Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Philosophy as Toy Cogs

 

To me philosophy is the gathering of ideas, and assembling them in different ways to create interesting truths. So when coming up with my analogy I recalled a toy I used to have as a kid. It was a set of fridge magnets, a bunch of brightly coloured cogs. My brother and I would try and get them to turn after assembling them in different patterns. We realized in certain configurations however, they would get stuck and the entire thing would twitch as it struggled to turn.

So I saw ideas as each individual cog. In philosophy, you put them together in different ways and play with it to form something interesting. If you have a lot of ideas, what comes out of it can be complex and satisfying, much like making a complex web of cogs. But what I liked most about the idea of this analogy was that you couldn’t just throw cogs around all willy nilly, if you didn’t connect them properly or made a faulty circuit it wouldn’t work. Rather like ideas in real life.

But fridge cogs don’t really do anything on their own, no matter how complex. Maybe you get a sense of satisfaction from getting the entire thing moving in an interesting pattern, but that’s about it. With ideas its the same thing, since they’re really just thought. But what if you sized up the cogs and got them to power a grandfather clock? A wind up toy? Or a giant death machine? Anyway, I figured philosophy is the same thing. A set of ideas can’t do anything as long as they only exist as themselves. But if you put them into action, you have the potential to make a giant death machine.

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Jasmin Ghorbani – Mr. Jackson or Gandalf the Grey?

 

When asked to think of a metaphor to describe what philosophy is to me, for some reason the first thing that came to mind was Lord of the Rings. I think it was because the day we were initially asked to come up with an analogy for this project, Mr. Albright was substituting for our class and I was reminded of my English 11 class with him in which we got to spend several classes watching the first Lord of the Rings movie. At first I didn’t take the idea seriously but I couldn’t think of anything better so after some thought I decided to roll with it and surprisingly, it came together quite nicely. For those who haven’t seen it, the first Lord of the Rings movie, in simple terms, is about a group (the fellowship) who travel to Mordor to destroy a ring with dangerous powers. As Boromir put it, “One does not simply walk into Mordor”. The fellowship’s journey is a long one. So long in fact that they don’t even arrive at their destination by the end of the first movie. 

The idea of a lengthy journey that does not necessarily end at the predicted destination, to me, quite closely resembles philosophy. Like the first Lord of the Rings movie, philosophy to me is more about the journey than the destination. When discussing new concepts and ideas, we may not always arrive at the destination we predicted. Sometimes in fact, we may not arrive at any concrete “destination” at all but that does not mean we are not richer for the journey. When discussing questions that may not have one right answer, it’s important to accept and appreciate the value in the “journey” that philosophical discussion can take you on. Another way in which the fellowship’s journey resembles philosophy is in its reliance on many individuals working together. Philosophy is reliant on the efforts of many through collaboration and the sharing of ideas the same way the fellowship was reliant on each other for survival. Each individual’s journey into philosophy is reliant on other people to allow it to progress.

Mr. Jackson as Gandalf, courtesy of me.

Essentially, philosophy is Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. It is a quest at the end of which we may not arrive at our intended destination yet we are still better off for the journey. A quest that’s main purpose is to enrich your life along the way as it takes you to places you never expected. You are Frodo and philosophy is your quest to Mordor. And Mr. Jackson, as your teacher and as your guide, is Gandalf (which only seems fitting because of the beard). 

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Beatrize- Philosphy is a Fish in a Fishbowl

 

http://prezi.com/r3guw5jtifk6/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share

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Philosophically Pondering Chocolates

 

Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get

~Forrest Gump

“Philosophy is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”

ever since I saw the iconic 1994 film Forrest Gump, and the scene where the not quite so late Mr Gump innocently says “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get” the early Daniel Caballero (back in the day) heard this quote, it’s gotten lodged in his head all these years, until the not so early Mr Brian Jackson (present day) assigned this assignment, where in i’m supposed to stand infront of you all and recite this half baked idea that truthfully I only chose  because i thought it was funny, but upon further, albeit forced, reflection; this analogy although oh so blatantly ripped off, actually kindof has some legs to stand on? Potentially? Well we’re about to see, and even if at the end of all of this I dont manage to impress you, at the very least I hope I can mildly entertain Mr Jackson to the point where he gives me atleast a solid B..?

