Hum paper | hum | Berkeley College of New York

THE PERSON I HAVE CHOSE IS —  Martha Nussbaum 

A Quadrant Format for Research on Philosophers[1]

The quadrant format provides a framework to develop, organize and write a research paper.  The four quadrants are: biography, context, analysis, and reflection regarding a philosopher, male or female, and past or present.  

  1. BIOGRAPHICAL: The biographical study emphasizes the activist/philosopher’s life and greatly enriches the understanding of his/her work.  It is a chronology of the philosopher’s development

Research questions

  • Full name
  • Birth and death dates
  • Education, formal or informal
  • Significant Relationships?
  • What events, incidents or challenges had a positive or negative effect upon this individual?
  1. CONTEXTUAL: The contextual study emphasizes the individual’s social context; the time and place of the person.  It is an approach that examines how the person’s life and work reflects feminist issues regarding culture, ethnicity, religion and society.

Research questions

  • What prevailing ideas and beliefs were either rejected and/or embodied in the individual’s body of work?
  • What kind of gender, religious, socioeconomic, political, and nationalistic and forces shaped this individual’s character?
  • What significant historical events, if any, had an effect upon her work?
  • If her work was challenged or opposed: By whom? Why and when?
  1. ANALYSIS: The quadrant explores philosophy as a tool of inquiry that involves analysis, interpretation, synthesis and narrative.  Research is a thinking, reflective, stylistic, and textual process.


  • What did you find represents the individual’s central idea or issue?
  • Are such views liberal, moderate, or radical? Did the individual speak to a particular era, society, socio-economic group etc?
  • Was it difficult for the individual’s social circles or society to accept? Why or why not?
  1. CONCLUSION: You’re conclusion.


  • What meaning does the individual’s ideas/work have for you?
  • Does this particular thinker connect to your life?
  • Does it make you more aware of yourself and your world?
  • Do you believe that your individual deserves to be better known?


  • Minimum of four full pages; 1 inch margins, double-spaced and 12 pt font in New Times Roman
  • Minimum: four credible research sources from library
  • MLA in-text citations and works cited appropriately for print and web sources
  • Spell checked and use of correct grammar
  • Appropriate library databases: Biography In Context, and Credo Reference
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