Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Hermione Granger Would Understand Ethics (And Other Wizardry) – Claire

I have struggled a great deal with ethics. Admittedly, I am the type of person who tries to do ‘the right thing.’ When a situation arises and there is no black and white, no right and wrong, I freak out a bit, so you can only imagine what ethics has been doing to me. I have sat down to write this post several times, and have ended up staring at a blank screen with the cursor blinking before me (you know that feeling…the definition of ugh). I was getting to the point where I thought I would have no post to hand in at all.

*I tried to find a gif of Nicely from Guys and Dolls saying “it came to me sort of funny, like a dream…” but couldn’t find one, so instead imagine Waleed Hakeem saying this*

I’ve been re-reading the Harry Potter series over the past few months, and have enjoyed drawing parallels from what I’ve been reading to what we’ve been learning in Philosophy. I believe that, from reading this series while taking this course, I have a greater appreciation for these books as well as a better understanding of philosophy. I recently forced my dad to watch the one of the movies with me, and was trying to explain the Houses and how I knew that I was Gryffindor from taking an online quiz on Pottermore, the Harry Potter fan site (I know, I know, I could not possibly sound geekier). It was as I was explaining this that I recalled one of the questions that had come up during the quiz —one that I had struggled with —and was able to relate to ethics.

“You can rescue a baby or the only bottle of a potion that could save one thousand lives. Which do you save?

a) the bottle, the chance of saving one thousand lives is too important to miss
b) the baby, the bottle only might save one thousand lives”

When I was taking the quiz, my first thought was “both! Find a loophole and save both!” only to remember that I was taking a quiz, none of it was real and that I had to choose one or the other. Cue panic.

Reminding myself that it was not real and that no one would perish from my decision, I chose to save the bottle over the baby; this was because I was thinking along the lines of Utilitarianism and the concept of greater happiness. Yes, losing one life would be horrible (especially a baby’s…why would Pottermore think this is an okay question to ask? WHY?), but the possibility of one thousand lives being lost was just as horrifying. If I could save more lives and make more people happy in the long run, would I not choose to? Shouldn’t I want to create Greater Happiness? Did this make me a bad person, choosing more lives over a baby’s? The question never specified the ages of the thousands of people the bottle could save; there could have been babies in the mix too! Multiple babies! And children, and siblings, and parents…I felt like I had to justify my answer to myself.  I felt guilty, as if I had pushed the “fat man” off the bridge to save the five workers below on the tracks that the speeding trolley cart was headed towards. Sure, I saved more lives in the long run and made more people happy, but what about me? Was sacrificing my own happiness and living with that guilt worth it? Of course, those are two very different situations and Pottermore never specifies the circumstances of which I would be choosing the bottle or the baby. The idea of Utilitarianism seemed right at the time, but it felt wrong.

WWHGD: What Would Hermione Granger Do?

(if you’re feeling like killing some time and want to actually watch me make the decision to choose the bottle over the baby, click here and go to 5:41)

I want to be completely honest: I’m still not sure what I believe when it comes to making a decision regarding happiness and ethics. My instinct, to do the right thing, does not work if what is right is not defined. I don’t want to pretend that I have come out of this unit as a changed person who now knows exactly what she stands for and believes in and could make ethical decisions and be happy with them, because that’s not the truth. I am, however, more aware of my struggle in making ethical decisions and know that it’s not something I can shrug off the way I used to. I want to be able to make my own decisions and not rely on others to tell me what they think is right from wrong. It’s something I’m working on, and will continue to work on.

 

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Claire Argues with Dead Dudes!

Hello, welcome back to Claire Argues with Dead Dudes! We have a very special show for you today, with the theme of aestheticsooo! Ahhh!

I have some serious issues with some serious guys who have been seriously dead for a seriously long time. Seriously. Stick around to watch the fight ensue! First, though, we need to understand why I am fighting with people who no longer exist (but they still Exist through their works, you see? I’m never letting go of metaphysics.)

Let’s start with the basics: my questions before going into aesthetics were along the line of “how do philosophy and art co-exist?” and “does our definition of beauty change as our philosophies change?” With that, of course, we must understand what beauty and art are. While it’s easy enough to google definitions, I’ve come to believe that everyone has their own. Through this unit, I was able to understand what I perceive as beauty and art; it’s a process that you have to go through on your own, I believe, as it is through experience that we learn.

