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Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Epistemo(il)logical arguments: Experience & Reason, Truth, Language, Immaterialism, Constructs, and Common knowledge

That thumbnail. Please watch out for the volume on your headphones – there is some loud static when I move the camera around.

This video holds my current views on knowledge ~ where it is, what it is, how we have it. I want to put some thoughts and syllogisms down here as well, as once I was finished recording I realized that not everything had been included despite my best efforts.

  • Thoughts:
    • We can prove that we have knowledge.
      • Knowledge is necessary to predict outcomes
      • We can predict outcomes
      • Therefore, we have knowledge
    • Knowledge is a set of assumptions, beliefs and understandings.
  • Syllogisms:
    • The experience + reason = knowledge equation
      • Experience is inseparable from senses
      • Consciousness requires senses
      • Reason requires consciousness
      • Knowledge requires reason
      • Therefore, knowledge requires experience
    • Truth in matter
      • Action must be driven by something
      • Knowledge only drives conscious action
      • Therefore, something that is not knowledge drives unconscious action
        • Lets call it Truth!
        • Unconscious action: a heart beating, a rock being, etc etc

CONNECTIONS TO METAPHYSICS, LOGIC, INQUIRY, SCIENTIFIC PHILOSOPHY:

coming soon…

Sources:

The philosophy 12 block two class, with special mention to Eric Jang, Emma Field, Emma Juergensen, Oscar Waizel.

Jackson Parsons, Nadia Hakeem, Connor Attridge.

Zoe Fajber, Shelli Fajber, Will Fajber.

Bryan Jackson.

Immanuel Kant, Rene Descartes.

Post-modernism (scientific philosophy reading package.)

 

 

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Descartes’ Meditations: is there any wiggle room? Ft. his ‘cogito’ (II, I think therefore I am) and his ontology (III, god is real because I conceive it so)

Descartes impacted skepticism (with reference to metaphysics) with the subtle grace of the meteorite that (admittedly allegedly) knocked down the dinosaurs’ door.

The smirk

Skepticism: “the philosophical position that one should refrain from making truth claims, and avoid the postulation of final truths.” (thanks, philosophybasics.com!)

If the breadth of human knowledge and reasoning is a forest, Descartes was enthralled by the idea that he must find which trees cannot be cut down, before he ascends up the branches to look for ultimate truth. To check each tree is a monumental undertaking, so Descartes chose a simpler way: burn the forest down. The trees left standing after the cleansing would be the only pillars for his quest.

Through three arguments, Descartes (as we learned in recent class discussions) threw out all knowledge.

His first, the sense argument, creates doubt in our empirical observations by proving that our senses deceive us.

His second, the dream argument, shakes even the most concrete assumptions we make of reality – if this life is a waking dream then perhaps the world doesn’t exist at all.

His third, the evil demon argument, attacks the final bastion of human knowledge remaining, our reasoning. Even seemingly cohesive systems of logic such as mathematics could actually be false ideas planted inside of our heads by a deceiver.

Eventually, Descartes ends up arriving at ‘cogito ergo sum,‘ which we know to translate to ‘I think, therefore I am.’ His one, unalienable truth is that as long as a thing ponders its own existence, then it exists.

T

Pourchista, in class, mentioned that Descartes is comforting – personally, I am still grappling with the stark void that Descartes presents. Indeed, that struggle is going to be the basis of my metaphysical inquiry. Over the next two weeks, I will be attacking Descartes’ arguments individually, looking for gaps. Then, I’ll be attacking his ‘cogito’, and lastly his ontological argument, which I will hint at the very bottom of this post.

It is incredibly improbable I will find any gaps or holes that I can exploit in the logic of Rene Descartes. He has been forged from the relentless pressure of countless human scholars, historians, thinkers and critics for hundreds of years. However, I am confident that the exploration of his work will yield a greater understanding of his thought, and perhaps bring me a little closer to Pourchista’s level.

Thanks for reading this far, since you made it Descartes has an infuriatingly simple conundrum for you to smash your head against: God exists!

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

This is rooted in Descartes philosophical viewpoint that a thing must spring forth from something else that contains the totality of it. Ideas are included in that statement. Therefore, the very fact that one can perceive and conceptualize an all-powerful, perfect God, means that it must exist. Where else would the idea spring from if not from its own existence?

