How do I compose a paper analyzing a philosophical work?


I am thoroughly analyzing Plato's Symposium.I would like advice on how to compose an essay/paper on what I have read. I have written notes from many times I have gone and reread the dialogues. I have my own thoughts and opinions when it comes to each of the characters in the dialogues but what should my paper be about? I have seen essays focusing on a single character, so should I write several essays on each character? I do not want to just regurgitate what I read, nor rephrase the viewpoints of the characters, I want to provide an original analysis but I am having a difficult time deciding what is the best route to take.It is not for any academic purpose.


Posted 2016-07-18T04:29:36.467

Reputation: 129

2The main task of philosophical writing is exact formulation of a question/thesis that determines the contents. Is there a point you consider yet unadressed? Is there something unclear to you? Make it a thesis and explore it in writing. Nobody can/should take this burden for you. – Philip Klöcking – 2016-07-18T05:56:09.060

Also can you clarify what a "literary analysis" means? Do you have guidelines or something to that extent? The term is not a universal term in philosophy. – virmaior – 2016-07-18T11:23:34.060

What I mean by literary analysis is to evaluate and analyze Plato's Symposium, perhaps I used the incorrect word. It is not a philosophical paper, just an overall summary analyzing the text. – Sphygmomanometer – 2016-07-18T22:08:52.867

1First: learn to distinguish summary from analysis. Second: look at examples you admire to see how they did it. When you have thought of some examples, add them to your question so that we have some way to guess what kind of thing you mean. How you should do this depends entirely on why you want to do it. – Colin McLarty – 2016-07-18T23:06:26.593

Your comment made me realize what I should do. I was briefly skimming through various academic essays on the Symposium, essays on the forms of love presented, on the individual speakers, etc. and I realized I should come up with my own topic and work at it from there. In this way I rely on myself for ideas rather than bother others. Thank you. @ColinMcLarty – Sphygmomanometer – 2016-07-19T07:24:46.593

A "summary" (or outline or precis) is the most common philosophy paper in introductory and mid-level undergraduate classes. If you're looking at the Symposium in literature, however, the goals will be completely different. – virmaior – 2016-07-19T09:06:31.520



There are basically two ways to go with this, you can either attempt to show a single overriding theme or through-line argument progressing through all of The Symposium, or you can choose a single one of its stories and unpack its meaning and implications.

On the face of it, you can either focus on explaining what Plato's intentions were, or you can use the discussion as a way to advance your own original argument. Any time you explain another philosopher's work, however, you inevitably introduce your own perspective, and any time you want to explain your own perspective, it's helpful to begin by extending another philosopher's work, so those two approaches really aren't that different.

The one thing I wouldn't do is a series of unconnected essays --you'll want to develop a single theme, argument or perspective if you want your final product to have any impact. Best of luck, I applaud you making these efforts independent of any academic requirement.

Chris Sunami supports Monica

Posted 2016-07-18T04:29:36.467

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