Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Nothing beats homemade porridge -eric

(Found on imgur)

Food has always had a special place in my heart, and I’m sure everyone can relate to the pleasure of beautifully looking food (highly recommend /r/foodporn). Whether it is a gourmet steak, or that perfect macaroon, food manages to provide an aesthetic experience across all five senses.

When I think of aesthetically pleasing food, the main focus is almost always on its presentation. The visual aspect is so huge to our perception; it can make your $12 steak look like a $35 entrée and turn a regular bowl of oatmeal into something worth your Instagram feed. So what makes food look good?

 

First, I have to my best to define an aesthetic experience. For an experience or perception to be deemed an aesthetic experience, it has to meet some criteria. First, it must evoke some strong emotions, which can be positive or negative. Aesthetic experiences should gives us in essence, ‘the feels’. Secondly, I agree with Leath that a high level of concentration is also needed. As he puts it, to “focus on one type of activity, the one we do in the present moment”. I don’t believe one can have an aesthetic experience when not in focus. Imagine, eating a bag of chips while watching TV. It’s basically impossible to appreciate and invoke a deep emotional reaction to the potato chip when really you are just scarfing them down as you watch Friends. (Speaking from experience)

Working at Montana’s during my winter break, I was always cooking food. My goal was to find out why some food looked so much better than others. If you take a look at the photos below, it’s not hard to tell which is more aesthetically pleasing. The two plates or more or less the same content, but one looks way better than the other. But what exactly made it look so much better? What could be improved to raise the aesthetic quality? As I was working, my goal was to produce the most aesthetically pleasing dishes possible. I believe creating and experience require the same two things I outlined in an aesthetic experience; emotion and sole focus, which is quite hard to have in a busy kitchen. Anyone who has worked in a restaurant knows the importance of multi-tasking and especially not to get over-emotional. So finding these moments to concentrate on maximizing the aesthetics was very rare, but very rewarding. Of course my coworkers did not appreciate me rearranging the same plate multiple times,but to me there’s no better feeling then seeing all the care and focus I put into creating something as beautiful as the photo on the left.

In the end, when I ask “what makes food look good”, restaurants and coworkers have taught me that they are measurable, tangible things: golden brown, tall, crispy, bright. I’m sure these all make for more aesthetically pleasing food, but philosophically, I think the reason why those characteristics make them look better, is because we have always associated these characteristics with good food in our memory. Many people love crispy, bright food because it tastes great, but that doesn’t mean it is the most aesthetically pleasing for everyone.

 

In fact, maybe what makes food look good doesn’t have anything to do with the food at all. Whether it’s crispy or soft, golden brown or soggy and purple may not even matter. It may just depend on our memories and past experiences, and the feelings they have associated with a certain experience . Take a look at this korean-style porridge. To many of you guys it may look really boring; yellowish-gray and soupy isn’t aesthetically pleasing to most people, but it is to me weirdly enough. In fact, I think it is more aesthetically valuable than any food from Montana’s. If my original criteria was to produce a deep emotion or feeling, all I can say about Montana’s is “that looks good”. On the other hand, this porridge gives me feelings of comfort and home, and that’s why I really want some good porridge right now.

 

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Philosophy Midterm – Gaining Knowledge

Just two days ago, I had a completely different view about knowledge, and it’s crazy how quickly our perspective can switch. Epistemology is the study of knowledge, and I decided to explore the topic of how knowledge is acquired. At first, I believed that knowledge came from  experience, because that is what made the most sense. However in that one day, a few conversations with Jamie and Emma Field left me switching from an empirical view, to fully rationalist. 

The Empirical Argument

All knowledge comes from experience. This was a conclusion that initially made a lot of sense to due to its straight-forwardness and practicality. We see, hear, and smell the world around us, and the experiencing the physical world gives us knowledge. We know how to ride a bike by first riding a bike. We know what grass is by looking at grass. We know how heat feels by touching something hot. Simple enough. We even interpreted the word ‘experience’ to include the experience of the species. This means the experiences over time by the species, can be passed down as knowledge, to explain how we know certain ‘intuitive’ things like the flight-or-fight response, or simply just knowing how to breathe.