So, on the topic of experience, I want to discuss three aesthetic experiences I had and how those impacted me and what I believe to be beauty and art. My first one was song writing (art and philosophy), my second, going on a trip downtown (art and beauty), and my third, grad dress shopping (beauty and philosophy). Two out three of these experiences were not intended to be aesthetic experiences that I would use for this blog post. I found pleasant surprises and discoveries through all of these experiences.

Okay, so back to dead dudes. First up, we have John Dewey. I’m sorry, but when I hear ‘Dewey’ I automatically imagine Jack Black portraying his role in School of Rock —“You’re in the band!” For the sake of my argument, please imagine this as well as we discuss my competitor. You see, Dewey (are you picturing Jack Black? Good.) has discredited me as a song writer, as a creator and as an artist. Dewey, who believes that “art becomes meaningful only when experienced by an audience” has stripped the meaning from my songs and turned them into nothing more than a project. A project! That sounds like something you tell your parents you’re doing for fun when you’re really working on your portfolio to get into art school in secret, because you know that they want you to go to business school in stead! “What are you working on there, dear?” “Oh, nothing mom, just an art project.” From our aesthetics reading, we learn that Dewey think that an “art project does not become a work of art until an audience engages with it.”

Why, Jack Black, why?

 

In case you did not know, I write songs. I write a lot of songs about a lot of things and I have been doing so for a very long time. I also write books which I would argue is a much more complicated process. I believe that my songs and stories are all pieces of art, but it is rare that I share them with others. My art is a way of expressing myself and a way of releasing my creativity through means that I find to be enjoyable. I believe that my songs are meaningful because they are personal and come from the very depths of me (wow, that’s deep) and for them to be waved off as an “art project” because I do not share them with an audience makes it feel unimportant. We also have Arthur Danto, who made the dramatic statement “art is dead.” Danto believes that “artists became philosophers, and art became nothing more than artists’ attempts to understand themselves.” While I agree that art and philosophy have a tendency to co-exist, I do not agree that it can only be one or the other. When I am writing songs, I am focused on both creating art and making discoveries. Yes, song writing helps me understand myself better, but I am also trying to create something that I find to be both pleasing to the ear and mind. I try to create lyrics that tell an honest story in a captivating way, not only so others might hear it, but so I might hear it myself. In fact, I think that the best kind of art is not just something thrown together; I believe that it is when art and philosophy coincide that we have something truthful to the artist. Because of this, I disagree with yet another dead dude: I’m talking to you, Plato! While Plato believes that artists must be censored and controlled, I believe that an artists job is to speak their truth, whether it’s what people want to hear or not. It’s these artists who we relate to; who tell stories that we would normally keep quiet.  Who, often times, end up telling our stories.

Now, while I disagree with Dewey from the standpoint of someone who values the arts and creates what I believe to be pieces of art, I do understand where he was coming from. Think about our society today and our need to share. What did Claire do yesterday? Check Snapchat. What event is Claire in next? Check Facebook. What does Claire think about Hamilton? Check Twitter. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, but people have come to create careers out of filming their lives and sharing their stories. When something aesthetically pleasing happens, whether it be a sunrise we witness or a day downtown, we take photos and post them all over social media for the eyes of others. One of my aesthetic experiences over the break was to go downtown with some of my peers and take photos. My pictures did not turn out as expected; in fact, I was very disappointed when I first got them back from being developed. As I used a disposable camera, I could not see the photos after they were taken; I had expected some nice, aesthetic-y shots of downtown, but was instead met with dark, blurry photos that had a green tinge to them. I was not pleased. Something kept me from throwing them out, though. There was something about these photos that, while not what I had been hoping for, was still aesthetically pleasing. They had a haunting look to them. I realized that just because an aesthetic experience does not turn out as planned does not make it any less positive. In that same sense, just because something does not meet our definition of beauty does not mean that beauty cannot be found in it.

