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Philosophy Revision Tips


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Okay, I realise that not many people here must do Philosophy given the general lack of posts about it, but I was wondering if anybody felt like sharing any useful links or tips about revision, resources etc.

Particularly with regard to set texts :dead:

A few places/things I've found very useful:

IB Philosophy at Pearson College Page

http://peernet.lbpc.ca/Philosophy/contents.htm

Notes on: Philosophy of Religion, Political Philosophy, Plato's Republic, Nietzsche's On the Genealogy of Morals, Rousseau's Origin of Inequality (Social Contract), Solipsism, Descartes' Meditations (summary) and various smaller topics.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

http://plato.stanford.edu/

Resources for Plato's Republic

http://www.scribd.com/doc/2075035/Lecture-...Platos-Republic

http://platosrepublic.wordpress.com/

On Liberty by Mill (text)

http://www.utilitarianism.com/ol/one.html

Utilitarianism by Mill

http://www.utilitarianism.com/mill1.htm

Ethics Bites

http://www.open2.net/ethicsbites/

(Series of lengthy, often slow but informative radio interviews)

Huge Collection of Texts from various Philosophers

http://eserver.org/philosophy/texts.htm

OpenLearn Modules

http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/course/advance...arch=philosophy

Peter Singer: Collection of Resources

http://www.utilitarian.net/singer/

Sample Articles from THINK magazine

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displ...Page?pageId=780

Symposia - Online Philosophy Journal (NB. user-submitted content)

http://journal.ilovephilosophy.com/

(all articles appear pretty coherent, though, so it's worth the look even if it's not official)

I also uploaded a load of revision notes to IBS which I made just before the exam, which contained various random ideas and arguments. In combination with ideas from your set text it's definitely enough for the exam in case people wanted any extra stuff. A lot of it depends on what theories you've gone over personally, of course.

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Thanks, I do philosophy HL and write my EE in it, so I'm really supposed to be good at it. At the moment I'm feeling that I don't know how to study, I have no idea what the tests look like, all philosopher (Locke, Hobbes, Rawls, Nozick, etc etc) just mix up in my head and so on. I think philosophy needs to be given more space here.

By the way, what are your options and prescribed text? We do political philosophy and philosophy of arts (AHL) and read On Liberty by Mill.

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Our set text was Plato's Republic, and as it's SL for me, I only do one option, which is Theories & Problems of Ethics. I also did a Philosophy EE (:

In my opinion, the best thing you can do is to look at every part of the syllabus (like, for instance, Artificial Intelligence) and then find two contrasting 'approaches' you can pick on. Off the top of my head, I'd think about using Searle's Chinese Room Experiment, and then probably discussing Existentialism-- if existance precedes essence, what does that say about pre-programmed robots? So that'd be people like Kirkegaard and mostly Sartre.

That's the two views you're meant to find. Once you've got a set of two views for any given scenario off the syllabus, in my opinion, you're all set! (: It's not about memorising, it's about the general principles of everything. After a while you'll realise that pretty much every single topic can be related to Existentialism, certainly in the core section, anyway. It's also a good idea to try and relate all the topics to your set text, as you'll be something of an expert on Mill, I should think!

I find that listing a series of philosophers and their main thoughts you expect to use (provided you can remember enough about those thoughts to talk about them) is enough as revision. After all, at the end of the day, you'll spend most of the essay talking about the implications of these thoughts (what the IB thinks is 'doing' philosophy). Or at least that's how I work it out xP

So like:

Kant - Duty, Universalisable Principle

Plato - Justice, Forms, Philosopher-King

Descartes - Cogito ergo Sum

Gilbert Ryle - Category Mistakes

Yours will be different dependent on the people you've studied. Then all you'd have to have prepared is a brief description (even if it's well-known) of what each of these views is, as you're expected to explain in the exam (e.g. for the category mistake you could use the typical 'tourist goes around Oxford university, sees all the buildings, then asks where the University is'). If there's a Philosopher whose main views you don't fully comprehend, drop them from your list.

I don't even know if you wanted all that, or if it's helpful, but anyway ^_^ That's how I prefer to do it, and it does work for me.

