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PHIL 440 - Civic Engagement: How to read philosophy

This guide identifies library resources to support your research related to Philosophy 440 course work.

What does that term mean?

Need to find a definition of a philosophy term? 

Check out the philosophy dictionaries on the Quick Info page.

Reading philosophy is different

Reading philoosophy is not like reading a mystery novel.  Absorbing the details of a philosophy argument usually takes more than one reading. 

Plan to read the same piece of philosophy more than once. 

  • The first time through, look for the big picture--what the thesis is, what the major points are. 
  • The second time, read each argument in detail and try to reconcontruct it in your mind (or on paper).
  • Then evaluate the author's arguments.

For more details, see NYU's Guide to Reading Philosophy

Getting help

Need help finding philosophy sources?

Contact the Philosophy Liaison, Kathleen McElhinney at or 605-658-3370.

Need Help with Writing?

Contact the Writing Center.

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