Archive for category L

Logic and Articulation

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Examples)

S. Morris Engel’s “With Good Reason” discusses the difference between inductive arguments and deductive arguments. Table 6 illustrates an example of the discussion, taken directly from his book. Let’s review the table before moving forward with the explanation of the comment. 

Table 6:  Example from the Chapter “The Nature and Scope of Logic,” S. Morris Engel

Deductive Inductive
All the beans in that bag are black. All these beans are from that bag. All these beans are therefore black. All these beans are from that bag. All these beans are black. All the beans in that bag are therefore black.

Engel makes a distinction between both terms.

An inductive argument has a conclusion that is based on probability that can never be certain; elements within the conclusion can have some truth to them, but the truth depends upon whether or not the probability is high or low (41). Engel states, “In inductive arguments, we assert in the conclusion a fact not itself contained in the premises” (41). In contrast, the conclusion of a deductive argument is reached by reasoning from general to specific; “. . . the premises in a deductive argument contain all of the information needed in order to reach a conclusion that follows with necessity” (Engel 41).

In other words, in a deductive argument, we need the premises to match the conclusion, because the conclusion is dependent upon the premises. However, in an inductive argument, we need the premises, but the conclusion is determined based upon likelihood. It is likely that all the beans in that bag are therefore black, but not certain.

This is a brief lesson on the nature of logic and reasoning. I am not a philosopher. I received a “C” in a course I took in junior college, Symbolic Logic; and this was actually a pity grade. I didn’t understand anything about logic and philosophy then, and I don’t understand anything about the two today.

However, I do like the ideas Engel expresses within his book. Engel’s book is a valuable resource because he simplifies the information enough so that it is readable and understandable. If you struggle with philosophy, use this book as a good resource for breaking down the information.

Now let’s return to our discussion.

When you receive the comment “Logic,” the professor is referring to how you have reached a conclusion within a certain paragraph. You may start attempting to argue a point by using a topic sentence as a method. Then you debate the subject by adding one or two more sentences. However, somewhere within the analysis, without realizing it yourself, you may have moved from what started out as deductive reasoning to inductive reasoning, or the logic may altogether not reflect logical thinking (step-by-step).

Let’s read the following sample excerpt. Notice the first set of bolded sentences.  They represent the conclusion.

Sample Excerpt

The role of Burch within the novel, as a revealer of truth, contradicts Faulkner’s construction of Christmas.  As creator-narrator, Faulkner uses Burch to classify Christmas, to reveal his racial heredity.  But just as Faulkner creates Joe, he creates Burch.  So, if he is able to have Burch classify Christmas, then shouldn’t Christmas be able to classify himself?  And shouldn’t Faulkner also be able to classify his character without Burch as a way of bringing certainty to Christmas’s life?  These contradictions represent a double consciousness in Faulkner that illustrates his inability to reconcile the nature of his character, Joe Christmas, with that of the nature of society, to include his perspective.  In this instance, Faulkner’s double consciousness is a weakness because it involves a dual depiction of Christmas’s struggle with identity and the other members’ preservation of social norms.

Figure 27: Essay Excerpt on Burch, Light in August

Questions

1) What truth or truths does Burch reveal?

2) Can a person classify himself or herself or are classifications by society projected onto people? 

3) What are these contradictions?

4) Just because Christmas doesn’t know who he is, but Burch knows Christmas’s heritage, doesn’t mean that these are contradictions. This is irony. Each person sees him or herself differently. This entails perception, self and social. Now what is the impact of double consciousness on this assumption?

5) What can you deduce from reading just the first set of sentences?  Before we analyze the paragraph, let’s first place it within a table to determine its premises and what type of conclusion(s) it has.

