Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Alysha Gillis- Final Post


Feminism Debate


What are words?


Phils Day Off


Knowledge is Language – Reading Post

Phil’s Day Off

Discussion Post



Aesthetic Experience






Aesthetic Experience

What did I do? I do hikes most weekend with friends and my dog and we usually go to different places around Vancouver so I decided to go and do the Dias Vistas hike at Buntzen Lake with one of my friends and our dogs. This was what I was going to do for my experience because I find that going outdoors and just taking in the beauty of nature to be one of the things I like to spend my time doing on the weekends. We planned on waking up bright and early to get an early start on our hike.

Initial Thoughts? Since I had already done this hike numerous times before, I didn’t really have to worry about getting lost or not knowing which trail to go on so I could actually enjoy the beauty of nature. I was really excited to just hang out and explore the trails becuase I think that since I was just taking everything in, I could enjoy everything more.

Outcome: Although dias vistas is a really hard trail to actually hike and sort of takes all day ( if your dog is as lazy as mine and needs to take breaks every. 5. seconds..) It was really fun and I feel like I enjoyed it more becuase I wasn’t on my phone or focusing on any electronics or stressing about school, I found that I appreciated the beauty of the outdoors much more than if I had a million things on my mind. I think that even though I had done this specific hike multiple times, this was the first time I had really submerged myself into the world and overall this was a great aesthetic experience!



Metaphysics Phil’s Day Off

My question for this unit is “what are words?” and I was struggling to figure out what to do for my Phil’s Day Off! This is a difficult topic to do out of class learning but I was planning on going downtown anyways, so I decided to go to the Vancouver Art Gallery with Erin. My objective was to try to see how or if the things people said about the artwork, changed my opinion of the art. I was very lucky because the theme of one of the displays happening that I went to was “Modern Art.” There were a ton of “simple” and very abstract pieces that people seemed to have a lot of their own opinions on.

Listening to some conversations, I could tell that they were like me, they didn’t know much about art because they either weren’t saying much, or nothing at all. I was dissatisfied how not many people were talking about any of the art so I walked onto the part of the exhibit that was more “abstract” so more people would have different opinions on the art and I could see if my theory was going to work. As I kept walking further into the exhibit, more people started speaking their opinions on the work. I was looking at a piece I really liked and it was a very unusual sculpture because it was very simple and plain-looking. One lady who to me, sounded like she knew quite a bit about art started pointing out some of the flaws she noticed like the color, how boring it was, how it didn’t really convey a message about anything and much more that I couldn’t even comprehend. She seemed almost discussed how this was even considered good enough art to be in a gallery. Afterwards I found that when I looked at the art again, I focused more on the many imperfections that if had. I couldn’t really look at this art that I once really liked, and see it the same way that I had before because I was more aware of the fact that someone who seemingly knew a lot about art, didn’t like this piece which of course, made me not enjoy its beauty anymore.

This showed me how greatly our use of words affect objects around us and how we perceive them. The way we string together our words and voice our opinion on something can completely alter my opinion and change the way I see it. It was a very important aspect of me research because It helped me see how much words really do affect us and items in our lives. I think that it really depends on how people are altering their use of words makes me assume they are more knowledgable on the subject and I will ultimately value their opinion much more!

I think my phil’s day off was very successful because I really learned how my opinion on things around me can be altered by the way people manipulate their words to seem more knowledgeable on a subject. If you are constantly using words that are completely unrelated to the topic, nobody will think you know what you are talking about and they wont really take your words into consideration.

Questions I had after I completed my phil’s day off were: How do our words convey how much we know on a topic?, What about grammar and its relationship to our knowledge? How do my words affect the people around me? Do you have to be knowledgeable to be considered smart on a topic?



Epistemology Final- Alysha Gillis

Initially at the beginning of this unit I had absolutely no idea what knowledge was. I think it was such a difficult question because knowledge is essentially so many things put together and we just call this word of knowing stuff “Knowledge.” We say we “know” subjects by writing tests, only to forget the information five seconds after times up, we say we “know” people that we just met, and we claim to “know” how to do things we were taught just five minutes ago. My conclusion to this question that we were asked was Knowledge is language. This seems weird to connect the 2 topics together but essentially language is knowledge as a whole. It it almost impossible to begin to talk about knowledge without thinking about language, words and grammar. I really wanted to dig into this topic because I just finished my metaphysics project on “What are words” and I wanted to connect my projects because I think now I have much more background information on linguistics so I can look deeper into my topic.

Reading: The most impactful and informative reading I came across was from the Encyclopedia of Philosophy and this was about the language of knowledge. It talked about different philosophers and what they think a person who speaks with “knowledge” should know. It stated:

(a) That speakers of a language know the grammatical properties of individual expressions of their language;

(b) That speakers of a language know the particular grammatical rules of a natural language; and

(c) That speakers of a language know the principles of universal grammar.