I love hating Descartes. See you next time.

 

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[Unfinished] Early post: Brexit – An Illegitimate Immigrant Initiative

Immigration, a touchy subject in the U.S., is no less important to U.K. voters, especially given Europe’s migrant crisis.

The EU has struggled to address the migrant crisis effectively, and Brexiteers argue the U.K. needs to avoid getting dragged down by the bloc’s actions or lack thereof. Migrants are taking jobs and places in schools from British citizens, “outers” argue.

For the proponents of Brexit, no issue is more important than immigration and strong borders. The [insert rest of intro here]

Premise 1: Immigrants take jobs and places in schools from British citizens.

Premise 2: Currently, there are high amounts of immigrants flooding into the EU.

Conclusion: Many educational and work opportunities for Brits will be lost to immigrants.

Testing the premises for truth: to accomplish this, I’ve found a multitude of articles that are against Brexit from a variety of sources. I’ll be quoting those articles in their argumentative capacity to each individual premise.

  1. Immigrants take jobs and places in schools from British citizens.
    • First impression: truthful, but opinionated.
    • It’s true that, if an immigrant takes a job, then a British worker can’t take that jobbut it doesn’t mean he or she won’t find another one that may have been created, directly or indirectly, as a result of immigration.” – Jonathan Portes, British Economist (1)
      • The above quote is from a news article (1), discussing the economic impact of migrants in the UK. I selected it for its pinpoint accuracy on what I view as the major flaw in this premise’s truthfulness.
      • The blue text represents the central kernel of truth in the 1st Premise of the Brexit syllogism.
      • The red text represents the counter argument, which shakes the factual correctness of the premise into reasonable doubt.
    • In addition to Portes’ statement, British financial reports show that immigrants “more than pay their way” (1), as they paid £2.54bn in national service and income tax than they received in tax credits and child benefits in 2013-14.
    • Truth Score: Inconclusive. The premise, on a surface level, is true – but “this is not a zero sum game” (1), and there is evidence that the number of jobs lost to Brits is offset by the jobs created for Brits.
  2. Currently, there are high amounts of immigrants flooding into the EU.
    • First impression: there may be some wiggle room surrounding the word ‘crisis,’ but this premise will most likely prove to be strongly truthful.
    • “More than a million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe in 2015, sparking a crisis as countries struggled to cope with the influx, and creating division in the EU over how best to deal with resettling people.” – BBC (2)
      • This quote is from a BBC article that lays out the logistical details of what they refer to as the EU Migrant Crisis.
      • The blue text is factually correct, and further research would lead us to an even more supportive conclusion – namely, that 2015 has seen the most migration throughout Europe since World War 2. So far, our 2nd premise is looking strong.
    • Truth Score: True by nearly all definitions.

Coming soon… testing the conclusion for validity

Coming soon… a final call that argues how Brexit unfortunately does not do almost anything to actually solve the immigration crisis that British citizens seem to hold so dear

Coming soon… some pictures

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Other notes

“The EU facilitates easy migration between its member states.”

In the EU, migration is “easy,” relative to migration amidst any other group of nations in the world. Embedded deeply into EU law is the right to live, work, and own property in any member state.

—–

(1) theGuardian Article on UK immigration: is it really bad for the economy?

(2) BBC Article on the EU Migrant Crisis

 

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Jamie Fajber’s Philosophy is: the most distasteful spread

[Picture to come after resolution of technical difficulties]

I had this written up last week, but as I’m unsure whether or not I’ll have a chance to speak about it, I thought I would share it here first.

—–

Philosophy is a buffet. It’s a big ole buffet stacked high with plates, and various dishes. A strong gamut of colour is on display, and the smell wafts towards your nose. As you whiff it in, your nose is scrunching in repulsion. The image in front of you is repugnant, because everything on the table is foods you detest. You despise them. Yet, your stomach is rumbling, and time is passing. You’d rather be hungry, knowing you are a proud, exclusive eater that sticks to your standard diet of cheetos, mountain dew, 100% all Canadian beef w/ corn product, and hot chocolate. After all, you are what you eat, and you’d rather not try something like that.

The rumbling is full throttle now, but you should stick to your convictions – you think. Your previously indomitable willpower is a lot shakier, and you decide that it can’t hurt to try a bite.

