Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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The Aesthetic Experience™ is when you can sing every single part to Rose Gold by Pentatonix at once -Benedict Mendes

Aesthetics. It’s a word that, before the philosophy unit in this class, I didn’t have a lot of experience with. It was, for me, associated with heavily filtered images of snow on Tumblr blogs and “oddly satisfying” videos of bath bombs, but after learning more about this topic in the philosophical sense it became infinitely more interesting.

So, the question here is, what is my personal aesthetic. Well, as it turns out that’s a pretty good (and complicated) question. As you might have seen in Katie Crompton’s post (shout out) I was a part of her aesthetics photo shoot, and in that we were asked to choose the first word that came into our head when we heard the term “beauty”. My word was “Flow”, and here’s the picture:

Photo creds to Katie Crompton (Ignore the fact that I look like I have just unashamedly killed someone)

Now, it was pretty difficult to find a single word that encompassed what I found to be aesthetically pleasing, but I feel like this does it some justice. The reason I picked “Flow” is that I find any kind of art most pleasing when each part of the art piece meaningfully and effectively leads to the next. It keeps you enticed into continuing to immerse yourself into the art piece, whatever it may be. Pieces of art that are disconcerting and jarring take you away from the actual art and back into the real world, which for me devalues the experiment. It’s almost like the way we view the world is completely different from the way we view art, and that they can be separated from each other which leads to authentic aesthetic experiences. Which leads me to a more clear definition of what is aesthetic to me, an experience that evokes emotion and keeps you immersed and attentive which can be appreciated separately from the “real” world around you. As for the purpose of art, it can be whatever the artist intends it to be, but it can also be whatever the observer wants it to be. These two things are not mutually exclusive, as it can satisfy both the purposes that the observer and the artist have for it at the same time. This means art is extremely diverse, and also that art cannot be objectively judged because everyone will experience different emotions when exposed to it.

 

This can be boiled down to “art must make you feel something, must keep your attention, and must be considered separately from everything else”. This view is similar to Kant’s view that art is autonomous and should not be judged in comparison to anything else, which I agree with. Comparing pieces of art to anything else is not doing the piece itself justice, because they were not created (usually) to be compared to anything. In terms of art being valued by how it captures your attention, this is supported by the paper “The Aesthetic Experience” that we read by Colin Leath, in which he states that “Concentration is the only universal defining characteristic of aesthetic experience”. I perhaps would not fully agree with it being the only universal characteristic, but I would agree with it being an extremely significant part of one’s experience with art.

 

Now, how does all this tie in with my winter break experiences? Well, not over winter break, but a tiny bit before, I went to see the annual Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Christmas Concert and it was absolutely fantastic. I was amazed by the quality of the players in the orchestra, and of course of the singers in the choir as well. The music was of course excellent, but what elevated the entire experience even more was that the transitions between pieces were smooth and kept the audience enthralled. The host was Christopher Gaze, an amazing actor and artistic director, and also apparently an exceptional host. Between each song he would read short Christmas stories, or excerpts from them and they seemed to pair together with the music so well that the experience was never truly interrupted. There was never a moment in which I was detached from the experience and more invested in the real world rather than the music, it was a truly satisfying experience. Also, as an additional note, the VSO actually played the same arrangement of “Sleigh Ride” as our school did last year, of course they absolutely obliterated us, but there’s something very satisfying (at least I think) in hearing a professional group play a piece you have played before, because it’s almost like “wow that could be me one day”.

 

But that pretty much sums up what I think about aesthetics and the way I approach it. It’s something I could talk about forever really, but there has to be a limit somewhere. I will leave you with one of my favourite songs, as per the title, Rose Gold by Pentatonix:

 

 

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If you practiced yodeling enough you could probably do it in your sleep-Benedict Mendes

So, for this midterm I had no idea what I wanted to do at first, but after the first free writing session I came up with a proposition.

