The authors of all sample student papers in this Web site have given their permission in writing to have their work included in WritingforCollege.org . All samples remain copyrighted by their original authors. Other than showcasing it on this website, none should be used without the explicit permission of the author.
Unless otherwise noted, sample papers do not necessarily meet all requirements an individual instructor or professional supervisor may have: ask your instructor or supervisor. In addition, the samples single spaced to save room; however, a decent manuscript given to an instructor or supervisor normally should be dual spaced with margins set at or close to 1″ unless another format has been requested.
Sample One: Analysis Using Three Viewpoints
SPECIAL NOTES: This paper is written in MLA style. It also has a “Summary” section that summarizes the reading that the essay analyzes.
Inver Hills College
Eng 1108, College Composition
© 2002 by Joe Delgado
Concerning the Death Penalty
by Joe Delgado
In the article “The Case Against the Death Penalty,” which shows up in Crime and Criminals: Opposing Viewpoints, Eric Freedman argues that the death penalty not only does not deter violent crime but also works against reducing the crime rate. Freedman says, “The death penalty not only is futile in itself, but counterproductive. ” (140). This paper will analyze Freedman’s article from the viewpoints of a middle-age working man, a poor person, and a politician.
Freedman argues that the death penalty does not deter crime. In his article, he argues that states that use the death penalty have crime rates almost indistinguishable from those states that do not have the death penalty. He also adds that criminal cases in which the death penalty is sought are much more expensive to investigate and attempt, thus denying much-needed funds to programs that have been proven to reduce crime.
A Middle-Age Working Man
A middle-age working man would very likely agree with Freedman’s point of view with relation to the financial aspect of capital penalty because Freedman talks about how much more the death penalty costs than life imprisonment. He says, “In Florida, each execution costs $Trio,200,000, six times the expense of life imprisonment” (141). The workingman would most likely be amazed at how much the execution actually costs compared to how much life imprisonment costs. The workingman would very likely wonder why the death penalty is even sought when life imprisonment seems to accomplish the same objective for much less money.
The working man would also very likely agree with Freedman because the workingman would rather see his tax money spent on more productive programs. Freedman says, “The reality is that, in a time of immobilized or declining budgets, those dollars are taken away from a range of programs that would be beneficial” (142). The workingman would add that with the government taking so much of his income in taxes, it could at least do something more productive than killing people.
A working man would most likely be upset at how much money is spent on just attempting a person in a capital penalty case. Freedman says, “Thus, the taxpayers foot the bill for all the extra costs of capital pretrial and trial proceedings and then must pay either for incarcerating the prisoner for life or the expenses of a retrial, which itself often leads to a life sentence” (142). The workingman would be upset because not only is the government using his money to attempt these criminals, but it is using more of his money to retry these criminals just because they didn’t get the verdict they desired in the very first place.
The working man might also be upset that more money has to be spent on extra expenses that would not be incurred if it was not a capital penalty trial. Freedman says, “Much more investigation usually is done in capital cases, particularly by the prosecution” (141). The working man might be upset that just because the prosecution wants to kill the defendant, he has to pay the extra cost so the prosecution can build up more evidence even tho’ it often leads to a life sentence instead of an execution.
A poor person would agree with Freedman because of how discriminating the death penalty is. Such a person would look at Freedman’s article and agree that many poor people are discriminated against because they do not have the money to receive a high quality of defense. Freedman says, “ Most capital defendants cannot afford an attorney, so the court must appoint counsel. Every major probe of this issue. has found that the quality of defense representation in capital murder trials generally is far lower than in felony cases” (144). The poor person might see poor people as being targeted for capital penalty simply because of the fact that they won’t be able to defend themselves decently.
He might also be outraged at the fact that people to whom he can relate are not getting a decent defense because they cannot afford the best. Freedman says, “[T]here is an breathtaking record of poor people being subjected to convictions and death sentences that identically or more culpable—but more affluent—defendants would not have suffered” (144). Mark Costanzo, author of Just Vengeance, agrees. He argues, “If you or someone you cared about was accused of murder, you would surely want a defense team as skillful and thorough as [a wealthy person]” (73). A poor person would add that if poor people had the money to defend themselves decently, fewer of them would receive the death penalty.
A poor person would see the death penalty as a way to rid the world of poor people because people might think they are different and don’t deserve to live. Freedman says, “Jurors are more likely to sentence to death people who seem different from themselves than individuals who seem similar to themselves” (144). A poor person would very likely view most people as having more money and better things than he and that because he doesn’t have the best things, he is different than everyone else. He might feel bad because it seems like the world is against him and wants to get rid of him.
