Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

By

Communication, Experience, and Why 400m Hurdles Suck

Knowledge is among the most important areas of philosophy and yet philosophers are still not able to produce a generally accepted analysis of knowledge. Our midterm asks us to identify something we know about knowledge and since, after the many years knowledge has been analyzed, there is still many correct ways to view knowledge, I will share how I view it. I tend to lean towards an empirical view on knowledge – one where knowledge is primarily based on experience. With that in mind – this is how I believe we gain knowledge:

Proposition:

Knowledge is created through the communication of our experiences.

Syllogism:

  • If communication is influenced by our experiences,
  • And if experiences are shaped by our communication,
  • And if knowledge is our interpretation of our experiences,
  • Then communication and experiences allow us to gain knowledge

Evaluating premise 1: Communication is influenced by our experiences

Since we were born, we have been learning to communicate by other people and things around us. We spend the first years of our lives building the foundation of our communication, as we absorb what we hear and see. We watch how our parents and other people communicate and react to their surroundings. Humans communicate through verbal and non-verbal actions – talking and body language. When children try to speak, that is them recreating the sounds they have heard around them. When children smile or frown, that is them recreating the expressions they’ve seen people make. Humans learn socially and through trial and error. Experiencing making mistakes when speaking and making mistakes when using body language help us develop these communication skills. Although we may know how to move and cry before seeing/experiencing someone doing those things – it is only because they are things humans are preprogrammed with. What we do experience is other people reacting to our signals of distress and we learn to communicate with them by their actions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evaluating premise 2: Experiences are shaped by our communication

Think about it – speech, language, and communication play a vital role in our lives. Our ability to communicate help us learn, form social relationships, express feelings, and participate in everyday activities. We’re able to do so many things because we learn how to communicate as soon as we’re born. Everyday we’re able to come and learn at school because we understand what our teachers are saying. Even when we have no clue what they’re talking about, we know that we can raise our hand and ask questions using our communication skills. This experience we gain by learning in school, from kindergarten – university, help form the rest of our lives (as we have formed relationships with multiple people, helped us get jobs, etc.). Being able to communicate with friends and family in different environments allow us to create experiences. In the future we may not remember what we talked about at that specific place, but we will always have that experience of going to the mall, a concert, someones house, or a track meet (of course I had to include that). Without these communication skills, it would make it hard to form these experiences. We would have trouble talking to people, doing necessary things, travelling, etc.. Our ability to talk to people using language and body language influences our experiences – also limiting them too.

Evaluating premise 3: Knowledge is our interpretation of our experiences

The first two premises concluded that experience is gained through communication and that communication is influenced by our experiences. So how does knowledge fit into this? Since I have an empirical view of knowledge, I think knowledge is based on experience. For example: in honour of winter and the snow let’s say it was -2 degrees Celsius outside – but you didn’t know this. To learn how cold it is outside you could do two things:

  1. You could talk to someone nearby and ask them what the temperature outside is or look it up on google. This is an example of using communication to gain knowledge. By asking a person you use your verbal abilities and by searching it up on the internet you use your non-verbal abilities. And from your experience of being exposed to different temperatures allows you to determine how warm/cold it really is.
  2. You could physically go outside and feel how cold it is. This is an example of using experience to gain knowledge. The process of going outside and reacting to the weather is a way of experiencing the cold temperature.

Of course we learn how to communicate through experiences so technically experience is the main building block of knowledge, but they both contribute to the process of gaining knowledge.

Who (which theories) help you explain this:

I agree with Immanuel Kant in that all knowledge begins with experience and without experience no knowledge takes place as “experience is the initiator of coming to posses knowledge”. And how knowledge starts with our senses and from there we take it further – to understanding and even reason.

also s/o to Mr. J for helping me form my premises with my jumbled ideas

Personal Experience:

So for my personal experiences I’m going to talk about track and field (what a surprise right!!!!). This year was the first year I was able to do 400m hurdles. Let’s just say it didn’t go as well as we hoped. I love the workouts we do in practice because we never do the full 400m with hurdles – like we’ll do multiple 250m hurdles reps at the longest. That may make practice a little better, but it also made my first race a little difficult because I didn’t know how I was going to react to the full 400m and what it was going to feel like. And let’s just say it sucked. 400m hurdles is one of the hardest races and even knowing that before racing didn’t make it any better. You’re probably just waiting for me to stop talking about track and get to the point so here it is: even though I had been told by both my coach and teammate, who races the 400m hurdles, how it was going to physically hurt and it was a mind over matter situation – I didn’t really know what the full 400m with hurdles was actually going to feel like until I experienced it. And this is an example of knowledge through the senses; you don’t really know the full extent/truth about something until you experience it yourself.

ps. for anyone that was wondering the time didn’t end up being terrible but it actually feels like you’re going to die (fun!!!)

