Ways to read in order to understand the argument

Posted: February 7, 2013 by thoughtsfrommyshelf in Uncategorized

There are books you read for leisure and then there are those books you read because you want to understand a particular subject, argument, or position. Here is a suggestion for how to read in order to understand the argument.

1) Treat the book as a conversation with the author.

As you read keep and eye out for the authors claims, perceived problems, and proposed solutions. Write some sort of note on the side to keep track of whether it is a claim, support for a claim, a problem, or a solution(I normally write a C, Sup, P, or Sol in order to identify later). Put a question mark next to things that are not clear and reference an answer if there is clarity further into the chapter. If there is a sentence or paragraph that summarizes the chapter or essay’s essence, mark it in whatever way would be helpful.

Here are some questions you can ask at the end of the chapter:

What claim did the author make?

What support did the author present for his/her claim?

What are the logical implications of this position?

Do they make sense of reality, life, and experience?

Were there any unanswered questions that would keep me from agreeing?

 

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