Essay on Superstition Religion and war from Baruch Spinoza’s Theological-Political and Treatise Lessing, G. E.: Nathan the Wise Use both.
Include at least 4 quotes
Essays should be 6-8 double-spaced pages (2000-2400 words) in length, excluding title and bibliography. Your goal in each essay is to tie together insightfully the readings in a given module in response to the problem raised in the essay question.
The essay question
If you do the readings and focus on the question, you will be fine. Essay questions, however, will present you with a conceptual problem that defies simple, factual answers. This problem will come from the readings and be central to the readings, but addressing it will push you beyond merely summarizing the readings. So, once you’ve studied the texts, your main challenge will be to reflect on the problem, and think through what makes it difficult, what causes it, what its consequences are, what is at stake in addressing it, how different views expressed in the readings stand to this problem, what it means to notice this problem, how to differentiate between adequate and inadequate ways of dealing with this problem. All this will require careful, individual thinking and reflection. Since essays assignments ask you to do more than simply summarize the readings, you will need the kind of thesis described below.
You are asked to commit to a thesis in your first paragraph, and use the rest of the essay to develop it, grow it, explicate it, elaborate its significance, and use it to think more deeply about the reading. In this course, a thesis is the key lesson that someone, in your view, would be able to draw from the texts to thoughtfully answer the problem or difficulty raised in the essay question. A thesis is not a topic, a fact, an issue, a summary, nor a collection of any of these things. A thesis is a single (unitary), specific, informed and meaningful insight that responds to the essay question. Let me break that definition down:
• A thesis is a “meaningful insight”: it puts the texts in an interesting light and thereby makes something of them, brings something out of them, generates meaning from them that is not already evident from a mere summary or description of what is written in the text.
• It is a “single” or “unitary” insight: this means you haven’t merely offered a list of topics or points as a thesis, but you’ve stated explicitly the insight that connects each point to the next to form a conceptual whole. A thesis will not tie your essay together if the thesis itself is not tied together.
• It is a “specific” insight: a thesis is specific if it provides focus to your essay and reasoning. A thesis is specific if it is distinct, it stands out, is obvious, has clear boundaries of what supports it and what does not support it.
• It is an “informed” insight: this means that your thesis is about the readings and it reflects an awareness of the readings in their entirety. If your thesis reflects only a partial understanding of the readings, it is not “informed”.
• It “responds to the essay question”: A thesis that addresses the essay question needs to discern the problem that the question poses to the reader to provoke some insight. There are specific issues raised in every essay question, and these issues together form a specific problem that invites reflection. In preparation for writing your essay it is vital to read slowly every part of the essay question, and break things down (just like I’ve done here for this definition of a thesis).
Follow the above definition of a thesis for this course, not other definitions that you may have encountered in other courses or in high school. For example, students are often told that a thesis is a list of three points on the essay topic. Or, they are told that a thesis is a position in a debate against rival opinions. The definition of a thesis that we will use in this course is neither of these. Rather, and as stated above, it is a single, specific, informed insight:
• To move beyond the “three point essay”: If you are in the habit of thinking that a thesis is a list of 13 three points on the essay topic, ask yourself the following: what is the single insight presupposed by each of these points that makes them necessary to each other and resolves any potential incompatibility between them? That is, what is the key insight that permits us to think each point through each other so that to think one is to think them all? The answer is your thesis that you are free do develop in as many paragraphs as you need as described above.
• To move beyond the “argumentative essay”: If you are in the habit of thinking that a thesis is an argumentative position in a debate against rivals, focus instead on the task of interpreting the readings as deeply as possible, not on defeating others in a debate. Ask yourself the following question: what, for you, is the one key insight about the readings that would put them in a clear light so that one can get as much out of them as possible and make them memorable?
The first paragraph
Your first paragraph should have the following structure. First, in your own words (around 100-150 words), explain the problem raised in the question. Second, state your thesis in bold. Third, in around 100 words or so, explain how your thesis addresses the problem raised in the question. Finally, briefly identify the parts of the readings that you will focus on to explicate and develop your thesis.
Pages: 8 Double spaced(2200 words)
Style and sources: MLA, 1 source
Free extras: Outline/Title page/Bibliography / Reference page
Study level: College
Assignment type: Essay
Subject: Literature and Languages