Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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The Art of Silence- Dylan

I sat in my chair, in this little restaurant in downtown Vancouver, listening intently to the music being performed in front of me. I could feel the twenty or so other bodies in the room sitting at tables nearby , all of us within a few meters of the performers. Of all the pieces that were played that night, this slow, emotionally vibrant,  peice had us all completely hooked. Everyone in the restaurant had stopped eating, stopped talking, and were completely committed to what was happening with the music. We were all hooked to every single note, every single beat of the whole song, following the band as the lead us on journey to some unknown destination. As we intently followed the piece, it began to wind down, slowing down as the final notes were being played. We were all caught in some almost hypnotic trance. And as last note of the trumpet sounded out and stayed with us for some time we were still completely absorbed in the beauty of the piece and then, absolute silence. Everyone in the room was completely still. It felt as if everyone was suspended in time, with the last note still resonating in the air around us, wrapping us in a communal tension. I was aware of everybody in the room, aware of the music, aware of the performers, and aware of the.  And then, just as the tension became almost too much, applause. The silence was broken, and we all were acknowledging what had just happened. These three moments of silence that still lay so vividly in my mind.

That was the most memorable moment of the whole night. Not to say that the music throughout the whole night wasn’t fantastic, but that to me was such a powerful moment, that it still sticks out in my mind.  Taking that moment to appreciate the music that we had just heard in silence, and the fact that the music had made us silent, is still so astonishing to me. Silence is such a powerful force. There are so many moments in life where it’s true that a thousand words can be said with a single moment of silence. This moment to me, was a true testament, to the power of silence. But was the silence itself, an aesthetic experience? If nothing is really happening, can that still be called an aesthetic experience? There have been many others who have taken a look at the power of silence in art, and to really try to get down to the bottom of this experience, let’s take a look at one of these first.

One man, took the study of silence so far as to make an entire piece of music about it. Inhttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/52/Anechoic_chamber.jpg 1955, minimalist composer John Cage composed a piece entitled “4’33″”. The piece is an entire composition of complete silence, which includes three movements. The title of the piece changes depending on the length of the performance, with the first performance having been four minutes and forty-three seconds long. John Cage composed the piece after a long time fascination with silence, and after having made silence a big factor in a lot of his compositions beforehand. In 1951, Cage visited an anechoic chamber at Harvard University. An Anechoic chamber is a room designed to absorb all sound coming from within the room, and block out any external sound as well. Cage went to the room expecting to hear absolute silence, but instead he reported hearing two sounds, one low and one high. When he described this to the engineer in charge, he told Cage that the low sound was his blood in circulation, and the high sound was his nervous system in operation. Cage was astonished. He went to a place where he though there would be complete silence, and yet still heard sounds. He was reported saying, “Until I die there will be sounds. And they will continue following my death. One need not fear about the future of music.” This experience, and being influenced by other experimental artists at the time creating similar works, composed this piece as a study into the world of silence.

Cage was very passionate about this piece, his purpose was to envelop the audience in the natural sounds of the environment that was around them while the piece was going on. Because he considered sounds themselves, completely pure and untouched, to be music, he completely presented this as an aesthetic experience. But this piece, as you can probably guess, caused a lot of controversy. There are many who considered this piece to be a great look into what constitutes as music, a can be taken as a challenge to the very definition of music. But there are also others who point this out as having absolutely no point at all. And being that it is a piece of music, that it is completely silence, it’s not hard to see why people could see this as self-indulgent, and even pretentious. But maybe it doesn’t matter whether or not you agree with the pieces usefulness of honesty,  maybe the aesthetic experience doesn’t have to have you agree with it.  Before we get down to that, let’s take one more look at what John Cage has to say about silence.

It’s interesting to wonder what makes some people love the piece, and some people hate it. The experiences that people could have while experience John Cage’s “4’33″”, and the one I had in the restaurant could be considered to be quite similar. Being enveloped in complete silence, especially with other people in the room, is going to create some sort of feeling with in you. For people like John Cage who view sounds as a part of music, this piece becomes about the positive effect that silence can have on you. For others, it becomes a something that they dismiss as having any real meaning. But either way, the piece becomes something in that person’s mind. Whether it be positive or negative, it has stirred something inside of that person. One of John Cage’s reasons for creating the piece was the he knew that different people would experience it in different ways. He knew that some people might take it as a joke, while others might not. But what he wanted, was for it to do something. and I think that’s where the aesthetic experience comes from. Just like that moment in the restaurant, even if it was just silence, that silence became something inside my mind and it made me think about that experience. The aesthetic experience is an experience becomes something inside of you, and has left an impression that you later can think about. It’s an experience that while you’re having it, allows you to complete concentrate on what’s going on in front of you. And that can be anything. Even silence.

