I’m working on a philosophy writing question and need support to help me learn.
Once you have selected a passage, read it through slowly and thoughtfully as many times as necessary, making notes and asking questions. It is best to study it without the distractions of music, the web, a cell-phone, or conversation. Also, it’s best to set it aside between readings while posing questions to yourself to think about. Remember that close reading is a special kind of reading. It does not merely engage you closely with a text, but it is also a practice that promotes your mental harmony through patient reflection. In addition, it is quite a free method, encouraging creativity.
In close reading it is important to take every word as indispensable to the meaning. No matter how verbose, obscure, or difficult the style seems to you to be, the authors you will read in this course are among the most careful, precise, and insightful thinkers who ever lived. None of them wastes even one single word. Consider each word in terms of the whole reading, but also look closely and the rhetoric, architecture, and argument in your passage.
Consider how the words work with one another, how the ideas work with one another, and how the ideas and the words work or do not work with one another. Try to understand what is said, what is not said, and what is implied. Seek out conflicts as well as harmonies in the author’s presentation. Look for readings of the text that are contrary to your first impressions or to conventional understandings—and to my exposition of the text, for that matter.
Try to pinpoint the evidence, assumptions, or stipulations, if any, from which the author starts examining the issue.
Lay out the sequence of inferences the author uses in developing the idea.
Identify metaphors and similes and their role in the argument.
Look for arrangements of words by which the author clarifies the relationships of ideas and/or stirs the reader’s feelings.
Bring to your awareness any of the associations that the text gives rise to in your mind, any fears or anxieties the text provokes, feelings such as anger or hope; use these to deepen your responsive and critical reading.
Imagine any meanings or implication not expressly given or directly considered in the text but that we require in order to understand the text.
analyze this passage and read the rules
“Besides these calm passions, which often determine the will, there are certain violent emotions of the same kind, which have a great influence on that faculty likewise. When I receive injury from another, I often feel a violent passion of resentment, which makes me desire his evil and punishment, independent of all considerations of pleasure and advantage to myself. When I am immediately threaten’d with any grievous ill, my fears, apprehensions, and aversions rise to a great height, and produce a sensible emotion.” (Page 268 paragraph 2)