Websters dictionary defines Philosophy as: the study of ideas about knowledge, truth, the nature and meaning of life, etc, also too a particular set of ideas about knowledge, truth, the nature and meaning of life, etc, and lastly  a set of ideas about how to do something or how to live. Now you might be sitting there thinking to yourself, goddamn, this is pretty deep and this guy thinks it’s a good idea to compare this vast and complex science to a box of chocolates? Yeah right… Wrong, I’m not comparing philosophy to a literal box of chocolates, saying things like, the caramel filled ones, represent how inside we’re all filled with wonderment, and the coconut ones signify the hardships we have to endure to get to the good stuff, and the ones that kindof taste like off brand kit kats (the one with like, the little wafery insides) signify how we all seek out the best and in the end get let down because they’re not kit kats, rather just, bland chocolate covered wafers; no, I’m here to talk about the idea, that is the box of chocolates

Now picture this, you wake up one morning, sun streaming into your room, you slowly pick your head up, realizing that it’s already 1.. You proceed to wake up, begrudgingly pulling yourself out of bed, and start hobbling towards the kitchen, from the distance you see something peculiar on the kitchen table, walking over to it, you realise, it’s a box of chocolates, mint condition, no dents, scrapes, unopened, like it came from the factory and tenderly placed on your kitchen table, your heart starts to race, and your mind starts wonder “What is in that box!? What flavors, shapes, sizes, textures await me?!” That’s actually a pretty accurate representation of how i felt signing up to take philosophy 12. Having never taken anything remotely similar to philosophy before, i was completely and utterly clueless as to what this course had to offer me, I just took it because it was either this, or biology, the choice was pretty obvious, granted when signing up i didn’t really take into account the “flavors, shapes, sizes, and textures” of the class and students, assuming that it would make for awkward first impressions but the principle, it remains the same

I find for me personally the best part about a box of chocolates and philosophy is the mystery, you never know what you’re gonna get! There’s a reason the box isn’t transparent, where’s the surprise in that? Much like Schrodinger cat however with less dead felines there’s a chance that this box of chocolates (or classroom) could be the very best, or the very worst decision i’ve ever made. Straying away from the box of chocolates briefly, I’ve found that every single day, I’m eager (much like the box of chocolates) to get into this class room,

i find that this class is really allowing me to break into that mysterious part of my head that before this wasn’t really tapped into, much like in Platos cave, i feel enlightened, thinking about  life in a way that, before this, wouldn’t have even considered, not to mention the fact that not only am i tapping into a part of my own thoughts, but rather the thoughts of other students in this class, I find that’s where the variety of the metaphysical box of chocolates plays a roll, with so many different points of views, thoughts, ideas, notions, and analogies, i really am getting a grasp of what philosophers such, Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates were getting at, ideas, philosophical epiphanies would occur in their own space, however to really put said epiphanies to the test, they would talk to their friends, mentors, teachers, people they could trust to give them a honest response, and honestly i think that it’s really cool, how philosophy is such a communal thing, huh, i guess this ideal wasn’t so half baked after all?

 

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~C’est La Vie~

 

In ‘Plato’s Allegory of the Cave’, he describes a world where prisoners live chained in a cave hidden away from real life. An allegory is a story with a hidden meaning behind it, not necessarily a moral, but often so. In this case, the allegory’s hidden meaning is what Plato considered a trait of human nature. Thousands of years later, how can we relate this to our everyday life experiences? Personally, this story is relatable to me through the teachings of my religion, Islam. I also connected this story to the recent refugee problems in North America.

The story of ‘Plato’s Allegory of the Cave’ is about three men that are chained prisoners inside a cave. In front of them is a wall of the that works as a projector of the “real life” display behind them. This display is a walkway and a fire that creates a shadow on the wall for the objects that stand in front of it. What these men see on the wall is what they consider “life” when in reality these are only shadows and they are blinded from reality. However, one man is released from these bindings and sees the real-life objects behind him but when he comes back to the cave to explain to the others what he saw, they didn’t believe him.

plato-caveThis story completely related to me on a personal level, religion wise. After reading this story i thought to myself that the enchained men symbolized the ignorant “islamophobists” whereas the released man was a normal person who is enlightened by the actual truth.