 

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Epistemology Inquiry ~ Dylan

               Within the tunnel of Epistemology, I’m somewhere in there spinning sporadically in every direction, caught in a whirlwind of confusion, bewilderment and jet lag. These past weeks of dissecting the very nature of knowing have really taken me on a very exciting, very puzzling path. Engaging in epistemological questions usually ended up taking me further away from where I thought I was on the road of clarity. So to pull me somewhat into the lights of the tunnel, I needed some sort of vehicle to bring me closer to where I was trying to get too. Being really interested in all the different types of ways that we could gain knowledge, I quickly became aware of many different schools of thought in epistemology. One that really interested me was Empiricism. From the beginning of talking about Epistemology, I was really interested in the subjectivity of knowledge and peoples’ different ways of receiving information. So the Empiricist way of gaining knowledge through sensory experience really appealed to me from the first time I took a look at it. Through the lens of Empiricism, I will try to steer myself through by trying to answer some of the big epistemological questions. So to somehow de-fog the tunnel in my mind, let’s take a ride in this car of Empiricism, and see just where it can take us.

The main idea of Empiricism is that the primary way that we gain knowledge is through sensory experience. So the things that we know can only come from the way that we’ve experienced things, its impossible for us to just sit down and be able to know things. Empiricists believe that this a posterior knowledge comes through experiencing daily life and they also stress the importance of using scientific research and experiments to cement knowledge as well. All in all Empiricism is about gaining knowledge by experiencing it through our senses. An Empiricist would also say that what we know is what we’ve experienced. Since the only way we can know things is through experience, what we know is limited to the things that we can learn through our senses.  John Locke’s essay An Essay Concerning Human Understanding was a major foothold in terms of adding to the Empiricist way of thinking, and would be a shoulder for many Empiricist thinkers to come. The big idea that was in this essay was the idea of tabula rasa (which also sounds like a fantastic name for a German thrash metal band) The tabula rasa, was an idea can be found originating in works as far back as Aristotle, though neither Locke nor Aristotle called it that at the times that they wrote about it. Even though it may have been under a different name Locke was definitely influenced by Aristotle’s writings about this subject. The idea is that when we are born, our brain is a blank slate, a white page, for which information is to be recorded on. And it is only recorded on through sensory experience. This became a basis for Empiricism because it states we never know things until our senses experience them.

Sometimes to know something better, and to help me try to answer those big Epistemological questions, it’s good to know somethings opposite. If we were name Empiricism’s moral enemy it would have to be Rationalism. The feud between Empiricism and Rationalism is actually quite a famous feud in the world of epistemology, and has been going ever since the two first started to exist together. Look, it even has its own poster.

http://philosophy.talons43.ca/files/2013/11/db129-rationalistsvsempiricists.png

Really though, the arguments between Rationalist and Empiricists are really great to examine to help you kind of figure out where you lie on the spectrum of your beliefs in how knowledge is constructed. Rationalists, unlike Empiricists, say that there are significant ways that knowledge is constructed that is independent of sensory experience. They say that there is some knowledge that we already know at birth. For that reason they completely reject the Empiricist’s idea of the Tabula rasa. As Empiricists believe that knowledge is primarily gained a posterior, Rationalists believe that it is gained a priori. Analytical philosopher and writer Galen Strawson has been quite frequently quoted summing up Rationalism with the quote which he once wrote saying “You can see that it is true just lying on your couch. You don’t have to get up off your couch and go outside and examine the way things are in the physical world. You don’t have to do any science.” If there was ever a way to sum up Rationalism in one sentence, I feel that that is the best way of doing it.

So now that we have both of the groups set up and introduced, lets bring in an example and see how both of these groups would dissect how we know what we know. Let’s use this statement that I found: a king who has reigned for four days has reigned for more than three days. A Rationalist would that we don’t need any evidence to know this. We know without having to do any research that four is more than three, it’s something that we just know. In response to that, an Empiricist would say that we would have to experience what three is, in terms of days and numbers, to know that it is less than four. We would have to taught how to measure three days, or even one day. We would have to feel what one day feels like to be able to know what three is. And in terms of numbers, we would also have to know that four is more than three. We would have to experience both three and four, either individually and together, and make the conclusion that yes, four is indeed more than three. They would state that that isn’t just something that we can think and then know, we have to learn it through experience.