Take a second and think: do we breathe when we sleep? Stupid question— of course we breathe. Can someone prove it empirically? When we are unable to sense (we are unconscious), can we still gain experience? Maybe now with technology we can empirically see ourselves, but that means that this knowledge could only be as old as video cameras. Surely it is our reason, being able to put 2 and 2 together that we NEED to breath when we sleep.

Defining Knowledge

One large problem I was struggling with, was trying to define what knowledge was. In peer discussions, knowledge was used as a blanket term for everything; what we sensed, what we reasoned, what we thought. I believe the KEY to the soundness of my syllogism, is the definition of knowledge. Immanuel Kant breaks it down into two ideas: sensibility and understanding, which are two different and independent constructs. Senses provide sensibility. They give us observations about the world. Understanding, is using these observations to create explanations and concepts which translates to knowledge.  Senses merely relay information of the world around us. It is our conscious mind, that is able to take all this data and use reason to create knowledge.

Take for example a pear. Through Kant’s logic, all the senses can provide is the observation that the pear is observable and existing in the physical world. However knowledge of the pear, is created when the mind reaches the rational conclusion that the object is indeed a pear, and it does exist based on its sensibility.

Another example is gravity. Gravity is not ‘sensible’; it has no smell, touch, sight. Instead, gravity is knowledge which was created through reason, to explain why the apple falls from the tree. This knowledge cannot be gained by merely observing an apple fall. All we sense is the apple falling, but reason is what tells us that something is causing this. Gravity is knowledge that is created to explain the  physical world.

My Syllogism

Premise 1: Our senses are able to  make observations about the physical world.

Premise 2: Our mind creates reasonable explanations to understand our observations of the physical world.

Premise 3: Knowledge is created when we understand our observations of the physical world.

Conclusion: All knowledge is created through reason.

 

Where does this knowledge originate?

Although the syllogism shows how knowledge is created, the bigger question may be how does knowledge originate. The empirical argument states that any knowledge that is created (whether through reason or not) is originally based off the experiences of the physical world.  Meaning, we cannot know that an apple exists, without first observing the apple. We cannot know of gravity until observing the effects of gravity in the physical world. Our experience comes first.

However, Kant proposes the argument of a priori knowledge, which is rational knowledge humans are born with. Kant states that even before we are able experience the world, we are born with some innate understandings like the idea of ‘substance’ and ‘time’.

“In order to learn about things outside of me, I need to know that they are outside of me. How can I locate something outside of me without already knowing what “outside of me” means? Some knowledge of space has to be assumed before I can ever study space empirically.”

So even before we can observe, Kant shows there are some basic reasoning and assumptions being made.

Consciousness

This is becoming more and more subjective, but I believe consciousness is the factor that ties in our senses and rational knowledge. I like to think that consciousness is what allows us to use our senses to experience the world. Our consciousness is what separates from the pencil, the water bottle, or the flower. In moments when we lose consciousness (sleep, blacked out, dead), it does not matter if our bodies are interacting with the world; we cannot continue to experience. When a person dies,  we would assume they would stop experiencing the world around them, even if their physical body still exists.

I also think one can not hold knowledge without being conscious. I do not think a newborn can have knowledge (such as primitive instincts) until they are conscious beings. In that sense, knowledge begins manifesting when one gains consciousness, and knowledge ceases to exist when consciousness is permanently lost. This means that knowledge is constantly being created and destroyed.

Transcription and Common Knowledge

It is a hard thought to accept that knowledge is constantly being destroyed; we cannot even imagine how many incredible, impactful ideas were lost since humans existed. I think transcription, especially language was the game-changer in gaining common knowledge. Being able to take the knowledge in our mind, and transfer to the physical world is beneficial for many reasons. Not only does it allow us to share our knowledge with others and find common truth, but once put in the physical world, the knowledge which it represents can now live past the creator’s existence. Sharing knowledge with the next generation, is in my mind, how humans have been able to progress. It gives us a way to determine truth by looking at what is most agreed upon. It also allows us to use old pieces of knowledge, and find new connections and understandings among them.

