The purpose of this assignment is three fold: (1) to demonstrate college level writing skills (Gordon Rule); (2) to demonstrate critical thinking skills (analysis/deductive reasoning), and (3) to demonstrate philosophical reasoning. The first goal is achieved through writing a grammatically sound essay that has a thesis, good sentences, and well developed paragraphs. And, the second goal is achieved through a critical analysis of an assigned topic. This involves presenting theory, explaining new concepts, using original illustrations, and finding interesting implications of the view under discussion. Students must apply critical thinking skills to successfully complete this component of this assignment. The word 'analysis' means a process of breaking something down to its smallest components. In an analytical essay, the aim is to explain the main issue/problem and the supporting or opposing arguments using original illustrations. And third, the last goal is achieved by assuming a first person position on one or some of the major issues raised during the analysis and then supporting this position with good reasons or arguments. Doing philosophy requires the philosopher to directly accept responsibility for the defense of his or her positions.
This assignment is a special writing project with specific requirements. It is not simply a summary essay nor is it simply an opinion paper. Students are asked to engage in philosophical reasoning. To be successful, they must follow this guideline.
1. Analyze Thomas Nagel's views as presented in his work, "What does it all mean?"
2. More specifically, analyze Chapters 2, 6, and 10. For each chapter, you should present the major issue or problem and the main arguments or ideas that Nagel uses in his discussion.
3. Nagel must be included in your essay by name and as the source of the issues and the different concepts that he introduces.
4. Each chapter requires its own section heading and within that section you must only discuss that one chapter. Do not mix other chapter information other than for transitional purposes when going from one section to another.
5. Each section must be two full pages or more in order to receive full credit for that section. A good section is usually three or four pages long. Sections may be longer than four pages.
6. This essay is one, continuous essay, with no additional spacing to make it longer than it needs to be. That is, do not attempt to begin each chapter on a separate page or points will be deducted.
7. An Introduction and a Conclusion must be part of this essay. The Introduction establishes your thesis and the Conclusion presents what is to be inferred from the three chapters.
8. This book is available in print through the bookstore and on Amazon.com. Use any version for this assignment.
9. Several sites offer a version of this book for free. Search. Also, Google: Thomas Nagel What does it all mean? pdf and might find a copy online of an older version of this text.
10. For a version of Nagel's book in Spanish, Google: "Que significa todo esto?" Note: Your essay must be written in English. This Spanish translation is provide for Spanish speaking students, if they need the extra assistance.
1. Always consider your audience. While writing, assume that you are writing to a critical thinking audience.
2. You should use original examples to illustrate theories and concepts. These examples should come from sources familiar to you. For example, they may come from your personal experiences, a friend’s experience, or even a movie that you may have personally watched. In explaining an idea that Nagel has introduced you must define it as Nagel does, with or without a quote. Afterwards, you should illustrate this idea using different examples than the ones that Nagel used. In order to demonstrate critical thinking, you MUST USE YOUR OWN EXAMPLES. Thirty percent of the grade for this assignment is based on demonstrating critical thinking skills. If you merely repeat Nagel's examples, then your grade will be reduced accordingly: the more you use, the lower your grade becomes.
3. You may compare and contrast different claims, theories, or issues in order to shed light on the main idea of a section. But, do not compare one section to another section, unless it is in the Conclusion.
4. In this assignment, you are entitled to have your own point of view. Please feel free to share them. In fact, you must present and defend some of your own views in order to receive the highest possible grade.
5. You should read the sample student essays before beginning to write. These essays give you a fantastic view of successful student essays. They show how previous students were able to successfully complete all three aspects of this assignment: (1) Gordon Rule Grammar ; (2) critical thinking; and (3) philosophical reasoning. Each essay demonstrates a different path to achieving an "A" on this assignment. However, there are hundreds of paths to an "A," so, do not attempt to plagiarize these sample essays. Some of the chapters discussed in the sample essays may not be the same as the ones that you are assigned. The purpose of these essays is to illustrate successful approaches and acceptable grammar.
6. Your essay must be original in order to receive Gordon Rule credit. For it to be original, you must write 80% of the essay that you submit. This means that 80% of the total number of words submitted must be your own sentences and paragraphs. In other words, only 20% of the total number of words submitted may be quotes