This piece from The Philosophers' Magazine discusses how to read philosophy, including one of the requests I make of my "Philosophically Speaking" students, which is to approach our discussions and our readings with a generous dose of intellectual humility.
"What excites me so much about reading philosophy is the opportunity to have my beliefs and values challenged. I read philosophy to identify, clarify, and test my current beliefs and values. As such, reading philosophy is an act of creation, self-creation of perspicuous wisdom regarding how to live well with others. As a step toward this wisdom making, I hope that the first-year students in my philosophy courses become more intellectually humble and less dogmatic as a result of reading philosophy. For most people, these goals are unattainable unless they give themselves over to the strangeness and disquiet that so often comes with reading philosophy. ... Some passages are particularly thorny. As a result, it is very common to read philosophy much slower than one reads other texts. Indeed, many philosophers stop at the end of sections, and sometimes paragraphs or even sentences, to check if they can restate the ideas in their own words. If it is difficult to do so, some re-reading before moving on is necessary. For the most difficult texts, I create paragraph by paragraph summaries as I go by writing a clause or a sentence that is a paraphrase of the central content of a paragraph. By making sure that I understand a paragraph well enough to state its main point in my own words, I know I am ready to move on. ... After sufficient time, move from evaluating the arguments to your own conclusions. Is the author right, wrong, or, more likely, partly right and partly wrong? About what, if anything, ought you change your mind? Once you’ve decided what you think about the ideas in the essay, pick up another one that contains new arguments that might change your mind again."
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