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I have some big posters I made about the philosophers we studied and their thoughts on a subject right now I have one on essential self and another on human nature. I'm a little lost as to what/how to study but sandwich's approach of two or three philosophers seems to be a good tactic. I'm SL and doing my EE in philosophy as well we're reading Plato's Republic and our option is Ethics.

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Wow, you seem to be far ahead of me, I ought to study more philosophy, but I'm in IB1 and I suppose you're in IB2? Since we're doing Mill, political philosophy is a really good option, they link together very nicely. We get some study questions on each topic and those are helpful, especially if we discuss them in groups. Also, does someone in here happen to have any past papers?

I don't get your category mistake example, I'm taught that category mistake is to apply a property to something that can't have that property, such as "Saturdays' in bed". Could you explain more explicitly? And just of out interest, what was your EE question?

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Haha, yeah, I'm in IB2, no worries about you being behind! :P

As for the category mistake example, if I'm not mistaken (although I can never be sure on that one!), that's actually Ryle's original example :ot:

Basically it's getting the category of something wrong. So in this case, the tourist has failed to understand that the buildings of the university are in a separate category to the university itself. The Bodelian library isn't in the same category as Oxford University, for instance. It is part of Oxford University. That's where the category has confused the tourist and they've made their mistake.

As for Saturday's in bed, I guess that's also a category mistake, but (just in my opinion) I think that the University one is better XD Saturday's in bed is harder to discuss because it's more or less somebody mistaking a colloquialism, rather than a genuine mistake of category, although they both fall into a similar sort of error.

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You had me worried there, we haven't done anything on Ryle yet. :o We've focused a lot on existentialism, I'm worried that my writing isn't up to par yet for my internal exam in about a week and a bit-apparently you're writing gets a lot better in the second year, can anyone back my teacher up on this?

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We haven't worked that deeply with category mistakes, our teacher just mentioned them when we discussed Hayek, who said "Social justice is a category mistake".

We've also worked a lot with existensialism, is it included in the core or something? Seems like everyone does it. Really depressing stuff, amazing that Sartre didn't go mad.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Guest saraabramson

this is great, thanks. Philosophy is a fun subject to have studied, but a bit of a pain to revise.... plus i have all my philosophy HL and B&M HL on the 21, 22. and they take a ton of revising.

good luck to all

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You had me worried there, we haven't done anything on Ryle yet. :) We've focused a lot on existentialism, I'm worried that my writing isn't up to par yet for my internal exam in about a week and a bit-apparently you're writing gets a lot better in the second year, can anyone back my teacher up on this?

Sorry for the late reply - but anyway, I actually found my writing has been the same all the way through. That's obviously not going to be a rule, and yours may well improve as you come to know more, but regardless, the more you practice something the better you'll be :) So I'd perhaps ask your teacher for some tips to help improve the way you approach and explain it. That way you'll be able to hit the right style on the head without having to have any last minute panics. The earlier the better, I say :)

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Well with the Paper 2 questions, what's always worked pretty well for me is to firstly answer the question in terms of recapping whatever it is they've asked about. You should work how out best to shorten the main philosophical points or ideas of the text into a few paragraphs you can regurgitate whenever you want-- a lot of Paper 2 is actually just thorough knowledge of your text, dependent on what sort of a text it is you're doing. Definitely for The Republic, it's a lot of knowledge of how exactly Plato wanted his society organised and why.

Once you've done the recap for the central idea they've picked out in the question (e.g. in the Republic it might be something to do with the role of the Philosopher-King, so you'd recap briefly Plato's qualities of the Philosopher-King, training of the Philosopher-King, role of the Philosopher-King and perhaps roughly how society is meant to work with the Philosopher-King at its head), you move on and try to offer some sort of critical discussion on it including some real-life scenarios (to show you're 'doing' philosophy!). It doesn't have to be at all deep, but the examples should be original wherever possible and you should argue it reasonably convincingly. For instance, with the Philosopher-King, I might say that a lot of his qualities come from knowledge of the world of the Forms, but this extra dimension appears to be something of a fantasy, or that the only conditions in which a Philosopher-King could really come to fruition is one already run by Philosopher-King, so it'd never start... etc.

