Scanning through some of the articles on Stephen Law's website (a grand forum for discussion and argument), we came across a review Mr. Law wrote on a book by a popular philosopher, Alain de Botton: The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work. Law ends by comparing the writing of de Botton and another writer, Peter Singer, in an attempt to explain what he is looking for in a truly engaging philosophical book. His criteria seem to us to sum up what we are looking for in a truly engaging (and ultimately high achieving) TOK essay or presentation. Here we list the criteria, but go and read the review for yourselves - click here:
1. "Read the book, and then ask yourself: what is the central argument of this book? What are its conclusions?"
2. "Above all ask yourself: what has been clearly and unambiguously stated here with which someone might conceivably disagree?"
3. "Singer too writes beautifully, but his is the style of someone who doesn’t want his style noticed. It’s deliberately transparent: you look right through it, at first noticing just the ideas, only later registering the beautifully precise and clear way they have been articulated (Dawkins too has this gift)."
4. "...Singer also dares to express [sic] a controversial point of view."
5. "Read Singer and you have little choice but to engage your brain. He pokes you in the ribs with his arguments, challenging you to find the flaws. We know exactly what he thinks and exactly why he thinks it. He stings like a Socratic gad-fly – pricking our consciences, making us feel uncomfortable."
Of course, it takes many years of practise and conscientious study to acquire all these characteristics of style. You can, nevertheless, start your apprenticeship right here with your TOK work!