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10 Must Know Concepts for Reading Comprehension - Part 1

Apr 12 2023



Whether you are taking the GRE or the IELTS, reading comprehension section is one area people struggle with. Here are 10 concepts that you commonly encounter in reading comprehension sections for exams like GMAT and the GRE.

Link to Part 2 of the Post

This is a two part post that will help you tackle reading comprehension passages better. This is the first part. You can find the second part of the post here.

1. Plato's Theory of Ideas

Plato's theory of ideas is also known as Plato's doctrine of Forms. It suggests that there is a world of abstract, perfect 'Forms' or 'Ideas', and that these Forms or Ideas are the source of all true knowledge and understanding. He believed that these exist independently of the physical world and that all physical objects are mere copies or approximations of these Forms.

Plato believed that the Forms are accessible only through reason and intellectual contemplation, and that our knowledge of them is innate and recollection of a prior existence. This theory holds that knowledge is not obtained through the senses, but through a non-sensory, rational apprehension of the Forms.

2. Solipsism

Solipsism is the philosophical belief that one's own mind is the only thing that can be known or verified to exist. According to solipsism, the external world and other people cannot be known or verified to exist, and exist only as imaginations within the mind of the individual.

According to solipsism all experience, knowledge, and reality are based on the subjective experiences of the individual, and that the reality of others is unknowable. Solipsism is often seen as a paradoxical or self-defeating belief, since it suggests that the solipsist cannot even be sure of the existence of their own mind, let alone the existence of others.

Still, solipsism remains an important concept in philosophy, serving as a starting point for discussions about the limits of human knowledge and the nature of reality.

3. Golden Rule Principle

The Golden Rule is a principle of ethics that states that one should treat others as they would like to be treated. It is a maxim that has been expressed in various ways and has been a common theme in many ethical and religious traditions.

It is usually worded as "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." It is widely regarded as a universal principle of fairness and consideration for others, and is considered a cornerstone of ethical behavior in many cultures.

It is often seen as a way of promoting empathy, compassion, and cooperation, and encourages individuals to consider the impact of their actions on others. The rule helps individuals build stronger relationships, foster a sense of community, and create a more just and harmonious world.

4. Cartesian Doubt

Cartesian doubt is a method of philosophical inquiry introduced by René Descartes in the 17th century. It is a systematic way of questioning the reliability and validity of all beliefs in order to establish a firm foundation for knowledge.

The idea is that, in order to arrive at certain knowledge, one must first subject all beliefs to rigorous scrutiny and doubt. Descartes used this method to arrive at his famous conclusion, "I think, therefore I am" (Cogito, ergo sum).

Cartesian doubt was an important aspect of Descartes' philosophical system, and has had a lasting impact on the development of Western philosophy. The method of Cartesian doubt is still used today as a way of testing the reliability of knowledge claims and as a tool for promoting critical thinking.

5. Existentialism

Existentialism is a philosophical movement that emphasizes individual freedom, choice, and personal responsibility. It asserts that every individual must create their own meaning and purpose in life, and that this meaning is not determined by any external factors, such as God, society, or nature.

Existentialists believe that human existence is fundamentally characterized by uncertainty, ambiguity, and the lack of any absolute meaning or purpose. This lack of meaning leads to a sense of anxiety, known as "existential anxiety," which can be overcome by taking responsibility for one's own life and making choices that give it meaning.

Existentialism is often associated with the works of philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Martin Heidegger, who emphasized the importance of personal freedom, self-awareness, and authenticity in the face of an meaningless and absurd world.

GRE Reading Comprehension Passages

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