People who refuse to learn and explore beyond what they read about islam on the media are the men who only see shadows against a caves wall. As being a person who believes in the muslim religion, i know what it is truly about. Islam teaches everyone to care for on another no matter what the circumstances are, not to harm one another. The muslim religion is a peaceful religion. Ignorance isn’t ever a good excuse, all you have to do is turn around and look at the walkway and fire behind you rather than staring at the shadows depicted infant of you.  In conclusion, Islam is a beautiful religion about love and kindness and it should be admired rather than feared, so get out of your stupid cave ignorant people. Which also leads up to my next topic, refugees.

Refugees are innocent people who are in need for help. I know for a fact that many of us are either refugees or have parents and grandparents who were refugees. These people were accepted with open arms and were given a better/ more safe lifestyle. They became citizens of the country. And as citizens of a country I believe it is important to accept others who have been through the same sufferings and help them in times of need no matter where they come from and what religion they practice. Diversity isn’t an opportunity to build walls, it is an opportunity to open doors.

 

 

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Eric-teenage plato

 

Since we were young,my three best friends and I always thought that everyone just went to university after high school, and as we got older, we stuck with the idea of pursuing post-secondary education. However, we never worried about the logistics and requirements to get into university, all under the assumption we would get in to our desired schools, no matter what.

Over the last few years, family and friends have stressed the importance of getting into a good university, and doing everything possible to guarantee a spot. To them, acceptance to university was the first priority, and from grade nine it was clear what was expected of me. There was an emphasis to do well in all my academics, making sure I got the top marks, even in classes I had no real interest in. Good grades = good schools. In the end, I accepted that if this is what I needed to be an engineer, I was willing to do it.

I also remember conversations with my friends in grade nine. Each of the three wanted to do something different, all involving post-secondary. One also wanted to study engineering, another business, and the other architecture. They would see themselves in 10 years living their dream job, in a beautiful house; but in reality it might just be a dream. To quote Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” All three have continued to coast through school, without too much attention on grades or extra-curriculars. They are still keen to go to university, but over their three years they have not put out their best effort, making it harder on themselves when it’s time for applications.

To me and friends, Plato’s cave is an allegory about our teenage lives right now, and outside is the ‘adult world’ and post-secondary. A world us four have yet to explore, but one I have heard many stories about. I prepare myself for the day I am freed, where I hope my preparation helps me learn and succeed in what I do. Of course, I want this for all of my friends. I want to be able to inform them of the stories I have heard, and what it takes to not just survive, but thrive out there. Besides, if I had any knowledge of what was outside the cave, isn’t it my duty to explain it to the others in the cave? But in the end, the three are more comfortable living day by day, uninterested in planning for the future. I try to convince them time after time, but they don’t act out of laziness or a lack of care. I hope they have not taken the cave for granted; there is ample amounts of food, shelter, and care when we are teenagers. Unfortunately, we will all be leaving the cave one day, and all I can hope is that we will all find happiness wherever we end up.

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Katherine: the cave is gay

 

Plato’s cave: a beautiful and well-known metaphor about how we perceive life and truth

Also kind of terrifying. Seriously, was I the only one in class thinking “Why are these people chained?? They have been chained since they were born??? THEY CANT MOVE??!?? What the actual h*ck is going on in this cave? Who put them there??”

Needless to say, this cave messed me up for a little while.

But the point of this post is not to talk about my mental scarring (we’d be here for years if that was the case) but to make a connection between me, my life, and this sadistic cave.

When looking at the people in the cave, it’s easy to wonder: why don’t the people chained in the cave try to leave? Why don’t they struggle, break free of the chains and explore? The thing is, we need a prologue. Plato’s Cave: The Early Years. If the people in the cave had been there their whole lives, they have no reason to un-chain themselves. They see nothing wrong with it. They don’t see the chains as anything more than a part of life. At the risk of sounding horribly, horribly cliche, these chains symbolize the shackles or society and how we must break through in order to move forward.

I think I threw up in my mouth a little by saying that.

you have no clue how many wierd photos i found while searching for this. image courtesy of huffington post

But anyway, onto a fun lil metaphor to connect this whole post, my title, and add in some fun images for the visual learners out there.

When Mr. Jackson, asked up to find a time when we were “in the cave”, the only real thing I could think was “BEING GAY” That might just be my brain, but I decided to run with it.

