There are high chances philosophy students at university have to write exegetical papers, which we also call an exegesis reading in philosophy. An exegetical reading is an exercise that comes down from the Scholastic tradition in the Middle-Ages, which consists in doing a close reading of a text in philosophy. For historical examples, you can read Aquinas’ commentary on Aristotle’s Physics and Suárez’s commentary on Aristotle.

But what the Scholastics did were exegetical readings of entire books – for the most part. In contemporary philosophy we restrain the exercise to short passages. The idea behind this sort of assignment is to teach students the following skills: i) To be able to understand an argument by deconstructing it so as to highlight a crucial premise in it; ii) to be able to contextualize that premise within the whole argument, its relevance and significance; iii) to be able to clearly explain philosophical terminology that is proper to the historical context and the author using them.

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Why universities should encourage developing knowledge-based opinions

Published in The Concordian in August 2017

I believe freedom of speech on college and university campuses should be limited when it jeopardizes academic endeavours. Academic institutions were originally intended to provide a wide understanding of the world through the lenses of the fields students were interested in. Research was mostly done to be able to understand certain phenomena, rather than to prove a certain ideology right or wrong.

This is where programs such as gender studies, First Peoples studies and exchange programs can be beneficial. When completed with academic rigor, they shed light on issues and perspectives that are unknown to those who don’t experience them firsthand.

As learners of the world, students should be exposed to as much knowledge as possible in order to take informed stances and develop thoughtful perspectives on various issues. I believe that advocates for free speech on university campuses often skip over another important right: the right to know as much as possible about a topic. The right to access information as free from censorship, bias and prioritization as possible before forming an opinion on a subject. However, the atmosphere of higher education has shifted to a more active and socially involved mindset which leads people to skip this first step that is necessary for them to form accurate and truthful opinions.

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