He may also see the death penalty as attempting to take away money from programs that would benefit him and people like him. Freedman says, “Despite the large percentage of ordinary street crimes that are narcotics-related, the states lack the funding to permit drug treatment on request. The result is that people who are motivated to cure their own addictions are relegated to supporting themselves through crime, while the money that could fund treatment programs is poured down the death penalty drain ” (142). The poor person might be sad that he does not have access to beneficial programs because people are putting so much money into the death. He may conclude from Freedman’s statement specifically that if the death penalty were abolished, there would be fewer drug-related crimes because states would have more money to fund treatment programs.
A politician would most likely disagree with Freedman because he would believe a price tag cannot be put on doing the things that are right. He would very likely see the statistics Freedman gave as irrelevant. Freedman says, “In Florida, each execution costs $Trio,200,000, six times the expense of life imprisonment” (141). The politician would see these costs as very high but taken out of context. He would most likely look to the statistics of how the death penalty has actually been a crime deterrent, as proven by Jay Johansen in his article “Does Death Penalty Deter Crime?” Johansen says that the “[h]omicide rate is a mirror picture of the number of executions. Consistently as the number of executions goes down, the homicide rate goes up, and when the number of executions goes up, the homicide rate goes down” (138). He would see this as proof that capital penalty is a deterrent, and it should remain legal as long as it resumes to deter crime.
A politician might use Johansen’s statistics to prove that the death penalty should not be abolished. He might see that even tho’ a capital penalty case costs more, if the crime rate goes down than we have fewer criminals to take to trial. If we have fewer criminals to take to trial, we are actually saving more money in the long run by keeping capital penalty legal. A politician might be angry that Freedman does not display the actual statistics of the crime rate as executions were outlawed and then when executions were again legalized. He might see Freedman as attempting to divert people’s attention away from the actual statistics by displaying how much one capital penalty case compared to one non-capital penalty case.
A politician might also disagree with Freedman because Freedman proposes to take a state’s right away. He would agree with Michael Levin that a state should have the right to enforce its laws however it sees fit. Levin says, “Well, the state must be able to enforce whatever it directives, or it is a state in name only” (83). Levin also states, “Once the state is granted the right to administer lesser penalties, it cannot be denied the right to kill” (83). The politician would strongly agree that a law abolishing capital penalty would be a law that is limiting a state’s right to pass judgement.
This paper has shown how three different types of people might interpret Eric Freedman’s article “The Case Against the Death Penalty,” which appeared in Crime and Criminals: Opposing Viewpoints. Freedman argues that the death penalty does nothing to deter crime but uses valuable resources that could help control crime. Freedman says, “The death penalty is not just useless—it is positively harmful and diverts resources from genuine crime control measures” (145). Freedman argues his point very well and logically and makes it very effortless for people to understand all of the harm capital penalty can inflict. Whether capital penalty is ethical is still unclear, but what becomes more demonstrable is this, that the social class of a person may directly influence his or her opinion about capital penalty.
NOTE: This is an MLA research paper using three different psychological theories about one subject in a reading.
Inver Hills College
Psychological Perspectives on a Missionary Woman
by Tamara Hill
David Bergner’s non-fiction work In the Land of Magic Soldiers gives a very detailed account of what it has been like in Sierra Leone for the past duo of decades. There are many graphic and gruesome pictures, and the character that stands out the most is Mary Kortenhoven; she is like an angel among murderers. She is a missionary from Michigan who went to Foria, Sierra Leone with her family to help out with the well being of the native tribal people. One can only wonder why she would leave a land so beautiful and free to go to a sad and desolate place like Sierra Leone. According to Bergner, Sierra Leone “is a place where the arch in a path—just that, a slight curve in a narrow de-robe of mud—can produce an ache, a longing, a leaning of the heart” (Trio). We may determine her motives by analyzing them from the psychological perspectives of the theory of planned behavior, the empathy-altruism theory, and the negative state ease theory.
In Bergner’s book, Mary Kortenhoven is a missionary. She leaves a wonderful life here in the United States to go help the Africans in Sierra Leone. She, her hubby, and her three children go to Foria; they all give up running water, violet wand, and the safety net of America. They are subjected to diseases, harmful animals, and a lack of civilization. She takes much time, trains the women fresh ways to be more sanitary while providing birth and helps clear up and prevent deadly diseases. Mary Kortenhoven brings in fresh medical technologies and devices. She travels by herself through the jungle to stop the Malaria epidemic. She spends over two decades in Foria, Freetown, and other puny villages, so she and her entire family become a part of Africa.
Theory of Planned Behavior
According to the theory of planned behavior, a person’s behavior is shaped because his or her attitude towards something is integrated with subjective norms and perceived control (Brehm, Kassin, and Fein 191). So, in the view of this theory, Mary may have moved to Foria because she believes that is what society thinks she must do, along with her own belief that she should go.