[Picture to come after resolution of technical difficulties]

The first bite is distasteful – in the way that exotic foods always are, so different you can’t like or dislike it because you have no comparison. The second bite, obviously reminiscent of the first, makes you smile. The flavour isn’t so bad, and the texture is funky enough you don’t mind taking a third bite, too.

Soon enough, you are trying all the foods on the table. You thought they were unpalatable, but to your surprise they each bring something distinct to your mouth.

Finally, you are done eating. Full to the brim with new cuisine, and new ideas. You are made healthier, you are enriched, and you will grow from all that, yummy, food.

—–

Although the idea of Philosophy as a buffet may not be as radical as say, our teacher becoming an angelic wizard (see Jasmin Ghorbani), it’s still far fetched enough that it may require some explaining.

The italicized words in the writing above are attempting to draw your attention to the core concept of this metaphor: the foods are ideas. From this central point, there are many branching comparisons that can be made.

  1. Humans need food to grow > humans need ideas to grow
  2. Different foods have different nutrients, and the more variety one gets the better > different ideas have different values, and the more variety one gets the better
  3. Although all foods have a place, there is a distinct variance in quality between some foods > although all ideas have their place, some are far more qualitative than others
  4. It’s common to be afraid or hesitant of trying new foods > it’s human nature to be afraid or hesitant of understanding new ideas
  5. Consumption of food is a necessity of survival > consumption of ideas is a necessity of life

[Picture to come after resolution of technical difficulties]

It’s a metaphor with a lot of elasticity, able to be stretched in different directions to represent a breadth of connections. Also, it seems to be true in the real world! For example:

When I was a kid, I hated veggies. I was ALSO a selfish, arrogant boy that thought girls were gross.

Now, I tolerate, sometimes even really enjoy veggies! Furthermore, I’m less egotistical and I care WAY more about other humans – and, girls are certainly not gross anymore.

There is definitely a correlation here.

#flawlessscience #didnotcitesources #anecdotalevidenceisbest

 

 

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Jamie’s Plato’s Cave: Post Secondary Sky

PC: Jackson Parsons Surfing occured!

PC: Jackson Parsons
Surfing occured!

I spent this last weekend surfing in Tofino with my boys. Amidst turbulent waves and cold, cold wetsuits, we spent a great deal of time chatting around a roaring fire. The topics ranged from love and identity to (as these things often go), women and adventures. As we were speaking, one thread came up that, for me, sparked how I was going to address this post:

Tofino gave us a new path. In the library of life choices that is available to each of us, a new book was just written and added to the shelf. It’s titled The Surfer, and it describes a man who lives on Vancouver Island, doing artistic endeavors to keep himself financially stable while catching gnarly waves in his copious spare time. The Surfer could be me, in five or ten years. Although the chance is slim that I will fully commit to that path, it became an option, because of my experience this weekend.

There are so many more paths than I could’ve possibly imagined. As long as I’ve been the youngest sibling (read: my entire life, for obvious reasons), of three over-achievers, I’ve been thinking inside a square. The biggest questions have generally been “what universities do I want to apply for?” and “what career will I enjoy doing for a significant portion of my live?” Yet, these days, I am slowly beginning to contemplate choices that are a little larger. These days, the questions are shifting to “how am I going to be happy?” or “if money is freedom, how can I make money so that I am free of financial incentive and can pursue paths for better reasons?” or “can I just live in Tofino and surf every weekend?” It is a paradigm shift that I’m grateful for, and is giving my mind fuel to explore those bigger questions.

PC: Devon Columbus Contemplating life underneath tall trees.

PC: Devon Columbus
Contemplating life underneath tall trees.

Plato’s Cave is an allegory that shows how people can be happy in ignorance, yet will experience greater heights of bliss and fulfillment as they are enlightened of the world. My cave has been the future, and how I can grasp it. I’m only beginning to realize all of the stars, the sun, the sky, the cosmos are all outside of what I always thought I had to do.

 

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Slaughterhouse District 43: The First Step

In the latter part of the 20th century, the layout and design of most U.S. slaughterhouses was influenced by the work of Dr. Temple Grandin. She suggested that reducing the stress of animals being led to slaughter may help slaughterhouse operators improve efficiency and profit. In particular she applied an understanding of animal psychology to design pens and corrals which funnel a herd of animals arriving at a slaughterhouse into a single file ready for slaughter. Her corrals employ long sweeping curves so that each animal is prevented from seeing what lies ahead and just concentrates on the hind quarters of the animal in front of it. This design – along with the design elements of solid sides, solid crowd gate, and reduced noise at the end point – work together to encourage animals forward in the chute and to not reverse direction.

“…so that each animal is prevented from seeing what lies ahead and just concentrates on the hind quarters of the animal in front of it.” -Wikipedia, Slaughterhouses.

In Canada’s school system, students are encouraged to chase ‘success,’ without defining with any reasonable certainty what success is representative of. In crowded hallways, students follow the backpack bouncing in front of them until they turn off to their classrooms. Once they have been fattened on knowledge, they are sent out into the world to be sacrificed to the greatest remnant of perennialistic society: the Bureaucratic Administration Machine

There is an excellent TED talk that explains this better than I can, go watch it below.

“The first computer in the world was called the bureaucratic administrative machine. To run that computer, they needed a lot of people. They made another machine, to produce those people – the schools. The schools would produce the people that would become parts of the BA machine. They must be identical. They must know three things: good handwriting, reading skills, and good arithmetic skills. They must be so identical you can pick one up from New Zealand, ship them to Canada and have them function immediately. The Victorians were great engineers. They engineered a system that was so robust, its still with us today. Continuously producing identical people, for a machine that no longer exists.”

If you don’t have time to watch the video – in short, the origins of our school system can be traced back to a time when the government wanted a populace that had a common skill set, so as to use them efficiently in the governance of a nation.
But is that what school should be about?

“Just as our classrooms have changed significantly since the 1800s, so have our ideas about the purpose of schools. Our views on education were defined by John Dewey’s theory, which states—and I’m simplifying—that the general purpose of school is to transfer knowledge and prepare young people to participate in Canada’s democratic society. ” -Gene Carter, Journalist at GOOD Magazine

If this quote is accurate, and school is meant to prepare young people for Canadian society, then I believe we have a lot of work to do, reshaping school into a modern, relevant institution. Nations around the world are leading the charge, positioning their societies for success by emphasizing the development of 21st-century skills. Countries like Finland and Singapore are creating “communicative, imaginative, tech-savvy, multilingual students who are prepared for jobs that do not yet exist.” (Carter).

How can Canada follow this path?

This idea, of how to do such a thing, is the first guiding question I am exploring in our philosophical inquiry at Gleneagle Secondary. The discussions we have been having in class concerning educational philosophies have been a peak of interest for me, and I am committed to diving into the the rabbit hole in search of answers.

Philosophy has been given many definitions by my classmates over the past week, centering around ‘the love of wisdom.’ A definition that I resonated with was “an unending desire to understand and comprehend knowledge, society, existence and the universe,” with the operative term being “unending desire.” To that end, I think beginning with a query into philosophical education, into how we should go about learning, is a strong, meta, jumping off point. It is a topic that delves deeply into process, as opposed to results, which is where I want to start.

To begin with, and as a breadcrumb for my next blog post, I’ll close with this quote from Nigel Warburton, in his essay “Lets Talk,” which discusses the importance of human interaction to ground us as we search for existential or cosmic meaning. This quote encapsulates what I hope my process will resemble, in determining a healthy direction to take Canada’s education system.

“Whenever philosophical education lapses into learning facts about history and texts, regurgitating an instructor’s views, or learning from a textbook, it moves away from its Socratic roots in conversation…. the point of philosophy is not to have a range of facts at your disposal, though that might be useful, nor to become a walking Wikipedia or ambulant data bank: rather, it is to develop the skills and sensitivity to be able to argue about some of the most significant questions we can ask ourselves, questions about reality and appearance, life and death, god and society.”

That’s it, thanks for reading. What a clickbait title, amiright?

 

 

Counts, G. S. (1978). Dare the schools build a new social order? Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.

Carter, Gene. “What’s the Purpose of School in the 21st Century?” GOOD Magazine. N.p., 2015. Web. 17 Sept. 2016.
Warburton, Nigel. “Without Conversation, Philosophy Is Just Dogma – Nigel Warburton | Aeon Essays.” Aeon. N.p., 2013. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.
 

