One of the most important skills of the philosopher is to distinguish the types of philosophical works and the ability to correctly use their diversity.
The form of work is one of the tools for expressing thoughts and is used to achieve a specific philosophical goal. So there is no one universal form – its use depends on the assumed goal.
Introduction: from the history of the issue
During the historical development of philosophy, the methods of philosophizing have undergone changes. A necessity to perpetuate philosophical considerations in writing was quickly recognized – it allowed us to consolidate our own thoughts and let us operate a wider range of material for reflection. Philosophy – despite the protests of some great philosophers – over the years has become a field in which the main activity is focused on written work.
Every epoch in the history of philosophy is characterized by the fact that some characteristic types of expression are preferred. When reading old philosophers, it is worth paying attention to the forms abandoned today (eg dialogue). The question of the form of philosophical considerations was the most elaborated and systematized in scholasticism.
This study is to show the most commonly used forms of philosophical expression. The following division is not a systematic division, it is also not exhaustive – it is rather a guide for people who want to undertake a philosophical activity.
Reports and summaries
This is one of the simplest types of philosophical works. For their part, such works are mostly of a reproductive nature. Nevertheless, you can indicate in them the elements of your own creativity. They hide in the fact that each reporting of views is necessarily their interpretation. This is the element of interpretation (which manifests itself even in the choice of what we consider to be important), decides mainly on the value of this type of development.
Reports and summaries are a good philosophical exercise – they force you to acquire the skills of correctly reporting foreign views. Contrary to appearances, it is a difficult art that requires learning and improvement. Its philosophical meaning is obvious.
How to write reports?
The report is a report from a specific event (conference, trip, exhibition, etc.) written by its participant. Below are some tips on how to write a report and what basic information should be included in it.
it is required to provide the date and location of the event which we report
At the beginning, the organizers, possibly more characteristic participants should be mentioned (eg in the case of conferences – speakers)
information about the course of events should be presented chronologically – avoid chaos in the composition of work
the choice of the reported facts depends on the author of the report, but it is worth highlighting the most important issues among them
the description of the events should be objective, but it is worth emphasizing the values (or pointing out shortcomings), provided that they do not dominate the work – the report is mainly informative
the report should be concise and specific – we do not cover each point of the program in detail
The value of this type of work results from their applications:
- they can be a source of information for other people (eg conference report)
- they are a tool for developing a given philosophical text
- they are a tool for organizing learning (they allow you to easily cover a large amount of material)
- What to look for?
- Here’s a collection of suggestions (tips) that can help you write this type of work.
- Did I understand the problem reported? (What seems vague to me? Why?)
- Is the report adequate?
- Have all relevant issues been captured? (Why did I consider selected issues important?)
- Is the language of work communicative? (Will someone else, or myself after the passage of time, be able to understand the summary?)
- Has the work been intentionally read bias?
The review belongs to the most difficult types of philosophical works – it contains elements of the summary, but also the author’s critical remarks, which gives them the characteristics of creative work. The most difficult element is criticism, because it requires great philosophical competence and great responsibility for the presented words.
In philosophy, the subject of reviews is usually a specific book about philosophy (less popular or other).
Objectives of the review
Presenting a new book on the publishing market to the reader.
Reporting content analysis.
Book evaluation (possibly recommendation).
Philosophical polemics – this is one of the most important ways of philosophizing.
Indications in which direction the issues should be developed.
The introduction should contain the following information:
- the author and the title of the book being reviewed (it is worth posting a short information about the author of the book),
- publishing house, in the case of foreign items also information related to the translation,
- The origin of the book (if we know it),
- the reason why we want to review a given book,
2. Reporting part
This is part of the review in which we present the contents of the book, therefore it contains the following elements:
- presentation of the structure of the work (division into parts, chapters),
- presenting problems (in relation to the title of the book),
- brief overview of the main themes raised by the author of the book, including preliminary observations and the review made by the reviewer
- comments about the recipient of the book
3. The critical part
This is a particularly important part of the review – it presents the thoughts and opinion of the reviewer related to the work discussed above. Addressing the work is a difficult task – it requires giving arguments for our position and striving for the most objective approach to the problem.