Photo creds @me

My final aesthetic experience that I want to discuss is Grad dress shopping. Oh, what a joyous occasion this was (note the sarcasm, as you cannot hear it through the blog. I assure you, it is there.) I’m a retail worker, but dealing with retail employees who are trying to sell me a Grad dress? Not fun. Still, I was surprised when I realized how much I learned from this experience. You see, I’ve been planning what to wear to Grad for years. Only, my taste has changed. A lot. I went from wanting to wear a mint green dress with a high cut neckline and poofy skirt in grade 10 to buying myself a blush, more form fitting, lower cut, open back dress this year. Why? Because as I grow and change, what I find aesthetically pleasing does as a result of my changing philosophies. It was something I had wondered about, and was confirmed through this experience. No, my Grad dress is not shocking or too revealing, but it is does not hide me as much as the dresses I preferred two years ago would have. From then to now, I have become firm in my belief that it’s important to feel comfortable in your own body. If I really like a dress and want to wear it, I’m not going to let any insecurities I have stop me from doing so; not anymore, at least. With this change in perspective has come a change in my taste; hence a Grad dress I would have never felt confident in two years ago, but am eager to wear this June.

Wow, that was a long one.  I never realized how much aesthetics had an impact on my life until recently, so thank you for pushing through with me.

That’s it for this time, folks. Thanks for watching Claire Argues with Dead Dudes; tune in next unit to see her take on Ethics!

 

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I Don’t Know What I’m Doing But I Know How To Use Capital Letters! – Claire

Hello!  Welcome to another blog post where I use capital letters to make it look like I know what I’m doing! (which, I think I might…but do I know or Know?  Let’s find out together!)

How to get through midterms 101: High School Musical and suffering together!

P1. If innate knowledge is instinctual
P2. And experiential knowledge is wisdom
Proposition: Then truth [knowledge] is determined by a synthesis of instinct and wisdom.

My first premise, innate knowledge is instinctual, is one that seems rather obvious. We don’t come out of the womb speaking a fluent language and knowing how to calculate the circumference of a circle (could you imagine?), but we do have the basis of what many would consider to be a type of knowledge. Our body knows how to function, how to keep us breathing and we have instinctual reactions; too hot? Cry! Too cold? Cry! Hungry? Cry! Desperate for attention? Cry!

Have to write a midterm? Cry!

Innate knowledge, therefore, seems to come from our body and brain’s instincts. We all have instincts, whether we are aware of them or not. We are also constantly learning whether we acknowledge this or not. To me, learning without comprehending, gaining facts and information, is the difference between knowing and Knowing. What do you mean, Claire? Are you just trying to recycle your metaphysics project? Yes! Yes, I am! (No, I’m not Mr. Jackson, I’m just trying to be funny and failing) After spending so much time thinking about being vs Being, I couldn’t let the idea go. I immediately made a connection between being vs Being and knowing vs Knowing, and it’s not just in the capital letters! Let’s review:

“It is that awareness vs your physicality that is the difference between being (existing) and Being (living).  This concept of being vs Being was brought about by German philosopher Martin Heidegger, who challenged the direction that western metaphysics had been set on.” —Did ‘The Boy Who Lived’ Truly Live, Claire Lundin (me)

Yes, I just quoted myself.  No, I am not ashamed (okay, well I am a little).  This was one of my findings in our metaphysics unit, and as previously mentioned I found a link between what I learned then and what I am now learning about knowledge.  Once again, it is awareness that makes all the difference between knowing (learning) and Knowing (being aware of your learning and comprehending it) OR knowing (instinctual) vs Knowing (wisdom). Innate knowledge tends be kept in an internal place and is not shared with others —it is merely a tool we use to function.

My second premise, experiential knowledge is wisdom, is the opposite of instinct. This kind of knowledge is acquired through time and experience. When we are exposed to things, when repetition takes place, when we use our senses and creativity, when we are engaged and ask questions and allow our minds to be curious, that is when we are Knowing. The definition of wisdom is “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgement,” according to Oxford Dictionary. This cannot exist without time and experience, and the capability to understand and comprehend what it is that you are learning. Experiential knowledge can come from both an external and an internal place, however, in my opinion, in order for it to become wisdom you have to take this knowledge and make it external for others to grasp as well.

Now, where did these ideas come from?  After reading up on my good friend Immanuel Kant (I don’t actually know him, obviously, but this dude has helped me out a lot so in my head we are now friends, you see?) I realized we had similar ideas in the sense that we both believe you are born with knowledge, which is to say, knowledge you have before experience (a priori) and you can come to understand knowledge through experience (empirical knowledge).  In this case, a priori knowledge supports the concept of knowing while empirical knowledge supports the idea of Knowing.