Now, as we’ve finished examining each of the two schools of thought and even pitted them against each other in the Epistemological boxing ring, complete with fight posters and everything, we must leave the guide of both of them and try and make sense of what is going on for ourselves. A sad moment, I know. I’m getting flashbacks from the end of the Metaphysics unit where I had to separate myself from the ever so watchful gaze of Arthur Schopenhauer. Of course if I had no desire to happy, then I would never be sad. Oh Arthur…

Taking a look at what I’ve from learned Empiricism, and Rationalism as well, I must say that I do have a bit of a clearer image of what I think I know about knowing. I can’t say that I can totally call myself a either Empiricist or a Rationalist purist. I can say though, that my gut instinct to pick Empiricism as a school of thought to begin as a place to start wasn’t totally wrong. If I had to put myself on the spectrum that I was talking about between the two, I would be much closer to the Empiricism side. I do agree that a lot of the knowledge we receive does come from our sensory experience. And in terms of the king example, I do agree with the fact that we first have to experience both three and four, in terms of numbers and days, to be able to say that we know that four is more than three. But I feel that through learning about Empiricism, I’ve been able to pinpoint what I spot is the difference between what I think about knowledge and what it thinks about it. I feel like I take a little bit of what I think from the Rationalist side, in that I feel that there are some things that we know by instinct. Some things that we do automatically such as breathing, or our survival instincts are things that we haven’t totally learned by experience. Most importantly though, I also feel that there is a more social aspect of learning. I think what it comes to for me is that what we know are things that we experience through our senses, and but how know it is through our own individual sensory experiences, and our shared experiences. I think that learning both from one another, and together with others are an important part of how we know things. Through sharing knowledge that we’ve experience through books and other forms of spreading knowledge, we are able to learn from one another what the other has experience. And we can also learn things together, through discussing things and just general learning as a community. And what the implications of this are and what this means for all of this, is that we are constantly learning individually through experience, but it is important for us to come together and be able to spread that knowledge and learn together in a more social way as well.

So now where do I sit in my metaphorical tunnel? I think that in terms of Epistemology I do have a much clearer view than I did before, but I don’t think that being in the fog itself is actually something that we should try and avoid at all costs. I think that in terms of learning and growth and life in general, being spiraling aimlessly in the fog isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I think that you do have times where you’re out of the fog and where you’re in patches of clear spaces. But it’s important to allow yourself to be lost in the fog, because that’s where you’re able to find out what you really think about things. Whether it’s questioning the nature of reality, or trying examine knowledge, it’s useful to blindly kind of stumble around with an open mind every once in a while so that you may have a clearer understanding of where you want to end up, even if you may never get there. I think that the point of learning isn’t necessarily to help us reach an end quicker or more efficiently, it’s so that we can make the experience of getting there a much richer and more enjoyable one.

 

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Dylan 2013-2014

Posts:

Logic- The Logic of Nigel Tufnel, One Likes to Believe in the Freedom of Music

Scientific Philosophy- “Thomas Kuhn, is Science Objective”

Metaphysics-  Arthur Schopenhauer, Suffering, Schopenhauer, and Strings

Epistemology-  Epistemology Inquiry

Aesthetics- The Art of Silence

Comments/Discussions:

Discussion on “The Will”

Epicurus, good, and evil

 

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Suffering, Schopenhauer, and Strings -Dylan

This past week and a half’s explorations into the world’s being and the way that we perceive it as human beings has been a whirlwind joyride of amazing discussions and surprising personal discoveries. Dissecting ideas of the very nature of reality and the root of our world’s mysterious nature has lead me through many different paths in which some contradict each other, whiles others agree,  but all connecting. Exploring the minds of various philosophers, and being graciously allowed into the minds of my fellow classmates has helped me to hash some things out in my own mind. At the very beginning of this expedition into the basis of the world, everyone in the class studied a certain philosopher  who has acted as a somewhat a guide to our individual Metaphysical journeys. We then found others in the class who’s philosophers were connected to our own in some way. Through discussions within the various groups, certain themes seem to arise from each individual group. This became the basis for our group discussions. My own philosopher and the philosophers I was introduced to through other group members seemed string together a common theme on the ideas of suffering and pleasure. We delved into many different paths of this theme, but we kept coming back to one idea in particular that seemed to resonate with us in some way, and continued to circle back to the questions of the nature of the world. In consideration of how connected they are in the root of reality, are suffering and pleasure dependent on each other? Can the two exist simultaneously or together at all?