These 3 concepts are important when we are speaking in terms of knowledge. Words are completely meaningless  without knowledge of what the strange lines put together in a seemingly random formation unless you have prior knowledge of what these sounds or lines are supposed to mean. We cannot begin to discuss knowledge without really understanding how to manipulate the language to assist us in making our points.

Discussion: Conversations I had with classmates really seemed to help me push myself to find connections between topics that don’t seem to go together. It helped me understand my topic more because I think it caused me to try to look at language in a different light. My discussion with Courtney and Erin helped me find the connection between measuring knowledge and language. There are endless ways of measuring a person’s knowledge and one of these ways is a test. On this test it is important to use the right language, grammar and words to allow you to achieve the highest success because if your language use is wrong and there are spelling mistakes everywhere, you will be considered less knowledgeable so you will get a much lower mark.

Phil’s Day Off: Since my last phil’s day off was pretty successful and my topic didn’t change much, I decided to do exactly the same thing. I headed to the Vancouver Art Gallery for the second time in a month. Although I did the same thing, I was actually looking for something much different. I was still listening to conversations but this time I was listening to the type of language they used. I found that if they used artsy language, I made the assumption that they were more knowledgable on this subject. If I concluded them knowledgeable, I ultered my opinions on the art that they were talking about. For example: i found a really ugly looking abstract picture, to me it was ugly forest green lines on a canvas, a couple behind me were walking around and suddenly the lady stopped and gasped at this miraculous piece of art she had just seen. It turned out she was looking at the ugly green lines. She admired outloud this perfectly constructed geometrical lines with immaculate shading and prescice angles. She went on about how amazing it was, and becuase of the language she was using to describe this art, I assumed she was knowledgeable, in doing this I realized I was thinking to myself “wow I actually might kind of like it now.” My opinion changed becuase of this random womans artsy language.

Conclusion: The manipulation of language is a deciding factor on how knowledgable people think you are . In using it properly, your limit to how much knowledge you have is endless. Knowledge cannot exist without language and language cannot exist without knowledge, it is a completely co-dependant relationship.



Phil’s Day Off- Alysha Gillis

My goal during this phils day off was to find out how language relates to how knowledgeable you are percieved as by others. I was struggling to figure out what to do because I couldn’t just go on with my weekend becuase nothing I was going to do was going to help me with my topic. I decided to do to exact same thing as I did last Phil’s day off because my topic again has to do with words and the use of language so I figured that this would be a good idea. So I went back downtown to the Vancouver art gallery. This time I went to a different part of the gallery and this time it was based on Picasso’s artwork and this kind of fit perfectly with my topic becuase it got people talking about their opinions of all of the artwork.

During my afternoon at the art gallery I was just walking around and looking at the different art and listening to what peoples opinions on the art and the difference between last time and this time was last phils day off I was trying to listen to how people’s opinions affected my view on the artwork but this time I was trying to see if I could tell how knowledgeable people were about the art.

I discovered that it was clear who was an artist and was the “smartest” and had the most information on the artwork and who was just there becuase the art was pretty or for something to do on the weekend. I was listening to the people who were actally artists and had a lot of knowledge about art and it was much more interesting listening to people who actually knew what they were talking about becuase I felt like I could really learn much more about the piece than if I was listening to someone who didn’t know much about art and just thought it was pretty. I learned that when I was listening to people who used proper language about the topic, it seemed to me that I assumed that they had more knowledge than the people who spoke with less artistic vocabulary.

I think that I still would like to learn more about how smart I think people are about things I have knowledge about  becuase I could have been biast because I don’t really know much about art. Maybe if I did know a ton about art, those people that I thought knew what they were talking about, could have been completely wrong but since I knew basically nothing, I couldn’t have known any better.

I think that this phils day off was equally as sucessful as last because in both, I ended up sucessfully achieving my goal that I set out to complete. I also think that I learned more about my topic and answered a few of my unanswered questions so I would consider this a sucessful phils day off.



Epistemology Discussion Post – alysha gillis

During one of my discussions I talked to Courtney, her topic was “Knowledge is Endless” and she was trying to figure out to what extent is it endless and who or how do we measure this? We were talking about how we determine what we know or how well we know it. Of course the topic of tests came up because in school, this is how we are told how smart we are. We both agreed that this method of measuring how knowledgable we were was completely flawed because this was a totally bias way of how many words we can shove in our minds 5 seconds before the test is put onto our desks. So in this method of measurement teachers/ adults are telling us what our best efforts are worth which of course we both strongly disagreed with. I was trying to figure out how Courtney’s topic related to my topic and it was difficult to make these connections but as we discussed it more i found that in fact her topic was about how we measure our level of knowledge, my topic is language and it really is similar topic because you can measure how smart you are by determining your use of language and how well you use it.