Finally, my proposition: Truth [knowledge] is determined by a synthesis of instinct and wisdom. These different forms of knowledge fuse together so we can both function and learn. Similar to not being able to live (Being) without first existing (being), you cannot gain knowledge without first functioning and learning. It is how we choose to use our functioning selves, how we choose to process what we learn that becomes Knowledge.

 

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Why You Can’t Escape Yourself (or Philosophy) – Claire

When your teacher asks you to go and experience something related to metaphysics on a weekend when you have absolutely no free time, what do you do?  Find a way to relate the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them to metaphysics, of course.  This only seemed appropriate, considering my original (shameful) question of “do we exist” came up from re-reading Harry Potter.

once again, why past Claire? Why?

So, what were my questions going into Phil’s Day Off?  I was wondering whether or not Being is something you can turn off, or if it is something that must be consistent.  For example, seeing a movie is considered a form of escapism.  It’s a chance to stop thinking about yourself and your own life for a while and concentrate on something else; in the case of a Harry Potter film, something new entirely, such as magic.  Can you put Being on pause to truly escape while enjoying this form of escapism?  I was also wondering how the experience of seeing a movie might differ for those who are being vs those who are Being.  My plan was to see the movie and analyze my experience afterwards.  My artefact is my ticket stub; my “ticket” to escapism.

I found that, while watching the movie, I was fully aware of where I was and who I was.  There was not a moment where I was so absorbed in the movie that I felt like I was no longer me, and that could of course have been the movie itself not being the type of movie that pulls you in entirely, but there are other factors that I found interesting.  The more I think about it, the more I realize I hear my own voice in my head whether I am watching a movie or reading a book; I’m constantly analyzing what’s happening and trying to piece things together.  This leads me to believe that, through using my own brain and allowing my own thoughts and opinions to come through while watching movies, I do not turn off Being to simply be while watching a movie.  The whole movie I was picking up references and noticing plot holes (which were, unfortunately, present) and leaning over to whisper my theories to my mom.  I was not necessarily thinking about myself and my own life, but I was drawing from my own experiences (whether those were through other movies, books or even the writer’s curse = noticing every detail because you’ve been taught to never include anything unless it furthers the plot, which means that your predictions are usually accurate) to figure things out and better understand the movie.  There were also several moments or characters that I could find myself relating to, which leads me to believe that not only can you not pause Being to just be for a while, but also that you cannot truly escape yourself.

What is the point of escapism, then?  For someone whose life is highly involved in entertainment and story telling to take others away for a while, I feel as though this question should worry me.  It doesn’t.  Sometimes we need a break, and even if we cannot truly escape ourselves, we can take a break from going through the motions of our own lives for a while, and we can learn so much from escapism as well.  I have learned so much from watching live theatre and from reading books and seeing movies.  Something that still remains unanswered for me is how others might experience seeing a movie; I wonder if someone who is considered to be being would just sit back and watch the movie, letting it unfold before them instead of using it as a way to exercise their mind?  It’s something I want to look into more.  In the case of being, I feel as though you have not fully established a sense of self, and therefore have no self to escape.  And in the case of Being?  Sorry, but there is no escaping yourself (or your philosophy homework…trust me, I’ve tried.)  You can, however, find a form of escapism to take a bit of a break.  Sometimes that’s all we need.  As for my original question, whether or not we exist?  I don’t know.  I don’t know if there even is the possibility of finding a definite answer.  Thinking about it still stresses me out, and I have to push that inner Ravenclaw that wants answers down to find that inner Hufflepuff that’s just shrugging and telling me to enjoy whatever form of existence I am living.

@me

 

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I’m Listening (I Swear) -Claire

You know the term “in one ear and out the other”?  That pretty much sums up my experience with metaphysics so far.  I’ve been trying to listen in class and retain information, but for what might be the first time ever, my brain seems to be rejecting what it is hearing.

My brain this whole unit

I mean, even with math I could sit down and slowly comprehend what I was learning, but metaphysics?  *see gif above*

Because of this, I’m finding it difficult to not only study a particular topic, but to understand and truly delve into it.  Hence, my last post on the vague “do we exist.”

Past Claire, why?