Table 7:  Exercise in Deductive/Inductive Reasoning, Light in August

 Premise The role of Burch within the novel, as a revealer of truth, contradicts Faulkner’s construction of Christmas.
 Premise As creator-narrator, Faulkner uses Burch to classify Christmas, to reveal his racial heredity.
 Conclusion But just as Faulkner creates Joe, he creates Burch.
 Conclusion So, if he is able to have Burch classify Christmas, then shouldn’t Christmas be able to classify himself?
 Conclusion And shouldn’t Faulkner also be able to classify his character without Burch as a way of bringing certainty to Christmas’s life?

The paragraph begins with a debatable argument, a topic sentence (first premise) that causes us to think more about the subject. The second sentence is an extended example, a move from the general to the specific. The connection between these two sentences causes us to believe that we are moving toward a deductive argument.

However, in the first conclusion, this is where we switch to an inductive argument. The last two conclusions confirm our assumption here. The sentences of Table 7 represent an inductive argument, one where the conclusion is likely to follow from its premises, but not always. Whereas in deductive arguments the conclusion can be valid or invalid, in an inductive argument, the conclusion can be classified as either good or bad, strong or weak (Engel 41).

In Table 7, the conclusion, in its connection to at least the first premise, is weak because in the premise Burch is a revealer of truth; but in the conclusion Burch is disregarded for Christmas. One doesn’t have anything to do with the other. It is likely from the premise that Burch doesn’t always have to be the revealer of truth and that Christmas will become more self-aware and classify himself. However, it is not for certain either man will. Now let’s add the rest of the paragraph to the table.

Table 8:  Deductive Reasoning for the Last Conclusion (Essay), Light in August

 1.  Premise The role of Burch within the novel, as a revealer of truth, contradicts Faulkner’s construction of Christmas.
 2.  Premise  As creator-narrator, Faulkner uses Burch to classify Christmas, to reveal his racial heredity.
   
 3.  Conclusion But just as Faulkner creates Joe, he creates Burch.
 4.  Conclusion So, if he is able to have Burch classify Christmas, then shouldn’t Christmas be able to classify himself?
 5.  Conclusion And shouldn’t Faulkner also be able to classify his character without Burch as a way of bringing certainty to Christmas’s life?
 6.  Conclusion These contradictions represent a double consciousness in Faulkner that illustrates his inability to reconcile the nature of his character, Joe Christmas, with that of the nature of society, to include his perspective.
 7.  Conclusion In this instance, Faulkner’s double consciousness is a weakness because it involves a dual depiction of Christmas’s struggle with identity and the other members’ preservation of social norms.

The last two conclusions represent the end of what should be a deductive argument, but the reason why this paragraph is not a deductive argument is because of the first three conclusions.  If we remove the first three conclusions, then we will have a deductive argument; we will have conclusions that are dependent upon their premises (i.e., according to Engel, conclusions that follow from its premises).  Let’s remove them. 

Table 9:  Constructing a Deductive Argument, Light in August

 1.  Premise The role of Burch within the novel, as a revealer of truth, contradicts Faulkner’s construction of Christmas.
 2.  Premise  As creator-narrator, Faulkner uses Burch to classify Christmas, to reveal his racial heredity.
   
 3.  Conclusion These contradictions represent a double consciousness in Faulkner that illustrates his inability to reconcile the nature of his character, Joe Christmas, with that of the nature of society, to include his perspective.
 4.  Conclusion In this instance, Faulkner’s double consciousness is a weakness because it involves a dual depiction of Christmas’s struggle with identity and the other members’ preservation of social norms.

As you now see that in removing the first three conclusions, we do not have any real example to which to refer. We need textual evidence of a relevant example in order to make sure that “These contradictions” refers to something specific. Any example within Faulkner’s work that reflects Christmas’s self-perception and what Burch perceives will be sufficient enough to make our case here.

It is not necessary to go into detail and add the example here because within Faulkner’s novel you can easily find any example of “perceptions” of Christmas, what characters say about his mulatto skin, and the racial epithets the townspeople use to refer to him in contrast to “what” Christmas considers himself to be within the context of the work.

