I am a philosophy student that doubts philosophers; I can't write papers, or at least trying to make the connections emerge from details is damn near the hardest thing I've ever done. I have the right ideas (that I am sure of) and I can talk philosophy (intersbujective exp. confirms this) but my papers fall into detail etc. (No one has ever said, WOAH this paper should be published). But even when, one night, I curse the very subject matter and damn it all to hell, I wake up the next morning prepared to try again. But still, at night I try to cast the dead weight from my shoulders in despair. Question: if one's temperament is philosophic should they steer away from academic philosophy? Question 2: Should the person who falls in love with wisdom only to damn her at night continue to make the effort, indeed, should one rule out a life-long marriage with the enticing specimen?

Hmmm. You might try writing a paper as if it were meant to be heard. This constraint can often lead a writer to clarify, to simplify, to stay on the main thread of an argument, to supply examples where necessary, without getting lost in the details. A good test of the degree to which you have a hearer in mind (a smart, savvy student of your calibre, but who has not read yet the material that is the focus of your essay, is the best model of hearer) is to read your paper aloud, to yourself, and to listen very carefully: is the issue posed at too abstract a level for your hearer? does the point come across directly? is the sentence so long that it's point is difficult to discern? Are you indicating for your hearer transitions between ideas by linguistic devices (eg. "first, next .." or by section heads) that are easy to identify? Try this out and see if it helps.

I am stuck on a decision that I hope one of you can help me with. I am graduating in June (2006) and everyone is telling me to go to college. I am currently protesting college - thinking that if I self-teach myself (by reading many books), then I could possibly gain more knowledge than if I am sitting in a classroom with many other students. I am stubborn with this idea. I assume that with a teacher in a classroom full of students, (s)he is teaching the subject, not the people. (I hope that makes sense.) I am not too sure if my thinking is something I should go by, or if I should just grow up and go to college. Any opinion would be great.

When college works as it should, it allows you to imagine alternate possible ways of living your life in the "real" world, as you experiment with different disciplines, and are thrust into the orbits of sometimes unlikely people who might serve as mentors and role models. These could be your teachers, or, more often than not, your fellow students. It gives you a terrific opportunity to become acquainted with people from cultures very different from your own, to acquire a new repertoire of tastes from books to food to music. But mostly, when college works as it should, it gives you that precious, precious time, in and out of class, to muddle through, and, in so doing, to figure out who you are and what you are like, first, for yourself, and then, crucially, in relation to the community to which you belong.

This is a question about the role of education. I wonder how far is education away from institutionalization? Sometimes teachers think they are helping their students to gain the ability of being free, while in fact they are putting their students into prison by telling them what is the content of freedom. Hope this was not a vague question. And if I am very interested in this question, whose works you recommend to read?

Albeit idiosyncratic in some ways, there's a little book byJiddu Krishnamurti, entitled 'Education and its Significance for Life' (1953)that you might enjoy. Krishnamurti was deeply concerned about humanfreedom in the psychological (rather than political) sense, connecting a lossof freedom with the creation of (and subsequent imprisonment by) a false senseof self. He was critical of institutions of any sort, particularlyeducational institutions, as places that contributed to this imprisonment. He started many 'alternative' schools all over the world (K schools) as spacesthat would encourage rather than stifle individual freedom.