The Philosophical Apprentice

“Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person.” Albert Einstein

Archive for the month “July, 2015”


I ran across the London Philosophy Study Guide awhile back and I thought I would pass it along. This latest iteration is about 10 years old but regardless, there are some fantastic resources here. I was going to pdf it for everybody’s convenience until I realized it was copyrighted. You can never be too careful.

Taking Notes on Taking Notes, Part 2

I’ve written about making a big change in my note taking strategy – going from taking my reading notes by hand to writing them on the computer. This has the advantage of my being able to actually read them. Plus, the actual notetaking is quicker and, to me, more enjoyable.

However to get the full benefit of taking notes on the computer you need the typing skills to make it efficient and worth your while. For me I type very fast though that doesn’t mean that I type well. if I had to describe myself typing the image of a crack monkey comes to mind – frenetic bursts of energy followed by long series of corrections. I also call it the Soviet style of typing, two steps forward one step back.

The point is clear. I need to invest some time in improving my typing skills so that i don’t have to look at the page every half second so as to not lose track of where I am in the book. In other words I need to learn how to touch type.

Fortunately, there are several free programs for just that purpose. Since I hardly ever use windows and I don’t use a Mac I don’t have any recommendations for them. If you happen to use Linux though, I would sugggest you take a look at Klavaro. It’s simple, easy to use, does a good job, and best of all, it is free of charge. You can read about it here, here and here.

I hope this post will help convince you to boost your typing chops if needed. Typing better means faster notetaking with less mistakes which can only help you when you sit down to do your research.

So far I have covered why I chose to take reading notes on the computer and the need to improve my tying skills to make the process efficient. In future blogposts I am going to cover what I do with those notes plus how I am dealing with computer distractions once i sit down to work. Stay tuned.

Taking Notes on Taking Notes

Lately I have been doing a lot of experimenting in how I take notes. The impetus behind this came when I went back to review some old notes and I realized that I could not read them without putting in a ton of effort to decipher them – they might as well have been the Rosetta Stone. All flippancy aside, my previous note taking efforts have been a colossal waste of time. And make no mistake, the further I progress in my philosophy studies the more important a workable stem for taking notes becomes.

Obviously, if I cannot read my hand writing then typing them out on a computer is in order. However, I have been resisting this idea for a long time since I believe I spend way too much time in front of a computer as it is. Besides I enjoy writing by hand. I had hoped that I would be able to put all my material on index cards much like Ryan Holiday has recommended. Alas, it was not be. I got bogged down on a philosophy paper, taking notes by hand, and fell way behind. So I broke down and started taking notes on the computer.

The results surprised me. First of all, I found that I enjoyed the process. Even though I enjoy writing by hand, copying passages by hand can be very tedious and I discovered myself procrastinating when it came to sit down and work which is one of the reasons I fell behind in the first place. Since I can type fairly fast processing the material went by quicker and it often generated a flow state and a feeling of satisfaction which is critical if you are trying to inculcate a new habit. Secondly, it solved the problem of how to render passages that are italicized or bolded which I think is important if you are going to transcribe accurate quotes.

Overall, I’ve been satisfied with the changes though my decision was bolstered by some note taking recommendations I’ve run across since going over to the dark..I mean digital side. Here are two good pieces worth reading in this regard.

I will offer one caveat. I only use the computer to take reading notes. In the classroom hand-written notes are still superior as many recent studies have shown.

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