Another one of my discussions I had was with Erin and her topic was “Knowledge is Power” and she was looking into  how knowledge= options=power because the more knowledge you have allows you to have more options in career and just ultimately in your life. I think that her topic connects extremely well to mine because since hers is knowledge is power and it is how well you present your knowledge, it is really similar to mine because mine has a lot to do with how well you can present what you know with your use of language because if you are unable to communicate thoroughly, your ideas will not be understood completely and you will have a much more difficult time trying to explain your opinion and what you know, this can cause you to not get the job that you want or not be able to have many options in your career.



Knowledge is language- Reading Post

In trying to figure out the original question What is knowledge? I really was struggling to figure out what to do with this becuase it was so open to so many different interpritations of what it could be. I knew that I wanted to connect this to my metaphysics question which was What Are Words? I couldn’t figure out how to connect knowledge to words so I simply stated that Knowledge is Language. I was really eager to find connections between the two topics or even if there was a connection becasue I think that these 2 ideals are so complex in their own ways that it would be really difficult to narrow them down to find the connections. We can all agree that when you are using language, it is used as reference to the knowledge that you know but how does our knowledge affect our language and words? My original idea at the beginning of this unit was Knowledge is language and as I was reading more and more posts and websites, it really started to solidify my concept. One of the more interesting articles I read was from the Encyclopedia of Philosophy and It was about the Language of Knowledge it states 3 sets of ideas that philosophers claim about an individual who speaks with knowledge must have/know:

(a) That speakers of a language know the grammatical properties of individual expressions of their language;

(b) That speakers of a language know the particular grammatical rules of a natural language; and

(c) That speakers of a language know the principles of universal grammar.

It basically states that a person who speaks with knowledgeable language must be aware of their grammar and knowing how to CORRECTLY use different grammatical expressions that differ from person to person, a person must know the rules of grammar in common/everyday language and finally, the speaker must know how to use universal grammar which is basically every concept and idea that you learn in english class. So this means in order to be considered “knowledgeable” language you first must know and understand what you are talking about. You also must be aware of how you are stringing together the way you are demonstrating this knowledge. You have to be able to connect with grammar, spelling, punctuation ect. To put together your opinion or thoughts on the subject you are knowledgable about. We must experience the world and explore different types of people and ideas in order to become intrigued or interested in our area of knowledge and this can affect how you are using your language because if the person who teaches you how to “correctly” use words and language doesn’t know how to use it, you would probably be considered less smart and sound like you don’t know what you are really talking about, even if you are completely right in your ways of thinking.

As I was reading numerous articles, of course the more I started to read, the more questions I began to have. I think that as with anything that interests you, you begin to find more and more interesting points and ideas from different people, the more you dig deeper into any given topic. My questions that I had after I continues reading were:  What relationship do speakers have to the system that regulates the language they speak? and also, What experiences are we missing in order to acquire understanding from words about a particular subject or concept?



Discussion Post- alysha

In my last post What are Words, my question was related to our thoughts in our minds as we process the sounds that we call “words.” I read the article called “What makes a word” and in that article it allowed me to further my understanding on the basis of us comprehending words. It also gave me insight on how we put words together, make words and when and how we choose to use the words. The main thing that all of my readings taught me was the two opinions of Saussure and Locke because both of them had very contradicting opinions on how we conceive words. The more I read about my topic, the more questions I had about it. How come words are our main source of communication? How did words first become our communication source? And I think the more sources I read, the more questions I had about the details.

In my discussion on the 11th we really didn’t talk much about topics related to mine. We talked more about Courtney’s topic on “Time is an illusion” because we all seemed pretty interested in it. We all really agreed on the fact that time was just an idea made up and we all follow this specific set time all over the world. I brought up the idea that when you are in a hurry or have a lot of things to do, an hour seems like 15 minutes, but when its the last 15 minutes of block 4 at the end of the day, 15 minutes tends to seem like 1 hour. Without the concept of time, we would just sleep when we are tired and wake up when we have had enough sleep.

In the next discussion group we were in, I decided to bring up this topic once again because I wanted to see if anyone really thought time was real or a definite concept. Most of the group agreed with my original idea and the fact that time was an illusion but Erin brought up the idea that she agrees time is an illusion but humans need it to function on a daily basis because we are creatures of habit. We have to do the same things everyday because we need structure in our lives to work, to eat, to meet others and to live out our daily habits. This is an aspect of time that I have never really thought about and I think that she brought up a good point because we need the concept of time even if it is an illusion. I was really interested in this topic and it really made me think and spend time wondering and looking deeper into this topic of time. How is time directly influencing us? Who decided that this idea of time was the rule for the whole world? If there was no time, where would civilization be now? Does time affect the outside world?