Knowledge can be presented in practiced actions that do not require thought

I came up with this because when I thought of really knowing something, I thought of being familiar with an action or a subject. When one is extremely familiar with an action they can reproduce it at any time without effort or even thinking of it, save the momentary “I am going to do this action” thought. In a sense, to me knowledge it at it’s most valuable when it can be reproduced without thought, because of experience and familiarity with it. The premises preceding this proposition make things a little more clear.

If knowledge is defined by being familiar with a subject

and

If knowledge in the mind can be separate from knowledge in the body

then

Knowledge can be presented in practiced actions that do not require thought

 

The truth of the premises is debatable, as both premises are subjective to the reader or writer, but to me these premises are true and they are what I base my opinion of knowledge on.

 

For the first premise, the reason I define knowledge as being familiar with a subject is that the definition of experience is pretty much being really familiar with something. For example, an experienced chef will be able to tell you how to make dishes in certain ways and how to bring out certain flavours because they themselves have gone through these processes hundreds, even thousands of times. Because they have experience with it they are able to easily produce dishes with their gained knowledge.

 

The second premise basically is talking about the difference between conceptual knowledge and applied knowledge. Reading a manual on how to set up an IKEA chair is different than actually physically setting up the chair, that’s the idea that this premise draws from.

 

And of course, the conclusion. If my premises are true, then the conclusion must be true. Basically, what I’m saying is that once you become familiar enough with something, especially an action, you can replicate it without thinking, and it is in that action that the most valuable knowledge lies. This means that something like muscle memory, when your body physically remembers certain actions, is more valuable than knowledge of how to do an action.  For example, I am a musician and I play piano. When I learn a song I learn it slowly, I have to think about each and every note I hit and constantly use the sheet music for reference. As I get more and more familiar with the song I can start to go faster, and when I’m going faster I can’t rely on the sheet music as much, I have to simply know where some notes are. Eventually I can memorize the song and play it anytime that I sit down at the piano, this is because I have ingrained every key hit, every note into my body and I can replicate it without hesitation. Even when I’m playing a song I have memorized completely, I can think about something else while my body continues the action. Even if I make a mistake, I know the song so well that I can register it and remember to correct it in the future. It is at this point that knowledge is at it’s best and most valuable. Being able to reproduce a song without thinking means I have to know every little detail, every rhythm, every note, every key, I have to have a lot of experience with the song. Because of this, I have more knowledge of the song than someone who does not have as much experience with it but is able to look at the sheet music. Of course, the mind is part of the process of learning the song and transferring what I see on the page to the actions in my hands, but once I know the notes and keys I no longer have to rely on the mind to monitor my actions as I perform them. When the body no longer has to rely on the mind to replicate an action is when you know you have basically the best knowledge possible of that thing or action.

 

This argument lines up a little bit with the thinking of Kant with his mindset of “All knowledge comes from experience” and the belief that the physical world is real. It opposes Descartes because if there is no physical world then the actions I perform would not matter, and therefore would have no place in knowledge. It’s based a lot more empirically than it is rationally, because really an action is about the feel of it. The experience of how your body moves and how it performs the action is more important than the concept of what the action does, it’s using your senses to judge how you’re performing the action rather than the mind and reason.

 

In conclusion the entire argument is a little bit like a more complicated version of “practice makes perfect”, it’s all about repeated exposure to an action or a subject. The longer you practice an action for the easier it will get until you can do it without needing to think, your mind can think about something else while your body does the thing. It is in this that the most valuable knowledge lies.

 

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Stealing your man on the astral plane- Benedict Mendes

So, over the weekend for my “Phil’s Day Off”, I attempted to astral project and, boy, was it a strange experience.

 

Before I go into the details of what happened, let’s start with question I had going in to the attempted astral projection.

1.) Would I even manage to do it?

2.) If I did manage to achieve astral projection, what would I do once in that state?

3.) What would it feel like? What sensations would be involved leading up to and during?

We’ll come back to those later.

My initial plan was to meditate on both Saturday and Sunday for 90 minutes. I would set an alarm for 90 minutes (a relatively quiet one so that I would not be “shocked” out my “astral state”) and lay down on my back on my bed and proceed to try and concentrate enough to achieve astral projection. Sounds wild, right? Well that’s not quite exactly how it went down.