Discussing this with my classmates was embarrassing, so I mostly mumbled a lot and asked them to go ahead and share their own topic.  My first group was with Katie, Emma F and Pourchista, and we had what I think was a pretty successful discussion.  This started with talking about Westworld, a show that both Emma and Pourchista have been watching and drawing inspiration from.  This then led to conversation about artificial intelligence, and whether or not they deserve the same rights as humans if they, like humans, can think for themselves, have memories and feel emotions, for is that not what we describe the “self” as?  In that case, can robots be Beings?  Typically you would think of anything that is not human to be being with a lower case ‘b,’ but in the case of artificial intelligence being just like humans, is that not a possibility?  Does your brain hurt yet, because mine does.  Katie, on the other hand, was trying to understand what emotions are which, once again, kind of made my brain explode.  How can we know we are Being if we are basing that off of things such as feeling emotion when we cannot fully explain what emotions are?

Maybe we don’t have emotions.  Maybe we’re all empty like my brain.

Emma also brought up the idea of “having your own voice,” and questioned whether or not we do.  It’s interesting, because our thoughts and opinions are without a doubt influenced from many different factors, but Emma and I talked a bit about art and how that creative expression can come from an individual and just that one person.  If I am writing a song about something I have experienced because I feel isolated by that experience and I want to share how it has made me feel from my point of view, the only person I can draw from in order to do that is myself.  How does this relate to what I was talking about?  I don’t know.  I thought I would share it anyway because it was this AHA discovery.

My next group was with Ben, Lyle, Emma J and Jason.  When sharing my topic (existence…why…) Ben asked me whether I thought sociopaths were capable of Being.  *insert record scratch*  It’s something I’m still thinking about and trying to come up with words that make sense to give an answer.  I don’t have one yet.  Still, it was really cool to hear some of the other topics my classmates had come up with and how much they had all looked into it.  At random times, I will suddenly start thinking about things like astral projection and the dream verse and whether or not we are destined to live our own life which is bizarre and kind of wonderful at the same time.  I kind of think that’s what philosophy is.

 

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Did ‘The Boy Who Lived’ Truly Live? – Claire

While my Hufflepuff side says no thank you, my inner Gryffindor wants to take on this daunting topic. My inner Ravenclaw just wants some freaking answers; do we exist?

This is such a big, broad question. The easiest place to start would be to define the “self” and make sure we have an understanding of that concept before we can even begin to fathom whether or not our “selves” do indeed exist.

What is the self?

According to Oxford Dictionary, the self is “a person’s essential being that distinguishes them from others, especially considered as the object of introspection or reflexive action.”  Yes, we are made up of cells, but there is more to us than that.  Our thoughts and our actions make make us individuals, and it’s that individuality that separates us from others.

How can we know ourselves?

Once again, with our own personalities, thoughts and feelings, we are able to distinguish ourselves from others. Is it only through others that we can know ourselves, though?  In class, we discussed how we can “know ourselves through how we relate with others,” and through finding “new ways of relating to others.”  That does not entirely mean that we must rely on others to know ourselves, though, or to have our own individuality.  It is our choice essentially to choose how we present ourselves and how we choose to live our lives.

What is the difference between existing and living?

This question here is much more philosophical than scientific. In my opinion the difference between existing and living is how you choose to exist.  Without going into the mind boggling theories of Descartes, we are all humans made up of cells, therefore we all exist.  However, it’s easy enough to go through the motions of life without truly being aware of yourself and others around you –it is that awareness vs your physicality that is the difference between being (existing) and Being (living).  This concept of being vs Being was brought about by German philosopher Martin Heidegger, who challenged the direction that western metaphysics had been set on.  Another way I like to look at it is being a being with a heart and mind (existing) vs Being a being with a soul (living).  In the wise words of Professor Lupin,

“You can exist without your soul…as long as your brain and heart are still working. But you’ll have no sense of self anymore…You’ll just exist. As an empty shell.” – J.K Rowling, Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban

Yes.  I just quoted Harry Potter.  No, I have no shame.

Arguably we all have (or don’t have, depending on your beliefs) souls, but thinking of it metaphorically you can have the parts and functions of a human being while choosing to not live your life as an individual.

Philosophy makes my brain feel like this.

So, is it possible to exist but to not live?

Technically, if you are sticking to scientific definitions, no. But for the sake of philosophy (and if you choose to live in the wizarding world) yes, it is in fact possible to exist but not live.