No one can, nor will know everything that Einstein knew except for Einstein. All we could know is the parts of his knowledge, that has been represented in the physical world (books, speeches, symbols, drawings).

A personal fear of mine was how I would be remembered (or not remembered) in the future. I value knowledge very highly, and one thing I want to keep when I’m older is the thoughts and ideas I’ve had throughout life. I love learning. I love gaining new knowledge, and reflecting on my experience. The majority of my knowledge isn’t written or recorded anywhere, but left in my memory. Of course it is easier to remember while I am young, but as time goes, I wonder how much of my knowledge I will keep. If the thoughts were lost in my memory, how will I know what I once knew, and how will others know what I knew? I look back 17 years, and I cannot remember a lot. But when I look back at the journals we had to write in the second grade, it feels so good to see how I thought as a kid, compared to now; that is what I want in the future. Recently, I’ve began to make a conscious effort to document my thoughts, whether it is through journal entries or a quick snapchat. Each word document and photograph is one I will be thankful to have in the future.

I would like to give a special thanks to some of my fellow philosophers, Jamie Fajber, Emma Field, Emma Juergenson, Lyle Hendriks, as well as Mr. Jackson, Immanuel Kant, and Descartes for helping me come up with some of these ideas.

 

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Phil’s Day Off

Does a god exist? Can it be proven? These are the questions which I’ve been looking into, and what I attempted to answer for my Phil’s day off. Last Sunday, I went to my local church, to find some people who could potentially add some insight, or challenge the arguments provided by Descartes. Not being religious myself, the goal was to find some new points of view, from people who already believe in God’s existence, and find out if and how that affects their stance on the argument. I was also curious to after hearing Descartes, what they thought of the argument proposed by Kant or Sartes.

To refresh, Descartes came up with the initial argument being,

  1. I have an idea of a perfect God
  2. Perfection requires existence
  3. The perfect god exists

This argument rests on the idea that something cannot come from nothing. Based on that, just the idea of a perfect God that we are conceiving, is an idea that we could not have created ourselves, but placed in us by something just as perfect. Additionally, one character of this perfection, must be existent, arguing one cannot be perfect and non-existent (then it would not be perfect). Therefore proving something perfect(a God) exists.

Kant refutes this argument, by challenging the factual correctness of the second point. Kant argues that existence isn’t a characteristic of one thing, but a ‘state’ where it is either present or not present in the physical world. He gives an example of two boxes, and gives a list of descriptions for each: tall, red, soft. One now has the idea of two boxes, which comparatively or equal. Now, he states one exists and one doesn’t. The idea of these two boxes are still the same, and Kant uses this reasoning to show how existence is not a distinctive characteristic of an object, because whether or not it exists does not change the idea of the object. This logic contradicts the idea of existence being a necessary trait of perfection, and challenges Descarte’s theory.

Sartes also challenges Descartes, but in a different way than Kant. Sartes challenges one of the assumptions that Descartes’ argument is built on, which is the idea that essence comes before existence. Sartes argues that humans have inherit identity or purpose, and through experience and consciousness, humans create their own meaning of life and values.

Alvin, a recent graduate from SFU, was the only person willing to talk.  After explaining each philosopher’s position, Alvin’s initial reaction was of complete confusion. Despite that, after some further consideration, he found himself accepting Descartes(or not accepting the other two). His reasoning came from the fact there are some ideas that humans are innately born with, like a sense of morality or knowing 1+1=2. Because of this, Alvin believes that essence precedes existence (Like how the idea of a tool that we want comes before the actual tool). He also didn’t fully agree with Kant, saying that there is a intangible difference between two things that exists and doesn’t exist. Afterwards, when I asked for any other thoughts he had about this topics, he said that despite the fact that Descartes made the most sense to him, at the end of the day no one can say with certainty of the existence of a God, nor recognize if it did exist. At the end of the day, it is about one’s belief that determines the truth for that person.

