How to Read Philosophy

What is real? Where did we come from? What is the difference between right and wrong? Reading philosophy can reaffirm your beliefs or open the door to a new perspective.

You will need

  • Quiet place to read
  • Dictionary or glossary
  • Research

Step 1 Learn the basics Learn the basic issues of philosophy. Metaphysics asks what reality is made of, epistemology asks what we know and how we know it, ethics asks what right and wrong are, and human nature asks what we are.

Step 2 Read the piece Set aside time to read without interruptions or distractions.

Step 3 Look up unfamiliar words Look up unfamiliar words in a dictionary or in the glossary in your book.

Step 4 Research Know what or who the philosopher is arguing against. Research the culture the philosopher lived in, and what philosophical arguments were being made before or at the same time.

Step 5 Figure out the philosopher's point Figure out what question the philosopher is trying to answer. This will help you figure out the focus of the piece.

Step 6 Assess Assess how well you feel the philosopher answers the question. Examine whether the philosopher’s argument is strong enough, and why the argument does or doesn’t work.