On this page you’ll find links to download the readings zip file and our course syllabus:
Tips for reading difficult philosophy passages:
Reading philosophy, especially contemporary philosophy, is like working your way through a maze. Remember you are joining a 2500 year old conversation in midstream and some of the concepts and passages will seem rather obscure at first. Philosophers use a lot of specialized terminology to refer to the ways in which we perceive and process information.
When I explain readings in class it looks relatively easy because I have experience in the field and can anticipate the context under which the assigned essay was written. A great way to learn a little more about each writer that we cover is to do some general research on your own. For example, you could spend 20 minutes or so on the web looking up the name of the author just to see what he/she has written about in the past. Lots of pages are devoted solely to one thinker and you’ll uncover valuable general background information that may help explain why/how the author wrote a particular essay.
In the beginning:
- Read difficult passages in the text more than once.
- Write down the terms that you do not understand and bring them to class.
- Write down any questions that you have while you are reading. Bring them to class and ask me to explain when we review the material.
As the course becomes more difficult:
- Learn about your work style.
- At what time of day do you work best?
- Do you prefer a quiet work environment or background noise to fill the void?
- Do you learn best when you read (visual learning style), or when you hear (auditory learning style), or when you work through exercises (kinetic learning style)? Most people learn best with a mix of all three.
- Learn to manage your time.
- Time yourself and note how long it takes you to read a section.
- Budget time in advance to work on reading assignments.
- Make the work environment pleasant so that you enjoy your surroundings.
- Divide large work tasks into small 45 minute units.
- Set small goals for completing a certain amount of reading.
- If you finish early, reward yourself with an early break.
- Readjust your schedule if you find that you are scheduling too few, or too many, tasks.
- Only schedule intense study for one hour periods with 10-15 minute breaks in between. Studies show that the adult attention span is about 40 minutes and our bodies need rest/relaxation at regular intervals.
- If you find that you are putting in six or more hours of study time per week and still having great difficulty mastering material, see me for an appointment. I am here to assist you.
These tips are “best practices” for the study of philosophy. If you have tips/suggestions that you would like to add to the list, e-mail me and I’ll review the additions.