When your professor writes “Logic” in the margins of your papers, he or she wants you to think more deductively versus inductively. Sentences after the first topic sentence that actually relate to the topic sentence and represent expanded, specific sentences are examples of deductive reasoning. The conclusion must follow from the premises.

What you say after the first topic sentence—and in some cases an extended topic sentence—must correspond to the topic sentence in sense and meaning. In this case, anything after the topic sentence represents examples; these examples transition into elevated statements that reflect an observer’s view. For example, as the writer, when you say that “John’s behavior reflects his inability to function in the real world” or “In this instance, Faulkner’s double consciousness is a weakness . . .” these are elevated statements. Elevated statements reflect “bird’s-eye view” of what is happening in the literary work. 

In essence, make sure that your paragraphs reflect deductive reasoning. In other words, move from general to specific and whatever you conclude at the end of a paragraph, the conclusion must correlate to what you have written or used as a topic sentence as well as to all of the middle (of the paragraph) elements.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Lacks Unity

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Examples)

See the comment on “Lacks Integration of Readings; Lacks Unity.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Lacks Supporting Evidence

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Examples)

A teacher stands before you representing an accumulation of many qualities. A teacher has fulfilled the requirements to teach, which include earning an undergraduate degree; obtaining the proper credentials to teach at a certain grade level; experiencing the world of teaching through volunteering; gaining practical experience; and continuing to study everyday people in order to be prepared for each class. A teacher must study the world and its inhabitants in order to bring the world into the classroom. She never stands fully unprepared. Even if she decides not to teach from a prepared lesson, she will always remain prepared to teach because it is her duty and her passion.

The above paragraph represents a meaningless discussion, speculation on the importance of a teacher. The paragraph isn’t italicized because I want you to believe that it is, in fact, a paragraph that starts out as an introduction to the comment. I think you are smart enough and confident enough to understand my perspectives. You don’t need a lot of information to know how important the role of a teacher is. You have a teacher; and you have had many teachers.  You know what teachers look like. You know what teachers sound like. Every teacher is just about the same. Teachers always come to class with their homework.  They sometimes come to class with their purposes. Either way, teachers love to teach.

The immediate paragraph above represents an irrelevant tangent.

The first two paragraphs of this comment read similarly to two people talking in conversation than a logical, analyzed discussion on the nature of a teacher. In both paragraphs there isn’t one single piece of evidence to support any of the statements. The first paragraph’s second sentence brushes over the requirements that teachers must meet to teach. What are the actual requirements? What is a teacher’s major? What are the proper credentials? Where do teachers volunteer? How does a teacher study the world and its inhabitants? How is a teacher never fully unprepared? Why doesn’t a teacher teach from a prepared lesson? In other words, where is the support for the above statements of the two paragraphs?

When your papers lack supporting evidence, your essay becomes meaningless speculation and you waver between assumptions, digressions, and irrelevant tangents. You have undoubtedly heard these comments from your professors: “Your ideas are too general” and “You don’t bring in specifics.” These comments mean that your ideas appear as unsupported assumptions. In other words, nothing appears credible and/or verifiable. The reader doesn’t really know how to receive your ideas or what to do with them. There is no challenge from the writer to the reader to research the subject matter. Until you can support what you have written as a prevailing thought, the professor doesn’t know if there is any truth to your ideas or if they are just mere assumptions subject to debate.

Therefore, you must equip statements within your papers with enough power to call your reader into action: power in terms of 1) directing the reader to a source, 2) informing the reader about statistical data, 3) helping the reader add to his or her personal vocabulary by defining words shaped by ideas, 4) defining concepts and their relationship to your overall thesis, and     5) demonstrating to your reader that your ideas are novel. In essence, never leave your reader in the dark, alone, without your guidance. When you have read the text and have begun the writing process, be prepared to do or be aware of three things: know what the meaning(s) of the text implies; demonstrate its significance; and teach the meaning of the text to others.