Criticism in philosophy is divided into two groups:
External criticism – arguments are formulated outside the given system (current). It is often questioned because it is based on different assumptions or a misunderstanding of the original position.
Internal criticism – this is the most valuable form of philosophical criticism; theses are broken down with arguments built on the same assumptions. This form of criticism requires a thorough understanding of the author’s views. The formulation of correct internal criticism of important theses is an important step in the development of philosophical thought.
Other elements of the review
The review should be given title – it is the first information about the book’s problems. In addition, an interesting title of the review attracts the attention of the potential reader.
The review must contain bibliographic information of the reviewed work.
Differences in requirements
It is worth remembering that the nature of the review, its style and even its appearance (arrangement of elements) depends on the editorial office of the journal in which we want to publish. You must therefore read the editorial requirements – for this purpose it is good to read several reviews published in the magazine we are interested in.
What to look for?
Here is a collection of suggestions (tips) that can help you write reviews (some are identical to those in reports).
Did I understand the problem reported? (What seems vague to me? Why?)
Is the reporting part adequate?
Am I competent to evaluate the book?
Are the assessments unilateral?
Did not your own philosophical views override the value of the reviewed work?
What is the nature of reservations about the reviewed work?
Do not I use unlawful arguments? (e.g., ad personam)
Can I take responsibility for all written sentences?
A paper is an oral form of presentation of a chosen issue – it consists in delivering a previously prepared topic to an audience, and then taking discussions with the audience. The aim of the paper is therefore not only to present “dry content”, but to signal interesting problems, raise important questions.
How to prepare for the paper?
Initial preparations are of general nature, their aim is to orientate themselves in the topic of the paper, in this context it is worth paying attention to the following issues:
- formulation of the topic (at the beginning it may be approximate),
- what information should be included in the paper (creating a paper plan),
- what materials will be needed to prepare the presentation
A paper, even though it is an oral statement, should also be prepared in writing. Its form usually depends on the preferences of the speaker – they may be loose notes, bullets on the most important issues, a summary, or even quite accurate writing down the planned presentation. This enables gathering and organizing thoughts – giving a speech “from the head” may be a chaotic presentation, difficult to read. In addition, the jitters, even light, accompanying the speaker may also cause confusion, resulting in a worse effect.
We prepare the paper on the basis of books, philosophical articles, popular science articles, etc., therefore it is worth paying attention to the appropriate selection of literature. This is very important, because firstly, when we are preparing for a speech, we learn ourselves (it is worth choosing good literature recommended by someone), secondly, the speaker is an expert on the subject, or even a specialist in a given issue, so he should present how best preparation.
The paper should not be prepared at the “last minute” (especially the day before it occurs!) – the first phrases are usually modified, improved, and such treatments require some time. In addition, prior preparation of the sketch will allow you to think about a given issue, better understanding of the topic and allows further deepening the initial ideas and the intention of the paper.
How to spice up your paper?
Diversifying the paper may be the preparation of a multimedia presentation, which is a help for the speaker, as well as attracting the audience’s attention. However, the preparation of a good presentation requires additional time and knowledge of certain guidelines. The rules for creating the presentation can be found here
It is worth to tell a curiosity and anecdote that is directly related to the subject (especially if the paper is longer) – such a procedure revives the listeners. It should be considered that through various digressions, do not move too far away from the subject of the speech and not lose its essential plot.
When preparing and giving a talk, pay attention to the language of the speech – it should be approachable, adapted to recipients, grammatically correct.
The article is a presentation of own research on selected issues. It is a written work intended for publication in a book, magazine, etc. Therefore, the content requirements (substantive and methodological) are related to it.