It was Mary’s idea originally to possibly do some mission work in Africa before she and her spouse left for Africa, but what truly influenced her to go was pressure from society. Someone advocating for the theory of planned behavior would argue that that is one of the criteria to “shaping the final behavior” (Bergner 66). In order to form the behavior, one must have some sort of intention; one must want to do the initial behavior. Normative social influence is when someone gives way to societal pressures to build up support from their peers or to avoid some type of disapproval (Myers 705). From the view of the theory of planned behavior, Mary may have wished to go, and was also strongly persuaded by society.
One must also have a strong belief about the behavior as well; Mary strongly believes that she “needed to treat the children of Foria” (66). Need is a very strong word; rather than wanting to treat them, she needed to treat them. She attempts to portray this motivation through her kind deeds.
Another one of the criteria for shaping behavior, according to the theory of planned behavior, is that people will only integrate the behavior into their lives if they believe it is within their control. This may explain why Mary does not attempt to persuade the women that clitoris cutting, the female circumcision, was very detrimental to their health because she believes “she could do little” (76) about the situation since “in Africa alone. an estimated 60-90,000,000 women are circumcised” and “female circumcision is an ancient blood ritual” (Lightfoot-Klein). She only does what she can, and what she thinks she cannot switch she leaves alone. Someone analyzing this from the theory of planned behavior would conclude that Mary Kortenhoven goes to Africa because she feels subjected to do so and only helps where she thinks she will be an influence.
According to the empathy altruism theory, compassionate concern for a person in need produces a selfless desire for helping that person (Brehm, Kassin, and Fein 361). Mary out of the graciousness of her heart, goes to Foria in order to “gain the trust, to instruct rather than impose, to introduce the petite, sustainable beginnings of a fresh and lighter life” (Bergner 73). Mary puts herself into the footwear of the people from Sierra Leone, and according to Brehm, Kassin, and Fein, “The major cognitive component of empathy is perspective taking: using the power of imagination to attempt to see the world through someone else’s eyes” (361). The empathy altruism theory would say Mary Kortenhoven does not judge and undoubtedly cares for others.
That is exactly what Mary does; she sees the world through the eyes of the people of Foria. She realizes that some people are blessed with their religious beliefs and do not wish to switch them at all. She does not impose her beliefs on the villagers; she just suggests better ways of living. Mary is not forceful in any way. The way she presents her ideas is in an empathetic manner.
Even however Mary is not a nurse, she still attempts very hard and reads books in order to learn more. She would “listen with her stethoscope to lungs that crackled like cellophane” (Bergner 68). She also patiently instructs the Kuronko what to feed their sick children, how to prevent infection during pregnancy, and about many other health related issues because, according to Davis-Floyd and Sargent, “of every 1,000 child born in a given year, over a quarter [die] by their very first bday, and more than half [do not] reach their fifth birthday” (Davis-Floyd and Sargent 424). Mary sees a flawless chance where she can be of help, and she does entire heartedly.
Looking at Mary’s behavior from this point of view one can conclude that Mary is a kind, selfless woman who feels the need to help others simply because they need her help, and because she has the resources to help them. Even when living in Sierra Leone became enormously dangerous, Mary stayed and set up a women’s shelter (Bergner 84). She is not a needy person whatsoever. She simply loves providing, with no expectation of reciprocation.
Negative State Ease Theory
According to Brehm, Kassin, and Fein, the negative state ease theory states people are motivated to help someone to increase their own welfare, to make themselves feel better. They say, “Empathy highlights the potential prizes for helping others. [H]elping makes [the helper] feel good” (363). For example, if person A is in need of help, it may cause distress for person B, so person B in turn will help person A in order to counteract his or her own sadness. According to Rogers, “Genuineness, acceptance, and empathy are the water, sun and nutrients that enable people to grow like vigorous oak trees. For as persons are accepted and prized, they tend to develop a more caring attitude towards themselves” (Myers 588). According to the negative state ease theory, Mary only helps others to be accepted and to feel better about herself.
From the perspective of this theory, Mary also very likely only helps because she feels saddened by the Kuronko people, so she helps them to relieve her anxiety that their agony causes. Mary was “not propelled by fanatic devotion” (Bergner 67). Mary is propelled by the depressed feelings she has; she is propelled to get rid of those negative feelings by helping others. This, in turn, makes her feel better.
In compliance with the negative state ease theory, she is only looking out for her own private interest, which is to relieve her own anxiety. Mary often seeks refuge, and the “refuge she needed was from disease, from the village woman. wailing” (Bergner 66). She cannot stand the agony that she sees the villagers going through. In order to make herself feel like a competent person, she helps the villagers. Rogers proclaimed that empathetic concern strengthens relationships; any relationship inbetween two human beings (Myers 588). The only motivation for Mary’s deeds is to relieve her anxiety and for her to feel more competent among the villagers.