 

 

By

Abstract Objects and Metaphysics

Topic:

Abstract objects and metaphysics

Q1: Do numbers exist?

Q2: What are abstract objects?

Q3: Why would ideal forms not exist in space-time? Why would they have to be abstract?


 

I stumbled upon the topic of abstract objects while I was planning to do my research on what numbers are and whether these numbers existed (first question). I began to realize – from my reading – that numbers are a part of the concept of abstract objects (second question). And abstract objects are ideal forms that are mentioned in the third question. So, as I read more and had a deeper understanding of abstract objects, I was able to escalate the complexity and connect each question to one another.

Concrete object: an identifiable collection of matter, which may be more or less constrained by an identifiable boundary, to move together by translation or rotation, in 3-dimensional spaces

Abstract object: an object that does not exist at any particular time or place, but rather exists as a type of thing (such as an idea or abstraction)


 

Q1: Do numbers exist?

Numbers are obviously not something that can be physically manipulated – you can’t just simply pick up a number and throw it around. You can pick up numerals (which are the concrete versions of numbers) and throw them – the printed numerals on receipts, price tags, books etc. – but it isn’t like you’re actually throwing the numbers. Numbers exist as what philosophers call abstract objects.

But you don’t, by virtue of tearing out page three of a book and tossing it out a window, throw the number 3 out the window, any more than you throw me out of a window by drawing a picture of me and throwing that out the window.

Q2: What are abstract objects?

Mathematical objects, chess moves, games, pieces of music, and propositions are all examples of abstract objects. Every chess move we make, circle we draw, or number we write are all ideas/replications of the original move/object. There is only one real idea of the move/object – and it is what we call an abstract object. Every physical version of that move we make or circle we draw or number we write is a concrete imitation. Just like Plato’s theory of forms: when we think of a circle, every drawing we make is an imitation of this circle. This perfect circle we picture and this chess move we have an idea of are abstract objects because they are the basis of what we try to recreate.

We generally think of a chess move as something that exists by virtue of a concrete chess player actually moving a concrete chess piece in accordance with the rules of the game. But that seemingly concrete move can be instantiated in so many concrete ways — you could be replicating someone else’s game on your own chess board, you could make the move on a hundred different boards all at (nearly) the same time, you could make the move in your head before you make it on the board,… and all of these concrete possibilities point to the metaphysical problem here: If you believe there is only one move, and it’s concrete, then which move is the one move? And then what are the other moves? Copies of the move? Or instantiations of the same move?

Q3: Why would ideal forms not exist in space-time? Why would they have to be abstract?

Objects in the real world (space-time) are all imperfect copies of something. They have to be abstract because you could draw a circle or number or make a chess move the same way for a numerous amount of times and then you would have a difficulty picking out the ideal/perfect version from all the copies. So, if we use an abstract version of the move/object – something perfect and outside space-time – we won’t have to choose from all the similar instantiations.

Thinking about geometric objects is perhaps the clearest way to think about abstract objects. A line segment (a true, geometric line segment) is a perfectly straight, one-dimensional object with a determinate length. There are no such objects in space-time. So if there does, somehow, exist a true line segment, it certainly isn’t in the concrete world, and therefore it must be in some sort of abstract realm.


Personal Interest:

When reading the metaphysics package, I found the topic of Plato’s theory of forms (his idea of the perfect circle and never being able to recreate it) to be the most interesting and something I was drawn to. So I thought doing a project related to that would encourage me to do more research and be more interested in the metaphysical side of philosophy.

