A definition essay, also called an “extended definition,” is a type of essay in which you attempt to clarify and delineate a complex topic. Complex philosophical topics like honor, humor, or love are far more difficult and complicated than they appear, which is the role of a definition essay. To write an effective definition of a concept like these, you will need to:
In your essay, you will be exploring the structure, function, and context of the term. You’re explaining what it means on a deeper philosophical level. You could say that “love” is “the positive feeling experienced toward another person”--- but what is it, really? It’s multifaceted and complex. Is the love for a brother or friend different from the love for a romantic partner? Is infatuation, which you experience when you’re first dating, something different than the emotions you feel for your spouse of fifteen years? What about “love” for an object or a subject, like the love of art or science? As you can see, even the most seemingly simple ideas can be extraordinarily complex.
Definition papers have a long history in Western philosophy. What is justice? What is knowledge? What is truth? People have asked these questions since very ancient times, because they’re fundamental aspects of human nature. You can examine the works of philosophers, like Kant and Socrates, to get an idea of what other people have said about these topics. People have written thousands and thousands of words about topics like “love” and “evil,” but no one has ever reached a definitive conclusion. These concepts are too complex to be pinned down precisely. The more you look into them, the more complexity you will uncover.
Here is a list of 20 definition essay topics for college projects:
These are all timeless concepts within human experience. They may appear simple and straightforward, but upon deeper examination, they’re actually incredibly complex. They have the potential for an entire book to be written about them, so writing a basic essay should be relatively straightforward. This list of 20 definition essays for college will give you a starting point for planning your own paper.
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