I was in the cave (or the closet) until grade 8. It took me realizing I was not striahgt for me to start seeing “the sun” about lgbtq issues. I’d heard gay being thrown around as an insult. I’d seen my grandparents turn their lips at pride flags and heard my priest warn about the dangers of same sex marriage. That had all passed over my head until I started stepping into the light and actually hearing everything they were saying. While I now know so, so much more about issues and subjects surrounding lgbtq, I’ve realized that certain people I know are still locked in the chains of the cave, and always will be. I’ve likened the man in plato’s cave being unable tos ee well in teh dark and getting mocked for it to me, not finding gay sterotypes funny and getting mocked for it. Maybe I’m just being self centered and trying to make it about me. Who knows??

To finish it off, I have another lil fun metaphor to tie both of these together. Imagine you are in a car. As a child, you sit in the backseat, oblivious to the cars around you. You watch them go by, watch you parents stop at lights and signs, but ultimatly don’t concern yourself with the actions on the road around you. But then you grow up. You start learning how to drive, learning the rules, learning the limits. Now, as you sit in the front seat, you see everyone breaking the rules, speeding, cutting people off. You never noticed it as a child, but now you can’t go back to not noticing. You’re aware. You’ve learned.

This is kinda like being lgbtq. Once you have see what homophobia or transphobia can do, once you’ve learned what’s hurtful and why, you can’t go back to not noticing. Same with Plato’s cave: when you see the sun, theres no going back to the dark.

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Reality Check 101

 

Another philosophical question another stumped Rosa. As I sit in my bed, sick and tired, I decided to play some music and get into a flow. The song Hard to Face Realty came on, and a though popped into my head. As the song played, so did my thoughts the though of me still not facing my reality… to me my “reality” is going to university, getting a house, being married and having kids before I’m old(25). But the truth is reality isn’t going to be how we planned it to be, and thats what I find myself struggling to take in. I plan to go in to Psychology when I graduate taking classes at University of Toronto, after getting a masters or PH.D then finding a steady job. But who am I kidding life isn’t that easy and theres to much road bumps.

As I think back to the second day of school, my reality was told to me when I was crying (yes I cried on the second day of school). I was going to my counsellors’ that day to talk to them about taking courses I needed for university, and no surprise there I was shut down before I could even explain. After begging for 5 minutes the only course they let me switch into was Math 12, which was at least something. But for me to take the course I needed to drop Law, a class I was looking forward to since last year, and thats when all my stress and emotion hit me. I was balling my eyes out and shaking since I didn’t want to drop Law for Math, and the fact that I have now one less grade 12 course for university. Which meant there’s a lower chance for me to get in to UofT, and thats when the counsellor looked me saying along the lines of “do you have a plan b?”. I knew it meant going to collage for 2 years before university but the fact of going to collage made me think how it’s going to slow down my timeline, and that in my “reality” there wasn’t a plan B it was always work harder for plan A.

Now looking back I find myself being the person in the Plato’s cave looking at the shadows, where my reality felt real to me and that it was planned to stay. And the truth is I’m still not complete outside the cave, I’m still inside looking at the shadows once in while trying to believe that my “reality” is really that easy. I’m in the cave but I know theres something outside of it to be explore and such but for now I just choice to peak outside once in a while. The reality of me not being to reach my goals, scare the living day light out of me. If I want to really to face my reality it’s coming to know that I might have to go with plan B, and that it takes time to accept the truth.

 

 

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Jamie’s Plato’s Cave: Post Secondary Sky

 
PC: Jackson Parsons Surfing occured!

PC: Jackson Parsons
Surfing occured!

I spent this last weekend surfing in Tofino with my boys. Amidst turbulent waves and cold, cold wetsuits, we spent a great deal of time chatting around a roaring fire. The topics ranged from love and identity to (as these things often go), women and adventures. As we were speaking, one thread came up that, for me, sparked how I was going to address this post:

Tofino gave us a new path. In the library of life choices that is available to each of us, a new book was just written and added to the shelf. It’s titled The Surfer, and it describes a man who lives on Vancouver Island, doing artistic endeavors to keep himself financially stable while catching gnarly waves in his copious spare time. The Surfer could be me, in five or ten years. Although the chance is slim that I will fully commit to that path, it became an option, because of my experience this weekend.