This was an interesting idea that I never empathized with before. For my whole life, I defined the truth as an objective view of the world, that cannot be argued with. An  unchanging constant. No one could dispute 2+2=4, or the fact that the apple WILL  fall if dropped. However, Alvin suggests the idea of the truth becoming subjective. Subjective truth: is that possible? When does truth become belief?  Anyways, by pointing some of the holes in both arguments, the only truth I can logically deduce is that we cannot objectively prove God’s existence/nonexistence.

 

 

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Eric post-discussion- higher being


Last Friday, I had the opportunity to share my thoughts on the ontological argument behind gods existence, with other classmates with similar questions. Each person also brought some ideas and questions they have pursued. Some of the big ideas they brought talked about if morality could exist by itself , the purpose behind religion, whether AI was possible, and the idea of free will.

Many of our questions had an overarching theme, or relied upon knowing whether a “higher perfect being” exists or not, and what the implications are if it does exist. Trying to discuss in the most logical manner, we began our conversation with Descartes’ syllogism to prove god existed.

  1. I have an idea of supremely perfect being, i.e. a being having all perfections.
  2. Perfection includes existence.
  3. Therefore, a supremely perfect being exists.

From this we did our best to find which parts of this argument could be challenged.

Our first discussion was about the idea of perfection: how do we, as humans who are “imperfect” possible fathom a thing or being that can be “perfect”. Does perfect mean it would be free of all flaws, or just those known to humans? We label the word “perfect” on God because that is what we believe it should be, but perfect isn’t as tangible a characteristic like tall or red or kind. Perfection implies many attributes, such as kindness, benevolence, and forgiveness, which we have can think because we see it in humans. But perfection also includes all-knowing and morally correct. How can humans know what all-knowing entails, or what morally correct looks like? We can’t. These are words that are used to represent things that we can’t comprehend, and therefore can’t prove we know.

The next point was about premise two: Premise includes existence. This basically meant that part of being a perfect being, involves existence. Is this true? Again this comes to our first topic about our unclear definition of perfect, and whether it involves existence. But let’s say we had the idea of perfect being. Does the idea of a perfect being prove the perfect being exists, or just the idea? Can we create the idea of a perfect being and it not exist? Why is necessary existence included into an attribute of perfection?

These are some of the questions that I took with me, alongside some more research I did, into my Phil’s day off, which I will talk about in my next blog post. Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

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A God exists (?) -Eric

Does a God exist? I have always gone under the assumption that the existence of a God could never be proven, and then here comes Descartes challenging everything I ever thought, again. The whole topic of Descartes, metaphysics and existence has been interesting, yet extremely confusing and infuriating at the same time. How can anyone prove a god exists? In Descartes’ Meditations 3 and 5, he comes up two different logical argument proving the existence of God. Here they are from Mediation 3 and 5, respectively (summarized by Wikipedia) .

  1. Something cannot come from nothing.
  2. The cause of an idea must have at least as much formal reality as the idea has objective reality.
  3. I have in me an idea of God. This idea has infinite objective reality.
  4. I cannot be the cause of this idea, since I am not an infinite and perfect being. I don’t have enough formal reality. Only an infinite and perfect being could cause such an idea.
  5. So God — a being with infinite formal reality — must exist (and be the source of my idea of God).
  6. An absolutely perfect being is a good, benevolent being.
  7. So God is benevolent…
  8. So God would not deceive me, and would not permit me to err without giving me a way to correct my errors.
  1. God is defined as an infinitely perfect being.
  2. Perfection includes existence.
  3. So God exists.

This has  got me thinking, looking for any holes in Descartes carefully constructed Mediations. I don’t really expect to find any gaps or flaws in Descartes work, whose logic has held up for centuries. However I still plan to try and challenge his arguments, and understand(or disprove) how Descartes managed to answer a question which I have always thought was unanswerable.

What is Formal/Objective Reality?

Formal reality is basically a scale of an object’s reality/existence. Some objects are more real than others. Objects(dogs) are more real than properties (redness). God, if he exists, has the highest formal reality.

