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Philosophical Writing

Objective: To help students write something valuable so that they might begin to develop their own style.

We ask “why” such thing happen and justify it.

Analytical philosophy

specific- “truth” orderly, clearly, and precise way.

How to write clearly, concise, and precise philosophical prose.

General Considerations

1. Grammar

- Half of good philosophy is a good grammar.

- Good philosophical writing is grammatical but there is virtually nothing about grammar in philosophical writing.

If a person can write a series of consistently grammatical sentences about philosophical subject, then that person
probably has a coherent idea of what he is discussing.

Virtually, all students know these rules of grammar, and yet mere rules are often flagrantly violated in their
philosophical prose.

1. Philosophy often try to assign things to their proper categories and those philosophically contrived
categories are not clear or at least they are initially hard to understand.
2. Sometimes the attempt to say something new and correct about the limits of reality causes the grammar to
break down completely.
The intellect understands- grammatically correct
- Essentially wrong

The person is the one who understands, not the intellect alone.

The will wills – grammatically correct but essentially wrong.

The person is the one who wills not the will alone.

3. Students often write patently ungrammatical sentences is that the philosophy that they have read seems
that way to them.
4. If you found yourself writing a paragraph or sentence that is grammatically out of control, then your
though is probably ou8t of control. Consequently, you can use your own prose as a measure of the degree to
which you understand the issue you are writing about and an index to the parts of an essay that need more
- Charles Young
 After making an essay, read it again and if there are any corrections do it. DON’T BE AFRAID TO BE
5. Another related criterion of good philosophical writing is PRECISION. Don’t run around the bush when
writing, emphasize the content not the type of language to be used.
 Since the language is the expression of the thought, clear language is the expression of clear thought.
 Writing style should facilitate the comprehension of philosophy. Style should enhance clarity
6. If half of good philosophy is good grammar, the other half is good thinking
 What are the two aspects of good philosophical writing?
 Good Thinking and Good Grammar
The goal of analytic philosophy, as it is understood here, is the truth, presented in a clear, orderly, well-
The goal of analysis, in its broad sense, is to make philosophy less difficult than it otherwise would be.
Anyone can make a subject difficult, it takes an accomplished thinker to make a subject simple.
7. Philosophical writing has taken many forms including dialogue, essay, drama, poetry & fiction.

First, it is the form in which you are most likely to be asked to write.
Second, it is the easiest form to write in.
Third, currently the standard form for professional philosophers.
8. The well-worn but sound advice that an essay should have a beginning, middle, and an end applies to
philosophical essays too.
9. Philosophical writing is intended to be practical. It is supposed to help you write better and there by
improve your ability to present your thoughts.


The student is the author and the professor is the audience.

The professor as audience.

- It is indispensable for an author to know who the audience is.

- While an author usually chooses his intended audience. The student’s audience is
imposed on him.

Goals of the author in lieu with his audience.

It is the student’s job to show his professor that he understands what the professor already knows.

To show the professor that he knows some philosophical doctrine by giving an accurate rendering of it.

Further, the student must show that he knows, not simply what propositions have been espoused by certain
philosophers but why they hold them.

Must show that he knows the structure of the arguments used to prove a philosophical position.


1. The audience is intelligent yet uninformed.

2. The student must state his thesis and then explain what he/she means
3. He must prove his thesis or at least provide good evidence of it.
4. All technical terms have to be explained as if the audience knew a little or no philosophy by using ordinary
words in their ordinary senses.
5. In addition to NEOLOGISMS (new words), words with ordinary meaning often have technical meaning in
philosophy. You should connect right definition of terms
6. It is his responsibility to show the professor that he knows the meaning of those terms.


1. I must not be intrusive (causing disruption/ annoyance)

2. Convictions on important issues that are the result of investigation and reflection deserve the courage
needed to defend them.
- I must have a stand in everything that is being asked to write for
3. It is very unlikely that your personal life should be exposed in writing, at least in the terms.
4. Specific incidence in your life also have no place in your essay, considered as your experiences.
5. An author inescapably has the role of creator. Since he is responsible for the words of his essay, He has a
transcendence perspective (I must not be driven by my feelings) of his essay.
6. The point is that the more objective the author’s standpoint better. There is never any need for an author
to cast his own examples.
7. I write to present my own beliefs.


 Some authors have used in making philosophical writing.


- Wild guess, foresight, presumptions, gut-feeling
- Pre-theoretical judgment
- -statements that we really do not need deep reflection.

- A systematic explanation
- Studied, observed


- Right balance between theory/ intuition

Our recognition of TRUTH composed of two:



What is an essay?


- Any discourse ought to be constructed like a living creature, with its own body, as it
were, it must not lack either head or feet, it must have a middle or extremities so
composed as to suit each other and the whole work (Socrates, Phaedrus)

Essay = Written Discourse

Socrates – Head- Body- Feet

Man is composed of different elements. Likewise, an essay.


- “Say what you are going to do: do it; say what you have done” – Winston Churchill

Introduction- 10%
Body- 80%
Conclusion- 10%


I. State the propositions to be proved.

II. Give the argument
III. Show it is valid.
IV. Show that the premises are true
V. Show the upshot of what has been proven

I. State the propositions to be proved.

 Beginning is also known as thesis statement,
 Aristotle on speech: “A speech has two parts; state the thesis and prove it.
 The statement of the thesis comes first before the proof.
 Start with the intro.

The reader will have great difficulty in understanding the relevance of the premise. From any proposition, an
infinite number of proposition follows.


Since philosophy can be difficult to establish a rapport together with your audience.

Your principal purpose in writing a philosophical essay is truth for truth (veritas gratia veritatis) another purpose,
however, maybe to show your professor that you know the material.

II. Give the argument for the proposition

 Get out all your premises as soon as possible. But still in general.
 This gives the reader the opportunity to see the general structure of the argument.
 The reader has a chance to see the overall picture of how are going to get your thesis.

III. Show that the argument is valid.

 Show your argument to be valid
“Plan ahead of time before typing”
 That the premises you have set out will in fact get you to your conclusion
Relations must be connected.
 Explains how premises entail your conclusion.

IV. Show that the premises are true.

 State evidence for your premises. This is the most direct and straightforward way of pressing
your case.
 Typically, your audience will be more or less dubious about one or more of your premises.
 Raising the objections that you anticipate your reader might have will help clear the air of
doubt if you can answer those questions.
 Answering the objections. will solidify your case and it more concretely persuade the reader.

V. State the upshot of what has been proven

 End of the essay
 Ending the essay through several ways.
o Summarize, it can assume a lot.
o End through explaining implication.
o I0pmportance of the results