In addition, Mary is also subjected to many depressed people in Africa. For example, the female circumcisions that many of the women in Africa suffer result in “a severely depressed self-image, lack of confidence, feelings of sexual inadequacy and worthlessness, repressed rage and anorgasmia” (Lightfoot-Klein). When Mary sees these depressed and distressed feelings in the women, it causes her to become upset, and that may be why she is more inclined to help these women. She does not want to be around that kind of depressing situation, but since she is, she deals with it by helping others in order to relieve her agony, her sadness, and it makes her feel like a better person.
There are many different ways to analyze Mary Kortenhoven’s motivations for helping out the people of Foria. We have looked at her deeds from three psychological perspectives. However one may never know her true motives, by analyzing them from the perspectives of the theory of planned behavior, the empathy-altruism theory, and the negative state ease theory, there are several explanations for her genuine intentions. She may have felt pressured by society, she may have just wished to help out of the kindliness of her heart, or she may have dreamed to rid herself of her distressing feelings and that is what made her help. As Bergner states,
To step inwards those chambers [of the buttress trees], to have the massive growths enclose you, to lean with your feet on the spongy ground and your back to the cool damp bark, with almost all the sounds of the world absorbed by the misty air and the immensity of wood, is to exist in some other atmosphere, some softer medium, some fluid capable of sustaining you inbetween this world and another. (Three)
Mary Kortenhoven is existing in this other atmosphere; she was possibly caught inbetween this world and another.
[NOTE: This bibliography uses some features of the older MLA format—from before 2009.]
Bergner, Daniel. In the Land of Magic Soldiers. Fresh York: Picador, 2003.
Bitong, Liliane. “Fighting Genital Mutilation in Sierra Leone.” Bulletin of the World HealthOrganization 83.11 (2005): 806-807. Academic Search Premiere. EBSCOhost. Inver Hills Community College Library, Inver Grove Heights. 28 Oct. 2006 <http://web.ebsco- host.com>.
Brehm, S.S. Kassin, S. and Fein, S. Social Psychology. 6 th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005.
Davis-Floyd, Robbie E. ed, and Carolyn F. Sargent, ed. Childbirth and Authoritative
Skill: Cross Cultural Perspectives. Los Angeles: University of California, 1997.
Lightfoot-Klein, Hanny. “Prisoners of Ritual: Some Contemporary Developments in the History of Female Genital Mutilation.” 2nd International Symposium on Circumcision 30 April,1991.
Myers, David, G. Psychology. 7 th ed. Fresh York: Worth Publishers, 2004.
SPECIAL NOTES: This is a comparison/contrast paper requiring research. It uses MLA style. The bibliography at the end would, in a normal manuscript, begin on a separate page.
Inver Hills College
Hum 1110, Humanities I
© 2001 by Melanie Pelzel
A Comparison and Contrast of Three Ancient Roman Philosophies
by Melanie Pelzel
This paper compares and contrasts three different views of philosophy of Roman times: Epicureanism, Stoicism, and Neo-Platonism. These three philosophies were created out of a need for explanations about the meaning of life. According to Lamm, “Epicureanism and Stoicism, two eminent Athenian schools of philosophy of the third century BC, developed ethical systems that could help individuals feel more secure in an unstable and hostile world. Materialistic and practical, both philosophies suited thoughtful, educated Romans who chose to confront the problems of living an ethical life in a society plagued by dissension, vice, and corruption” (241).
It was the era that sprouted such philosophies. According to Shapiro, “The moral and emotional conditions in the very first true ‘Age of Anxiety’ suffered in the western world—the Hellenistic Age—called forward and nourished three good philosophical responses: Epicureanism, Stoicism, and Neo-Platonism” (1).
Purpose in Life
This section will compare and contrast the three philosophies regarding the question “What is one’s purpose in life?” In Epicureanism, securing tranquility is the reaction. The followers of this particular philosophy also believed the highest good in one’s life is secure and lasting pleasure. According to Lamm, “Epicurus considered pleasure the ultimate good and adhered, with remarkable consistency, to the consequences of this view” (241). The only way a person could achieve tranquility and pleasure is, as De Lacy says, “through the philosopher. Intelligent choice is also needed, and practical wisdom is more to be prized than philosophy itself. Practical wisdom measures elations against agonies, accepting agonies that lead to greater elations and rejecting elations that lead to greater aches. It counts the traditional virtues (justice, temperance, and courage) among the means for attaining the pleasant life; they have no other justification” (Four).
The followers of Epicureanism also felt that if a person were total of fear and anxiety, he or she would be hindered in achieving her purpose in life. Religion and the fear of death were viewed as the two fine sources of fear for mankind. To rid mankind of these fears, De Lacy says, “Epicurus stated that peace of mind is achieved when the probe of natural philosophy has eliminated all fear of the gods, when death is recognized to be merely the limit of practice and therefore irrelevant to the quality of practice, and when the gratification of desires that go beyond what is necessary and natural is seen to result in greater anguishes than pleasure” (Four).