Objective reality is only possessed by representations of objects, or when one object represents another object. (An idea of something). And the amount of objective reality something has, is based on the formal reality of the object which it represents, if it was to exist. (The objective reality of the idea of a dog, would be the same as the formal reality of a dog, if it hypothetically existed.)

Can something of “medium” formal reality (like humans) even fathom, or determine something “more real”? What do we mean by the ‘highest’ formal reality? Can we even describe that?

How are ideas caused/created?

It seems obvious that all things must have come from something else. But does this also apply to ideas? Who/what can create ideas? Can things create ideas that have more objective reality, than formal reality of the creator?

What is Essence vs Existence? (Does the essence of God exist, or does God exist?)

These are some of the questions I have came to, and the areas I plan to research and explore further. Thanks for reading.

 

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Eric- Philosophy is Fishing

fishing

Diagram based off in-class presentation

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

By

ERIC – DOL1

The first two weeks of philosophy has been quite interesting. This class is unique from any other class in how it is run, and it is an refreshing change from the “teacher gives notes and student studies them” approach. So far we have looked into several topics, including the purpose of education, what it means to love wisdom, and the importance of conversation in philosophy. These topics have generated more questions than answers, which is a little frustrating, but it has made me understand that philosophy does not always have an ‘answer key’ hidden somewhere, and many questions will never have just one right answer.

The article “Talk with me” discusses about how philosophy isn’t about finding answers in solitude, only collecting what yourself knows. Instead, it discusses how important it is to discuss and share viewpoints with others. I found myself agreeing to pretty much the entire article. One line that stuck with me was “philosophy is a subject that weighs positions, not just airs them.” I think this is very important because it changes the discussion from simply sharing opinions, to critiquing and challenging perspectives. This pushes myself and others to improve their arguments, in a search to find how “things really are”.

We also spent some time discussing what philosophy (‘to love wisdom’) really meant. Many of us have a pretty clear handle on what is love. It is not only an primal attraction, but a dedication and care for something (or someone). Wisdom however, was harder to define. I believe wisdom, is experience, something that cannot be found in books or online. I believe wisdom is  Knowledge may be about learning facts, but I believe learning how to apply knowledge to the real world is wisdom.

This leads into some of my goals for this course. My first goal is to partake in interesting, thought-provoking discussions/debates with my peers. I want to avoid the ‘my opinion vs yours’ type conversations and be able to critique others’ arguments as well as take in criticism, to further my understanding about these large philosophical ideas. I hope these conversations will lead into another goal of mine, which is to form my own philosophical opinions about different topics, based on my own set of values and morals. Without being knowledgeable, it is impossible for me to establish my own views on topics. Through some of the knowledge I gain from the course, I hope to gain a better understanding of where I stand on certain issues, especially around the topics that intrigue me most, which are logic and ethics.

 

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eric- what’s wrong with bill c-16

A psychology professor at the University of Toronto, Jordan Peterson, has recently been catching a lot of people’s attention. In his video lecture, Peterson describes his fears of  Bill C-16 and political correctness in society. He also makes it clear that he would not address others using gender-netural pronouns, as it infringes on his freedom of speech, even after the U of T administration sent him a letter to use and respect pronouns, or face legal trouble with the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Bill C-16 has recently passed the second reading in the House of Commons, and is very likely to pass into federal legislation. If so, the bill would prevent discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression as well as prevent hate propaganda or hate speech based on gender identity/gender expression.

Peterson describes the bill as “too loosely written” and “ideological motivated legislation”, making it very dangerous for a multitude of reasons (addressed in his lecture). One of his main points is the obstruction to freedom of speech, which I will analyze the logic behind his argument.

Premise: Bill C-16 prohibits hate speech/propaganda based on gender identity/expression.

Premise: Saying (or not saying) terms or ideas that target others based on gender identity/expression will be prohibited by law.

Conclusion: Bill C-16 prohibits one’s freedom of speech

To test the soundness of Peterson’s argument, each of his premises and conclusion will be broken down individually, and check how factually correct and valid his argument is.

 

 

Premise: Bill C-16 prohibits hate speech/propaganda based on gender identity/expression.

The proposed Bill C-16 will add “gender identity and gender expression” into hate speech laws. This is true.

