Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Eric- Philosophy is Fishing


Diagram based off in-class presentation

What is philosophy? The word translates to “loving wisdom” but to illustrate what philosophy is beyond its words, I use fishing as an analogy to show some of the key attributes of philosophy. Imagine, sitting in a little boat with our fishing lines cast into the water, to hopefully catch some fish.

I believe philosophy is a constant search for explanations; looking for possible answers to the ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions that we create, in order to ultimately reach ‘truth’… even if we can never know what that ‘truth’ is. Coming back to my analogy, there is the fishing rod, which are the questions we ponder about. Its length represents the complexity of its questions; the hardest questions to answer, become the longest rods, reaching into the deepest parts of the ocean. Going with the rod, is the bait. The infinite combination of different materials as bait represents the infinite amount of questions one pose. Some bait are naturally successful at attracting fish, while some catch nothing but irrelevant, useless information (like catching a boot). Although the rod and bait sound very similar, the rod determines the ‘depth’ of the questions, while bait represents the questions themselves. The fish represent the knowledge or explanations to these questions. As we catch more fish, we are able to cast our line deeper, finding even larger fish.

Now there is more than one place to go fish. There are ponds, lakes, rivers, and of course oceans.

Humans fully know what types of fish swim through different rivers and lakes. It is not hard to see the bottom, and with a bit of time, it is not long before they find all the different fish at that river/lake. Next they do is to record what was found in that body of water, and move on to the next lake and river. Eventually all the lakes and rivers have been explored, every fish caught. Humans eventually create a collection of this ‘fish’ knowledge, for everyone else. For many this is good enough; they can use this information to find food, make money, and live their lives out. But for some, they need to know more. and they are attracted into the deep deep ocean. The ocean is different; here we have no clue what is at the bottom. We have absolutely no idea what type of bait to use, or if there is fish down there at all. All the different baits, and rods, and techniques that one knows about, have no guarantee it will do any good. All they know is that the ‘big fish’ at the bottom will reveal everything about the world, and their mission is to reel it in. This is the job of the philosopher; to sit on his boat, and wait for something to tug. But waiting becomes too boring to handle, so the philosophers who are waiting, sit together and have some legendary discussions in their little boat, about what that ‘big fish’ could be, what it could look like, or if its there at all. Every once in a while the line tugs, and they try to interpret what it means, but in the end they all wait, and ponder. And everyone knows the best fisherman are those with the most patience.

I remember as a young child my dad always took my sister and me fishing. We would sit in our little sailboat for hours, waiting for just a single fish to tug. Philosophy and fishing are alike in the sense that they both reward patience. Of course I was so fascinated by the ocean, and all the possible fish I could catch. However, I could never wait long enough. I remember I would take any slight nudge on my fishing rod as an excuse to reel it back in, and of course I never caught any fish. My dad on the other hand was the exact opposite. Hours at a time, he would sit and tell us stories from his life. And then all of a sudden he would reel in fish that were bigger than me.

TL;DR: I really suck at fishing (and philosophy I guess?)



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