That's more or less it :P

As for the IAs, these actually require quite a bit of thought, in my opinion. The only tip I'd have is to pick something not obvious but something where you have personally found something quite contentious about it. If you think, for instance, that Searle's ideas about artificial intelligence are lacking in substance, find a film like I, Robot and make that into your stimulus. I'd base it around an idea or thought you've had, rather than necessarily just searching for a random stimulus. They're not fond of narratives, you see, and the best way to give something critical is to challenge yourself by challenging something!

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Hi everyone,

I have to say I am so happy to see a discussion board on IB philosophy, since these are so rare. Anyway, I just found out that for the students writing their Philosophy exam in 2009, it is a new syllabus, and a different exam format:S If this is true, all the past practice papers we have done in class are not as useful as I thought they would be. If anyone can confirm this point, and if anybody knows the new format for the 2009 philosophy exams, that would be great! Good luck on exams guys =)

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Hi everyone,

I have to say I am so happy to see a discussion board on IB philosophy, since these are so rare. Anyway, I just found out that for the students writing their Philosophy exam in 2009, it is a new syllabus, and a different exam format:S If this is true, all the past practice papers we have done in class are not as useful as I thought they would be. If anyone can confirm this point, and if anybody knows the new format for the 2009 philosophy exams, that would be great! Good luck on exams guys =)

Yep, the syllabus is new. But I don't think they are changing it that much, since philosophy is not about memorising stuff. Suppose paper 3 is the new thing, where you comment on an unseen text and will writing about the nature of philosophy.

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Hi everyone,

I have to say I am so happy to see a discussion board on IB philosophy, since these are so rare. Anyway, I just found out that for the students writing their Philosophy exam in 2009, it is a new syllabus, and a different exam format:S If this is true, all the past practice papers we have done in class are not as useful as I thought they would be. If anyone can confirm this point, and if anybody knows the new format for the 2009 philosophy exams, that would be great! Good luck on exams guys =)

The major changes have been the distribution of coursework (for SL in particular), a movement of applied philosophy into HL as a separate paper & the number of pieces of coursework. The only change to the exam is a slight rephrasing and an alteration of where the marks lie across the question, but the past questions are actually virtually identical to this year's set (hopefully!). Revising from past questions should be just as valuable still.

If I'm correct, they no longer break the marks up like [2], [8], [10] or however it used to be. Some really pointless change anyway. Our teacher told us about it and I'm sure I would've remembered it exactly had it been important!

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Yeah, philosophy is more a way of thinking and they'll hardly change that...

Just a random question, is there a problem "with other minds" for Sartre? We were to discuss that and I don't see the problem...

The only vaguely relevant Sartre fact I can think of to do with that is his whole concept of the Gaze. As he said, "hell is other people". More or less (in case you don't know) he decided that we are all fluid, existing entities which are totally free (based in his 'existence precedes essence' maxim). This freedom is an absolute freedom, and to deny it is to deny pretty much everything about being human. When other people look at us, we often become objectified - in other words, we become defined, because we react to their expectations, thoughts and perceptions of us and this dictates how we behave - i.e. we have lost our freedom! So I guess Sartre's thoughts on 'with other minds' from that perspective would have to be that other minds act to limit our own personal freedom by objectifying us. I guess it does show that he thinks other minds exist, that he thinks they have this power to influence our own minds...? :)

A bit tenuous :) ; I really don't recall ever reading anything about his discussion of other minds otherwise, though. He's more obsessed with personal freedom and existence of the individual than with other people. Everything he says seems to run back to personal freedom like some giant thought magnet :(

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A bit tenuous :blush: ; I really don't recall ever reading anything about his discussion of other minds otherwise, though. He's more obsessed with personal freedom and existence of the individual than with other people. Everything he says seems to run back to personal freedom like some giant thought magnet :D

How I hate Sartre... He really has the weirdest and most depressing philosophy possible and he's obsessd with freedom.

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