Premise: Saying (or not saying) terms or ideas that target others based on gender identity/expression will be prohibited by law.

This is where things become difficult to assess. Of course this is not the first law which restricts freedom of speech. There are lots of things one cannot say (yelling ‘fire’ in a crowd). However, this is the first time where one is legally forced to speak (instead of refrain to speak) with specific vocabulary. Peterson sees this as a

U of T has already informed Peterson that he must use gender-neutral pronouns, or else it would be discrimination according to the Ontario Human Rights code. From that, one could infer that not using proper pronouns will also count for discrimination under the new legislation. This will make it mandatory for one to only say words(pronouns,gender terms)  which other people will decide are acceptable to use. An idea contrary to freedom of speech, where one is entitled to use language as they want. Is also not farfetched that any speech criticizing the social construction of gender identity, will be deemed as hate speech. Of course that is just hypothesis, but with the vague wording of the bill, it is not unreasonable to think any ideas opposing the current construct of gender will be discouraged or even banned. Because I cannot read the future, or know exactly how this legislation will be applied to society, it is impossible for me to deem this as true, but it is very probable.

 

So even though Peterson’s logic is valid, his argument cannot be completely factual correct, based on the fact that it is impossible top prove the second premise to be 100% correct, which jeopardizes the soundness of the argument. Although Peterson can not be fully sound in his argument, I believe he carries some very genuine, realistic arguments. What I find crazy is that the bill makes the presumption that there are more than two genders, even without conclusive evidence for or against it. I, like many people see gender as binary, and others see it as a spectrum. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that and everyone should be able to think what they want. However, when legislation is created which will prohibit the critique or opposition to an idea, and force everyone to use the vocabulary of one ideological group, I cannot see that as healthy. Peterson points out,we compose ideas through words, and in a strange way, Orwell’s 1984 shows how devastating it can be to society when restrictions are put on language.

This whole argument also ties into the idea of political correctness, which is another can of worms which I’ll probably open another time.

 

 

SOURCES:
Mississauga.com

The Globe and Mail

The Varsity

CBC

The Hill (written by Peterson)

 

 

By

Eric-teenage plato

Since we were young,my three best friends and I always thought that everyone just went to university after high school, and as we got older, we stuck with the idea of pursuing post-secondary education. However, we never worried about the logistics and requirements to get into university, all under the assumption we would get in to our desired schools, no matter what.

Over the last few years, family and friends have stressed the importance of getting into a good university, and doing everything possible to guarantee a spot. To them, acceptance to university was the first priority, and from grade nine it was clear what was expected of me. There was an emphasis to do well in all my academics, making sure I got the top marks, even in classes I had no real interest in. Good grades = good schools. In the end, I accepted that if this is what I needed to be an engineer, I was willing to do it.

I also remember conversations with my friends in grade nine. Each of the three wanted to do something different, all involving post-secondary. One also wanted to study engineering, another business, and the other architecture. They would see themselves in 10 years living their dream job, in a beautiful house; but in reality it might just be a dream. To quote Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” All three have continued to coast through school, without too much attention on grades or extra-curriculars. They are still keen to go to university, but over their three years they have not put out their best effort, making it harder on themselves when it’s time for applications.

To me and friends, Plato’s cave is an allegory about our teenage lives right now, and outside is the ‘adult world’ and post-secondary. A world us four have yet to explore, but one I have heard many stories about. I prepare myself for the day I am freed, where I hope my preparation helps me learn and succeed in what I do. Of course, I want this for all of my friends. I want to be able to inform them of the stories I have heard, and what it takes to not just survive, but thrive out there. Besides, if I had any knowledge of what was outside the cave, isn’t it my duty to explain it to the others in the cave? But in the end, the three are more comfortable living day by day, uninterested in planning for the future. I try to convince them time after time, but they don’t act out of laziness or a lack of care. I hope they have not taken the cave for granted; there is ample amounts of food, shelter, and care when we are teenagers. Unfortunately, we will all be leaving the cave one day, and all I can hope is that we will all find happiness wherever we end up.

 
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