Consider a Book for Research

Posted on January 11, 2012 by

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For any of you that have studied John Locke, I’m sure you’ve felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of thought and reason he is recognized for. When I first heard that our class assignment was to pick a 17th century philosopher to study, my thoughts immediately remembered a man whom I had studied briefly in eighth grade, a man who I thought I knew well. But as I have come to see, when I remembered our eighth grade study of John Locke, I realized it was hardly fair to call it a “study” considering that we only investigated one aspect of his many intriguing philosophies. What I managed to glean from my eighth grade study was John Locke’s theory of Human Nature, and the way a legitimate government should run, in short, his political theories. Because I found that aspect of him interesting, I picked his Two Treatises of Government to study for my essay.

The project before our current project was the Reformation project in which we were required to analyze a primary source document from that time period. If nothing else, the thing I most took away from that project was that it is no easy task to understand a primary source document, let alone try to interpret it. I was thankful to hear that for this new project, we were to compare and contrast two scholarly secondary sources in a short, bibliographic essay. I’m sure that John Locke’s Two Treatises is an extremely special and beautiful piece of work to someone who can understand it well, however for me, grasping his Two Treatises sounded daunting. Instead I searched in other places, for an author who could bring out the interesting concepts presented in Locke’s political doctrine, and at the same time provide critical analysis of his writing, in terminology easily understandable by a student.

I began by searching for an online article, but this is not always easy to do as it is much harder to find a good scholarly source on the internet. Finally, when I had found a good online book, I received a slap in the face when I realized I couldn’t access even one chapter online. I was forced to turn to the old fashioned style of getting books from the library. Although frustrated I soon came to realize that the books were much more helpful than the online source had been due to the easily understandable language and the explanations they provided for Locke’s ideas.

In this day and age, most teens are caught up with technology and all the accessible online articles, downloadable books and magazines, sometimes forgetting the usefulness of an actual physical book. I am sorry to say that I too overlooked the practical application of a book for my project. As I began to read various sections of my books, I realized just how easy it was to take notes and highlight parts I found interesting. Because this current project is so much about comparing and discussing an author’s work, a book is extremely handy because you can flip back and forth between pages and even have two books to compare the author’s work at once.  Also, the author is always well qualified, something that may not be 100% true on an internet article.

I don’t mean to speak badly of the internet, because you can find a million different things there at once, all I am trying to say is that a plain and simple book still has it’s rightful place in the process of research.

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Posted in: Projects, Research