x Turn on thread page Beta

# Essay Structuring! watch

1. Hello,

I have written two essays, a 15 and a 30 mark question both from the same exam paper. I am self teaching and to be honest, really struggling on distinguishing a nice strategic method of writing my essays. I am going to post them here to hopefully get some constructive criticism on what I am doing right and wrong, and how to improve ! Slate as much as you want if you need to!

To begin with, a proposition is the content of a sentence that affirms or denies something and is capable of being true or false. Within this, there are two definitive types of propositions. Firstly, an analytic proposition is one that is a priori and knowable. For example “All bachelors are unmarried.” This is pure logic, as it is true by definition that a bachelor is an unmarried man, thus it is necessary that he is unmarried. The proposition is analytic because it tells us nothing new about the world. You would know that a bachelor was unmarried without stating the fact that he is unmarried if you know the definition. The other type of proposition is synthetic. In most cases, the statement is not necessarily true of its definition. For example, stating, “All cows are black and white.” It may or not be true, but the statement that all cows are black and white is not necessarily true of what the definition of a cow is. This shows that the proposition could tell us something new about the world. To delve further, some philosophers such as Kant have argued that mathematics can be synthetic a priori, as it is try by definition of arithmetic that “2+2=4” but it also can tell us something new about the world; perhaps that if I have 2 counters and then obtain another 2 counters, I have 4 counters. Here, the possibility of having a synthetic a priori proposition is explored.

Assess the claim that all knowledge and ideas derive from sense experience.
The claim that all knowledge derives from sensory experience has been debated for many centuries. To begin, many strong minded Empiricists (those who believe this statement) have argued that is true. They state that ultimately all knowledge is a posteriori - knowledge gained solely through recourse to experience. They also believe in tabula rasa – the idea that we are born without innate ideas or knowledge. Hume, a key Empiricist, thought an spoke of causation – why things occur – in an empiricistical way. For example, bear the question, “When you see someone throw a brick towards a glass window, why do you expect the window to shatter?”. He explained it with three key principles. To start with, priority is when the window and the brick are almost touching. Secondly, contiguity is when the brick and the window are touching. The most important step is when you know that the window will smash due to seeing hard objects like a brick smash another object that has similar properties to a window – the necessary connection. He stated that if you had not witnessed other similar events happening, you would not know if the window would smash, nor at all what would happen. The theory is supported in the realms of Behaviourist Psychology, which included stimulus organism response. However there are issues with this. How is applying the knowledge of the properties of these two objects to predict that the window will smash any different to applying basic arithmetic – something that is considered a priori knowledge and in some cases innate, any different? It seems that it is the same principle.
Locke, another key theorist who believed all knowledge and ideas derive from sense experience, completely disagreed with the rationalists – those who believed that reasoning is much more important than experience in gathering knowledge, especially Descartes who believed that children had ideas such as God no less than adults. Locke questioned how whole nations could be ignorant of God if they were all born with the same innate idea of Him? He also put forward the theory of Relation of Ideas. Locke said that to imagine an item that has not been experienced yet we combine ideas that we already have. For example, we can imagine what a sea of gold looks like, as we know what a sea looks like, and we also know what the colour of gold is. Therefore, we can combine the two items to create in our minds a golden sea. This would not be able to occur if we didn’t know what a sea or what the colour of gold looked like.

Lastly, some things surely cannot be distinguished by innate ideas or by reasoning. This is shown when we taste. Smell, see, hear or feel something – this has to be experienced to determine whether we like it or not. We cannot decide whether we like the taste of strawberries by deciding that we do, we need to experience what a strawberry tastes like to know if we like the taste or not. What is possible however, is that the sensory data goes through a conceptual scheme. The idea of these schemes came through Kant when he tried to link sensory input with output. He said there must be something that allows us to understand how things happen, and that we are born with it.
Some people, mostly key rationalists such as Descartes, Leibniz and Spinoza argued that we are in fact born with innate ideas and knowledge, but also that we can gain knowledge from reason – a priori knowledge. In Meno, Plato talks about a slave boy who has no education. Plato draws a square and asks the boy questions about its relative proportions. He answers all of them correctly. Plato concludes that he must have innate knowledge. The boy uses his innate knowledge to reason and applies the basic idea of the square to be able to answer more complex questions. This shows that all knowledge and ideas may not derive from sense experience.
Chomsky was also a key philosopher and Linguist, and believed that children possess a “deep grammar” at birth. He said that language acquisition in children was excellent, and they could speak their native language by the age of around 4. They don’t have explicit teaching, so how is it that they can pick up language so easily and quickly? Chomsky believed that everyone is born with this deep grammar and it is activated by communication. However the theory does not answer why socially deprived children cannot gain any more than basic language skills, such as the case of Genie, the feral child. It also doesn’t explain why the native language is picked up so easily, but the second language is a lot harder to pick up. Lastly, it does not explain the relevance of age to the theory, is it that it runs out or decays in ability after a certain age?

