Write a 1000 words the concept “Life”
***About all information in the file.
1) Carefully read the essay instructions in the paper PPT (week 6 folder) and/or the syllabus. There is lots of very concrete advice and everything you need to know about the formal expectations. You need to read this information and follow the instructions in order to succeed on this assignment and the basics are summed up again here. The essay grading rubric, which details how these expectations translate into grades, is attached to this assignment and copied in “useful stuff”, where you’ll also find other resources (e.g., about citations) and the bullet point list about what makes a good definition.
2) Content Prompt (see syllabus for all formal expectations): Write a definition of the concept “life”. Think of it as making an argument/thesis/claim about the concept “life,” not a subjective opinion or a dictionary entry. Your thesis should specify how broadly or specifically you are defining life, e.g. “life for humans is…” or “life as a mammal is…” or “life in x text/for x philosopher is…”, but make sure it is neither just your own private life you are defining, nor a summary or description of someone else’s concept, like summarizing the biological characteristics or describing a philosopher’s point of view (arguments are debatable claims, like saying “Plant and human life are not much different… here is why and how”).
A good approach would be to argue “life for x (e.g. humans) is… a (e.g. these biological characteristics), b (e.g. this philosophical idea), and c (e.g. this other thing),” where a/b/c each turn into a body paragraph and come from a different angle/perspective. Each of these should be supported by quoted evidence, but remember to pick reputable sources and not inspirational quotes. Use at least one of our course texts for that.
Please note that most definitions of life you have written so far would not be enough, mostly because they lacked concrete evidence, i.e. quotations from reputable sources. The paper is not about “the one, comprehensive right definition” (we’ve already figured out that that’s impossible), but about going beyond what a dictionary or text book can offer. You can argue for anything (just like Jabr did, but with quoted evidence) if you do it well, which means that you sustain its aspects with evidence (quotations) and explanations over the course of 1000 words (+/-100).
· Pick one understanding of life for which you want to argue or an argument about the concept of “life” that you want to make. Remember that you will have to say enough about it to fill 1000 words. Think of the task as convincing someone you don’t know of your way of understanding the concept of life. It cannot be so subjective (“life is my family”) that nobody else could possibly be included or convinced and it cannot be so general (“we can’t define it,” “it’s the biological characteristics”) or tautological (“life is living”) that it cannot be sustained for more than a paragraph or backed up with evidence.
· In order to convince, you need to give evidence (i.e. quote reputable sources, which can range from philosophy to science to literature… put keywords in the library search catalog & ask a librarian for help) and explain how this specific quote supports your argument. Quote at least one of the texts we have read in class so far in your paper (ideally more and, if you want, also others, but avoid Wikipedia or too many dictionaries; also check your sources and don’t just rely on one).
· Make sure you explain everything well and in appropriate language, and don’t assume that I or anyone in this class is your reader (think of a stranger with no previous knowledge of the topic instead).
· Avoid trying to argue for several understandings and jumping back and forth between ideas. Instead, plan out the structure of your paper: If this is my argument, what do I need to explain and prove for all it’s components, and which order makes this clearest? Or, where do I need to go and which steps do I need to take to make my point?
· Re-read your own essay, use spell-check, and double-check whether you followed all instructions (quotations? word count? format?… read that section in the syllabus!). Test your argument on your roommate, your mom, your best friend… share what you’ve written to get feedback. It can only improve your paper.
Coming up with a thesis and organizing your thoughts is hard, so let us help you! Use the in-class exercises, office hours, etc. to run your thesis by us and your peers. The Writing Center offer lots of help too (link & info in syllabus). Remember that you get an automatic 5% grade bonus if you upload evidence of having gotten help with your paper from either of these sources. Don’t ignore the word minimum/maximum instructions! If you need more time, use the 48 hour extension (see syllabus), but watch out: being later than that leads to deductions.