The Final Essay
THE GENERAL IDEA: In this essay, I am asking you to combine opinions, topics, or life events addressed in your freewriting that have culminated in your "platform" with a major philosophical concept. This is a fairly "open" topic because I want you to write about something that you find interesting and personally valuable. At the same time, you do have specific restraints as far as the nature and number of your sources are concerned. One of the main goals of this essay assignment is to encourage you to exercise your critical thinking skills and to engage in a synthesis of your own opinion and experience along with information from varied outside sources. Such writing is at the heart of the best kind of college exposition.
Some steps to take (you may take them in any order, however):
A. YOUR ARGUMENT OR CONCERN: Read over all the freewriting you did this semester including, of course, your Webboard postings. See if you can find a "theme" or area of particular interest or focus within all of these writings that will serve as the main "current issue" that you will be addressing in this essay. Your "platform," as it were, is the stand you are taking in regards to this issue. Sometimes thoughts or events that seem inconsequential can have metaphorical, philosophical, life-defining meanings, so don't disregard ongoing themes (even if they're of a personal nature) in your freewriting.
Please remember that you don't need to take on an ENTIRE issue (gun control, euthanasia, etc.). This paper will not be nearly long enough for you to address these massive topics. Instead, customize the topic so that it focuses in on a containable area of concern and one that, ideally, really matters to you in some way.
As you know, you will have chosen this topic based on what current issues are presented in Current Issues and Enduring Questions. You must assign yourself at least TWO essays to read from our text that relate to the current issue you will be discussing and hand these in to me when you hand in your list of three other outside sources. At least ONE of your outside sources must be an essay from our text relating to your "platform."
B. PHILOSOPHICAL CORNERSTONE: This essay should involve an examination of aspects of the concept of free will and/or obedience as presented in any of the following essays in Current Issues and Enduring Questions. You must include citations from one of these articles in your essay, so it will count as at least ONE of your required sources:
a. Plato, "Crito"
Once you think you know which of these areas might best work for your essay, you will need to read a few more pieces in the corresponding chapter in the textbook. Do not rest your essay only on the pieces that were assigned for class--it will pay off if you explore a few more.
C. OUTSIDE SOURCES: What outside thinking or sources can you pull in to this basically personal essay? How can you make it important personally but also engage in "debate" or "conversation" with other thinkers? Can you blend the personal and academic? Don't hesitate to use family history or personal experience or to interview academics or other people who might be able to give you insight on your topic. You'll need at least five outside sources to get credit for this essay.
D. ARGUE A POINT: It's a challenge to make this essay stringently argumentative, but give it a try. You all have the tools to do this now. At the very least, your essay must be persuasive.
E. OTHER VARIATIONS (AND MORE SPECIFIC POSSIBILITIES): First--the above essay assignment is vague because I'd like you to develop your own more specific and uniquely interesting topic. It's a skill that will serve you well not just in college, but in life. But, if you want more direction or if you are going to vary at all from the assignment, please contact me immediately, and certainly before Thursday, March 29. After that time, I will assume that you have your argument, and that your sense of how to incorporate concepts of free will and/or obedience well under control.
2. Use at least five sources as follows:
4. Correctly formatted "Works Cited" list placed at the end of the essay.
Deadlines for this essay (please see our schedule for the entire list of homework due and other deadlines):
1. Tuesday, April 3 DUE:
A. A list of at least three sources that you intend to use in your essay.
2. Thursday, April 5 DUE: A typed presentation that you will read to
the class on your essay topic. The presentation should:
3. Tuesday, April 10 DUE: DRAFT
4. Tuesday, April 17 DUE: Typed peer evaluation (this is graded and is worth approximately ½ an essay grade)
5. Thursday, April 26 DUE: REVISION
Another note: If you have not yet met me in conference, please plan to meet with me either during my office hours or on April 12 or April 20 to discuss your progress with this piece.
Please see our syllabus for other draft and revision expectations. Please also keep in mind that I will be grading this essay using the criteria that we reviewed at the beginning of the semester. Some of the grading will also, of course, be based the successful fulfillment of the various research, source, and topic requirements of this essay.