Lastly, Descartes famously said that he could not trust anything that had deceived him even once. He said that when he dreamed, things didn’t appear as they did in the real world, and therefore his senses were deceiving. Perception also deceives us, as when we look at something in the distance it appears smaller. These are reasons to deny sense experience knowledge, and trust only innate and a priori knowledge as true knowledge.

I would like to know also how much I could afford to cut out and how to cut down my essays. Thank you guys!
2. (Original post by LordFishlock)
Hello,

I have written two essays, a 15 and a 30 mark question both from the same exam paper. I am self teaching and to be honest, really struggling on distinguishing a nice strategic method of writing my essays. I am going to post them here to hopefully get some constructive criticism on what I am doing right and wrong, and how to improve ! Slate as much as you want if you need to!

To begin with, a proposition is the content of a sentence that affirms or denies something and is capable of being true or false. Within this, there are two definitive types of propositions. Firstly, an analytic proposition is one that is a priori and knowable. For example “All bachelors are unmarried.” This is pure logic, as it is true by definition that a bachelor is an unmarried man, thus it is necessary that he is unmarried. The proposition is analytic because it tells us nothing new about the world. You would know that a bachelor was unmarried without stating the fact that he is unmarried if you know the definition. The other type of proposition is synthetic. In most cases, the statement is not necessarily true of its definition. For example, stating, “All cows are black and white.” It may or not be true, but the statement that all cows are black and white is not necessarily true of what the definition of a cow is. This shows that the proposition could tell us something new about the world. To delve further, some philosophers such as Kant have argued that mathematics can be synthetic a priori, as it is try by definition of arithmetic that “2+2=4” but it also can tell us something new about the world; perhaps that if I have 2 counters and then obtain another 2 counters, I have 4 counters. Here, the possibility of having a synthetic a priori proposition is explored.

Assess the claim that all knowledge and ideas derive from sense experience.
The claim that all knowledge derives from sensory experience has been debated for many centuries. To begin, many strong minded Empiricists (those who believe this statement) have argued that is true. They state that ultimately all knowledge is a posteriori - knowledge gained solely through recourse to experience. They also believe in tabula rasa – the idea that we are born without innate ideas or knowledge. Hume, a key Empiricist, thought an spoke of causation – why things occur – in an empiricistical way. For example, bear the question, “When you see someone throw a brick towards a glass window, why do you expect the window to shatter?”. He explained it with three key principles. To start with, priority is when the window and the brick are almost touching. Secondly, contiguity is when the brick and the window are touching. The most important step is when you know that the window will smash due to seeing hard objects like a brick smash another object that has similar properties to a window – the necessary connection. He stated that if you had not witnessed other similar events happening, you would not know if the window would smash, nor at all what would happen. The theory is supported in the realms of Behaviourist Psychology, which included stimulus organism response. However there are issues with this. How is applying the knowledge of the properties of these two objects to predict that the window will smash any different to applying basic arithmetic – something that is considered a priori knowledge and in some cases innate, any different? It seems that it is the same principle.
Locke, another key theorist who believed all knowledge and ideas derive from sense experience, completely disagreed with the rationalists – those who believed that reasoning is much more important than experience in gathering knowledge, especially Descartes who believed that children had ideas such as God no less than adults. Locke questioned how whole nations could be ignorant of God if they were all born with the same innate idea of Him? He also put forward the theory of Relation of Ideas. Locke said that to imagine an item that has not been experienced yet we combine ideas that we already have. For example, we can imagine what a sea of gold looks like, as we know what a sea looks like, and we also know what the colour of gold is. Therefore, we can combine the two items to create in our minds a golden sea. This would not be able to occur if we didn’t know what a sea or what the colour of gold looked like.