 

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Women Cannot Have Logical Arguments – Claire

I am a feminist. I believe that, as a woman, I deserve equal rights, and I do not see anything wrong with this. I think that it’s unfair that there are women in cultures who are silenced and do not even have the opportunity to speak up for themselves; that there are women who do not receive education or basic human rights. I do not think it’s okay for there to be wage gaps solely based on gender, and I am not alright with the thought of being seen as anything less than who I am because I was born female. That does not mean that I hate men. That is not even close to the truth. I am a feminist, not a misandrist. There is a difference, and we will get into that.

  • Premise 1: Feminism is a form of misandry
  • Premise 2: Misandry is harmful to men
  • Conclusion: Therefore, feminism is harmful to men

Okay. Let’s do this.

  • Premise 1 is not factually correct. While there are some who claim to be feminists but believe in misandry, that is not what the concept of feminism is; the Oxford dictionary defines feminism as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes,” while misandry is defined as the “dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against men.”  There are extremists in all groups, but if a woman tells you she is a feminist, do not mistake that for a misandrist.
  • Premise 2 can most certainly be accepted as true. Hatred in any form is harmful, and to have hatred targeted at a collective group can do serious damage.
  • This is a valid argument. However, we can see that there is a major flaw contained within premise number one, which is not factually correct. Therefore, while the form is valid, an error in it’s content damages both the truth of it’s premises and the soundness of the conclusion.

Feminism in itself is not harmful to men. I chose this topic after coming across something known as the Red Pill Theory; I found a reddit post titled Do Not Try To Engage Women In a Logical Argument. Feeling petty, I decided to use this as the basis for my Logical Argument assignment.

Nice one, Claire! Thanks, Claire!

My argument seems pretty basic, right? Apparently not. The Red Pill is an internet community on Reddit that is primarily based off of men who believe that woman have it easier than them.  I came across this article on Business Insider, and I recommend reading it if you would like to know more about the Red Pill.  The fact of the matter is, there is an internet community promoting misogyny, and it is not okay.

“It’s more than a perspective, in fact: It’s a philosophy.  The basis of this philosophy, which underpins almost all conversations in this community, is that females get away with things by virtue of being female…feminism is considered a damaging ideology.”

(see logical argument above as I make illogical noises of protest)

Another winning quote from this article:

“Female oppression is a myth and men are the ones holding the short end of the stick. That said, men and women are inherently different due to evolution, so each gender should carry out its designated role in society. For example, females should raise children at home and men should work and have sex with women.”

The fact that the same quote saying that oppression is a myth has designated women to the role of staying home and raising children is as frustrating as it is scary.  The ignorance is hard to read.  There is still so much educating to be done, but the fact that there are so many who do not understand the basic premise of feminism is still mind boggling to me.  Really, it all comes down to this: feminism is NOT the same thing as misandry, and feminism is NOT harmful to men.  What is harmful is a collective group of people getting together online to promote misogyny.

Please take the time to educate yourself; I myself still have SO much to learn, so feel free to leave links to articles below if you have any!  In the mean time, here is an article I would recommend checking out if you want to start with something basic.  The educating starts here.

 

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We Are All Readers – Claire

Welcome to the library.
Welcome to a place full of endless knowledge and wonders; a place where you can explore the unknown. You will meet many different individuals here. The fleers, who enter the grand room, look around and become overwhelmed; they don’t stick around much longer than necessary. The skimmers —those who pick up a book (definitely judged by the cover) and maybe read a page or two before deciding that they have no interest in the words before them. And here —here we have the readers. Those who don’t hold back; who dive right into the knowledge before them. The page turners, the open minded, fearless explorers who find no qualms in escaping reality and “becoming someone else” for a while. They let themselves change with the library as books come and go, people come and go; they are okay with the idea of being wrong and being challenged. They are okay with sharing the stories they’ve come across with others; giving access of their newfound wisdom not just to their fellow readers but to the skimmers and the fleers as well. They mourn the banned books and the knowledge that can no longer be gained from them. They search for the hidden treasures of the library, scouring the catacombs beneath. They know that no matter the architecture, ancient or modern, small or large, old or new —all libraries have the same potential.