What happened was that I was only able to meditate on Sunday, as I was unexpectedly busy on Saturday. I started by setting an alarm for 90 minutes, then I lay down and proceeded to meditate on my bed, with my eyes closed. Now, I hear some of you typing “So you literally just napped for your Phil’s Day Off” and while it may seem similar, what I did was not napping my good fellows. The goal was to keep the mind alert whilst the body “slept”, inducing the separation of soul from body. I repeated a kind of mantra to myself, it’s a recommended thing to do, to keep myself focused. The “mantra” in question was “I will have a lucid out of body experience”, it’s important to be entirely focused on the goal of the meditation/exercise. Now, I’m going to say right now that I did not manage to actually astral project, but the experience was still odd and unlike anything I’ve experienced before and some interesting things happened.

For starters, for the entire 90 minutes I laid still, my arms were at my side for that whole time. However, for most of the activity, after I got further into the meditation, it felt like my hands were clasped on my chest, one on top the other, it was an odd dissociation of reality and mind, that may potentially not mean much but it’s worth mentioning. Next, when getting close to a state of astral projection, one is supposed to experience “vibrations”. These “vibrations” were mentioned in almost everything I read about astral projection, but were never really explained in detail, it just said that if you were experiencing them it meant that you were getting close. The reason I mention this is because, when I got deep into a meditative state, I began to feel as if something was separating from me. It’s a very difficult thing to describe, which is probably why it’s only vaguely talked about in most articles. The closest thing I can think of to compare it to are sculptures that are optical illusions. The kind of sculptures that initially just look like a bunch of random, unplanned pieces stuck together, but when you look at them from just the correct angle it reveals a cohesive thing or picture. It felt like I was rapidly shifting between the “random pieces” state and the “cohesive thing” state, if that makes any sense at all. I can see why it’s described as vibrations, it’s rapid back and forth and in-between and it’s a very strange feeling. Whenever this started to happen I was acutely aware of it, but soon after it started every time panic would well up in my stomach causing the feeling to dissipate. You’re supposed to be in a completely relaxed state when astral projection, so maybe I wasn’t the best person to attempt it. But nonetheless I carried on and this happened several times. Accompanying these “vibrations” were sounds, a vague low buzzing in my ears, what that has to do with astral projection I don’t know, but it happened.

For the entire exercise my eyes were completely closed, but there were several times when I could physically feel my eyes were closed, but it seemed like they were opening and I began to see the room in detail. Once again, whenever this happened there was a spike of panic and it went away, leaving me to see black once again, but it certainly happened, unless my senses have tricked me, but that’s another metaphysical topic that I won’t delve into. In terms of how long it felt I was meditating for, it felt like I had only meditated for about 30 minutes before the alarm went off. It was strange, I felt like I had so much more time to go yet upon looking at the clock it was obvious that the full amount of time had passed. As a whole, it was a really interesting and enticing experience.

 

Now, my findings were, well, few and far between. If we go back to the initial questions I had, we can answer some of them.

1.) Would I even manage to do it?

As far as I could tell, I did not manage to astral project.

2.) If I did manage to achieve astral projection, what would I do once in that state?

This question is irrelevant as I did not astral project.

3.) What would it feel like? What sensations would be involved leading up to and during?

Leading up to what may have been the state of astral projection, there were “vibrations”, odd experiences with sight and body, and a low buzzing noise.

But that seems like not enough information, and after the exercise I have even more questions.

4.) How does astral projection or the lead up to it affect time, or one’s perception of it?

If we go off what I felt it was whilst meditating, we could say that time goes faster, but it can’t be proven since I didn’t achieve the end goal of astral projecting. For now it’s just a vague theory.

5.) Are there sub-categories within the self? For example, can the mind have different components to it?

This question is because of the “vibrations” I experienced and the assumption that astral projection is based off of, which is that the soul can operate outside the body. Are there different, small components of each part of the self, “mini selves” if you will, that play a large part in a process like this? Like, if there is a soul what are the components of it?