Lastly, some things surely cannot be distinguished by innate ideas or by reasoning. This is shown when we taste. Smell, see, hear or feel something – this has to be experienced to determine whether we like it or not. We cannot decide whether we like the taste of strawberries by deciding that we do, we need to experience what a strawberry tastes like to know if we like the taste or not. What is possible however, is that the sensory data goes through a conceptual scheme. The idea of these schemes came through Kant when he tried to link sensory input with output. He said there must be something that allows us to understand how things happen, and that we are born with it.
Some people, mostly key rationalists such as Descartes, Leibniz and Spinoza argued that we are in fact born with innate ideas and knowledge, but also that we can gain knowledge from reason – a priori knowledge. In Meno, Plato talks about a slave boy who has no education. Plato draws a square and asks the boy questions about its relative proportions. He answers all of them correctly. Plato concludes that he must have innate knowledge. The boy uses his innate knowledge to reason and applies the basic idea of the square to be able to answer more complex questions. This shows that all knowledge and ideas may not derive from sense experience.
Chomsky was also a key philosopher and Linguist, and believed that children possess a “deep grammar” at birth. He said that language acquisition in children was excellent, and they could speak their native language by the age of around 4. They don’t have explicit teaching, so how is it that they can pick up language so easily and quickly? Chomsky believed that everyone is born with this deep grammar and it is activated by communication. However the theory does not answer why socially deprived children cannot gain any more than basic language skills, such as the case of Genie, the feral child. It also doesn’t explain why the native language is picked up so easily, but the second language is a lot harder to pick up. Lastly, it does not explain the relevance of age to the theory, is it that it runs out or decays in ability after a certain age?

Lastly, Descartes famously said that he could not trust anything that had deceived him even once. He said that when he dreamed, things didn’t appear as they did in the real world, and therefore his senses were deceiving. Perception also deceives us, as when we look at something in the distance it appears smaller. These are reasons to deny sense experience knowledge, and trust only innate and a priori knowledge as true knowledge.

I would like to know also how much I could afford to cut out and how to cut down my essays. Thank you guys!
I'm doing the OCR AS Religious Studies, the philosophy and ethics modules, i'm not sure if it'll be of any help but here it is anyway.

As I haven't learnt much in lessons on the content of part b yet, I can't really comment, however the length seems good and you've put forward both points of view, both supporting and disagreeing with the claim. I've been taught for the evaluation questions that it is often a strengths and weaknesses question(from looking at past papers). If it is a strengths and weaknesses then mainly focus on that. It doesn't need much of an intro explaining the theory or whatever as you would have cleared that up in the first question. I was also advised to put a dash of argument in, just to say the view that you are taking on the question you have been asked. Only a little though, not a whole essay on your life and how it applies to knowledge etc.

Some general points for the evaluation question :

Start at the conclusion, take a stand on the question and stick to it.

You can't possibly write everything you've covered so streamline it into whats relevant, don't just put random facts in because you've learnt them!

Make sure that every paragraph closely answers the question and is one step in your argument. by trying to relate every point you've made in the answer back to the question, it stops you from going off topic.

Also use phrases such as :
This is disputed by (insert name), who says...
We do not have to accept the verdict of (insert theory here)

Try to be non-committal; use 'might suggest' or 'may suggest' especially if the theory or person isn't specific to the issue.

As for the first question, it seems incredibly short! The knowledge is right, yet it's out of 30 marks. In theory, it should be double the size of your 15 mark question, right? I know it's often hard to spend loads of time on the 15 mark as there is often a lot more you can include however try to remember that it is the first question that you gain the majority of your marks from.

Here's the markscheme for your question http://store.aqa.org.uk/qual/gce/pdf...W-MS-JUN11.PDF

You may also find it useful to look at the marking tables at the start of the document, they offer guidance on what examiners will be looking for.

Websites such as getrevising.co.uk are really helpful, you can find lots of notes which will be handy, especially as you are teaching yourself.

