Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Moral imperative

In utilitarianism, the outcome of our actions matters most. Our intention to serve the greater good and strive for happiness transcends our moral obligation to discern right from wrong in our actions, providing an excuse for abusing society’s traditional moral system or values that we learn through our experiences and our education.

In Kant’s moral philosophy, a categorical imperative promotes a more optimistic society as it encourages us to act the way we would want others to act in similar circumstances, clearly defining moral duty and separating good from bad, an unconditional command of conscience.

“Act only on that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it become a universal law.”

In my own morality, the categorical imperative philosophy appeals to me because it is hopeful for a fair society by eliminating exceptions for anyone who may choose to act selfishly and lack consideration for those who might be affected by their actions. However, I think this moral philosophy would only function effectively to a certain extent, depending on the importance of the situation and the nature of the potential consequences. For example, for most situations that give us a choice to either follow the moral code that Kant presents or to dismiss these principles, we usually make general predictions about the potential outcomes of our choices but we are still unable to guarantee the consequences of our actions which suggests that either option has a seemingly relative equal chance of leading to negative consequences, but that it is more morally acceptable to “do the right thing”, as opposed to taking a risk. In my own morality, my choices are sometimes directed by my fear of negative consequences, but I’ve realized that although I like to think I’m in control of myself and the result of my actions, sometimes I’m not, because just like positive consequences, negative consequences are still possible and I would like to improve my approach to these consequences in a more rational way.

In our class discussion we talked about moral worth and the challenge of truly acting unselfishly. I recently saw a (seemingly staged) video on facebook of a man filming himself as he left some money with a homeless man sleeping on a bench, who woke up and found it and saw no one around who might have given it to him. I processed this video with the ideas that came up in class about the authenticity of acting for the good, because the person who donated his money to the homeless man might have felt good about himself and satisfied with his act of kindness, but his genuine consideration for the homeless man might have been questionable because of his decision to film himself, losing all moral worth and turning his charitable act into a selfish one for publicity, according to categorical imperative philosophy. I personally think that although this was intended to be a positive message for the public to encourage kindness and compassion, it also brought attention to the possible impure intention and desire for recognition through these actions, which dissolves all moral worth. I think this would be an example of utilitarianism moral philosophy because it would justify these actions with the idea that the outcome is most important – that spreading this valuable act of kindness (whether it was staged or not) and its message of compassion transcends the actual process of achieving its desired outcome, and this made me feel unsure about how I feel about this but I still feel more inclined towards the categorical imperative approach because I would prefer a more genuine consideration and pure intention towards acting in kindness even if it would be a challenge to truly act unselfishly.

 

 

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sparkly experience

The positive aesthetic experience is concentration on an experience in which there is no desire for greater control of the experience. Distance from the ability to resolve desires, questions, and pain – in other words, lack of control in a situation – has been the cause of much aesthetic expression and expression. The positive aesthetic experience is often simply an acceptance of input through the senses, and a savoring of what that input causes in you as it echoes in the brain.

“The Aesthetic Experience” reading

What is art?

I think art is an opportunity to express our individual interaction with the world in a form that can be perceived and experienced by others. Art communicates a creator’s ideas, emotions, and sensitivity to their experiences. I think it can be defined as a manifestation of creative intention and internal expression to reveal visual elements of an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and unique experience in the environment you might share. I like to think art is not limited to the materials we label for its creation, that it can live in the process of our experiences, like finding floating animals in the clouds, or even recognizing artistic value in something that is not necessarily beautiful according to personal criteria on what we classify as beautiful.

What is beauty?

Beauty is a quality or state of being which pleases just by being perceived. It appeals to the senses and is attractive to the perceiver who finds it beautiful. Art and beauty are both subjective and conflicting experiences are inevitable because of natural factors that affect our individual interaction with what is being presented.

What is an aesthetic experience?

An experience which is enhanced by active awareness and concentration to increase receptivity and sensitivity to the natural flow of events, and being liberated from the desire to control the situation.

Over the break, my first aesthetic experience was going out in the snow with my camera to film nature and experience the silence. This experience was similar to Phil’s day off, but I didn’t have to rush back home and melt in front of the fireplace for half an hour. On my walk, I remembered when I was in India four years ago and I was so uncertain about my future, I would have never expected to witness a fusion of white and gold as the sun slowly sank into the snow. This experience allowed me to reflect on the unpredictable nature of life and my development as an individual through these inescapable changes.

My second aesthetic experience was going to Lafarge lake with my family. I brought my camera with me and filmed the lights, but impatient as they are my family told me to meet them in front of the fisherman smurf when I was done. I enjoyed this experience too, I was definitely more prepared with my three layers of socks. When I reached the blue smurf my family wasn’t there so I assumed they were probably waiting for too long and decided to move on. I walked around the lake twice through the caterpillar tunnel and the rings as I filmed the lights but I still couldn’t find them, so I walked to the car and there they were. When I got home I didn’t immediately download the footage which I regret because the next day I was filming my video essay for UBC and accidentally erased it all to free up space on my memory card.