Through discussions on this theme of the codependency of suffering and pleasure, there is a contradiction of sorts that was found at the root of it. The very nature of suffering opposes pleasure, and thus the very nature of pleasure opposes suffering. This can cause two different ways to view the two ideas and how they are connected to each other. One side of thought says that through suffering we are able to achieve and know pleasure. It says that by going through ordeals and hardships, we are able to grow and learn more about the nature of the thing that made us suffer, and thus we are able to have more pleasure. The inclusion of suffering in this case is the thing that leads us to pleasure, and without suffering, we can’t have pleasure. The other side to this argument would be that the extraction of suffering is what leads to pleasure. In this view, the total ignoring and disregard of suffering is what gives us a pleasurable life. If we don’t regard as suffering as a thing to take notice to, and instead become ignorant to it, there is nothing stopping us from having a pleasurable life. http://www.art-prints-on-demand.com/kunst/chris_king/theatre_masks_happy_and_sad_hi.jpg

These two contradicting statements leave a very ambiguous path in a way of finding a way to come to terms with both of them. It’s hard for me to totally ignore suffering and pretend that it doesn’t exist. But I also find it hard to agree with the idea that pleasure can only and solely come through suffering. I think that I come to term with the two ideas in a way of bringing the two together in a way. I view suffering as a negative thing, but I also think that going through suffering can lead to more pleasurable things in the future in the way of growth and learning things from that experience. The absence of suffering is pleasure in this way, but suffering can also lead to pleasure. So I think that in the way that it makes sense to me, and I can come to term with these two ideas, suffering can lead to more experiences where suffering is absent, which is a pleasurable thing.

While this may be how I come to term with these contradicting ideas, I can’t help thinking that someone that I’ve gotten to know over the last week or so would have something to say to me about all that. I feel as much as I studied Arthur Schopenhauer’s ideas, and as much as I’ve taken a lot of his ideas into my own idea of suffering and pleasure, when it’s come down to this final distillation of the nature of suffering and its place in the world, we would disagree. Schopenhauer would say there can be no long term exclusion of suffering in our lives, only temporary moments of pleasure.  He would say that our human desires to live make it so that we are always going to suffer and that there is no way that we can have a life long pleasurable experience or experiences. We would agree in the fact that suffering is a negative thing, but while his thinking about it ends there, and through that he believes that life is ultimately a negative thing, we disagree where my belief in trying to turn suffering into a thing that may lead to less suffering comes into play.  The group I’ve been discussing these ideas with and their respective philosophers of study have some interesting opinions on this theme as well. Aman and her post on Anne Conway shows that Conway would agree with the side that suffering is pleasure, and that only through the inclusion of suffering may we experience pleasure. Aidan’s explanation of the Epicurean train of thinking shows that the Greek philosopher Epicurus saw suffering as an evil thing of the world, and something to be avoided at all cost. It’s amazing to see how different these ideas are on the same topic, but just how much they are connected to each other in the way of the process of coming to those different ideas.

One day, I made a bus trek by bus up to household jam session as part of the Phils Day Off endeavor. I went up there to contemplate Schopenhauer’s ideas while enjoying some music (which, I’m sure, Schopenhauer would have been more than happy to participate in.) At the beginning of the night, a friend and fellow bass player took me over to the side to show me a trick that allowed the string’s on my bass life span to be extended, making it so that you wouldn’t have to buy strings as often. What he did was loosen the strings on the bass so that they were still on the instrument but loose enough that he could pull it up away from the fretboard a good distance. He loosened the string, and continue to pull the string up and then smack in back down onto the fretboard. He would do this over and over again on each string for a few minutes at a time. What this was doing, he later explained, was releasing all of the dead skin cells and extra debris that was caught in the strings, making it so that the strings became cleaner again, and thus could be repeated whenever the string would go dead or dull and wouldn’t need to be replaced as frequently. Other than being a sweet tip for a young-unemployed musician such as myself, it also came to be a great metaphor for all these talks of suffering and pleasure in my mind. You can look at life as a dead bass string, and you can view the debris as suffering. You can see it as Schopenhauer would, as something chokes life and ultimately makes life worthless. And no matter how much we clear up the debris temporarily, it will become dirty and dull again soon after. You can look at from one who would not worry about the suffering, and instead of focusing on the dirtiness of the string, would completely ignore it and go out and buy a new string right away. Or, you can look at it from the cleaning method that my friend taught me about the strings. Acknowledging the dirt and debris and how it’s affected you, and then turning it around and cleaning it up and turning it into something that is pleasurable.

 

 

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Arthur Schopenhauer – Dylan

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cc/Schopenhauer_1852.jpg

“The world is my representation”

Welcome to the magnificent world of Arthur Schopenhauer, where all things are meaningless and we are doomed to be internally frustrated for the rest of our lives… while you’re here, why not grab a guitar?