1.  Know exactly what the central theme of the text is. Don’t assume. Don’t project anything onto the text that doesn’t belong to it. Don’t add an adjective or an adverb. Don’t say “All dogs are very nice” when the author of the text clearly states in the first paragraph, “All dogs are nice.” Respect the author’s purpose by not getting sidetracked on your own ideas about the subject matter. You reflect your own ideas at the beginning by establishing a thesis. Therefore, make certain that when you are outlining and discussing the author’s perspectives you stay true to the original intention of the author.

2.  Demonstrate the text’s significance or relationship to other texts you are discussing.  If the relationship between two texts is comparative or contrastive, then demonstrate this in your papers by using transition words such as on the other hand, in contrast, and subordinating conjunctions such as although and even though. Remember this: Whatever we need to know, as readers, about the topic and what certain people think and about if the certain people agree, like gossip, don’t leave anything out. When you are confused about how each author thinks, pretend the authors are first friends. If they agree with each other, then within your papers they remain friends.

However, if you determine that one believes one thing and the other believes another, then consider these two friends as now enemies on the subject matter. Choosing this method will help you to categorize the information within your papers. One last thing to remember is that any author who agrees with you on the subject is your friend.

3.  Teach the text to someone else. As the teacher, you are forced to know the material because you want to appear knowledgeable. No one person likes to stand before any crowd without one piece of information to use as a starting point. When you teach the text, you find yourself remembering connections between authors; and remembering where something is on the page.  You prepare an outline to make sure you have transitions. You prepare the material as a presentation. You base the whole of your discussion on proof.

In other words, you seek to prove your ideas to your audience. You will never stand before a crowd and function merely on unsupported assumptions, because you know that the students in the classroom will ask you questions. To help your paper get the support it needs, each time you write, pretend you are presenting your paper before the class and ask yourself this question: “What have I left out?”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Lacks Organization

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Examples)

A business plan establishes not only the idea and purpose for which a company will exist, but also it serves as a blueprint for the structure and organization of the company. The company must have a primary administration that places the CEO as the person in charge and secondary leadership directly under this authority. The company must also develop a hierarchy that allows room for middle management and supervisors of various departments and people.

Any future business leader must have a vision and must employ a mission statement. If the person in charge doesn’t know where he or she is going, or how he or she will carry out business daily, then the business will fail. In essence, an organized company makes everyone accountable for his or her actions.

A paper that lacks organization reflects the writer’s disregard for good planning.  Everyone is able and capable of developing an outline. Where you lack knowledge and/or capacity in certain areas, the library stocks a large source of information on how to write a business plan, or on how to construct an outline. I use “disregard” purposely here, because when you know that you are capable, when you know there are tools that exist to help you, and when you know that something will be in your best interest to do, and you don’t do it, then you disregard the thing that deserves priority. You do not give it importance.

A person who doesn’t “crunch the numbers” before starting and opening the doors of the business is a person who believes that all he or she needs is “know how” and energy. It takes much more than know how and energy to sustain the business. Anyone can get a license, create a name, make flyers, advertise, have keys made, paint, bring in furniture, change things around, hire people, and call himself or herself a business owner.  However, if this same person doesn’t know what is coming in and what is going out, which is the heart of the business, then the business will soon fail.

Similarly, a student who doesn’t first sit down to gather his or her thoughts in order to determine the best approach to the text and to the paper will have problems organizing the information. This is where students disable themselves. Similar to a CEO who hasn’t developed a blueprint for his business, and fails because of lack of organization, students who have not developed an organization plan (outline) lose the power to control the thoughts and the ideas that confront them.