I am still enamored with the concept of astral projection, although I didn’t manage to make it happen in this case. I want to look into it further, and it will be something I’ll probably do on my own time. Maybe I’ll get some answers to these questions.

For my artifact I chose an amethyst crystal that I’ve had for a long time. In some of the more spiritual and one could say “hippie” articles I read, quartz crystals can help speed up the vibrations leading to astral projection and protect your vulnerable body while you are in that state. Amethyst is a kind of quartz, and I chose this because it is an artifact that relates closely to the subject of astral projection, and by mere coincidence it was on my bedside table, right next to me as I was meditating. Whether or not that helped me experience the “vibrations” that I did is not strictly provable, but it represents my attempt to astral project and the experiences I had whilst doing so.

That’s pretty much it for my thoughts and research on astral projection, remember guys, stay safe and always use a quartz crystal! (Also if you come across Dormammu I wouldn’t recommend striking up a conversation, fair warning)

Sources: http://uk.iacworld.org/how-to-astral-project-for-beginners/

10 effective techniques for experiencing an OBE

 

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“Mom, Dad…… I’m an astral projection” -Benedict Mendes

So, on Thursday we had our class discussions with several different people about our topics, and there is infinite variety between all of us. I’m fascinated by how many possible things you could go into under the umbrella of metaphysics, but for now I’ll just talk about what new ideas were revealed to me that are related to astral projection.

 

First, one of the questions I got a lot as I was discussing was “what do you appear as on the astral plane?”.

I did not, and still do not, really have an answer. Some sources say that you simply appear as your physical self appears, others say that you appear as a kind of “ideal” form of yourself, what you want to strive to be. This is an interesting question and something I definitely want to look into. I’ve always assumed you simply appear as your physical self except that you are allowed to transcend the barriers that your physical form presents. But I have to do more looking into this.

 

Another discussion I had was whether astral projections were related to dreams or not. This is very interesting and kind of a vague area. See, dreams can sometimes be said to be involuntary OBEs (out of body experiences), and since astral projecting is simply a conscious OBE then there must be some kind of relation, although of what nature I don’t know. To me, it seems that they cannot be classified under the same umbrella, because if they were in fact quite that similar, then lucid dreaming would be equivalent to astral projecting, but it is not. In a lucid dream you are able to do whatever you wish, including things that are not possible such as growing wings and flying. Astral projection is still bound by some kinds of laws, and you are not free to do whatever you wish. It takes a great deal of concentration to maintain an astral projection but dreaming is involuntary, they happen whether you control them or not and can be lucid or not, there are many more variables. They may be similar, but I don’t think that they’re quite the same.

 

The last kind of thing I wanted to touch on was “Can you be hurt on the astral plane?” and “What is the interaction between the astral plane and the physical plane?”. Well, for the former, during astral projection you are supposedly able to interact with other astral beings, much like two physical beings would interact in the physical world. Also supposedly, if your soul were to be eradicated in some way during astral projection, you would die. So if somehow you were to get into an altercation with an otherworldly being on the astral plane and lose, presumably you could just die on the physical plane as well. Now, in terms of interaction between the physical and astral planes, from what I’ve seen it takes a great amount of force from a being on the astral plane to interact with the physical world. Say, if I, during astral projection, were to barrel across a classroom at as high a speed as I could muster, I would probably only make a few papers fly around, kind of like a poltergeist. This was also discussed in my previous blog post. While astral projecting it is also said that you are able to alter and manipulate the thoughts of others, though how that is done I’m not sure. But this does imply some kind of interaction with the physical world, or maybe even interaction between the “souls” of two people.

But that’s basically what I discussed with my classmates, and I would’ve loved to talk much more but even though time isn’t real it still kinda dictates how long the school day is so kinda got hecked there. Tune in next blog post where I literally try to astral project myself into the ether.

