q. Having put the “p,” try to locate the “if p then q,” and also see whether the writer defends this claim. Again this is not easy. A lot of authors don’t accentuate the different stages of the arguments, and often you’re left wondering halfway through your paper: so has the author stated his key argument, or perhaps not yet? Was his argument contained in the very dense passage back there?
- In case you can not construct a good argument in your philosophy essay, ask: Why not? What premise is missing? Has the writer forgotten about such step? Maybe the author is thinking that this missing step is obviously true, and also is it obviously true? The discipline of having to seek a valid argument in philosophy papers can make it more simple to spot gaps; you understand, “Well I’ve worked out what conclusion the writer is arguing for, and I have found one of the premises; however, to get from this premise to the conclusion needs an extra premise, and also there doesn’t seem to be the argument for that.”
- Reading difficult philosophy papers can take a long time; it may take hours, even a couple of days to read through and analyze a philosopher’s article. When reading difficult philosophy papers, it’s often useful to write down some notes; putting things down helps you realize them. Writing verbatim from a difficult essay may also be useful.
Philosophy Essay Topics
- Should patients needing an organ transplant due to habits like drinking or smoking be put at the bottom of the list?
- What is philosophy? How does it differ from myth and religion?
- Does what counts as a good life depend entirely on what a god says is a good life?
- Skepticism (or doubt) plays a crucial role in both Descartes’ “Meditations” and Hume’s “Enquiry.” Write an essay in which you analyze the way in which skepticism (or doubt) functions in each of their projects and explain their attempts to overcome it.
- Present and evaluate Descartes’ ontological argument for the existence of God.
- Compare and contrast Confucius’ “superior man” and Lao Tsu’s ideal way of living in this world.
- What is Aristotle’s theory of highest good?
- Using books VII, X, and XI of the “Confessions,” discuss the role that Neo-Platonism plays in the philosophy of St. Augustine.
- Compare and contrast the conclusions of Descartes and Hume on the concept of “self-identity.” First, accurately state their respective views. Then argue which one is the better or more reasonable explanation. (A complete answer will include your assumptions as well as some general background of Descartes’ Rationalism and Hume’s Empiricism.)
- Why does Plato believe that learning forms is equivalent to recollection?
- What is truth?
- To what extent does modern media influence our social values?
- Explain the role of technology in deepening alienation in the capitalist mode of production for Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
- The ethics of sexual shame.
- What are the spirits of the Chinese and Indian philosophies?
- Explain how you think Bennett’s examples are relevant to Harman’s position while keeping in mind Harman’s account of how observations could provide evidence for claims.
- Why are intellectual virtues important, and how do they relate to moral virtues?
- Do we have free will?
- Describe what Hobbes means by his comment on the state of nature. Explain carefully how he thinks a just or civil society can grow out of that state. How does this relate to “Lord of the Flies”? Do you agree with Hobbes’ view of human nature? Why or why not?
- Compare rationalism and empiricism.
Of course, reading this text will not make you a master in writing philosophical essays. We do not pretend to be like that. But still we hope that we were able to attract your attention, and at least help someone to write an essay according to our guide. However, if philosophy is a boring discipline for you, you may use our writing help. Leave your order on our site and get the paper written according to your specific requirements.