Welcome to Mr. Jackson’s Philosophy 12 class.
Welcome to a place full of endless knowledge and wonders; a place where you can explore the unknown. You will meet many different individuals in any high school classroom: the part-time artists and social media gurus who enter the room, look around, and decide that today is not the day that they’re ready to start learning; the headphone listener’s who pay attention for the first few minutes before literally tuning out…but here —here we have the philosopher’s. Because, truly, that is what we all are. The students who are engaged and who, despite the fact that I don’t have any eye catching visuals or pretty shiny things to distract you with, are listening and learning from what I have to say. The wisdom I have to share. You are the open minded, fearless explorers who find no qualms in letting others challenge you and your mindset. You are willing to change in this room and you know the importance of listening to others; you know that there is wisdom to be gained. And, most importantly, you know that no matter the structure of a person; who they are, where they come from, their age, their experience —we all have the same potential. We have potential. We are all full of wisdom, and once we can learn to be vulnerable with one another, once we learn to love our past, our experiences, and the wisdom we have gained —that is when we can start sharing and start learning. Once we step out of our cave, our protected shelter where things are “safe” and we are content, we can let ourselves be challenged. We can face dissent and learn from it, because to have a better understanding of who we are and the world around us, we mustn’t allow ourselves to fear the unknown —you don’t learn from fleeing or skimming; we must choose to be readers. Just like libraries, we are always changing. People come and go from our lives, our knowledge grows, sometimes we feel as though we lose what we have gained, but that’s okay. It’s okay to step out of your comfort zone; okay to let others into your carefully crafted cave and to guide you out –to share your wisdom and to face dissent. It’s okay to change; to let that happen. Do not fear philosophy. Do not fear the questions and challenges and new opinions and ideas. Embrace it. Take that step, enter the library and read.

 

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Southern Caves and Reasons To Pray For Me – Claire

I’ve been in a cave before. Not some metaphorical cavern that keeps you “sheltered from the world,” but an actual cave that is dark and cold and makes you feel like you’re probably going to suffocate, and wonder what exactly would happen if there was an earthquake at this exact moment and—well, it kind of goes downhill from there. I hate caves, in case you didn’t pick up on that. Not just “hate” in the sense that you “hate” homework and brussels sprouts; it’s a bone deep hatred that is all consuming. Anytime we would go to Indiana (yes, you read that right. Indiana. Don’t worry, I know) and my family would suggest we go to the Squire Boon Caverns (or something equally Southern sounding), I would feel my chest tighten and wonder why it was that my family was so insistent on going underground and into the darkness. I have always hated being in the dark. I fear the Great Unknown (hello, John Green, is that you?) more than just about anything. The idea of “not knowing” is what makes my hands shake, my heart race, my chest feel like it is being crushed. It scares me. It makes me anxious.
I cannot necessarily explain the feeling I would get before going into those caves, but it is one that I am familiar with; it’s like you’re suffocating before you have even made it underground. Every possible (and, quite honestly, impossible) Bad Thing That Could Happen to me would race through my head. Caves, airplanes, even escalators; I knew my fears were irrational, that I was safe, but I did not know how to deal with the anxiety that was always there, waiting for me to stumble across it. I didn’t talk about how I was feeling or why I hated those caves so much. I was (now in the metaphorical sense, keep up) in my own cave. It was dark. It was cold. I felt so alone. I was afraid. And I did not know how I was going to get out.
So, how do you get out of the cave? Like in Plato’s Cave, it took someone else for me to realize that there was something wrong with the way I had been living; with the way I had been seeing things.  I didn’t know that I needed help until I had it.  I went to a counsellor, and just talking to someone about how I was feeling made all the difference.  From there on, though, it was all up to me. I had to make a choice; did I want to stay in my cave? As scary as it was, it was all I had ever known. What if what awaited me outside was even worse? It took some time, but after I took that first step towards the light, I kept walking. I have never looked back. I feel like it’s my job to not only keep myself informed, but to inform others. I’m open about discussing anxiety with others, about sharing what I’ve been through and the help I received in order to get me to where I am today. I’ve learned how to handle my anxiety. It’s still there, but it can no longer control me. I don’t let it. I’m in control of it; of myself.
I hate caves. I hate the idea of being in the dark, of never knowing and learning what might await you if you take that step outside. I have done as much as I can to make sure I never find myself trapped in a cave ever again. And, really, it is because I stepped out of my own cave that if I go back to Indiana (pray for me), I know I can enter the Squire Boon cavern and that I will be fine. Anxious, maybe, but fine.

 

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Claire’s New Philosophy: The Dissent of Values

In which Claire tries to understand the concept of “Philosophy” and “opinions” while trying to get her point across without rambling.

 
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