 

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I’m gonna astral project myself into the sun – Benedict Mendes [WARNING: Mild Dr. Strange spoilers may or may not be in this post]

Okay, so for my big Metaphysics topic I decided to look into, you guessed it, Astral Projection. Now, many believe this to be a big hoax and generally quite silly, but this is because of the way it’s presented in current media. Often people use crystals to “speed up their vibrations” when astral projecting, which sounds quite ridiculous and it probably is, but I’m not talking about that branch of it. I’ll be talking about what astral projecting would mean for “the self” and in relation to space and time. So, this is my big question:

How does astral projection relate to the self, and space-time?

Of course, this question is quite vague, so I’ll be using some sub-questions to hopefully reach the goal of answering that big question. These are my sub-questions:

What exactly is astral projection?

How would astral projection divide the self?

How would one travel through space and time using astral projection?

 

Well, if we look at astral projection very broadly, it has been mentioned in many, many cultures and religions around the world. There are many different variations, but at it’s core astral projection is said to be an OBE

(out of body experience) that is usually willful and controlled. It can be seen as a form of telepathy, and one is thought to be able to manipulate another’s thoughts whilst astral projecting. It is basically the separation of spirit from the body. Forms of astral projection can be researched in many societies and cultures, The West, China, Japan, India, Ancient Egypt, and even The Bible all have examples of astral projection at some point. Now, astral projection of course begs the question, if I am astral projecting and I see my body before me as if it is not my own, do I really have a body? Is it my body? Well, this differs, but generally in terms of astral projection a human is divided into three parts. These parts are mind, body, and spirit/soul respectively. The body and spirit are two separate things that, from what I’ve seen so far, are only linked by the mind. The mind is what links the soul to the body and allows it to return to the body after astral projecting, so that you’re not stranded in the enth dimension for all of eternity. This is only a rough look at it though, and I’ll delve deeper into this topic in the future. There’s also an important distinction that must be made within the concept of astral projection. One can project on the “astral” plane, or the “etheric” plane. Etheric refers to our physical world as it is now, when performing etheric astral projection you will supposedly only experience the universe as it is at that moment. Astral refers to some kind of transcending of time and space. There have been reports of people claiming to visit past civilizations and old, long destroyed places, these would be examples of what I’m going to call for now, “true” astral projection (I don’t really have another term for it at the moment). Basically, while “true” astral projecting one is able to travel through time as well as space through some form of time-space manipulation, the exact “how” of it is still lost on me at the moment.

 

The most prominent representation of astral projection in popular media at the moment is actually in the recently released movie “Dr. Strange” by Marvel. Seeing this movie is actually what inspired me to research this topic, because I found it infinitely interesting (also these are the spoilers I warned you about so turn away now if you must). In the movie astral projection is seen as a way for the spirit to travel through space and perhaps through certain dimensions, though that is unclear in the movie. Of course this movie deals with it in the comic book sense so it may not be true to what has been recorded in human history, but it’s a good place to start. Whenever a character astral projects in the movie, time seems to slow down drastically, although this is inconsistent, indicating that there is a way to willfully manipulate time whilst you are in the astral plane. In the movie, the interaction one’s projection can have with the physical world is also unclear. It seems to have a kind of “poltergeist” rule, where one cannot “touch” objects on the physical plane, but can move them through great force of some sort. Again, this is only in a Hollywood movie so perhaps the sourcing is unreliable.

 

The philosophic school of thought that this lies in is called Theosophy. Theosophy explores mystical and occultist answers to the many questions of the universe. This is particularly so in the fields of the origin of the universe and the nature of divinity. It’s an incredibly interesting school of thought, I don’t know if it exactly fits in with what I believe currently but I am willing to explore it for the purposes of this research, and I’m really excited to do so. Many scientists have actually looked in to the credibility of something like astral projection, even conducting experiments. The results on the whole have been mixed, and I will certainly look into those experiments in more detail later on. This might take more than just three blog posts, but oh well, it’ll be interesting at least.

 

In conclusion, for the next while I’ll be researching astral projection and how it affects the self and space-time. Who knows, maybe I’ll learn how to astral project myself along the way (although you’re supposed to be relaxed while attempting it and since I’m never relaxed probably not).