This brings up an interesting point, one that should be addressed. Epicureanism has been given the reputation of telling that voluptuous enjoyments are the highest good and this is what a person should strive for. This view is actually mistaken. According to Burkhardt, “Intense bodily pleasure has consequences which are painful. In the long run, therefore, the highest good lies not in bodily pleasure but in the maximum of equilibrium or absence of pain” (272). The highest good is not in accomplish bodily pleasure, but in creating a total balance inbetween pleasure and agony.
How do the Stoics response the proposed question “What is one’s purpose in life?” They viewed purpose in life as the pursuit of virtue. According to Lamm, “It was seen that virtue was the foot good in an individual’s life; health, happiness, possessions are of no account. Because virtue resides in will power, everything good or bad in a person’s life depends entirely on that person” (242). Lamm goes on to say, “Virtue is seen as a detached silent, and one must guard himself from permitting others from interfering with this silent. One can eventually achieve freedom by freeing oneself from all non-important desires” (242). We can now see that Stoicism and Epicureanism have a common thread: to achieve ones purpose in life, she must look within. Clark expands on this idea by telling, “to desire the unlikely is irrational; and we should concern ourselves only with what is in our power—not wealth, pleasure, or reputation, but our inward reaction to the circumstances of life” (539).
The Stoics’ also wished to abolish passions, which were thought of as a mental disturbance. According to Sandbach, “The passions came in four generic kinds: fear, eagerness, mental ache, and mental pleasure” (60). A person who truly followed the Stoic philosophy attempted to achieve a detached tranquil in any situation. This person could have lost his wifey and children in a fire, but would take care not to let it disrupt his tranquil. He would attempt to view such a circumstance as of no account to him. If he did let it divert him, then he would worry that he was jeopardizing his ultimate objective of achieving virtue.
Last is the Neo-Platonic view of one’s purpose in life. This philosophy is somewhat different from Epicureanism and Stoicism. According to Lamm, “The main idea of one’s life is to treatment as near as possible to an understanding of reality while on earth so that, upon death, one is fit to inject the City of Good and contemplate the True Reality” (243). In Neo-Platonism, there is the belief that nothing exists in its unspoiled form. Unspoiled form is seen as unlikely to practice it in this life. According to Sweeney, “Neoplatonism tends, then, to put little emphasis on the material universe and reuses all value to the unique, distinguishing characteristics of an individual human person; for Plotinus these are unreal and unworthy accretion and must be put aside when one attains the One” (297). The idea then, is to live this life as ideally as one would live after death. By doing this, a person is more ready when faced with the True Reality.
This section will compare and contrast the three philosophies regarding the question “Is there a God?” De Lacy states, “Epicurus preferred the view, like all other atomic compounds, fellows have come into being when the necessary conditions have been met. They have no creator and no destiny” (Four). It was his belief then that no God did, in fact, exist. But Epicurus was influenced by society’s belief at that time that there was a multitude of gods. Even however he himself believed that there was no creator, he devised a way to explain the possibility of the existence of these gods. According to Armstrong, “The gods live in the gaps inbetween the universes. They are peculiar atomic structures, immortal in that the flow of atoms into them exactly balances the outflow” (505). Armstrong explains this state as goes after: “Nothing exists but atoms and the empty space in which they endlessly budge. Universes, including our own, and all in them are just chance concatenations or chains of atoms, which are always coming into existence and being dissolved infinite space” (505). To compromise his own view with society’s, Epicurus further stated that the gods have no power over mortals and do not interfere in our lives or affairs.
In Stoicism there was a belief in God. According to Hallie, “The Stoics defined God as a rational spirit having itself no form but making itself into all things” (21). Hallie also states, “ he key words in the Stoic vocabulary are all basically synonymous: God, Zeus, creative fire, ether, the word (logos), reason of the world, soul of the world, law of nature, providence, fate, and order. The Stoics were monists. There is no qualitative difference inbetween God and the rest of the universe” (21). In their view then, God is made up of everything; without Him nothing would exist.
Neo-Platonists supported belief in a multitude of gods. However, according to Shapiro, “the gods have no power over the universes. They must exist because humans believe in them, but there is no need to fear them. Philosophers can derive peace and joy from contemplating the ideal existence of gods” (334). Therefore, even in their existence, they remain totally separate from mortals. There is a point that does need to be clarified, however. In Neo-Platonism there is often the use of the words “The One.” This has led many to mistakenly interpret this philosophy as arguing for the existence of God or a Creator. However, according to Dillon, “The One can be defined as a principal superior to Intellect and being, total, unitary and simple” (95). Another way of defining The One is, according to Sweeney, as goes after: “The One is cause and final purpose that unifies us and our love terminates in it. No one knows for sure what The One is, but it’s beyond being, skill, and language” (297). Therefore, The One does not represent the idea of God, but in fact an idea in itself.
