7 junio, 2024

Philosophical essay: characteristics, structure, themes, examples

He philosophical essay is a text in which an author critically analyzes a topic directly related to philosophy. That is, they usually talk about existence, death, what is fair, happiness, etc. Its purpose is to show the writer’s perspectives on the matter and provide his knowledge.

In the elaboration of a philosophical essay, the author shows the topic he chose to develop and in turn presents a series of arguments that give strength to what he has stated. This is done through a coherent discourse, and to achieve this requires a study of what it was decided to talk about.

Examples of philosophical texts could have titles like What is existence? What is the difference between morality and ethics? Is beauty objective or subjective? or Is the mind in the brain or out?


Characteristics of the philosophical essay

– Prose is used

Philosophical essays are written in the form of prose, with the author’s sensitivity prevailing over the concepts discussed.

– Freedom in style

Because philosophical essays express the vision and feeling of the author, freedom of style is usually allowed in these. That is to say, whoever elaborates them is not subject to a certain way of writing or to formalisms. The only thing that must be respected is the structure and that topics associated with philosophy are dealt with.

– expresses a point of view

A good argument is extremely necessary in the philosophical essay. In them, the author expresses his point of view on an issue. These arguments can use comparisons, authority citations (from specialist authors in a subject), causality (linked to causes and effects) and definitions.

Although it is important that students express their doubts about a topic, what is truly transcendental is to encourage deep thought. Reevaluating any belief is valid within a philosophical essay.

– Concrete

Philosophical essays focus solely on one topic to be discussed. This ensures that the reader’s attention is not lost.

If you want to have a greater impact on your readers, then you must practice being concise when writing. Short sentences of less than 20 words help a lot.

– Consistency

A philosophical essay must propose very specific reasoning, without beating around the bush. The objective is to avoid any type of confusion or misinterpretation.

– Expresses the thoughts of the author

The philosophical essay always focuses on the possible topics of interest of the writer and the way in which he perceives the world. It is useful to study how the author organizes his ideas. Additionally, it allows revealing his beliefs or convictions and his concerns.

Structure of the philosophical essay

Regardless of the type of essay, their structure is usually made up of:

– Qualification

The title identifies the theme or main idea addressed in the essay. Accordingly, it is directly related to the content developed. However, on some occasions the title of the essay can be metaphorical or suggestive.

Examples of titles for a philosophical essay could be: Is there a God?, What does it mean to be happy? or Is the human being free?

– Introduction

In this section the writer must draw the attention of the reader through an interesting presentation of the topic. It should be ensured that from the beginning elements known by readers are included.

– Development

It is the part where the approaches or concerns expressed in the introduction are supported. The arguments and criteria presented must be presented in a clear and orderly manner.

In the philosophical essay, the use of relevant quotes when writing can be very important to maintain the level of interest and attention.

– Conclusions

In this part the author summarizes the most important thing he wanted to communicate. In addition, the conclusions of philosophical essays usually include a paragraph or segment that encourages new readings and interpretations of the subject matter.

Topics for philosophical essays

Here are some very common themes in this type of essay:

The happiness
The good and bad
Truth Mind Language Morality Beauty Paradoxes Right and wrong Relationships between society and people The limits of language Beliefs, thoughts and dreams Types of reasoning Knowledge

Short Examples of Philosophical Essays

– Example 1: Happiness as a consumer product

Since our arrival in the world, one of the words we hear the most is «happiness». We grow up and we begin to associate this word with smiles and pleasant moments. And this is not wrong, in fact —paraphrasing the RAE— happiness is a state of “fullness” of “joy”.

Since we associate the sense of happiness with feeling good, we have not stopped looking for it. Either in people or things. She becomes —practically— the reason for our lives. Then, our conscience is directed to a continuous walk behind this state of satisfaction.

More time passes, and objects and money —everything that meets our needs and makes us feel good— begin to generate happiness. And that’s not bad, that’s where part of its meaning goes. However, there comes a point at which —by social construction of most communities— having money begins to be directly linked to being happy.

Without money, the rent cannot be paid. In the same way, neither the bills, nor the food. Can you then be happy in a city without having money to meet your needs? It is practically impossible, therefore, happiness begins to have a price, existence itself begins to be conditioned.

Happiness associated with money as a social construction

The most interesting thing is that the link between happiness and money is a social construction. How so? Well, this means that the vast majority of current societies create their models of what happiness should be for the individual around monetary success.

These models are instilled in children from an early age. Although the importance of the family nucleus is not lost, its well-being is conditioned to the production of money. The better jobs one has, the better income one has and one can procure a better good for all.

However, this same system has caused deep gaps and —for one reason or another— not everyone has access to the same opportunities. Therefore, there are people who are left out of this construction of what «happiness» should be.


The question is, just as we have, is that happy we are? Who is really happy? I believe that real happiness in life must be something more. Much more than going to work every day to “earn a living”. Gaining 4 hours of life while losing 10 labor hours and 2 transport hours doesn’t make much sense. Happiness or productivity?

– Example 2: Death, the end or the beginning?

There is nothing safer for the human being since he arrives on planet Earth than the fact that he will die. We were born finite, carrying the certainty that at any moment we will leave for a beyond that nobody knows much about and about which there is too much speculation.

There is no religion that escapes naming it, it is an inescapable reality. So much is the value that has been given to death, that we have thanatology to study everything related to it.

Since the advent of medicine, death has been scientifically defined as the instant in which there is no cardiac or pulmonary activity. With this, the blood has stopped running through our veins, and there is no life support that contains our essence in the body.

Of course, time passed and it was found that real death occurred minutes after breathing and beating ceased, just when the person’s brain activity ceased. This occurs between 2 and 5 minutes later.

People who have returned from the dead

Now, not everyone who has left has remained in the afterlife. There are people who, against all odds, have returned. Antonio Gómez is one of those cases. He was theoretically dead for 7 minutes after an accident and was revived. After returning, he narrated experiences with rays of light and said that there was a being with whom he conversed.

His case is not the only one, there are hundreds, and although most agree with the lights, there are very vivid cases of fantastic places and an enormous feeling of peace.

Despite having met the medical conditions that determine brain death, these people came back and told everything, with no apparent damage and revealing that they had experienced everything in a very real way. Some people even say they have had their senses active all the time.


Is death really the end of existence as we know it? Is this a test to go to another level? Are we just witnessing the preamble to true existence? Are our senses not conditioned to the body?

There are billions of questions and a single certainty: death awaits us. For me it is not the end, there must be something beyond coming to «leave a legacy».


Zambrano, J. (2012). The essay: concept, characteristics, composition. Colombia: La Gran Colombia University. Sophia Magazine, number 8. Retrieved from: redalyc.org.
Holes, D. (2010). Philosophy for Children and what a Philosophical Education Means. Colombia: Philosophical Discussions. Year 11, number 16. Retrieved from: scielo.org.co
philosophical essay. (2020). Spain: Wikipedia. Recovered from: es.wikipedia.org.
Indications for preparing a philosophical essay. (S.f.). Spain: Junta de Andalucía. Recovered from: juntadeandalucia.es.
Tejada, R. (2014). The philosophical essay in Spanish: a unified response to the problem of modernity and progress? (N/A): Journals. Retrieved from: journals.openedition.org.

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