Dr. Strange (2016)

 

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Racist Internet Frogs-Benedict Mendes

As many of our generation know, Pepe The Frog is a popular internet meme that has been popular among internet users since about 2008. Very recently, this innocent product of modern day culture has been deemed a symbol of hate and white supremacy by many people. It has even been added to the Anti-Defamation League’s hate symbol database. Today, I will be dissecting that argument and trying to see if and how that is true in any way, and hopefully in the process I will redeem our web-fingered friend’s reputation a bit in the process.

 

So basically, the conclusion is that Pepe The Frog is a symbol for hate. I’ve broken down the argument into a few premises that represent the opinion of those who consider this frog as a hate symbol.

 

Premise 1: Pepe the Frog is popular on sites such as 4chan

 

Premise 2: Some users of 4chan create racist and anti-Semitic versions of Pepe the Frog

 

Conclusion: Therefore Pepe The Frog, and all memes made with him, are symbols of those ideologies

 

Well, let’s start with truthfulness, shall we? Premise 1 is true, Pepe The Frog is popular on 4chan and many other popular sites, there’s no disputing that. This bug-eyed amphibian is indeed an internet sensation. The second premise is also true, a small subset of 4chan users do create offensive images with Pepe The Frog, usually in some way altering his catch phrase “feels good man”. So the premises are true, but we still need to deal with validity. The formula is A=B, and B=C, so therefore A=C. Let’s see if this fits the formula. It’s pretty obvious pretty fast that this argument is not valid, most from the word “Some” in the second premise. If only some users are creating racist versions of Pepe then that does not necessarily mean that all things that include Pepe The Frog are indicative of racist attitudes. The premises also do not clearly state that those with such prejudices are the only ones making memes involving Pepe, nor that all of those people are active users of sites such as 4chan. Therefore it is not certain that all memes made with Pepe are racist and/or anti-Semitic.

 

Now, you may be asking, “Ben, why did you go through all this trouble to deconstruct an argument against a mostly outdated internet trend?”

The answer is: I don’t know, I’m probably wasting my life. Thank you for reading.

 

 

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Play-Doh and other philosophical things-Benedict Mendes

The concept of Plato’s cave just absolutely messes with my head. When I first looked at it, I thought “Wow those guys are dumb don’t they even know that those are just shadows??”, but really, in the same situation none of us would have thought differently to them. The concept that everything we’re seeing is not really in it’s true form and there is more there than meets the eye is kind of terrifying, because we believe all that we observe to be true, after all, “seeing is believing” -An Old Proverb from somewhere probably. Really, how are we to know that what is before us is real or not? We could be in some kind of simulation, just a creation of some higher singular/plural Thing made for amusement. I mean, personally I don’t blame them though because humans are petty and hilarious, but I digress. But in terms of my interaction with the concept of Plato’s cave, the concept of discovering a world you never knew, there’s one time in my life that comes along.

 

Picture me, at eight years old. My hair was blond, and I was smol and innocent and pure, and also had not yet moved to Canada. Now it’s a little weak to compare the natural ignorance of a small child to the huge concept that is Plato’s cave, but bear with me here. I was a well traveled child, I’d been to Europe and USA and all over South America, but for all those travels I had never actually seen snow. Okay, now imagine telling me, an eight year old living in South America who had never seen snow, that I was MOVING TO CANADA. I was HYPED. I immediately started vividly imagining how I would live. I would get along with the wild life and ride a moose and/or a polar bear to and from school everyday. My family and I would live in a cozy little igloo, our meals consisting purely of maple syrup and poutine. I would ski, or ice skate, everywhere as OBVIOUSLY there would be snow all year round. This was what I thought was actually going to happen, and for some reason no one really contested this misguided knowledge so I just continued happily believing whatever. Now, it was kind of an opposite thing to Plato’s cave, where instead of being amazed and confounded by what I found, it was more of a huge disappointment. When I landed in Toronto, the snow part of my fantasies was instantly fulfilled as it was the middle of March and extremely cold. Oh also I didn’t think it would be freezing for some reason. Now, the disappointment started when I did not see a SINGLE MOOSE OR POLAR BEAR for the entirety of the time when I was in Ontario. It was very anticlimactic really, I went out into the snow and just thought to myself “Wow it’s cold here this sucks” and continued to be disappointed from then on. But, poutine and maple syrup were certainly real things so I was excited to, for the first time ever, try these foreign foods for the very first time. To make a potentially long story short, I don’t like poutine and prefer Aunt Jemima to any kind of maple syrup, so needless to say I was yet again disappointed with this grand new world I was being introduced to. Of course, since then I have come to terms with my early on misjudgement and disappointment with Canada, and have come to realize it’s pretty great all around. But for eight year old me, it was like being led from the glorious outside into Plato’s Cave.