They haven’t established where they stand.  All that is before them are what the authors say. In essence, it is important for you as students to “crunch the numbers,” to sit down and figure out a plan of attack, to know beforehand where you stand on the subject matter, and to develop a method by which to incorporate your ideology, as primary, and the ideologies of others, as secondary. Without a plan, you can’t measure success.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Lacks Integration of Readings; Lacks Unity

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Examples)

During the Civil Rights era of the late 1960s, the United States government ordered schools in the south to desegregate. Before the laws amending the constitution passed, minorities, or coloreds, lived apart from white citizens. In other words, the states weren’t unified emotionally, socially, and legally. Colored people primarily lived apart from whites, but they were also expected to segregate from each other. In many cases, all people during this era were not unified until the beginning protests of civil rights demonstrations initiated by Martin Luther King, Jr., for example.

These protests were necessary for reshaping America’s view of the Negro. King’s main purpose was to fight for the civil liberties and the humanity of coloreds and to promote unity among Americans. He set and endured this goal. He undoubtedly changed the humanity of America.

“Lacks Unity” is a comment that points to the need for unity, structurally, within the paper. When you establish a goal to write a paper and incorporate the quotes and textual evidence from the required readings, you must approach the task with the purpose in mind of unifying ideas. You can unify the ideas within a paper by using appropriate transitional phrases and related wording. Not every transitional word will function well within every context. For example, never use the transitional expression “however” if you are connecting ideas.

“However” functions the same way as the coordinating conjunction “but”; we use these words to contrast one idea with another, and/or cancel one idea for another. Instead, use the conjunction “and” and the transitional expressions “in addition,” “further,” “moreover,” and “also” interchangeably, because they tell the reader that more information follows.

In addition, don’t section off one author from another in separate paragraphs. Present a topic sentence that supports your thesis. Present one author’s views. Then connect the author’s views to the views of another author. When you discuss all of the ideas of one author in one paragraph and all of the ideas of another author in another paragraph, the professor doesn’t know what connection one has to the other. Everything is relative.

Everything relates somehow to something else. Find the link between each author and use the link as a connector within each paragraph. This method will help you to integrate your ideas and bring more unity between your ideas and the authors. Remember to always allow substantial room for your ideas to serve as the basis and foundation of your paper. The next task is to bridge your ideas with those of the other authors. By following this method, you will unify the ideas within your paper.

“Lacks Integration of Readings” is a comment that points to your misreading the exam question or final paper requirement. If the question instructs you to incorporate two readings and you only incorporate one, then you are borderline in danger of receiving a low grade.

You could make the case that you didn’t know that you were supposed to incorporate two readings, but your professor could also make the case that you didn’t know how to incorporate two readings and thereby didn’t. Therefore, read the test question carefully and have a good understanding of your subject matter.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Lacks Connection; Lacks Connection Between Ideas

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Examples)

See “Lacks Integration of Readings; Lacks Unity.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Lacks Cohesion

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Examples)

See “Lacks Clear Continuity; Lacks Coherence.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Lacks Coherence

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Examples)

See “Lacks Clear Continuity; Lacks Coherence.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Lacks Clear Continuity; Lacks Coherence

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Examples)

Think about your favorite movie. What scenes do you like the most? Who is your favorite character? When is the best time, do you think, to see this movie? Where is the best place? Is the best place at your house or at a movie theater? Now think about the experience you have had watching your favorite movie in a theater or on regular television (and cable).

Think about the experience between the two. In a movie theater or on cable, your experience is uninterrupted.  You see all of the scenes and there aren’t any commercials to prevent you from hearing everything your favorite character says. In other words, you don’t feel cut off from the action.

However, when watching your favorite movie on regular television, just when an action or relationship gets hot and heavy, or just when the fight is about to start, the movie goes to commercial. Here you feel cut off, so to speak. The blood that rises during the climax falls right back down when the commercial interrupts your experience.

Depending upon how much you really like the movie and what station the movie is on, you endure the commercials, but there are definitely times when you exclaim aloud, “Just forget it!” and walk out the door to do something else.

Believe it or not, your professor feels exactly the same way when reading your paper.  When you receive the comment “Lacks Clear Continuity” or “Lacks Coherence,” your paper doesn’t stick together. The ideas don’t coordinate well. There is no correlation between your ideas and the ideas you present from others.