Arthur Schopenhauer was born on February 12, 1977, in Gdansk, Germany. From day one Schopenhauer’s father had intended for young baby Arthur to take over the family’s merchant and ship owning business when he was older, which is why he had given him a name that was spelt the same in German, French, and English, giving him a head start on all the other baby will-be merchants. But as his young childhood of traveling through Europe gave him a thirst for, and went into university to study once his father had passed away. In university he began thinking of ideas that were contrary to the ones that were forced upon him in childhood. Terrible experiences at a boarding school in Wimbledon had turned him away from Christianity for the rest of his life, and thus began his journey into other ways of thinking.

Schopenhauer’s main concept into the metaphysical word was his interest and dissection of individual motion, which he called “the Will”. His concept of this Will was largely based off of Immanuel Kant’s concept of “thing-in-itself.” But while he did take inspiration from this, he did not fully agree with Kant. Schopenhauer described the Will as the thing that drives us, but also what brings us down. He said that the our individual “will to live” is what is the root cause of all human suffering, and we are all ultimately slaves to it.  This was as I said in contrast to Kant’s view on the root of human drive being much more optimistic. With his visions of this Will being the root of all human life, he viewed world as a lonely night drive with absolutely no breaks and no meaningful end in sight. He saw the world as one with no God to be comprehended and the world being ultimately meaningless. His main conception and most detailed description of this and other metaphysical ideas take place in his book Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, translated into the English as The World as Will and Representation. He says that unfulfilled desires cause pain and suffering, and most desires go unfulfilled.

Immanuel Kant, a man who Schopenhauer both agreed and argued with.

Basing off his idea of the Will, he also accepted another one of Kant’s views on the world, which is the double aspect view of the world. Which is, as he believed, the phenomenal, which is the world of experience, the one that we can view with the senses that we have, and the noumenal world which is the one that we can not experience with our senses. He that phenomena was the way that our brains perceived the nomunea. Neither cause each other but are just simply the way we perceive one another. The quote at the top of this post describes his view of the phenomenal world.

Now, when I was discovering all of this about Schopenhauer, I pegged him to be a very gloom and doom type person, who would not at all be interested in art, entertainment, aesthetics, or anything of the likes whatsoever. So it became quite a shock to me when I found out that art and aesthetics in general were very important to Schopenhauer, and an integral part of the human experience in his mind. He said that art was a way in which you are able to escape the pain and suffering of being driven by the Will. He admits that while it is only a temporally release, he said that the act of artistic and aesthetic appreciation, the will vanishes from the consciousness. Schopenhauer also viewed music as the purest art form because through music, one could view the will as an individual object itself. It allows us to be able to step outside ourselves and view the “will” from another point of view. He influenced many artists and people interested in the arts in his time, and even nowadays he may be seen to some artists as a man who fought for the important of the arts in culture, and who wanted to show everyone the vitality of music in the world. Metaphysically speaking, he saw the arts as the gateway between phenomenal and the noumenal worlds.

Here is a great video and song that shows the influence that Schopenhauer had on the arts, and gives a great explanation of Schopenhauer as a whole at the same time:

I personally have very conflicting thoughts about Schopenhauer’s ideas. But even so, as I continue read more, I can’t help but becoming insanely intrigued at every corner. I can not say that I agree with his pessimist views on the world and human drive, and how all human suffering is caused by this. But I think that in terms of his views on the arts, and their importance to the study of metaphysics, I would have to agree with him. I personally find art as a sort of an “escape”, and personally do see art as being a bridge between the world we perceive with our senses, and the other form of the world that we can’t perceive, whatever that may be. I agree with the idea that there could be more to it then what we perceive right in front of us, and that we may not be able to perceive these things with the senses we have. Among the countless things surprised me while reading about Schopenhauer, was that he believed compassion to be the only truly morally good drive. I wasn’t surprised by this because I disagreed that compassion was a moral drive, but rather because it just showed me the complexity of Schopenhauer’s thinking. I was amazed at just how surprised I was at each time I would read something new about him, because it was always a much more different idea than what I would have thought he would say. Schopenhauer was a thinker who covered many aspects of metaphysics, and really tried to get down to what reality real is. And whether you agree with his ideas or not, the amount of influence he had on other thinkers and the world around us is something that is truly amazing.

 

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“Thomas Kuhn, Is Science Objective?”~ Aidan, Dylan, Katherine

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/files/2012/05/kuhn.jpg

Thomas Kuhn

Thomas Kuhn was born on July 18, 1922. He was an American physicist, historian, and scientific philosopher. Before Kuhn, there wasn’t any really detailed map of how science progressed. But he helped to paint a picture of the way that science was able to grow and contribute more knowledge to the scientific community. Kuhn discussed his answer to the question “is science objective” quite clearly in is 73 years of living. His universally acclaimed novel The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was the gateway into his thinking of the objectivity of science. Through different books and essays, Thomas Kuhn let us into his world of how he views the progress of science, and his views on the objectivity of science as a whole. So, let’s delve into the mind of the paradigm shifter himself, and find out if science is truly objective.

