Bac philo: how to succeed in your introduction?

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For the essay

There are three moments in the introduction: the hook, the formulation of your problem, the announcement of the plan. We go in order.

1) The hook

This is the first sentence of your copy. It sets the style, the tone of your dissertation. Might as well succeed. Remember three basic principles:

  • Avoid the “boat” introduction, lazy, hyper-banal, the sentence that could apply to all subjects, like: ” Always, the man wonders why he works » ; ” Does money bring happiness ? This is the question that can be asked when reading the subject », etc. Don’t just repeat the topic: “What do we gain from working?, we often ask ourselves. » Okay.
  • If you find a good hook, don’t hesitate.. A catchphrase is an introduction that illustrates a situation in which we ask ourselves the question of the subject, taken from everyday life, from a literary or artistic example that you know or have studied during your schooling, or even from topicality (not forbidden, but to approach in a dispassionate way).
  • Keep it simple. If, after racking your brains, you can’t find an artistic example, taken from daily life or current events, that’s okay. The hook is not the most important part of your introduction. In this case, go straight to the heart of the matter.

▶︎ For the subject “What do we get from working? », it could be, for example:

“In Germinal, Émile Zola describes the difficult and dangerous life of miners in northern France. They are very badly paid, have very little time for their leisure and their families, and are repressed if they go on strike. They waste their life underground. One wonders what they really receive, for their humanity, for the fruit of their labor.

Or :

“The question of purchasing power torments the French. Many of them find it difficult to live well with the fruit of their labor. But working conditions are also questioned by many employees, for example by hospital staff. Badly paid, but above all exhausted, having the feeling of not being able to practice their profession in acceptable conditions, they sometimes have the feeling of not knowing what or for whom they are working.

Finally, when you are advised to “keep it simple” – if you really don’t think of any specific example where the question posed by the subject would apply -, that means: directly address the problematic dimension of the question . By showing, for example, the contradictions that underlie it, or what makes the answer anything but obvious!

“We often hear that we work to earn money. But it is not so simple, because in our professional life we ​​are also looking for something else, such as the company of our colleagues, the recognition of our peers and our superiors, personal fulfillment. Perhaps one works, therefore, for more than a salary.”

2) The formulation of your problem

This is the really crucial moment of your introduction. It shows that you were not content to copy the subject as it is formulated, but that you deployed the philosophical issues. Because before you start writing, you have, on a draft sheet, analyzed the terms of the subject and reflected on the problems it poses (hence the term “problematic”). During this preparatory phase for the draft, you draw the consequences of the various possible spontaneous responses to the subject. To do this, try to raise the presuppositions contained in the subject, develop the ins and outs.

▶︎ For example, if you are asked “Does the unconscious escape any form of knowledge? », you say to yourself: if, indeed, the unconscious can never be known, then it determines some of our thoughts and our actions, we cannot do anything about it, therefore useless to seek to know it. But conversely, if one can try to know his memories or his unconscious desires, then these become conscious… and are therefore no longer unconscious. Logical, but problematic. The problem would therefore be, after having developed this paradox:

“Are there specific methods, which go through the analysis of one’s dreams, slips, apparently unimportant words, for example, which would allow us to have access to the unconscious without exhausting it? ”

3) Announcement of the plan

It’s quite simple: you sum up the three (or two if you can’t find three, but three is better!) main stages of argument which will guide your copy, just to show that they are linked well and each answer, better and better, to the question asked.

▶︎ For example, still for the subject on the unconscious:

“First, we will see that the unconscious, for definition, can never reach the conscience, whereas it controls a good part of our existences. Then, in a second moment, we will ask ourselves if, by highlighting the unconscious movements of our mind, for example thanks to literature, the notion of the unconscious does not lose its meaning. Finally, in a third part, we will see that only an indirect approach, through the analysis of dreams, missed acts, verbal associations that we make without thinking about it, we do not have an access route to the unconscious. which helps us to see more clearly without making this unconscious continent perfectly transparent.”

Again, be as simple and precise as possible.

For text explanation

The introduction also includes three times.

1) The hook

If you know a little about the author of the text, say a little, but do not make toast. The test consists of checking whether you are able to understand an argumentative text, not whether you have properly revised your author sheets. ! In short, avoid the six lines of biography, which are a bit filler. If you don’t know the author, no problem, that’s not what is requested in priority. In this case, go straight to the point, and Summarize in a few words the precise question that the author deals with.

▶︎ For example :

“In this text, Descartes asks himself the question of whether we can access a primary and indubitable truth, and above all what method to follow to access it.”

2) The challenge of the text

Like the problematic for the dissertation, this is the important passage. We must identify the philosophical issue of the text, the general question it poses to all of us today. Short, how analyzing this passage helps us move forward in solving a great problem.

▶︎ For example :

“Descartes deploys a paradox: it is by doubting everything that exists, sensible reality, mathematical truths, the very existence of our identity, that he draws a first indubitable and universal truth, which can serve as basis of all knowledge. If I doubt everything that is, by the very fact of doubting, I am in the process of thinking, therefore I exist as a thinking substance. The whole question is to understand how one goes from the absolute ignorance of doubt to the certainty of knowledge.

3) The structure of the argument

After several readings of the text, you have identified several stages in the author’s thought. There can be two, three, four, five (not seven either!). We just have to show that we have understand this sequence.

▶︎ For example :

“First of all, Descartes (from line 1 to 4), poses his main idea. Then, from lines 4 to 9, he gives a particularly striking example. This allows him, from line 10 to 16, to reveal the solution to his problem: it is because I doubt that I am certain of thinking at the same time. Finally, from lines 16 to 22, he gives a name to this first truth, it is that of the ‘thinking substance’.

Attention : in any case, write your intro in draft before copying it neatly on your copy.

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Bac philo: how to succeed in your introduction?

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