Something prevents your professor from reading it continuously. Similar to a commercial, an idea that you have not explained jumps off the page and interrupts the experience for the professor.  In addition, you don’t connect one idea to another within your analysis.

Because your professor has to read so many papers, it is important to examine each of your paragraphs to determine where you can possibly add more detail. Don’t leave your professor feeling left out of the conversation between you and the author’s ideas. Equip your professor with the ability to feel empowered through the knowledge you present in your paper.

In the following sample excerpt, the student addresses the concept of “miscegenation,” but fails to examine its significance and its link between characters within Faulkner’s novel.

Sample Excerpt

Secondly, Christmas doesn’t represent, physically, the image of a typical Negro in southern society.  He epitomizes the burden of miscegenation, because it is a problem that affects the histories of characters within the novel (and within all the novels being discussed).  It complicates the stories and Christmas’s history.  Every time he tells someone that he is part Negro, specifically in speaking to Joanna Burden, when they ask him if he is certain, he says in reply, “ ‘I don’t know it” (Light 240).  On the other hand, miscegenation also plays a significant function in Faulkner’s narratives in that it illustrates the possibilities in reconciling and repairing the division between black and white citizens. It is, in fact, the cause-effect of a contradiction that is present within the south.  “Southern society typically and publicly abhors racial mergings through integration, cohabitation, or miscegenation.  

Yet Faulkner’s narratives repeatedly present a world in which blacks and whites eat, live, and often sleep together despite Jim Crow laws and spoken categories of racial differentiation” (Snead 156). The contradiction lies in the narrative depiction of socially marginalized individuals, but also in the harmonic nature of the interpersonal relationships implicit within these lines.  Faulkner paints a two-sided coin.  In one instance, he depicts the social constraints invoked by segregation. In another, he demonstrates the possibility of repairing continuity to communities, which works against his (the) role of a social genealogist.  Is Faulkner uncertain about the construction of his characters?  No, because each character still fits within a certain framework, in a social position. 

Figure 26: Essay Excerpt on Christmas, Light in August

As you can see the student merely writes about the presence of miscegenation in Faulkner’s south from a general position and brushes over the subject without providing and defining links, be it social or racial.

Questions

1) Why does Christmas say “I don’t know it?”

2) Does Christmas deny or agree with the fact that he is a product of miscegenation?

3) If miscegenation affects the histories of characters within the novel, then how does miscegenation function as a bridge that closes the gap between the black and white citizens of the novel?

4) Isn’t Christmas supposed to know his heritage?

5) If he doesn’t, then on what does he base his lack of knowledge?

6) What is miscegenation? Does Faulkner use miscegenation as a method or way of bringing two different social groups together? Or does Faulkner just present the south and its contradictions?

7) What is the connection between Faulkner’s characterization of Christmas and Christmas as a character who isn’t confident and/or certain about his background?

Explanation

Always remember this one thing: If there are still questions that require answers, then you have not completed the job of analyzing the literary work. Answering the questions will help you develop your analysis.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Lacks Chronology

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Examples)

Of all of the comments “Lacks Chronology” offers the most simple tips for revising areas of your paper that need the characteristic of a time line. While you are writing your paper, think about what happens first and what happens last. Very few literary works use a numbering and/or chronological system. You would never see a fictional work use time-specific transitional words such as “first,” “second,” “next,” and/or “then.” Therefore, here are some quick tips.

1) For literary works that do not provide these types of wording, in your paper categorize the events of the story and the ideas into a hierarchy.

2) Estimate the connections between the author’s ideas.

3) The best way to know the chronology of events within an article is to circle prepositions such as “after” and “before.”

4) In your own papers, determine the importance of the information you want to present.

5) Prepare an outline of what you plan to do first.  Depending upon how your ideas connect to the author’s ideas, always make sure your reader knows “when” something happens.  If something doesn’t happen “after” something else, then you must rework your paper to develop its organization better.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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