Before Kuhn, science was thought to progress with the continual adding of new theories to an old theory and adding new beliefs in to the same realm of old beliefs. Kuhn did not agree with this theory. Kuhn instead saw science as having two different forms, “normal science, and “revolutionary science.  He saw normal science as being the form that was described as the old theory of how science progressed. He described it as the regular work of a scientist within a certain set of beliefs, where they keep adding new theories to an already existing theory, and keep adding up onto it. His theory of revolutionary science is a bit more dramatic. Revolutionary science is the way in which science progresses with the total shifting of views on a certain scientific idea. This was the main point behind Kuhn’s outlook on the progress of science. He described a set of thoughts or collection of opinions on one topic as a paradigm, and the dramatic shift of opinions on the topic as a paradigm shift. Revolutionary science was when a paradigm shift would take place, and an existing paradigm would be replaced with a new paradigm. This was opposite to the idea of normal science, and was how Kuhn described science to progress.

Paradigms and paradigms shifts were the focal points behind Kuhn’s theory of revolutionary science as described above, and the main way that Kuhn was able to answer the question of the objectivity of science. In science, a paradigm is a theory or set of thoughts that is widely accepted and practiced as the truth at that time. A paradigm shift is a total change in your set of view about a particular paradigm and it is most closely related to scientific progress but you could use it as a way to describe your own personal beliefs. We all exist in our own different paradigms. We all have our own personal beliefs on certain things and our outlook on the world is affected by those beliefs. And we can experience paradigm shifts in our own lives where our views on certain things are turned upside down. And as well, the scientific community and society exists in certain paradigms through out history at all. For example, right now we exist in the paradigm that landmasses are being moved constantly by continental plates. This is different from the old theory that the continents were always where they are. Thomas Kuhn believed that there are so many different paradigms going around, and that all the time they are changing, that there is no way that science can just settle on one of them. The existence of paradigms and paradigm shifts make it so that science isn’t just based on one total truth, but instead many different ideas of the truth.

File:Duck-Rabbit illusion.jpg

Rabbit – Duck Optical Illusion

 

 

This was a picture that helped Kuhn to describe his idea of paradigm shifts, and the idea of how everyone sees different things even if they are looking at the same concept in science and elsewhere. Just as in this picture, you may happen to see a rabbit, or you may happen to see a duck. Or you may see a shape which no one else has seen before. This helped him to describe the idea of different paradigms as being different ways of seeing things and making science subjective that way since we each see something different.

 

 

So with all this information, is science objective? Through the lens of Thomas Kuhn, we would have to say that it is not. Thomas Kuhn would say that since there are so many competing paradigms and differences of opinions, science is subjective. Because all theories are based on subjective conditioning and ideas, there is no way that science is able to be fully objective. Science can only progress and shift and change as different paradigms are brought up, and it is subject to be flipped on its head again and again.  Therefore, science is a way to study and understand the world in a collective way, but based on opinions and outlooks that continue to change as time goes on.

 

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One Likes to Believe in the Freedom of Music ~ Dylan

This video was one episode of a T.V. show on CNN called Crossfire. The debate at the time was to discuss the proposed ideas of censorship on albums in music. The argument written down below is on the side of censors, represented here by John Lofton, newspaper journalist.  The argument at the time was spearheaded by the “Parents Music Resource Center,” which was an organization of concerned parents who were targeting specific musical artists for releasing what they deemed to be inappropriate content in their music. One of their main targets was musician Frank Zappa who is shown in this video fighting against this argument below.

All songs with inappropriate lyrics are immoral in content

All immoral content are to be censored

Therefore, all songs with inappropriate lyrics are to be censored

All X are Y

All Y are Z

/ All X are Z

This argument as it follows the form described above, is valid. And as with most arguments, the debate seems to boil down to the factual correctness and soundness of the argument. The premises here are completely subjective in this instance. Morality is completely an idea of your own mind and/or the ideas that were instilled in you by others as you grow up. Even the very idea of “inappropriate” is completely subjective to everyone’s own individual ideas. So on this ground, we can’t really say if these premises are true are not. Only your own personal opinion can decide whether it is factually correct or sound in your own mind. In my own personal opinion and as the title of this video (ripped from a Rush song) might suggest, I would have to say I am in a certain degree on the side of Frank Zappa, being completely bias since he is a personal hero of mine, but I also think that a great point is brought up by Zappa in the way of an anti-censorship rebuttal (4:35 in the video.) He basically says that hearing the deemed “inappropriate” side can help you make up your own mind on what is inappropriate to you. And I am completely for people making up their own personal decisions on any subject for themselves. But again, that is just an example of one person’s opinion on this subject. The factually correctness of this argument is completely up to you.

