The aim of this paper will be for you to engage in a critique of a specific theory or idea developed by either the Marquis de Sade or Ibn Tufayl and to propose an alternative that you think is better or closer to the truth.  In order to achieve this goal you will have to use the interpretative skills you learned about in your last writing assignment:

1.            You will, in a first moment, propose a compelling interpretation of the theory or idea you are interested in critiquing and an analysis of the arguments supporting that theory. 

2.         But you will also, in a second moment, develop a sophisticated critique of this theory. 

3.         Finally, you will construct either a modified version of the theory that takes into account your critique or, if that is not possible, develop an explanation of your own for the phenomenon the initial theory tried to elucidate.


Thesis: Your first step will be to develop a thesis statement that is as concise and specific as you can make it.  It should consist of one or several (three, at most) sentences that explain how you will proceed in relation to the three goals outlined above. 

E.g.: Ibn Tufayl believes that there is a complementary relationship between rational or philosophical knowledge and mystical insight.  I will argue that this view confuses the relationship between science and religion, and that in fact rational knowledge and mystical intuition are discontinuous.  The first tells us about the objective world outside of us, while the latter reveals a subjective reality that is entirely within us.

Interpretation: As with your first essay, the work of interpreting the ideas of the author you are discussing will require careful marshaling of textual evidence to support your view of a) what the author believes and b) what evidence and arguments he uses to support this belief. 

With an author like De Sade, this work will be rendered somewhat tricky by the fact that he speaks only through his various characters, and these characters hold views that are distinct from each other in different ways.  So you will have to ask yourselves questions like: Who is De Sade’s ‘Socrates’ (if there is one)? Or: how is it possible to reconcile the opinions of his various characters in order to figure out what he believes?

              In Ibn Tufayl’s case your issue will more likely be one of mapping how the view you are interested in discussing is connected to some of his other opinions (without losing your focus).

Critique: You will have to devote greater attention to the critical element in this paper than you did in the last one.  Not only will your critique have to be more focused (because another element of the paper – your theoretical construction – will be dependent upon it), but you should formulate it dialectically, i.e. you should examine possible counterarguments from the standpoint of the author and try to respond to them.  You should go through this process at least twice.

Structure:  There are three steps to a dialectical critique:

1.         State your point of difference: what is it that you think the author is wrong about and why.

2.   How might the author respond to this critique? What could he say that might save his position?  Could he argue that you misunderstood his view? That you don’t take into account another argument he has made?  That, in spite of appearances, the two of you don’t really disagree?  Try to think of the best counterargument here.  Otherwise, this will feel like going through the motions and will not be compelling.

3.What is your response to this objection?  Why is it that you are right?  If you cannot come up with a compelling response, it’s quite possible that now is a good time to start revising your paper. 

Obviously, you can dispense with step 1 the second time around.

Theoretical construction: Here you will have to come up with a better theory than the one presented by the author.  The questions you will have to ask yourselves in order to figure out how to proceed will probably have to include the following: What was it that the author was trying to explain? What is it, exactly, that I believe? What evidentiary basis is there for my view? What arguments can I produce to support my view?


Here again you should imagine your audience for this paper are peers, either people who have taken this class before, or those taking it now.


Each should be 5-6 pages long, double-spaced, printed in 12 point font, with 1’’ margins all around. It should:

·            Include a title that is descriptive of the topic you discuss and gives a hint of the view you will be taking

·            Be equipped with a header detailing your name, an appropriate abbreviation of the paper’s title, and a page number


·            Be thoroughly proofread and free of typos, spelling and grammatical errors. NO PLAGIARIMS & IT’S A MOST QUOTES AND CITATION WITHIN THE PARAGRAFTS TEXTUAL EVIDENCE

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