 

Since then I have of course discovered much more about this half-decent place called Canada, and I really love it here. My life here is more than it ever could have been back home, so really even though I was led into Plato’s Cave, I’ve made my own way out and learned to appreciate and be in awe of all that I have before me. And of course, as for my friends back in South America I do not hesitate to tell them of the glory of Canada.

 

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¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (DOL#1) -Benedict Mendes

A quick summation of this class so far for me would be: I have no idea what I’m doing. The types of learning and thinking this class has introduced to me  are quite unfamiliar. For example, the “Talk with me” paper, the stereotype of the lone thinker is debunked in the context of philosophy, saying instead that philosophy, at it’s core, is a social activity and should be treated as such. For me, I had always thought of philosophy as something that was done in your own mind, and to some degree, I still do. Of course, discussing opinions and coming to some kind of agreement or understanding is completely necessary in a debate setting, but when I’m presented with many new ideas at once I need time to process. I cannot develop a fully fleshed out argument or opinion on the spot, I need time to think about the information I’ve been presented and make my own conclusions from it before I can delve into the debating scene. This is in contrast with the principle that for philosophic discussion to occur there must be at least some dissent. I disagree somewhat, as I feel that time alone is needed to digest information and really find where one stands on a certain point, but I also agree that one can only get so far by shutting one’s self in and delving into your own mind. I also disagree with the point that dissent is always valuable, even if the dissenter is partly, or even completely wrong in their opinion. The point that dissent is needed to move away from repeated dogma can be true in many cases, however, are the people dissenting not also usually the people preaching dogma? Those who dislike change and will stick to their beliefs no matter how society is changing can be problematic as they can hinder society, as a whole, from moving in a positive direction. So, in some cases dissent is not only not valuable, but actually prevents progress.

 

On a more personal note, when this assignment was being discussed I was extremely confused and a little overwhelmed. It was only discussed in vague terms, which I’m not at all used to when it comes to school projects. Then, when the class met in room 111 (The couch room, my favourite classroom in the school without doubt) it was said that we were going to make the criteria. Here’s a little snapshot of what I was thinking: “????????¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿?¿?¿?¿?¿” In what class, on this earth, does the class get a say in the criteria? Apparently, the answer is this one. Of course, this sent my academic and structure focused mind into a complete panic. I can’t deal with the amount of responsibility that no criteria, or very little criteria, implies. It’s like, if you put me in an infinite field with no boundaries I would probably just ball up into fetal position and lay there in wait of rescue, I just wouldn’t know what to do with myself. I personally need limits to an assignment to be successful in it because it’s easier for me to be creative in a set margin, which sounds extremely contradictory I know. Also, in terms of the mindset that this class introduces, I feel like I have too much of a “scientific” mind to approach philosophy. To me, if I can’t measure it or define it, then what’s the point of discussing it? That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but that’s kind of the gist of my thinking.

 

As a whole, I think the first part of this course for me will be largely discovering more about and improving/changing myself before I can really get into big discussions. However, that doesn’t mean that I just won’t participate and will sit in my chair with my perfect eyebrows furrowed in thought, I will still do my best to get involved in discussions as much as I can, and besides, arguing with people has always been a strength of mine. So, in conclusion, do I now have kind of an idea of what I’m doing? Yes and no. Maybe. I don’t know. We’ll see.

 
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