The result of the argument ended up becoming the Parent Advisory sticker put on album with lyrics deemed inappropriate. I think that this is an excellent argument to look at. The whole idea of censorship is such an important idea to discuss as humans. How far do we want to go in controlling other people’s work? Is it moral to censor things because we deem them immoral? And who gets to decide what constitutes as immoral? As I stated before, I personally believe that an artists work should be left up to the artist and that. But then again, is it for there to be a label to warn people about inappropriate lyrics in a piece of music so that they have a fair warning? Should there be a line of protection against things deemed inappropriate? Should there be censorship in music?

 

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Busking Debate ~ Dylan

http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/ottawa-busker-says-bylaw-on-microphone-use-discriminates-against-female-performers-1.1473347

In Ottawa, a rule in the world of busking has banned street performers from being able to have amplification with them during their performances. A street variety performer who’s act involves talking, argues the fact that with this new rule, women street performers are not going to be able to work anymore by themselves as street performs as they do not have the volume to be able to be heard without the help of microphones. Her argument with the rules is as follows:

All streets performers are forced to speak loud

No women are able to speak loud

Therefore, no street performers are women

Her argument follows the form of:

All X are Z

No Y are Z

/No X are Y

This makes this argument a valid argument as the form is correct. To be a street performer who’s act requires you to be heard you must be able to speak loud enough over all the crowd and other ambient noises. But the factually correctness and soundness of the argument is a little more ambiguous. In the article, they bring in voice specialist Dr. Brian Hands.  Dr. Hands states that women actually have thinner vocal chords, which makes their voice less powerful. When I first read this it actually surprised me, but we’ll get to that a bit later. He also says that normally the learned processes in childhood make women voices typically quiet.

And while Dr. Hand does confirm all this to be true, he does also state that with proper vocal training women are still able to speak just as loud as men. So in a sense, this makes her argument not completely factually correct and sound. While it’s true that by the nature of biology women may have thinner vocal chords, it still does not mean that women are not able to speak at a loud enough volume to be heard on the street at all. In my own personal experiences in situation where you must be heard such as in the theatre, I’ve actually had more experiences where all the women are much louder than a lot of the men which is why I said I was so surprised that when I found out that women have thinner vocal chords then men, because I always thought women to have been louder in any performance situation I’ve ever been a part of. So because her argument is saying that women are not able to speak loud enough to be street performers is false, the argument is not factually correct or sound.

The effects of this have a lot to do with continuing debates of discrimination against the sexes. Is this discrimination? I mean some could argue it is, for it could be harder for some women to speak loud enough to be heard, making them unable to still work as a street performer. But some could also argue that its not, for proper and safe vocal training could enable them to be able to be heard. And some could argue too that voice has absolutely nothing to do with gender at all, and is a completely different thing to every individual. So it draws a very interesting line in the sand for us to examine. Where is line where we decide between actual discrimination and some things just being easier for some people to do, but with proper practice everyone being able to do? And how much do we separate the two sides? These are very interesting questions to examine and take a look at and to examine as a society at large.

 

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The Logic of Nigel Tufnel ~ Dylan

Stonehenge was built in a cold climate

Aliens don’t build in cold climates

Therefore, Stonehenge wasn’t built by aliens

This is a great twist of a valid argument where the conclusion that we’ve arrived to is one that we can agree on and is backed up by science, but the way that we’ve come to it is not completely based in fact. While the conclusion may be true, the section of premises may not be completely factual. We know for sure that Scotland, where Stonehenge was built, is a very cold place. But the second premise is one that we can not tell for sure yet. We don’t know for sure if aliens don’t build in cold climate. I could assume that if they were able to travel the vast highway that is space to our blue marble of a home that they would have to build some sort of intergalactic traveling space craft in the deep cold of space somewhere. But, in any case, this argument comes from the vast, mysterious, dark, and confused mind that is Nigel Tufnel (character from the movie Spinal Tap, played by Christopher Guest) and according to him, aliens do not like cold. But until we have complete and solid proof that interstellar travels do not enjoy creating works of wonder in minus zero weather, we can not know for sure weather this argument is factually correct or sound.