Reading: 

I found an article (where I got all my quotes from) that broke down abstract objects to a level that was easier to understand: https://welovephilosophy.com/2012/12/17/do-numbers-exist/

Another article that goes into depth about Plato’s theory of the forms and abstract objects is: http://www.iep.utm.edu/plato/#SH6b

Where to next?: 

From here I plan to continue on this topic and I hope to research the side of people who don’t believe in the theory of abstract objects (the nominalist point of view).

 

 

By

Doctors are supposedly trying to kill us – Hana

Conspiracy theories exist all around us. About half of Americans believe in at least one conspiracy theory. I guess it depends on how you’ve been raised to think: whether you search one step further to find a deeper meaning or if you believe everything your textbooks and teachers tell you. Examples of popular conspiracy theories are how George Bush did 9/11, the 1961 Apollo moon landing didn’t happen, Shakespeare didn’t write all those plays, and Princess Diana was killed on purpose. A conspiracy theory that has been circling the internet for a while is the evils of Big Pharma. Big Pharma is the nickname given to the world’s immeasurable and influential pharmaceutical industry. Big Pharma consists of powerful companies that make billions of dollars a year by selling drugs and medical devices. There is lots of speculation around these companies and how they seek profit over the health and well-being of the humans they serve.
The big idea of the theory is Big Pharma knows that if humans are healthy, the healthcare industry does not survive. And with the population believing that they are ill and being told by doctors that they are ill, the healthcare industry will therefore thrive. Doctors are heavily relying on drug companies for information about what they prescribe, they’re becoming ill-informed about what all the interactive drugs are doing to toxically harm their patients. And with all the most commonly prescribed drugs being addictive, Big Pharma, with the help of all their untrained doctors, have turned a large percentage of the human population into drug addicts. We become so physically and psychologically addicted to these artificial substances that are actually so detrimental to our health and well-being. There are also theories that they’re hiding actual cures from us and providing us with only controls for them.

Argument – Big Pharma only care about making money
Premise 1 – Humans take prescription drugs to help our physical and psychological illnesses
Premise 2 – All prescription drugs are prescribed by doctors
Premise 3 – All doctors rely on what Big Pharma companies inform them
Premise 4 – Big Pharma companies don’t care about human well-being and just about their profit
Conclusion – All the prescription drugs humans are taking are harmful
This argument obviously has its flaws. To look at the argument visually, it can be presented like this:

  • Premise 1 is true – we take these prescription drugs to improve our health. Whether they are for psychological or physical improvement our goal as humans is to survive, and since nobody can prove whether the Big Pharma theory is true or false, we therefore take them as we believe they help survival.
  • Premise 2 can be accepted as true because that is who our society has developed to go to when we are ill and who we get our medication from.
  • Premise 3 can be accepted as true because doctors get their prescription pills from these large pharmaceutical companies. Although doctors go through an enormous amount of training in their university career, new prescription drugs are being developed and changed daily and are therefore not in their university training. So instead, doctors rely on these big companies to provide and produce information about their new products.
  •  Premise 4 can be true or false depending on what you think. If you do think Big Pharma is actually conspiring against us, you probably believe this is true. If you think Big Pharma is not evil and these prescription drugs are helping our condition, you probably think they are false.

So depending on your view on this conspiracy theory this may either be factually true or false. From the diagram you can determine that the conclusion is supported by the premises which makes it valid. Ill humans fit into the prescription drug circle because that is what we take to get better, the prescription drug circle fits in the doctors circle because they are who provide us with these prescriptions, doctors fit in the Big Pharma circle because they are the ones who provide doctors with information, and the Big Pharma circle can’t fit in the well-being of humans because they don’t care about it. Therefore none of the prescription drugs ill humans are taking are in the best interest of our well-being. And once again, however you view the theory of Big Pharma determines whether or not you think the argument is also sound (since something can only be sound if it is both valid and factually correct).

I don’t know what to believe when it comes to Big Pharma. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to think that such influential and large companies aren’t being beneficial towards our species. Or maybe it’s just too big of a stretch to think of our pharmaceutical industry like that. My parents are both largely scientifical thinkers and have raised my brothers and I to think like that too. Therefore it is hard for me to believe that something so essential is actually part of the reason that we become and continue to be ill. These theories are mainly made up by conspiracy theorists that spend their lives questioning everything; but if there is some truth in them that is proven it will probably set off a numerous, horrific chain of events.

