Philosophical Essay

Philosophical Essay-65
When you have looked at a reasonable amount of secondary material you should then - if your reading of that material has not already forced you to do so - go back to the primary texts and read them carefully.If you are working with a textbook such as Cottingham's , which provides only extracts from the great philosophers of the past (and present), it may be necessary to go beyond what the textbook provides and read whole texts or at least larger extracts than your textbook provides. In the past at Sussex, none of our courses made use of textbooks: students were required to find the sources themselves in the library, and were often asked to read whole texts (treatises, dialogues etc.) even though the seminar discussion might focus on only part of the set texts.

When you have looked at a reasonable amount of secondary material you should then - if your reading of that material has not already forced you to do so - go back to the primary texts and read them carefully.

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In the past there was no such gap: students and professionals read exactly the same texts and were thus in a sense equals.

I do not think the gap need be harmful so long as you are aware that it exists and, where possible, try to overcome it by going direct to publications of complete texts.

Some of these essays are now regarded as classics; six others are published here for the first time.

Each of them, from "Macbeth's Dagger" to "Negative Existentials" and "Propositions of Pure Logic" is a model of craftsmanship and clarity of thought.

You have some idea of the terrain, and some interest in exploring it further (that's why you're doing philosophy), but you (like the rest of us) need help, and that help is readily available in the form of the writings of the great classic philosophers, and the commentaries on them and continuing discussions of their problems provided by modern philosophers.

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Reading these writings will put you in touch with the issues, and it will also (as I stress in my notes on Grammar and Style) acquaint you with the formal aspects of writing philosophy: it will supply you with stylish and grammatically accomplished models of philosophical writing. Some are able to read philosophical texts as if they were novels, perhaps without even taking notes, but most of us need to approach these difficult texts more circumspectly.

We have moved over to using textbooks in our first-year provision on an experimental basis, and we are including them elsewhere in our array, because we want to ensure (as was not the case in the past) that students have access to the relevant primary sources, and can bring them to seminars.

But clearly the drawback of moving to textbook-based courses is that a gap potentially opens between the student experience of doing philosophy and the professional experience - because of course professional philosophers cannot rely on textbooks, but must examine relevant texts in their entirety and must obtain these texts even if it is difficult to do so (even if it involves, for example, travelling to a copyright library, something I personally have to do regularly).

Today we publish over 30 titles in the arts and humanities, social sciences, and science and technology.

MIT Press Journals Richard Cartwright is one of the most clearheaded, astute, and penetrating philosophers in this country.

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