Besides being an interesting look into factual correctness, this is a great comedic look on science and scientific arguments that Nigel Tufnel  proposes and I think that it is a great examination of scientific argument. I think that there is some work of a genius in this small little statement said at the end of a video. First of all, it is a great commentary on comedy and just how much comedy can really be a thought provoking message wrapped in a silly exterior. It shows us just how far comedy can go in blurring the line between reality and fantasy, and blending the two together.  Secondly, it is a great commentary on science, and how we reach conclusions in science and asks some great questions about the subject. If we all reach the same conclusion but with different methods, even if some methods may themselves not be correct, are all the conclusions as correct as one another? All in all, this is a great satirical argument to examine that is really a great look into the mind of comedy, and the mind of logic.

“It’s such a fine line between stupid and… clever.”

-Nigel Tufnel

 

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What is Philosophy?- Dylan

Answering the question, what is philosophy, is just as baffling as the very topics that are contained within it. The way I see it, philosophy is a subject that engulfs many different topics and ideas. And since philosophy is such a varied and interesting topic, it takes a lot to try and define it at all. In my own mind, I’ve tried to split philosophy up into the search for the nature of things, the sharing and discussion of ideas, and the love and search for wisdom. Each of these different ideas holds an equal amount of weight in building up philosophy as whole. And through an exploration of each topic, it may be possible to get to the root of philosophy.

I’ve always had a sort of joke image of what a philosophy class would look like before I was actually in one. I always imagined a scene of a very dimly lit room, with a single candle in the very center of the room. I imagined all the students sitting down in their desks, with no teacher in the room. Then the teacher would come in suddenly, and stare at the students. They would look at the students and simply ask “Why?” and then exit the room, not returning, with no explanation whatsoever. ~ While this scene is obviously very far away from the truth, I came to realize that there was one bit of truth. The question why is a very important part of philosophy. It is a way to get to the very root and origin of things. Philosophy serves as a way to challenge everything and to try and understand the very nature of things. Really it is the act of being able to ask why anything the way it is, or why it isn’t.  Philosophy gives us a reason to get to the very bottom of things and the topics that we can try and understand the nature of vary from questions such as why bears hibernate, to the very origin of life itself. We can begin to expand our ideas and understand our world better. Trying to get to the roots of the world’s mystery’s lay down a foundation for what philosophy is, as it helps present us with the fact that through philosophy, we are able to question everything.

Next, a big part of philosophy in my eyes are the discussions and general sharing of ideas that surround philosophy. Talking about and spreading knowledge is so vital for humans at large, and why things such as an open online class are so valuable. Discussions can take both a formal and informal state. Formally we can talk about and share ideas in a more structured situation. Publishing books or papers or even writing a blog is a great way to get ideas out there and its important that everyone be able to share ideas through these and other mediums so that we can continue to nurture the lust for knowledge, though unfortunately not everyone is able to. But we can also discuss ideas is a much more informal way. Talking around a campfire or a late weekend conversation out on a patio are also great ways to continue the circulation of knowledge. Why it’s important to look at these different ways of spreading knowledge and ideas is because the spreading of knowledge can lead us to each understand individually more about the world, and make our own viewpoints about the world. Trying to understand the world and how we each ourselves understand it is a huge part of philosophy which makes the way we arrive at those conclusion an even bigger part too. Discussion and conversations in any form are a great way for us all to be able to learn more and understand more about life, and keep the fire to gain more knowledge alive.

Lastly, a big part that makes up the giant whole that is philosophy is the search for and love of wisdom. This is the most personal and introspective part of philosophy. And the search for more wisdom is another reason why we do philosophy. The love of wisdom gives of the drive to spend many restless nights trying to find answers to possibly unanswerable questions. It’s what continues to push us to look for more and more ways of thinking about things, and for more things to think about. It is in turn, the driving force behind philosophy. Philosophy teaches us within itself to keep looking for new things to learn. The whole basis of philosophy is based off of the love of wisdom. Its why we come here to learn. The never ending search for more things to learn guides us through this tricky path of life, and helps us figure out were we ourselves would like to be. The love of wisdom helps us to keep searching and learn more, and is in turn what gives philosophy its name.

Philosophy engulfs so much, that it is almost impossible to answer the question. I guess in the most basic form in my mind, philosophy is the act of constantly examining, questions and mysteries, with the knowledge that the answers we come to may be completely ambiguous and are always left up to own individual opinions. Which is exactly the case for philosophy itself. Through examining each of the different topics we’ve talked about, I’ve found out some way or another what philosophy means to me, but to each of us it’s different, and none of the answers are wrong. The answer is completely subjective and the way we arrive there is different to each of us, but the fact that remains that each of our own individual philosophy’s are a way to express and discuss our views on life, and to help us grow and learn among another with a open minds.

 
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