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Temporary Home of Emma Field’s First Blog Post!!!1111!!!!1! Humanization of Philosophy

If the first couple weeks of Philosophy could be compared to a hiking trail, there has been many scenic views to take in so far. We’ve ventured from the root meaning of philosophy, to discussions about ideal schooling, to the integral social nature of this course of study. We’ve trekked already into many crossroads that have required me and my peers to assume our own personal strances, to commit to our own beliefs and values. More and more, I am getting the feeling that philosophy is a living, breathing entity rather than a rigid construct. To open up my first Document of Learning for the year, I’d like to start with a quote from Nigel Warburton’s Talk With Me:

“…there is more to this ‘spoken philosophy’ than simply words uttered, and the ideas discussed. Audible nonverbal aspects of the interaction, such as hearing a smile in someone’s voice, a moment of impatience, a pause (of doubt perhaps?), or insight- these factors humanise philosophy. They make it impossible to think of it as just a mechanical application of rigorous logic, and reveal something about the thinker as well as the position taken.”

Upon reading this passage, the idea of ‘humanised philosophy’ struck me because it seemed to be a term that encapsulated the entire article completely. Throughout the article, Warburton preaches that it is social discussion, rather than laser-like concentration and rigour, that allows philosophy to thrive. And with the class’s previous discussion about schooling philosophies and education, this notion had me thinking. What does ‘humanised learning’ truly look like in its ideal form? And, how can this sort of structure transfer into other aspects of schooling, outside of a Philosophy 12 classroom? These questions have been bouncing around my head as of late, but may end up being part of larger personal inquiry it seems.

I can with honesty say that at some points in my schooling (secondary school in particular), it has seemed that ‘social learning’ or discussion-based learning never makes it through the doors of many classrooms. In fact, many people would probably claim that some subjects, such as mathematics perhaps, are inherently non-social, and provide no space for discussion and debate at a high school level. But if it is true that togetherness trumps solitude in the philosophical context, I can’t see why the benefits would not be transferable. Why don’t we talk, discuss, collaborate, and disagree with each other more, in every period of a school day? We can all probably recall a time where a dissenter has completely transform our views about something; how do we make those moments more accessible in schools outside of metaphysical and epistemological discussions? This is still something I am considering, but if you are interested in how one program is doing this in elementary schools, check it out here. Although I’ve only dipped a toe into what philosophical discussion can be during the first couple weeks, I am excited to witness the power that this face-to-face philosophy holds, as well as the ‘audible non-verbal’ aspects, which Warburton deems to be an important component.

And this is where I would like to connect all of that to my projections for the year. I hope that in the coming months, the ‘humanised’ nature of our discussions will not only help me to engage and appreciate the other minds in the classroom, but also learn more about myself as I develop my own ideas. As a somewhat self-proclaimed introvert, I sometimes find it difficult to share my ideas if they have not undergone excessive evaluation and censoring to produce fully-form, polished products. However, this sort of process (think first, speak later), has at times been limiting. I am hoping to challenge myself to contribute to discussions throughout my process of thinking, keeping in mind that that point of philosophy is not just about creating an output of golden ideas, but also sharing tidbits that others can digest and discuss.

We’ve talked about how philosophy literally means “Love of Wisdom”. A second goal of mine is to learn to love by listening. One of my favourite definitions of love described in class was this: to love something is wishing for it to thrive, for it to prosper and grow the same way that someone wishes for their own personal prosperity. If we, as a collective class, intend to honour, and love wisdom through our own social discussion and debate, then I believe this requires more listening than speaking. It is one thing to claim that we are open minded and consider others’ views however it is another thing to make listening a main priority in discussion, to respond thoughtfully and considerately to others.This is what I intend to aim for in the next couple of weeks.

As mentioned at the beginning of the post, the humanising of philosophy “reveal something about the thinker as well as the position taken.” Hopefully by the end of the course, I will be able to develop a sort of personal philosophy: a set of values and beliefs that are stable enough to guide and anchor my own philosophical inquiry and discourse, but flexible enough to change over time and with influence. I also hope to be vulnerable with the class, to accept that every idea may not be golden, but since philosophy is a human subject, it is also a personal and intimate one. I would hope that Philosophy 12 will help reveal as much about myself as my surrounding classmates. I look forward to embarking on the rest of these journey with the class, with many more peaks to climb and views to see.

 
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