The word “essay” comes from the French, “essayer” which means “to try” or “to attempt.”
I haven’t written many essays in my lifetime. Maybe 10 at the most. And a few of those would probably be more correctly called reports. Today I enrolled in the “Introduction to Logic” course that the Mises Academy is offering for January. When I was looking at the course details of it a couple weeks ago, I got worried when it mentioned something around writing essays. I love writing, but as I’m sure you understand, writing fiction is so much different than essay writing. No one can tell you that you wrote the story wrong. They can say they don’t like it, and you can say, “oh well,” and just shrug it off. That doesn’t happen when you get a bad grade on your paper because your professor doesn’t like it. I have never felt very confident with my essay writing skills, so I thought that this month I’d work on getting a little better at it. I picked a topic I’m very interested in and am somewhat knowledgeable
about, and started working. The essay began as an argument against cruelty of our “justice” system, the injustice of military tribunals, and the assault against human rights in a place called Gitmo. But there’s so much background to that; it is hard to know and feel how wrong something is if you don’t know what is right. So I spent part of the essay talking about Common Law and the justice system in medieval England. Then I gave the example of the Boston Massacre to illustrate how passionate the Founding Fathers were about justice (John Adams volunteered to defend in court a group of British soldiers who were responsible for the Boston Massacre, just to ensure they would receive a fair trial). Then I traced the decline of justice in America, starting with the infamous Lincoln and then FDR. I’ll finish with an explanation of military tribunals, the erosion of justice as began by President Bush after 9-11 and how President Obama hasn’t done anything to improve it. I’ll probably conclude with some arguments about how this concern about suspected terrorists is deeply relevant to our own lives. It is actually really fun, I’m enjoying it a lot. 🙂
So the word “essayer” has a double meaning for my essay, I’m not only trying to persuade my readers of a certain viewpoint, I’m also simply trying to write an essay!
If anyone is interested in looking at the draft, maybe offering some comments or suggestions, just leave a comment. Thanks! 🙂