What are Words? – Alysha

Component A: My question was about how words affected our idea of objects and how we associated words with what they were created to mean. I chose this question because I have always been curious about how there is a specific list of words that we all just accept and all agree on one specific meaning. I think it is really interesting how we can create a mental picture of something in our head that was communicated by putting together a couple of letters. Also how letters put together, can alter our perception of the world around us.  The idea of different languages and how we can not communicate with people in different parts of the world because their letters are put together differently than ours and a word that looks like an english word can have the meaning of something completely different really confused me and made me want to look deeper into it. This was a very difficult subject to research due to the fact that I had to pre-research before I actually was able to use the databases. I spent many hours wrapping my mind around the idea of linguistics and what that area of study was. I also spend a lot of time researching on Saussure and Locke because both had many valid points on their opinion of where words actually came from. Finding actually relevent topics on the data bases was almost impossible some of my research was done through the databases and some came from other sources. What is the significance of words? How do words affect our ideas and thoughts? How do we associate objects with words? These were all the questions I wanted to research answers to.

Component B: Statistics, Probability, Significance, Likelihood: Words Mean What We Define Them to Mean GORDON B. DRUMMOND,* AND BRIAN D. M. TOMDebate: Seven Ways to be A Realist About Language,The arbitrary power of language

Component C: In these readings and several others, the main aspects that shed light upon my questions were:

  • “We use language to express ourselves through speech, to record our experiences, or to invent or tell stories in writing. Language is made up of socially shared rules that includes:
    • What words mean
    • How to make new words
    • How to put new words together
    • What word combinations are best in different situations”   — This abstract explains how we as a society incorporate and manipulate language to further befit ourselves and how language assists us to communicate our ideas and to share our opinions with our peers. This list demonstrates that language is not set in stone, instead it is just an idea of how society has come together to put together a way to communicate with each other. Language is not finite but rather infinite because people are always coming up with new ways to share ideas or thoughts and dictionaries are always adding new words that we have never come up with before into them which proves that language is a never-ending concept that is difficult to completely master.


  • Ferdinand De Saussure — He was a big influence on the ways we thought about language and where do words really originate from. He understood that thinking about language really ment to be thinking about thinking. This concept is really challenging to wrap your head around, but this meant that in order for him to conceptualize words as a whole, he needed to first understand what it meant to think about how our brains think about words. He first broke down our idea of a word into two parts a) the concept and b) the sound image.
    • For example: picture a random tree (made up or real). This tree regardless of the exact form, this abstract idea of a tree, is a concept. Now picture the letters T-R-E-E. These four letters, when put in this order form the sound image in that they can be spoken, written or read. But without the imagined tree behind them, the letters are meaningless. Only by uniting the concept and sound image will tree evoke the mental picture you have just made up.


  • John Locke wrote: “There is no natural connection between particular sounds and particular ideas, if there were, there would only be one human language.” — This was a very important idea for people to understand because it directly contradicts Saussure idea of how words are conceptualized because Saussure believed that in order to understand words, we must first understand how we think about words, while Locke believed there was no such connection between the two concepts. His opinion was more leaning towards all words are arbitrary otherwise why would different words be used for the same thing in a different language.


Component D: New Questions…

Who accepts this words (sound) as the single way to communicate ideas/opinions to each other?

How do we define and create new languages?

How do words create a symbol of objects?

How do we form the “standard” of a word, and who decides if it is a word or not?

Why is the spelling of a word correct and who declares that it is?






Feminism Debate- Alysha Gillis

In the argument, Emma Watson is explaining her views on gender equallity. This topic is one that raises many arguments and controversy due to the vast majority not being fully aware of the definition of femanism.

Main Points of the argument:

  • There is no country in the world where women have obtained equal rights as men
  • Men have sterotypes that are considered unreasonable 
  • If stereotypes were abolished, gender equallity would be reached
  • Gender should be percieved on a spectrum rather than 2 sets of opposing ideals

Emma’s Conclusion:

Gender equality will not be obtained if we expect men and woman to fall into their stereotypes.

Truth, Validity and Soundness:

I believe that Emma’s argument was definately valid becuase it was backed up by people who were considered experts in their fields reasearch on the topic and you can tell she believes in the cause of gender equalllity and she has been effected first hand by this problem. Due to her extensive knowledge and expertice her argument I believe her argument is factually correct. Since the argument was both vaild and factually correct, it is a sound argument.