Things such as this, specific to your course may be useful, just sign up to view - http://getrevising.co.uk/revision-ca...d_experience#1

For the first question, its generally basic views about what the theory is and what important philosophers have said about it. You could also include some application, giving examples and how these views could apply to the area of ethics in your question.

Avoid stray facts such as historical dates and biographies of philosophers involved, the examiner probably doesn't care what the name of Kants dog was, just his date of birth/death is generally enough

don't fall into the trap of dogmas, such as 'It is wrong because the Bible says so etc" explain more, using quotes if possible to back yourself up.

Try to avoid raw reactions such as I like/I don't like. It doesn't show off your style of writing (but from reading what you've wrote it looks like you're above this sort of thing anyway!)

I hope this helped in some way,

Good luck!
3. (Original post by Lauren7056)
I'm doing the OCR AS Religious Studies, the philosophy and ethics modules, i'm not sure if it'll be of any help but here it is anyway.

As I haven't learnt much in lessons on the content of part b yet, I can't really comment, however the length seems good and you've put forward both points of view, both supporting and disagreeing with the claim. I've been taught for the evaluation questions that it is often a strengths and weaknesses question(from looking at past papers). If it is a strengths and weaknesses then mainly focus on that. It doesn't need much of an intro explaining the theory or whatever as you would have cleared that up in the first question. I was also advised to put a dash of argument in, just to say the view that you are taking on the question you have been asked. Only a little though, not a whole essay on your life and how it applies to knowledge etc.

Some general points for the evaluation question :

Start at the conclusion, take a stand on the question and stick to it.

You can't possibly write everything you've covered so streamline it into whats relevant, don't just put random facts in because you've learnt them!

Make sure that every paragraph closely answers the question and is one step in your argument. by trying to relate every point you've made in the answer back to the question, it stops you from going off topic.

Also use phrases such as :
This is disputed by (insert name), who says...
We do not have to accept the verdict of (insert theory here)

Try to be non-committal; use 'might suggest' or 'may suggest' especially if the theory or person isn't specific to the issue.

As for the first question, it seems incredibly short! The knowledge is right, yet it's out of 30 marks. In theory, it should be double the size of your 15 mark question, right? I know it's often hard to spend loads of time on the 15 mark as there is often a lot more you can include however try to remember that it is the first question that you gain the majority of your marks from.

Here's the markscheme for your question http://store.aqa.org.uk/qual/gce/pdf...W-MS-JUN11.PDF

You may also find it useful to look at the marking tables at the start of the document, they offer guidance on what examiners will be looking for.

Websites such as getrevising.co.uk are really helpful, you can find lots of notes which will be handy, especially as you are teaching yourself.

Things such as this, specific to your course may be useful, just sign up to view - http://getrevising.co.uk/revision-ca...d_experience#1

For the first question, its generally basic views about what the theory is and what important philosophers have said about it. You could also include some application, giving examples and how these views could apply to the area of ethics in your question.

Avoid stray facts such as historical dates and biographies of philosophers involved, the examiner probably doesn't care what the name of Kants dog was, just his date of birth/death is generally enough

don't fall into the trap of dogmas, such as 'It is wrong because the Bible says so etc" explain more, using quotes if possible to back yourself up.

Try to avoid raw reactions such as I like/I don't like. It doesn't show off your style of writing (but from reading what you've wrote it looks like you're above this sort of thing anyway!)

I hope this helped in some way,

Good luck!

thank you so much! This is really good advice! As for the questions, the first one is the 15 marker and the second is 30? I do realise how short my 15 marker is, but isn't it just meant to be straight facts and so evaluation? I don't know how true that is. Have I included enough illustrations? Thank you again, I know I need to cut it down as I couldn't possible write that in the time allocated

TSR Support Team

We have a brilliant team of more than 60 Support Team members looking after discussions on The Student Room, helping to make it a fun, safe and useful place to hang out.

This forum is supported by:
Updated: March 22, 2013
Today on TSR

### Loughborough better than Cambridge

Loughborough at number one

### Can I date a girl with no boobs?

Poll
Useful resources

Can you help? Study help unanswered threadsStudy help rules and posting guidelines

## Groups associated with this forum:

View associated groups

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE