Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Ayyysthetic Experience

optimistic ocean – heather maskell

pessimistic skyline – heather maskell

So I found this assignment to be a little strange. I was stumped by the idea of being asked to have an aesthetic experience worth noting. In all honesty, this is not an experience from over the break because nothing beautiful baffled me within that two week window. These paintings attempt to convey some thoughts of mine produced by a memory from a while back.

When I was a little girl, I thought ferries was spelt fairies, just like the little people with wings and magic dust. So, being on a ferry (and being too tired to form sensible/rational thoughts,) I wondered if somehow people had mixed the two up. Like people were so enthralled with the idea of a ferry and its wonderful powers of transportation that they passed on the word of fairies and their magic-like ways of soaring over the sea, and all fact and truth was lost in recounting. This thought made sense to me not only because I was exhausted and hardly a person yet, but because people in my day and age had come to the conclusion that the ‘fairy’ fabrication from these stories was a myth. (The existence of fairies was my version of the “is Santa real?” question, as my brother spoiled that one for me when I was not yet 3.) So I contemplated this for a while, whether or not as The Story of the Majestic Fairies was passed from person to person, people wagered with the idea, and decided that fairies must be small to be able to soar, or else their wings wouldn’t be able to support their weight. Or that to be able to perform magic in a way that would really impress people, you’d have to be able to rationalize, so a fairy is probably a person- a tiny person, with wings and magic!!! Don’t ask me where the dust came from, I was like 6, I wasn’t thorough.

Gazing past the railing in awe at a skyline surrounded with endless ocean is where my 6 year old mind must have gotten distracted by other pressing matters such as ice-cream or napping, because the memory of that specific thought ends there.

Over the break I did, however, think on this memory (luckily, because I would’t have a project otherwise.) I thought about how if you can see two completely different things as being the same, then can you have two completely contrasting perspectives of one thing? It didn’t take me long to conclude that yes, you can, even if both perspectives reside in one mind.

I’m going to bestow the title of Aesthetic Fire-Starter upon the skyline / ocean view from that confusing day in my sixth year of life. I do hope you enjoy my pretentious wording. For that movie-like end scene to my memory sparked a whole new realm of thought that could (somewhat) honestly fill a dozen pages of this blog, but if I did that, nobody would read my sad (not-so-) little post. I decided to convey two possible perspectives of the skyline. To a (non) person of my age at the time, the optimistic ocean painting is likely to be more similar to their perspective of that view. Not as concerned with the accuracy of the skyline, but more curious about the wonders of the ocean that they have read about in storybooks under blankets by the glow of a flashlight. Even on a day with cloudy white skies, a child with a functioning imagination and set of eyes would see the colour in this view, even in the nonliteral sense. A child of that age has only seen the ocean so many times, and doesn’t take it for granted like adults do. (S)He wonders how many fish and whales and dolphins and sharks and jellyfish swim beneath them. (S)He probably sees more because less rubbish has clouded their perspective of it as almost inevitably happens to many adults.

The pessimistic skyline painting represents the image that might form behind the dull eyes of a worn out businessman on the same ferry. He’s too busy thinking about how late he’s going to be to his meeting and how he’ll miss the train due to the 10 minute delay at the terminal. He’s stressing about the 10,000 emails he’s going to have to respond to as soon as he has Wi-Fi again. When he walks through the double doors onto the deck for some fresh air and glances around him, he vaguely notices some buildings in the distance, past the white railing. He thinks for a minute about the people in those buildings and is immediately both jealous of and sorry for them. Jealous because those are the kind of important building he’d like to work in, but sorry for them because he knows they worked as hard as he works, if not harder and for longer, and beings to worry about if anything’s worth it. He is ultimately unhappy with his position in his life. He gleans very little joy from his day, probably because he’s always tired because of work. He wants to quit but has to pay the bills somehow. He has momentary clarity regarding the pointlessness of his work, and overall life. He’ll work 20 years more to work in a slightly better setting to work really hard to be accepted and recognized there, and then work some more, and he’ll continue to work until he retires, at which point he’ll be far too old to feel free from the shackles of his responsibilities, because these responsibilities will be replaced with new ones. He decides to move on from these depressing thoughts onto something different, realizing he may be being far too heavy for a blog. He looks to the heavens for an answer, only to realize that the sky is simply cloudy, and holds no answers. He lets out a sigh, and bets to himself that it will rain.

ANYWAYS, I hope you see the picture I’m painting (no, not those,) and the point I’m making. Consult your doctor for the antidepressant that’s right for you! Hope you like the pictures, bye.





You roll over in bed and blink. Things slowly start to come into focus you see the light from the hall creeping under your door. You sit up and stretch and feel the familiar grumble of your empty stomach. You inhale deeply and sigh. Moments later it hits you. Your eyes widen and nostrils flare. You stand up abruptly and race to the door, throwing it open, ignoring the head-rush. Your feet pound across the cold hardwood floor as you make your way to the kitchen. You hesitate at the door, peering around the corner to find the culprit. There stands your mother fully clad in morning attire, pink house coat and fuzzy slippers with a messy bun to match, standing over the stove, armed with a spatula, fat sizzling and spitting up at her, cooking bacon.

Cooking this guy.


You are obviously outraged. How could the woman who bore you, taught you to speak, picked you up when you fell down, make such an unethical decision? “WHO ARE YOU?!” you scream. “I WANT A NEW MOTHER!”

Okay maybe you overreacted, but you are an educated, informed individual. You understand the implications of bacon and you will not stand idly by and watch this injustice take place in your own house.

Here’s the first half of my argument.


If your guilty conscious can withstand this blow then you deserve some bacon. But don’t stuff your face yet!

The second half of my argument is a little more relevant. NOT THAT THAT FACE IS IRRELEVANT BECAUSE IT IS NOT. There’s a lot you probably don’t know about bacon’s original form. Pigs are the 4th smartest animal (excluding humans.) They are only outranked by elephants, dolphins and chimps (and humans.) They learn as quickly as chimps. They can recognize their own name within only a week of being born. Guess how long it takes a human baby.


HALF A YEAR. And their names are probably called a lot more than these piglets, so consider those implications. They continue exceed the capability of any 3 year old child, and most toddlers speak by then. They are far more intelligent than your cat or dog, too.They can recognize and remember up to 30 other pigs. They’ve done countless studies that show that pigs are also very social creatures. They did things like show one pig where a food stash was and they observed that this pig would always share this information with the group instead of being “a geeedy little piggy” and chowing down solo. They can also learn how to play videogames using their snout to operate the joystick. I THINK THAT AS A RULE WE SHOULD NOT EAT THINGS THAT CAN SUCCESSFULLY PLAY PACMAN.



Philosophical Theory

In the first class discussion, Psychological Zombies and Ignorance, we dipped our toes into a pond of philosophical thought about life and what’s really going on. We started with the theory that you (or I, but not both) are the only conscious mind in existence and everyone else is just a psychological zombie, or rather an empty shell of a person with no real life or personality, but they are computer programs designed to respond to you in a way that makes it seem as though they do.  Another aforementioned theory was that we are all currently living the replay of our lives that supposedly occurs when we die, and that when we die in this replay there will be another replay and we will relive our lives infinitely. This theory is rather unsettling to some people because of the evident lack of choice and free will in any life other than your first. We also explored the idea that we are all in a coma and that this life is a complete fabrication and nothing more than a complex dream that we will all inevitably forget when we wake up. This, too, is unsettling because of the seemingly important relationships and bonds we have with the people in our current lives.

I started researching other theories because in class we agreed that knowledge is perception, and if that can go both ways, then in gaining perception, I’ll be gaining knowledge. (And so will you ‘cause you’re reading this.) So I came across this site called ‘shroomery.’ I know, sounds pretty legit, right? But somebody  posted a short-story that expresses exactly the sort of theory I want to explore and share. I would link it but I feel like most of you won’t actually go and read it, and will just gather the gist from my summary so here it is.

This is a theory of life put into a story by Andy Weir.

You were on your way home when you died.
It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail. Your body was so utterly shattered you were better off, trust me. And that’s when you met me.
“What… what happened?” You asked. “Where am I?”
“You died,” I said, matter-of-factly. No point in mincing words.
“There was a… a truck and it was skidding…”
“Yes,” I said.
“I… I died?”
“Yes. But don’t feel bad about it. Everyone dies,” I said.
You looked around. There was nothingness. Just you and me. “What is this place?” You asked. “Is this the afterlife?”
“More or less,” I said.
“Are you god?” You asked.
“Yes,” I replied. “I’m God.”
“My kids… my wife,” you said.
“What about them?”
“Will they be all right?”
“That’s what I like to see,” I said. “You just died and your main concern is for your family. That’s good stuff right there.”

You looked at me with fascination. To you, I didn’t look like God. I just looked like some man. Or possibly a woman. Some vague authority figure, maybe. More of a grammar school teacher than the almighty.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “They’ll be fine. Your kids will remember you as perfect in every way. They didn’t have time to grow contempt for you. Your wife will cry on the outside, but will be secretly relieved. To be fair, your marriage was falling apart. If it’s any consolation, she’ll feel very guilty for feeling relieved.”
“Oh,” you said. “So what happens now? Do I go to heaven or hell or something?”
“Neither,” I said. “You’ll be reincarnated.”
“Ah,” you said. “So the Hindus were right,”
“All religions are right in their own way,” I said. “Walk with me.”
You followed along as we strode through the void. “Where are we going?”
“Nowhere in particular,” I said. “It’s just nice to walk while we talk.”
“So what’s the point, then?” You asked. “When I get reborn, I’ll just be a blank slate, right? A baby. So all my experiences and everything I did in this life won’t matter.”
“Not so!” I said. “You have within you all the knowledge and experiences of all your past lives. You just don’t remember them right now.”
I stopped walking and took you by the shoulders. “Your soul is more magnificent, beautiful, and gigantic than you can possibly imagine. A human mind can only contain a tiny fraction of what you are. It’s like sticking your finger in a glass of water to see if it’s hot or cold. You put a tiny part of yourself into the vessel, and when you bring it back out, you’ve gained all the experiences it had.
“You’ve been in a human for the last 48 years, so you haven’t stretched out yet and felt the rest of your immense consciousness. If we hung out here for long enough, you’d start remembering everything. But there’s no point to doing that between each life.”
“How many times have I been reincarnated, then?”
“Oh lots. Lots and lots. An in to lots of different lives.” I said. “This time around, you’ll be a Chinese peasant girl in 540 AD.”
“Wait, what?” You stammered. “You’re sending me back in time?”
“Well, I guess technically. Time, as you know it, only exists in your universe. Things are different where I come from.”
“Where you come from?” You said.
“Oh sure,” I explained “I come from somewhere. Somewhere else. And there are others like me. I know you’ll want to know what it’s like there, but honestly you wouldn’t understand.”
“Oh,” you said, a little let down. “But wait. If I get reincarnated to other places in time, I could have interacted with myself at some point.”
“Sure. Happens all the time. And with both lives only aware of their own lifespan you don’t even know it’s happening.”
“So what’s the point of it all?”
“Seriously?” I asked. “Seriously? You’re asking me for the meaning of life? Isn’t that a little stereotypical?”
“Well it’s a reasonable question,” you persisted.
I looked you in the eye. “The meaning of life, the reason I made this whole universe, is for you to mature.”
“You mean mankind? You want us to mature?”
“No, just you. I made this whole universe for you. With each new life you grow and mature and become a larger and greater intellect.”
“Just me? What about everyone else?”
“There is no one else,” I said. “In this universe, there’s just you and me.”
You stared blankly at me. “But all the people on earth…”
“All you. Different incarnations of you.”
“Wait. I’m everyone!?”
“Now you’re getting it,” I said, with a congratulatory slap on the back.
“I’m every human being who ever lived?”
“Or who will ever live, yes.”
“I’m Abraham Lincoln?”
“And you’re John Wilkes Booth, too,” I added.
“I’m Hitler?” You said, appalled.
“And you’re the millions he killed.”
“I’m Jesus?”
“And you’re everyone who followed him.”

You fell silent.

“Every time you victimized someone,” I said, “you were victimizing yourself. Every act of kindness you’ve done, you’ve done to yourself. Every happy and sad moment ever experienced by any human was, or will be, experienced by you.”

You thought for a long time.

“Why?” You asked me. “Why do all this?”
“Because someday, you will become like me. Because that’s what you are. You’re one of my kind. You’re my child.”
“Whoa,” you said, incredulous. “You mean I’m a god?”

“No. Not yet. You’re a fetus. You’re still growing. Once you’ve lived every human life throughout all time, you will have grown enough to be born.”
“So the whole universe,” you said, “it’s just…”
“An egg.” I answered. “Now it’s time for you to move on to your next life.”

And I sent you on your way.http://www.viceland.com/blogs/en/files/2009/12/cracked-egg-in-univese.jpg


Another theory I read about which relates to this story is called Eternalism. It specifically relates to when it says, “This time around, you’ll be a Chinese peasant girl in 540 AD.”
“Wait, what?” You stammered. “You’re sending me back in time?”
“Well, I guess technically. Time, as you know it, only exists in your universe. Things are different where I come from.”

Eternalists believe that time is not linear. They believe time has many layers, and that these layers all exist simultaneously. However, the layer seen by a particular observer (like the one you see right now where you are scrolling through my post) depends on where you are positioned. So everything really exists all at once, but you can observe only your screen right now because that is the certain point which you are at. This is another unsettling theory beacuse it steals our illusion of free-will and ‘endless possibilites.’

Either way, we all know the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42, so we had might as well stop looking.



Heather 2013


Introduction to Philosophical Inquiry – What is Philosophy

Logic – Unworthy CelebritiesHershel’s LogicPiper’s Logic

Scientific Philosophy – Instrumentalism

Metaphysics – ConfuciusPhil’s Day Off Object



Phils Day Off Object – Heather

My group consisted of Socretes, Plato, Aristotle, and Confucius. My philosopher, Confucius was very much an outsider considering Socretes taught Plato who taught Aristotle, and meanwhile Confucius was buried in China and had been for a century. However, gathering from the discussion my group had, the philosophical findings of Confucius relate to Socretes and Plato, but not so much to Aristotle. Although one could argue that Plato taught Aristotle, so his views may have been passed down, Aristotle’s views on reality were all about movement and its importance in physics and other sciences. The other three philosophers all concluded similarly in that reality is somehow dependant on relationships. Scientists have done enough studies to know that when we lose social connectivity within our lives, sooner or later, to some degree, we lose our minds. Cabin Fever being the first and foremost in my mind. It seems that socialization is the anchor to reality, and once that anchor is pulled up, we float through a fabricated, abstract personal reality.

My Painting

For Phil’s Day Off, I painted a picture of a lake with a hillside in the background. I decided to paint because I think more freely when I’m painting. Maybe because I know I won’t be doing anything else until I’m finished, or maybe because I’m calm and focused. Either way, I found it easy to ponder Confucian philosophies. The problem was, whenever I’d come to any conclusions, I couldn’t stop and write it down, because that would have disrupted my paint process. So I don’t remember all of my theories and whatnot. However, in finishing my painting I remember thinking that if I was Confucius, this painting may have expressed my idea of harmony. In my post about Confucius, I explained it a little more, but Confucian belief follows 5 basic relationships and the idea that if the roles of each relationship are executed correctly, the world will be harmonious. In this painting, you see a calm lake, (representing a satisfied, peaceful society) surrounded by looming mountains, (representing government) on which live a forest (representing another complicated, yet thriving ecosystem / society) and a cloudy blue sky and barren grey rock face (representing balance.) My group’s statement was something along the lines of how “good” can be shown through your relationships. I suppose the contradictory side of the coin would have to be that “bad” can also be shown.



Confucius – Heather


Confucius was a Chinese philosopher that lived about 5 centuries BC. He is arguably one of the most influencial philosophers of all time and his philosophies still have a huge impact on Chinese culture and even (more subtly) the rest of the world. His teachings primarily surround behavioural studies and therefore relationships. Confucian teachings base themselves on five basic relationships, as follows:

1) Ruler to Subject
2) Father to Son
3) Elder Brother to Younger Brother
4) Husband to Wife
5) Friend to Friend

Apparently in all his years he didn’t seem to have time to consider women’s relationships, except that of the wife and husband. In each of these relationships, everyone has their own “role” and responsibilities to play out. He believed that if all of these roles and responsibilities were upheld as he depicted, society would be harmonious, and that it is therefore the violation of these roles that makes society unharmonious. Although not every relationship is equal, some are similar in certain aspects. For example in both relationships 3 and 4, Filial Piety is of great importance. (Filial Piety being loyalty to the family and to the male head of the household.) This philosophy still stands to some degree (varying by household and probably social class) in Chinese culture today.  But the father has responsibilities as well. This relationship would be unharmonious if he did not. According to confucian belief, the father is bound by the responsibility to be fair and act in the best interest of the family, not just himself. However, Confucius believed strongly in “superiority of personal exemplification over explicit rules of behaviour.” So even though the structures of specific relationships are very important, it is more important to be an A+ person, and in that, to not only follow the strict guidelines of each relationship because that’s what society deems to be the right thing to do, but to do so because you see the sense in Confucianism and the path to harmony on an individual scale with a “one raindrop raises the sea” mentality.