This section will compare and contrast the three philosophies regarding the question “Is there a soul?” In Epicureanism there was the belief in a soul, but it was not seen as living forever. In order to have a clearer picture of this, it is necessary to understand how this philosophy viewed the workings of the assets. According to De Lacy, “The human organism is composed of atoms undergoing characteristic patterns of switch. Bod and soul are interdependent; neither can get through without the other. The soul’s atoms are of four kinds. Three are the same as the atoms that constitute air, wind, and warmth; the fourth, the smallest and most mobile, is sui genesis and nameless” (Four). Thus it is that the soul is intertwined with the body’s functions, and has no purpose once the figure dies. In this regard, Epicureanism spotted religion and the concept of eternal life as a threat. According to Lamm, “Religion was not a consolation but a threat [to Epicureans]; it was a supernatural interference with nature and a source of terror because immortality denied release from agony. Death was both extinction and liberation” (241).
Stoics also believed in a soul. They used the word pneuma. which is “breath” or “seed.” Pneuma is what we now consider the soul in modern terms. According to Reesor, “The Romans considered the pneuma to be a tensional movement within each entity, a spreading or tightness responsible for the entity’s coherence” (735). Another interpretation of the Stoic’s understanding of soul is explained by Clark. He says, “According to a biological analogy that was proposed, the particular things of the world are governed in their emergence and development by the inherent power of seed—sparks, as it were—of the divine reason. The underlying substance of the world, this divine reason, is an intelligent fire that directs all events” (539). Without this pneuma. soul, or fire, nothing would exist.
Neo-Platonism also voices the view that humans have souls. They also believed that the soul proceeds on after the assets dies. Lamm says, “The aim [in Neo-Platonism] is to treatment as near as possible to an understanding of reality while on earth so that, upon death, one is fit to inject the City of Good and contemplate the True Reality” (243). This illustrates the Neo-Platonic view that there is a life after death, which–in this philosophy–is dearly embraced because it frees the soul for better things. Concerning this, Shapiro says, “Plotinus voices contempt for all that is of sense, blames the commerce of soul with figure as enchainment, an entombment, and upholds as a fine truth the telling of the mysteries that the soul is here a prisoner” (280).
There is a point that needs clarification, tho’. Many have confused the use of the word “soul” in Neo-Platonism. According to Dillon, “The Soul is regarded as a level that generates time, and receives the forms into itself as reason principles (logoi ). Our physical, three-dimensional world is the result of the lower aspect of the Soul (nature) projecting itself upon a kind of negative field of force (matter). Matter has no positive existence but is simply the receptacle for the unfolding of the Soul in its lowest aspect, which project three-dimensional space” (95). Therefore, the use of Soul in Neo-Platonism refers to one of the levels of the universe, and not to what resides inwards humans.
As we can see, these three philosophies share some common threads of thought, and greatly diverge on others. Tho’ modern technology has proven some of the ideas that held these structures together as incorrect, some we still have yet to disprove. As Hallie says, “Stoics compared their logic to the wall, their physics to the tree, and their ethics to the fruit of a fertile field” (21). This passage holds very true; many wonderful things and ideas have sprouted out of these three philosophies, and many more will surely go after.
Armstrong, Hilary. “Epicureanism.” Encyclopedia Americana. 1998.
Burkhardt, Fredrick. “Epicureanism.” Collier’s Encyclopedia. 1996.
Clark, Gordon H. “Stoicism.” Collier’s Encyclopedia. 1996.
De Lacy, P.H. “Epicureanism.” Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 1967.
Dillon, J.M. “Neoplatonism.” Encyclopedia Americana. 1998.
Hallie, Phillip. “Stoicism.” Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 1967.
Lamm, Robert C. The Humanities in Western Culture. Fresh York: Random, 1996.
Reesor, Margaret E. “Stoicism.” Encyclopedia Americana. 1998.
Sandbach, F.H. The Stoics. Fresh York: Norton & Company, 1975.
Shapiro, Herman. Hellenistic Philosophy. Fresh York: Random, 1965.
Natural URL: www.tc.umn.edu/
Previous editions: Writing for School & Work. 1984-1998; CollegeWriting. info, 1998-2012
6th Edition: 8-1-12, rev. 8-1-13. Text, design, and photos copyright 2002-12 by R. Jewell or as noted
Permission is hereby granted for nonprofit educational copying and use without a written request.
Photos courtesy of Barry’s Clip Art. Clip Art Warehouse. The Clip Art Universe. Clipart Collection. MS Clip Art Gallery and Design Gallery Live. School Discovery. and Web Clip Art
Click here to contact the author: Richard Jewell. Questions and suggestions are welcome.
This section explains the basics of writing and revising a summary–why summarizing exists and how to embark, organize, and edit it. You may want to very first see the “Introduction ” before reading this page. Be sure, before or after reading this “Basics Page,” to see “Sample Papers ” by students. For more advanced information, go to “Advanced Methods .”
