Recollection and immortality: What is recollection and how does Plato use the theory of recollection in arguing for the
immortality of the soul? (Meno, Phaedo)
(1) Issue or problem you are addressing or resolving: Once you have chosen a theme/topic from those listed below, think about the
particular issue/problem you are addressing in your essay. For instance, the issue you are solving can be one of adequate
understanding and/or interpretation of a philosophical claim, view, position, theory, etc. Thus, your essay task is to state and
describe the issue in the introduction of your paper, and then state how you will solve the issue (thesis). The issue can also be
the problematic or unconvincing character of a particular philosophical view, position, theory, or argument. Your task then is to
state and describe this issue in the intro of your paper, and then show why you find the philosopher’s
view/position/theory/argument unconvincing or problematic.
(2) Thesis statement: Depending on your approach to the issue at hand, i.e. whether you are dealing with an issue of understanding
and/or interpretation or whether you are criticizing a philosopher’s claim/view/theory/argument, your thesis will either be
interpretative, in which case you will be writing an expository or interpretative essay, or critical, in which case you will be
writing an argumentative essay. In either case, you must have a clear and concise thesis statement, and you must defend/demonstrate
your thesis in the remaining part of your essay.
(3) Evidence: Since you are not writing a research paper, the principal evidence of your essay assignment is the primary text of
the author you are discussing, e.g. Plato’s dialogues, Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, the texts of Epicurus, Epictetus and Sextus
Empiricus, etc. Thus, you must refer to the texts you are reading continuously (i.e. not just occasionally and sporadically) and
rigorously (following the citation-style of your choice–APA, Chicago or MLA–consistently). You must also provide a full
bibliographical information of the source you have used in your essay work on the last page of your essay.
(4) Influence of context and assumptions: You must show at least rudimentary awareness of the difference between the context
(historical, cultural, social, political) in which the text was written and the contemporary context that colors your perceptions
and beliefs. What does that mean? Acknowledge the influence religious belief and systems of thought upon the philosophical systems
and views of the philosophers and do not hold it against them. Recognize the fact that discourse on the nature of the soul and the
divine is part and parcel of the human quest for ultimate foundations, the human pursuit of an account of reality that explains
what the world is like, who we are, where we come from and where we are going. Make an honest effort to detect both assumptions
(unproven or false beliefs) in the work of the philosophers you are reading as well as assumptions that you yourself hold. Be
willing to question not only the assumptions of the authors you are discussing but also your own assumptions. Sometimes students
say that the assumptions the philosophers are making are simply the result of their state of knowledge in the history of
civilization. Presumably, human beings have progressed to the point where they now know for a fact that certain beliefs about the
nature of ultimate reality (e.g. that our souls are immortal; that there is a God; that the mental aspect of the world is as real
as the physical or material) are simply false, obsolete, old-fashioned. But isn’t this itself an assumption? It certainly is if all
you can say in defense of the claim is that it is true and requires no substantiation whatsoever.
(5) Conclusion: Sum up in the last paragraph of your essay what you have accomplished in the body of the essay, that is, what you
had set up to do and what has been established with confidence.