My third aesthetic experience was spending new years’ eve with my friends. We made a plan to have breakfast, take the skytrain to Enchant christmas, see the fireworks at 9, have dinner, watch a movie, and fireworks at midnight. Unfortunately, we didn’t accomplish everything because we didn’t expect to waste an hour replacing my broken umbrella at London drugs and buying new shoes for my friend who didn’t realize how much of a hazard it would be to wear heels in this weather. When we reached Enchant it was a little disappointing but we still enjoyed walking around together and taking pictures, and I managed to get some shaky footage as well. Our favourite part about this experience was entering one of the tents in enchant to find a massive human size heater which we stood in front of for a while de-numbing our bodies. After Enchant, we went to see the fireworks at 9, and walked to a small Italian restaurant which was a little too far away. After dinner, we decided to skip the movie and the countdown because going home would be a real challenge with the long lines for the skytrain and the possibility of missing the last bus at 1:15. This aesthetic experience was an adventure and a nice end to 2016, and for my artefact I made a little video of our experience at Enchant christmas.

Through these experiences I learned that any experience can be an aesthetic experience through active concentration and an acceptance of the events that occur. I also learned that going out with the intention to have an aesthetic experience affects the actual quality of the experience because it increases flexibility in our ideas of what we perceive as art and beauty when we experience it.

my personal aesthetic perspective:

http://https://vimeo.com/198646960

 

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Knowledge & Making Decisions

“Every action and decision we take, or don’t, ripples into the future. We have the capability and the knowledge to direct these ripples.” – Jacques Fresco

Premise 1:

If making decisions is a selection in a belief or a course of action among several alternative possibilities, and

Premise 2:

if recognizing the potential consequences of making decisions is predicting the possible outcomes/ most likely events that would result from decisions,

Conclusion:

then knowledge is the ability to make decisions and distinguish the outcomes of our actions.

I think making decisions sometimes implies extending concern beyond ourselves to consider the individuals that surround us and the consequences our environment might face. To me, knowledge is the ability to make decisions based on our personal interaction with our environment, what we learn from previous experiences, and innate knowledge. Sometimes, we are aware of negative consequences when we make decisions based on previous experience, but this knowledge doesn’t necessarily stop us from the experiences we choose to inflict on ourselves and prevent the consequences from affecting the people around us. I think knowledge can be potentially irrelevant in these circumstances, because we choose to suppress what we believe might happen, and be deceived by temptation of temporary satisfaction. For example, procrastination often leads to negative consequences when the temporary pleasure of wasting time fades away. Deprived of sleep, consumed by stress and feeling uninspired, it becomes challenging to complete a task under these conditions, the price for avoiding responsibilities. I think our knowledge embodies our actions, present in previous knowledge (a-priori) as well as the repercussions we face (posteriori) through our decisions, regardless of their consequential nature.

I was inspired by Kant’s ideas on knowledge, that the act of cognition is not passive but active, as we do not simply make a list of the things we see, but consciously select, order and interpret them. For this, Kant believed the mind has its own method and rules, eliciting actions through both innate and experiential knowledge, and this applies to making decisions as well. When we attempt to understand the information provided by our senses, there are forms of thought which we apply, consciously and unconsciously. The mind is not merely an empty vessel which can be filled with any content (Locke described it as tabula rasa, or blank slate), according to Kant, we derive knowledge from observing the real world, through sense-perception, as well as through innate knowledge, not derived from experiences, such as the knowledge of space and time. In decision making, we use the knowledge we attain from our experiences as well as innate knowledge to determine the outcome of our actions and invite the consequences. As Kant believed that knowledge can be derived both consciously and unconsciously, I think this relates to the idea we are not necessarily always conscious in decision making, that our innate knowledge may serve as a reflection of our natural approach to events that require making a decision. Reflexes, for example, spring from our innate knowledge and bodily response to react to events that draw our attention. In addition to extending awareness beyond ourselves in conscious decision making, Kant suggests that the act of learning and understanding is active – this affects our ability to determine the consequences of our decisions through experience, regardless of the nature of our decisions.

Personally, I am both surprised and disturbed by my ability to repeat negative decisions as I procrastinate and continue to inflict unnecessary stress and pressure in controlling my responsibilities. It is both frustrating and a seemingly inescapable quality in my nature which I strive to eliminate but struggle to accomplish, because I have grown familiar with the countless nights of desperate need for word on paper and completed assignments to satisfy my shrivelling brain cells, whining for sleep – but miraculously, every time this happens, I somehow complete the task. What bothers me most is the knowledge I choose to avoid when I evade my priorities. This knowledge could represent the warnings I choose to dismiss when I waste time and fuel temporary distractions, but I feel unable to change my behaviour, and I do it again. To change my habits I would have to make a conscious effort to organize my priorities, control my actions, and make decisions that will reflect my ability to efficiently fulfill my responsibilities by paying attention to the effects I experience when I make these negative decisions – to feel healthier, less stressed, and in control of my commitments.