There are so many more paths than I could’ve possibly imagined. As long as I’ve been the youngest sibling (read: my entire life, for obvious reasons), of three over-achievers, I’ve been thinking inside a square. The biggest questions have generally been “what universities do I want to apply for?” and “what career will I enjoy doing for a significant portion of my live?” Yet, these days, I am slowly beginning to contemplate choices that are a little larger. These days, the questions are shifting to “how am I going to be happy?” or “if money is freedom, how can I make money so that I am free of financial incentive and can pursue paths for better reasons?” or “can I just live in Tofino and surf every weekend?” It is a paradigm shift that I’m grateful for, and is giving my mind fuel to explore those bigger questions.

PC: Devon Columbus Contemplating life underneath tall trees.

PC: Devon Columbus
Contemplating life underneath tall trees.

Plato’s Cave is an allegory that shows how people can be happy in ignorance, yet will experience greater heights of bliss and fulfillment as they are enlightened of the world. My cave has been the future, and how I can grasp it. I’m only beginning to realize all of the stars, the sun, the sky, the cosmos are all outside of what I always thought I had to do.

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roses are red, plato had a cave, government funding is putting Canadians in the grave

 

Plato’s cave was an allegory used to explain enlightenment and how he saw our duties as human beings in evolving humanity. My interpretation of the story was to say that it is a public responsibility to communally advance how we see the world. Every single person on this planet sees the world through different lenses. By sharing what we see and offering solutions to the problems seen, humanity is able to grow off of one another through genuine care or one another. When humanity is able to recognize people in a state of distress, and is willing to lift them up for the bettering of another’s future, the world will become an overall elevated.

https://www.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.hellobc.com%2Fgetmedia%2F2d561960-e3ff-4d89-a783-1734d4e2c4fa%2F6-2448-totems-Haida-Gwaii.jpg.aspx&imgrefurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.hellobc.com%2Fhaida-gwaii-queen-charlotte-islands.aspx&docid=yhTxqGho48exEM&tbnid=lVJleMt9c4FJ1M%3A&w=990&h=530&bih=623&biw=1366&ved=0ahUKEwiKhMzosa3PAhVY92MKHeu9ADgQMwgzKAAwAA&iact=mrc&uact=8

Haida totem poles courtesy of hellobc.com

This past summer I took a trip to Haida Gwaii, previously known as the queen charlotte islands. Upon arrival I was welcomed to the breathtaking sights of a shimmering coastline, bountiful forests, and a well maintained road that connected the two. the entire road was spotted with provincial campsites that overlooked the constant crashing waves. the spots provided a place of comfort to rest with washrooms, personal fireplaces and picnic tables. Within the first few kilometers of our trip we came across a gorgeous wooden building with totem pole giants standing in vibrant colours in front of the glass window entry way. This was the museum for the island. It was filled with historical artifacts of the local natives, decorative traditional clothing, and ancient carvings that told stories of the island’s past. the first few days of our trip were like this, a comfortable stay with a classic hometown feel. the funding put into keeping our campsites maintained, roads smooth, and vacation comfortable was very convenient and definitely made the stay enjoyable. those were the first few days of the trip. the further away from the ferry terminal and tourist attractions we drove, the true heart behind most of the island living was exposed. The towns were filled with caring families struggling to keep their houses from shambles, playgrounds crumbling to rust, and public spaces left to become dense overgrowth. The heartbreaking truth soon become evident that living here in comfort was nearly impossible.

The Haida who live on the island were given fancy museums and flashy tourist points, but there is lacking funding that is going towards the public spaces, and where they live. One of the local men who lived near Long Beach was telling us how he had collected berries and started his own coop of chickens so his grocery bill would come to a minimum. He said that many of his neighbours could not afford their monthly food supply, nor could they afford to start their own way of nutritional income, so they were forced to turn to loans. These loans would start an unhealthy cycle of debt that was known to destroy lives in a frantic effort to pay off the accumulating loans. To avoid greater debt people would even avoid going to hospitals in case the healthcare would reveal hidden problems that they would be unable to pay for. This was my moment of enlightenment. The thought that people would rather live in bliss than know they have an illness they cannot prevent or cure due to their financial situation was shaking for me. Some kind stranger on the beach was able to be completely vulnerable and give me insight to how poorly his community was doing. He told me how the funding that was going towards his land was not truly reaching the people who needed it, only letting those in poverty sink in poverty, and those living on the figurative “other side of the island” to grow in their surplus. With more money going to support the lower class, the community on Haida Gwaii could become a strong and cultural force it has the potential to be. This is an important issue that is affecting Canadians and needs to be looked into by the government so that the money spent is helping the people who need it most.

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