Rules for response paper (from my professor):

– MLA Format

– You don’t want to abruptly change topics from sentence to sentence. Each should flow into the next. For example, avoid something like the following: “Descartes argues that the mind and body are separate from each other. He talks about whether or not we can trust our senses or if we are dreaming. His argument that God exists is an ontological argument.” Each of these three statements has nothing to do with the previous one. In general, it’s better to pick one of these ideas and explain it in detail, and then leave the others out altogether. You don’t have to summarize every point in the readings, and in fact it’s better if you don’t.

– You should summarize the reading but also find a way to indicate your response. For example: whether you agree or disagree, ask a pointed question about the reading, relate the reading to some current event or life experience, etc.

– You should assume that your reader has not read the original text, and is also too lazy to do so. This means that they should be able to get the general idea of what the reading is about from reading your writeup. If I write “Explain,” that usually means I don’t think you did a good enough job of doing this. For example, if you just mention some technical concept in the reading like “qualia” offhand, then I’ll probably put “Explain” right there; no way most people are going to know what the hell qualia are without you trying to explain it.

Stay in present tense: Even though Plato has obviously been dead for thousands of years, the accepted form is to write about his ideas in the present tense. Don’t say, “Plato believed that the intelligible world is more real than the sensible world.” Say “Plato believes that the intelligible world is more real than the sensible world.”

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