The heart of a summary is a totally logical, unbiased, unemotional reflection, in shorter form, of a text (or whatever else is being summarized). It never is an chance to disagree or be upset with what is being summarized, nor to conveniently (or even accidentally) leave out something the author of the text might consider significant. It is an photo of the text it summarizes, much like looking through the wrong end of binoculars or a telescope: someone looking at your summary will see a smaller picture of the original reading itself, just as the author would see it. In real life, of course, being this flawlessly objective is unlikely. However, the purpose of good summary writing is to put aside one’s own beliefs and feelings about a text and, to the extent possible, write the summary as the author herself would. At very first glance people think summary writing is a plain skill. However, because a person must put aside her own prejudices and also see with the eye, mind, and heart of the author of a text, writing a good summary can be a sophisticated intellectual undertaking.
Summary writing has many uses in college and the professional world. In academic courses, it is useful for shortly describing the contents of a text, speech, or similar activity or event. In college, for example, there are summaries of social or psychological interactions and cases, of experiments (e.g. a “lab report”), and of scientific and engineering activities (a “scientific poster”). Sometimes, when you read a book and write about it, you are expected to embark your paper with a brief summary of it (e.g. see “Critical Review ” and “Literary Review “). There are at least three good reasons why such descriptions are significant in academic writing. Very first, they let your audience know what you have read or observed. 2nd, they convey this material to your audience in a brief, lightly understandable form. Third, your rigorous accuracy in summarizing demonstrates your academic commitment to fairness, balance, and reason–all of which are significant academic qualities that improve your capability to think and demonstrate your thinking to your instructors.
In the professional world, summary writing also is an significant skill. The summary-writing abilities of accuracy, brevity, and fairness also are significant to companies and service organizations in business reports and proposals, case management, and other professional writings. You may be called upon to summarize business or professional writings, research, or raw data, or you may be asked to summarize events, activities, people’s resumes, or professional or workplace problems. Summaries of academic texts, court documents, business documents, people, places, and events are needed frequently, and some professional papers in science and in business, in particular, require “abstracts,” which are simply a type of summary (see “Recommendation Report “). Whichever you may need to do, learning to summarize fully and fairly will give you a reputation for being balanced, efficient, and accurate.
In addition, in their private lives, people regularly summarize practices when talking with others. Even in private life, knowing how to suggest a thorough, balanced, logical summary is fairly helpful in understanding and explaining events to others and in knowing how to ask questions of others in order to get accurate summaries from them.
The major section of WritingforCollege.org called “Embarking ” offers a number of useful ways to commence thinking, speaking, and writing about a subject. The advice here, which goes after, is for this chapter’s type of paper in particular.
Embarking by Reading
Generally your very very first concentrate should be on the text of the reading (or on the other subject) you will summarize. To embark, you may find your paper lighter to write if you find a text that you understand lightly and scrupulously. You should be able to understand the text well enough not only in content, but also in structure, such that you can lightly see its individual points. You also must be able to treat it very objectively, without finding it upsetting.
This major section of WritingforCollege.org has, within it, five chapters discussing how to react to texts in five specific ways. Because you always must begin with a text, all five chapters of these chapters have these three paragraphs in common. To see more about how to embark with a text, please go to the brief summary and resource page “How to Embark Your Paper by Reading .”
If you are not embarking with a text but rather a subject, much of the same advice still applies. In other words, be sure that you know your subject well.
Writing Your Summary
When embarking a summary paper, begin with a thorough reading. If you have not yet cautiously read “How to Begin Your Paper by Reading ,” please do so now. In a summary in particular, you need to read cautiously for the structure the author is using. Look for the main thesis or subject of the paper and the primary supporting reasons for this thesis. Also take note of the author’s tone, style, and intended audience.
Once you have read your text, brainstorm your summary. Imagine that you are a mirror on the wall, a unspoiled observer who sees all and knows all without reacting. Then provide the highlights of what you are summarizing. If the author of what you are reading uses an emotional tone or style, do not reflect this. You may mention it, especially if it is strong or evident; however, your own tone should be objective, balanced, and logical.
You may brainstorm your very first draft by simply writing as quickly and spontaneously as you can, recalling what you have read, or by writing a quick outline of the highlights of your text. However, in writing a summary, it also is generally allowable to write step by step as you look at your text, if that is a comfy way for you to embark.
Some people find it helpful to imagine the audience–or one member of it–for whom you are writing, and then write the very first draft as if to this group or person. The style, tone, and voice you use in your very first draft can be anything you want. However, if you work better by focusing on an suitable tone and style in a very first draft, then for a summary paper, you should choose a tone of stringent objectivity, balance, and reportage.