Confucius coined the Golden Rule, but it didn’t translate as smoothly as we’ve made it today. His words were more similar to, “What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.”



Instrumentalism – Heather & Andrea

Click image to view Prezi.



Piper’s Logic

“I am in here because I am no different from anybody else in here. I made bad choices, I committed a crime, and being in here is no one’s fault but my own.”http://tv-series.me/orange-is-the-new-black-s1e6-wac-pack/

Skip to 6:00

if jails are for bad guys

and I am in jail

then I am a bad guy

Sentential logic for which we were not provided forms, therefore I cannot testify to its validity or soundness. Also, one could argue that it is not factually correct because judges and juries can come to the wrong verdict and send innocent people to jail. However, I like this argument because I can stage it that way, as well as this way:

If I am a bad guy

and I am in jail

then jails are for bad guys

I’m really fuzzy on sentential logic and inductive/deductive logic, but I think this shows all three.

This logic came from Piper wanting her mum to stop talking about her as separate from the rest of the prisoners. She needed her to realize that some of the other women’s crimes were petty or committed with good intentions, and that she was either equal to or worse than them. Socially, this may change our perspective on convicts. Not everyone in a jail has committed some horrible murder and raped a dozen children. Some may have done no more than carrying a suitcase of drug money for their girlfriend one time. However they all end up in the same fish bowl and you could just as easily end up in there with them for some small bad decision.



Hershel’s Logic

In The Walking Dead, *SPOILERS* for those of you who don’t watch (morons), a group of survivors meet up with another group of survivors who live on a farm. They agree to let them stay, so long as they keep out of their personal affairs. It soon becomes evident that something weird is going down in the farm family’s barn. The newcomers eventually have enough of guessing, and bust open the doors. They find out that they were keeping infected family members in the barn, because the man of the house was determined that someone would find a cure.

Only the first 25 seconds are relevant.


All zombies are sick

All sick are still alive

/ All zombies are still alive


All X are Y

All Y are Z

/ All X are Z


He argued that zombies were not dead, they were sick. Although I may have paraphrased, the remainder of his implied logic would be as follows, all sick are not yet dead, and therefore zombies are still alive. This form, f1, is valid. Because zombies is X, sick is Y, and Z is alive. The premises, however, depend on opinion and perspective. Hershel’s opinion can be dismissed as grieving and denial, but at first glance, they really do seem alive. Walking and eating are things that dead things cannot do. They actually uphold many of the 7 characteristics of life, but they do not reproduce and they do not grow. In the eyes of a biologist, zombies are most certainly not alive. Therefore I will conclude that the premises are not factually correct, even though zombies are (as of now) fictitious. Being that the premises are not factually correct, the argument is not sound.

That seemed to be the conclusion of the newcomers, and they shot the crap out of all those zombies. (It was an awesome episode)

Hershel’s argument’s logic comes from a place of misunderstanding and desperation. He had no contact with the outside world and didn’t really know how bad it was until Rick & the gang showed up. Although I admire the efforts he went to to wait it out for a cure for them, it was dangerous for everyone & they should have realized that sooner. The barn would have been a great place of refuge for Andrea when she got straight ditched.

It doesn’t have any real effect considering it is entirely fictitious (for now) however, if we do one day have a zombie apocalypse, people who may have previously had this opinion of walkers might realize that they’re being a Hershel and that they should just clear the storage.




Unworthy Celebrities

all celebrities are talented, spoiled, or lucky people

some celebrities are unworthy

some talented, spoiled or lucky people are unworthy

f2) all X are Y

some X are Z

/ some Y are Z

My brother and I were discussing today’s disappointing array of celebrities. First, we discussed how they became celebrities (aka their x-factors), then we discussed how unfortunate their popularity is (in our opinion) and I came full circle with the concluding argument.

This argument is both valid and potentially true, and therefore it is sound. This argument’s logic comes from the fact that the x’s, y’s and z’s are all in their correct location and that the premises and the conclusion is true.

It’s effects are social more than anything because this argument is potentially offensive to those invested in pop-culture. However, nobody likes every single celebrity, and it isn’t targeting anyone specifically.