Critical Reading and Note-Taking Strategies

  As a result. philosophy also came closer to what we now regard as religion. to explain the implications for everyday human life.  The ultimate goal of learning philosophy was to live a good.”  Philosophers will raise: . philosophers like Epicurus and Epictetus thought it imperative to present an account of god (or the gods). “In its origins. all-round flourishing life. and to practice what they taught.  It was a discipline intended to shape people’s lives.”  “Philosophy today is an academic discipline clearly distinct from both religion and the sciences.Conceptual questions . not merely an academic subject.

to behave differently. clarifying concepts that we use in everyday discourse 2.Reading Philosophical Texts The primary goals of philosophical texts include: 1. to work at improving our characters or our community . exposing assumptions that we make without noticing them 3. persuading us to see ourselves differently. pointing out inconsistencies in our reasoning 4.

- .Highlighting is no substitute for note-taking because you can do it without much thought. Read for claims. Epicurus.From our readings so far.Get in the habit of taking notes as you read (or making notes in the margins when you identify a key term. a basic idea that Stoics and Epicureans share. and evidence . 1.Don’t assume you know what even familiar terms mean (i. or some other philosopher means by it. reasons. happiness is often described as tranquility (or freedom from disturbance). Read thoughtfully and critically . . It’s best to accept "happiness" as the vague term it is. .e. then decide from the text what Epictetus. “happiness”). Ex. claim. reason or evidence.How To Read a Philosophical Text Slow down 2.

Using a cell phone while driving is dangerous because distractions are a proven cause of auto accidents. Reasons: provides a rationale or a condition for accepting the claim. transitional sentences. Reasons. Using a cell phone while driving is dangerous. For reading academic texts. [Ex. or in summary materials and the end of sections.Reading for Claims.Look for claims in topic sentences. or presents a hypothesis. [Ex.Begin by identifying the claims writers make and the reasons they make them Claims: passages in the text where a writer makes an assertion. for which the writer will provide evidence.] . & Evidence Browsing online has made many of us superficial readers. read more systematically and analytically 1. offers an argument.] .

. Reasons. and unbiased. when people say “I know where you’re coming from” they signal they get your assumptions. . Examine the assumptions they work from and the evidence they present. .Writers typically assume they share basic premises with at least some of their readers. We should discourage behaviors that contribute to accidents. complete. reliable.If you find yourself asking “according to who?” or “why?” you may have found an assumption the writer makes. They can be specific. Assumptions (or premises): the values upon which writers and researches base their work. . conventional.Ex.Review evidence skeptically. Evidence: information used to support or confirm major claims or assumptions. & Evidence 2. . or highly controversial.In oral arguments. .Reading for Claims. always judging whether it’s sufficient.

to our understanding of a text. or at least close enough.  If a word has exceptional importance for your essay.Writing Essay About Philosophical Texts 1.  Even an ordinary phrase.  Long. just for the sake of variety.   That holds for terminology also holds for grammar.  Paraphrase uses different words but contributes little. mean.  Clarity.   Think twice about introducing synonyms later in your essay.” try to explain what you mean by it.   Half the battle of writing a philosophical essay is explaining what you do. Do not substitute “pleasure” or some other word for “happiness” on the assumption that its meaning is roughly the same.  Clear writing wins much higher marks than more beautiful but more ambiguous writing. such as the word “happiness. if anything. complex sentences can often be interpreted in more than one way. such as “the love of god. learn to distinguish exposition of a text from mere paraphrase.  Exposition requires analysis: What theses does the text aim to prove?  What are the arguments for them?  .  (Does it mean a human being’s love for god or god’s love for a human being?)   Above all.” can be ambiguous. and do not.

the more trouble readers have discerning what is indeed relevant.  .  Relevance.  Do they support only the conclusion you want to establish. ask yourself how relevant they actually are. or could they also support a different conclusion?  The more extraneous material you include.  When giving reasons or bits of textual evidence supporting your thesis.Writing Essay About Philosophical Texts 2.

outline the main points you want to make.  Conciseness. the less likely it is that you will wander off-track when drafting the essay.  • First. considering what you actually wrote. clinical eye. and revising to clarify your statements. not just what you meant. looking for .  Unnecessary remarks should be avoided for the same reason that irrelevant remarks should be avoided: they make your essay harder to follow.Writing Essay About Philosophical Texts 3.  • Unfortunately.  Then go through the draft again. finish the draft soon enough so that you have ample time to revise it before the deadline.  There are two ways to solve this problem. and a combination of both works best. when beginning an essay you may have only a vague idea of what it is necessary to discuss.  Begin by reading it critically. with a cold.  • Second. because drafts should be longer than the finished product.  The more planning you do in advance.  Never worry when drafting that your work is running too long.  Add some notes about what you need to say about each point. in a logical order.

You focus your attention with close reading. You will use these skills to contribute to classroom discussion. The better you are at “reading” what other people may say.“Active interpretive skills are a key part of understanding others’ rhetoric. and you develop not only your awareness of them. The skills you will learn to analyze texts will help you not only to understand other people’s arguments and locate key elements in their rhetoric. the more persuasive your own interpretations will be. support original claims in your essays. but your own response. but also identify ways in which you can interpret and respond to it. critique your peer .

Language choice affects the audience's emotional response. An ethos-driven document relies on the reputation or credibility of the author/speaker.Two Methods for Active Reading Method 1: Active close reading with Rhetorical appeals: Ethos-LogosPathos (and Time and Place) 1. Pl=place). We can look at texts ranging from classic essays to contemporary advertisements to see how pathos.  Logos Logos is appeal based on logic or reason. . T=time. and cannot be emphasized enough. and tagging them in the margin (E=ethos. are used to persuade. emotional appeals. Giving reasons is the heart of argumentation. underlining key words or key phrases that seem to you to suggest rhetorical appeals as presented in lecture. Note: You may find some statements invoke multiple types of appeals Ethos Ethos is appeal based on the character of the speaker. Pathos Pathos means persuading by appealing to the reader's emotions. Read the passage through. P=pathos. L=logos. and emotional appeal can effectively be used to enhance an argument.

Close reading is a crucial skill for literature students to master and will be useful to you in writing many kinds of papers in the English discipline. with the goal of bringing forth a richer understanding of the passage and of the work as a whole. of a passage (i.e. a few lines) in a literary work.edu/programs/humcore/Student/WritersHandbook/Ch2_ActiveReadingTe . on different levels.uci. https://eee.Two Methods for Active Reading Method 2: Active close reading line-by-line What is a close reading?  Traditionally.. See the document titled “Close-reading guidelines” on our website. a close reading is a very detailed analysis.

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