 

By

Hana’s Realizations

So it’s Sunday night and I already made the great decision of leaving all my homework till now: and unfortunately there is nothing I can do to change that. I’ve been sitting here for a good 30 minutes trying to think about a time where I have recently re-evaluated and changed the ways I see things or popped the stereotypical bubble of many things in life. And guess what? I’ve came up with nothing. Of course there is always the things we were told when we were little “the tooth fairy is real” or “santa is real” or “the easter bunny is real”, but I’m trying to find a time where a whole change in perspective set a series of events in motion. After thinking about the reason I couldn’t come with anything, it dawned on me: what if I can’t think of anything because I haven’t popped that bubble yet? I haven’t questioned the unexplored life I’m settling for. I haven’t evaluated my life with philisophical consideration. I haven’t ever been truly skeptical about what was infront of me. With those thoughts in mind I’m trying my best to come up with things I can reconsider. There are the simple things like why we go to school everyday or why we sink into a daily routine. But the bigger ones I can’t think of because I have no idea what I want to do in the future. I have no idea what career path to take, what university to go to, where I want to live…. just absolutely no clue. And that’s when I thought about it: none of the people in Plato’s cave knew what was to become of their future, and maybe that’s why they never questioned it. They were so settled into their daily routines of watching the figures on the wall (to them they were actual real things) that they didn’t know to question why they were doing this everyday. Maybe if I had some idea of what I wanted to do in the future I would be able to evaluate the things I’m doing now.

What if it this whole paragraph was actually me climbing my way out of the cave. With all my realizations of what Plato’s cave is truly about and what I really need to do to be able to evaluate my life, maybe that is what it took for me to actually explore my life. I figured out I have been settling (and what on), and now I can focus on the important issues and use this as self-improvement for the future.

 

 

By

But actually, what is philosophy? – Hana Tyndall

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing

– Socrates

Nobody really knows anything. How can you determine that you have discovered everything about a subject? Since we are still finding scientific, biological, and even philosophical discoveries today (and most likely continuing to find more in the future) at what point do you decide that we have found everything there is to know about a topic? When someone says they’re an expert on a given subject – the wiser person would admit they don’t actually know that thing. When you think you “know” something it is really just your understanding on the facts and empirical evidence you have gathered on that particular topic.

 

Confused yet? Same. My first two weeks in philosophy were exactly the opposite of what I had in mind. I once thought that philosophy was going to have an easy range of topics that would be mastered fairly quick (oh man its shocking how wrong I was). Philosophy is all about getting you to rethink your whole perspective. It’s all about doubting and going against what you once thought was the right answer. It’s second guessing what you take for granted and understanding why the world functions the way it does today. It’s understanding a deeper meaning to questions and being open to other ideas and opnions. Without philosophy you can’t realize that most of our life is unconscious repetition. With philosophy you become aware of these patterns and are able to thoroughly examine them.

Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate

– Carl Jung

Since I already left these first two weeks confused and with questions hanging, setting goals for the rest of the semester won’t be too hard. Actually achieving them will be the hard part. But I think with every lesson we do and new article we discuss, I will be building skills that help me do so. With that in mind, here are the goals I have set:

  • Be able to vocally express my thoughts
  • Improve the formation of my opinion/perspective
  • Discover the non-analytical side of myself
  • Re-evaluate what is important to me & encounter new ideas
  • Improve vocabulary and awareness/knowldege of topics under discussion

 

I thought the “Talk With Me” article by Nigel Warburton was a good introduction to philosophy. Before reading the article I truly believed philosophy was best discovered when one is in solitary and undisturbed by others. Though this may be true, the philosophers mentioned in this passage all needed someone to critique and collide with their ideas. That’s when I realized philosophy was going to be an eye-opening class where I am going to be challenged and develop new skills daily. From this one passage I have already learned that conversation is king, audible non-verbal aspects humanise philosophy, imagined critics were less forceful than an argument with a real person, and technology can’t provide the same criticism as face to face conversation. I have also learned that the definitions of knowledge and wisdom are often confused (as I have mixed them up myself). Knowledge is what is understood about a subject whereas wisdom is knowing what to do with knowledge (as well as its limits). I’m excited to see what the rest of the – hopefully – successful semester will bring and try to not get too confused by the topics being discussed 🙂

 
css.php