Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Temporary Home of Emma Field’s First Blog Post!!!1111!!!!1! Humanization of Philosophy

If the first couple weeks of Philosophy could be compared to a hiking trail, there has been many scenic views to take in so far. We’ve ventured from the root meaning of philosophy, to discussions about ideal schooling, to the integral social nature of this course of study. We’ve trekked already into many crossroads that have required me and my peers to assume our own personal strances, to commit to our own beliefs and values. More and more, I am getting the feeling that philosophy is a living, breathing entity rather than a rigid construct. To open up my first Document of Learning for the year, I’d like to start with a quote from Nigel Warburton’s Talk With Me:

“…there is more to this ‘spoken philosophy’ than simply words uttered, and the ideas discussed. Audible nonverbal aspects of the interaction, such as hearing a smile in someone’s voice, a moment of impatience, a pause (of doubt perhaps?), or insight- these factors humanise philosophy. They make it impossible to think of it as just a mechanical application of rigorous logic, and reveal something about the thinker as well as the position taken.”

Upon reading this passage, the idea of ‘humanised philosophy’ struck me because it seemed to be a term that encapsulated the entire article completely. Throughout the article, Warburton preaches that it is social discussion, rather than laser-like concentration and rigour, that allows philosophy to thrive. And with the class’s previous discussion about schooling philosophies and education, this notion had me thinking. What does ‘humanised learning’ truly look like in its ideal form? And, how can this sort of structure transfer into other aspects of schooling, outside of a Philosophy 12 classroom? These questions have been bouncing around my head as of late, but may end up being part of larger personal inquiry it seems.

I can with honesty say that at some points in my schooling (secondary school in particular), it has seemed that ‘social learning’ or discussion-based learning never makes it through the doors of many classrooms. In fact, many people would probably claim that some subjects, such as mathematics perhaps, are inherently non-social, and provide no space for discussion and debate at a high school level. But if it is true that togetherness trumps solitude in the philosophical context, I can’t see why the benefits would not be transferable. Why don’t we talk, discuss, collaborate, and disagree with each other more, in every period of a school day? We can all probably recall a time where a dissenter has completely transform our views about something; how do we make those moments more accessible in schools outside of metaphysical and epistemological discussions? This is still something I am considering, but if you are interested in how one program is doing this in elementary schools, check it out here. Although I’ve only dipped a toe into what philosophical discussion can be during the first couple weeks, I am excited to witness the power that this face-to-face philosophy holds, as well as the ‘audible non-verbal’ aspects, which Warburton deems to be an important component.

And this is where I would like to connect all of that to my projections for the year. I hope that in the coming months, the ‘humanised’ nature of our discussions will not only help me to engage and appreciate the other minds in the classroom, but also learn more about myself as I develop my own ideas. As a somewhat self-proclaimed introvert, I sometimes find it difficult to share my ideas if they have not undergone excessive evaluation and censoring to produce fully-form, polished products. However, this sort of process (think first, speak later), has at times been limiting. I am hoping to challenge myself to contribute to discussions throughout my process of thinking, keeping in mind that that point of philosophy is not just about creating an output of golden ideas, but also sharing tidbits that others can digest and discuss.

We’ve talked about how philosophy literally means “Love of Wisdom”. A second goal of mine is to learn to love by listening. One of my favourite definitions of love described in class was this: to love something is wishing for it to thrive, for it to prosper and grow the same way that someone wishes for their own personal prosperity. If we, as a collective class, intend to honour, and love wisdom through our own social discussion and debate, then I believe this requires more listening than speaking. It is one thing to claim that we are open minded and consider others’ views however it is another thing to make listening a main priority in discussion, to respond thoughtfully and considerately to others.This is what I intend to aim for in the next couple of weeks.

As mentioned at the beginning of the post, the humanising of philosophy “reveal something about the thinker as well as the position taken.” Hopefully by the end of the course, I will be able to develop a sort of personal philosophy: a set of values and beliefs that are stable enough to guide and anchor my own philosophical inquiry and discourse, but flexible enough to change over time and with influence. I also hope to be vulnerable with the class, to accept that every idea may not be golden, but since philosophy is a human subject, it is also a personal and intimate one. I would hope that Philosophy 12 will help reveal as much about myself as my surrounding classmates. I look forward to embarking on the rest of these journey with the class, with many more peaks to climb and views to see.


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