You may begin your summary as you read. either in your very first or 2nd reading. One way to work is to find, in any given paragraph of your text (or at the beginning of any given assets section in it), a sentence that already summarizes that paragraph or section. In long, well-developed paragraphs, this summarizing sentence may be at the very beginning or, sometimes, at the very end. If you cannot find it in either of these places, then you can look for key words across the paragraph to figure out what that paragraph is telling. Then all you have to do is switch the wording of what you have found so that your summary is in your own words. Observe how this structural treatment works in the following example:
Example of How to Find the Summarizing Elements in a Text
Step 1: Look at the very first sentence or two of each paragraph: does the very first sentence summarize the paragraph?
Example from Original Essay, “Fall Leaves,” Paragraph 1: The trees in Minnesota in the fall can be beautiful. They turn flamy shades of gold, crimson, and orange, flaming a bushy bundle of incandescence. They flutter in the wind like a sea of flames.
Example of Summary Sentence 1: The leaves on Minnesota trees can be beautiful in the fall.
Step Two: If Step 1 doesn’t work, look at the last sentence of the paragraph. Does it summarize the paragraph?
Essay Paragraph Two: Sometimes only an even shade of orange-yellow comes in the l. Worse, sometimes the leaves build up only a abate yellow-green and then drop as if fatigued. When this happens, it is because freezing temperatures have come leisurely. A hard freeze–or “cold snap”–is needed.
Summary Sentence Two: A hard freeze is needed.
Step Three: If the very first or last sentence don’t summarize, then use a few key words to summarize the overall intent of the paragraph.
Essay Paragraph Trio: Go outside, especially where children live. See how they leap into the piles of leaves and pour them over each other’s goes. Look at the stark beauty of the final few colorful emblems of brightness as they fall from the barren trees. Take delight in it all.
Summary Sentence Three: Hopping in leaf piles and watching the final ones fall also are delightful.
Step Four: Place the summary sentences together and revise them using your own wording as much as possible. Also fix the flow of the sentences, and add the name of the author and/or title.
Example of Final Summary:
“According to Richard Jewell in “Fall Leaves,” looking at the beautiful leaves on Minnesota trees in the fall is pleasurable. Only a hard freeze can create the more vivid colors. Playing in the leaves and watching the last ones fall also are joy.”
Also be sure–as you build your paper–that you have slew of quotations from the author so that the reader can see exactly how the author develops his/her thinking. If you are assigned to do so, you may need quotations from other sources, as well, primarily to help support the points you are making. Because you, yourself, are not a professional pro, you are depending–in a research paper–on quotations and paraphrases from the professional experts.
When organizing a summary, you may want to consider three practical matters. Be aware of (1) the typical visual/textual design, (Two) the central key to organizing this type of paper, and (Trio) dangers to avoid. General principles of organization are described in detail in the “Organizing ” chapter. Specific details for this type of paper are below.
The “Introduction ” has already shown you the following organization for a summary paper:
The Visual Plan or Map
Notes about the Above Structure:
*In a summary, a typical title often states “Summary of” and then the name of the text you have read. The part of the title that names the text should use underlining (if the text is book) or quotation marks (if it is an essay). Otherwise, in most academic disciplines, the title is typed simply: no quotation marks, underlining, or bold marking. It is centered, and the font size and style are those used in the rest of the paper–normally a 12-point font in a style such as Times Fresh Roman, Garamond, or CG Times. In a professional situation, you may use academic style or whatever is commonly acceptable in your workplace.
**Stating the structure can be as elementary as telling, for example, that the text has a thesis structure (or, for example, that it is a psychological case explore), or as elaborate as stating the three or four main supporting sections in a sentence each. If something is to be said about a particularly noticeable tone, style, or set of details, it should be done as part of the discussion about structure (for example, “The tone of the paper is light-hearted and humorous, the style is more like that of a newspaper article than an academic paper, and the author uses numerous examples from her own practice”). However, be absolutely objective in such comments: never let your own opinion or feelings affect your summary of tone, style, or details.
***A very brief summary needs only a very brief introductory sentence or two–and a very brief concluding sentence or two–that do not stand alone in their own paragraph.
****Some summaries–such as an abstract or a prйcis–may be so brief that they are written as one long paragraph (or possibly two). If this is so, simply go after the directions above but join the sections together. (Another alternative is to have a brief two-three sentence introduction, a figure section of one long paragraph, and, optionally, a final two-three sentence conclusion.)
The Key to Building a Summary Paper
The key to the overall organization of a summary of a text is to take a structural treatment in your 2nd draft (and in your very first, if you wish):
Very first, determine how many sentences in length your summary should be. If you’re not sure, ask your instructor or coordinator. (However, a summary should never be more than a third of the length of the text you have read and usually is much shorter.)
Third, divide to detect the number of sentences you should use to summarize each major section of the text. For example, if your summary should be about twenty sentences in length and your text has four major sections, then your summary should use about five sentences per section.