 

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Finding the Tao in Nature

Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism defines the Tao as indefinable:

Look, it cannot be seen – it is beyond form.
Listen, it cannot be heard – it is beyond sound.
Grasp, it cannot be held – it is intangible.
These three are indefinable, they are one.

From above it is not bright;
From below it is not dark:
Unbroken thread beyond description.
It returns to nothingness.
Form of the formless,
Image of the imageless,
It is called indefinable and beyond imagination.

Stand before it – there is no beginning.
Follow it and there is no end.
Stay with the Tao, Move with the present.

Knowing the ancient beginning is the essence of Tao.

Going into the Phil’s day off assignment, I struggled to understand how I could explore Taoism in practice. I found it challenging to decide what I could do to convey its message and address my own perspective on this metaphysical approach to reality. My original plan was to interview strangers on their thoughts about the possibility of an existence such as the Tao, and how they would respond to the idea that this mystical force is present in everything we perceive as reality. I decided against this idea because I didn’t see how my personal perspective on the topic could be conveyed. I thought about engaging in Taoist meditation for an hour, but I knew this couldn’t be achieved with my brother’s incessant drumming next door. With Taoist principles in mind, I was inspired to make a small film on attempting to capture the Tao in nature to convey my perspective on Lao Tzu’s ideas about reality and this ever present force.

Before filming, I did some more research on the principles of Taoism which were dominantly expressed in finding beauty in the ordinary, appreciating reality for what it is, and moving beyond our limiting expectations of the way we feel things should be different. I also read an excerpt from the book “The Tao of Photography” by Philippe L. Gross which was very helpful to understand what it means to be a liberated observer, who captures the essence of what is being filmed without interfering or altering its presence. This book also emphasized the importance of detachment from pre-defined images, “The liberated photographer, like the Taoist sage, can respond creatively and spontaneously to life’s changing circumstances.” I understood the significance of this idea when I was filming the sunset, it was moving so quickly in the dying light and I recognized my frustration in failing to keep my camera steady to capture its final seconds before it was eaten by the clouds, but I was forced to surrender to this tragedy. I felt the same way when I filmed the insects in my backyard, I successfully followed this bee for a while before it flew to a nearby flower and my battery died. It was so frustrating to witness this moment all alone, it would have been a beautiful shot and after I mourned it over I remembered Philippe L. Gross – non-attachment and surrendering to the natural flow of events as they unravel is key in observing and capturing the Tao. It seemed as though some of the best shots all occurred while I was unable to film them, and I realized I was being greedy. There were moments of cinematic miracles that escaped the imprisonment of my little red button. All these lost opportunities irritated and defeated the purpose of what I was trying to achieve in practice. In trying to capture the Tao in nature, it was challenging for me to accept what I had missed and forgive my avarice, but I became more aware of the impermanence of nature and the ever changing circumstances and I’m grateful for the moments that didn’t escape me. It was an educational experience and I thought it was interesting to explore the principles of Taoism in this way, and my curiosity about this metaphysical approach to reality continues to grow.

Through the challenges of lost opportunities, dying light, frustration and impatience, I think my experience was meaningful because it made me aware of my response to elements that I could not control. In Taoism, Lao Tzu promotes the idea of surrendering to the way of life in the natural way it is revealed and the importance of finding oneness with nature. Similarly, in the excerpt from his book, Phillipe L. Gross expresses the importance of breaking free from the separation between oneself and what is being observed, he believes this makes a noticeable difference in the way we capture reality on film as it allows the observer to be liberated from the expectations of what they believe something should look like, as opposed to accepting its present form. The artefact from my experience is the collection of captured moments in nature through film, which are integrated with the principles of Taoism and a few of Lao-Tzu’s ideas that inspired my filming process. In creating this artefact, applying Taoism in practice made me aware of the emphasis I placed on capturing these moments on film in contrast to my attitude towards the moments I wasn’t able to physically capture, which were equally special when I witnessed them in person, metaphorically symbolizing secrets that were exclusively revealed to me, their essence present while I still was watching.

 

 

 

 

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“Let reality be reality”

“While Plato argues that the ultimate nature of reality is accessible to human beings through reason, mystics believe that reason chops up the oneness of reality into separate bits and pieces, like a gigantical metaphysical cookie cutter that forces people to think in terms of particular things instead of wholes. They believe that the ultimate nature of reality can be grasped only by a special kind of intuition that transcends reason.”

– Metaphysics reading

  • According to Laozi (founder of Taoism), all things come from the “Tao,” which existed before the universe began, and exists as the ultimate source of all. In his book Tao-te Ching (The Way of Power), Laozi expresses that his words are “imperfect tools” in attempting to grasp the nature of the Tao. Laozi concludes that our universe is fabricated from an intangible, mysterious, and untraceable force such as the Tao, which flourishes in silent emptiness and lives in everything.
  • “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”       –Laozi 

How does Taoism, described by mystics as the fundamental principle in the universe as a whole and the source of all, impact our understanding of reality when it clashes with beliefs in reasoning?

  1. How does Laozi reflect human inclination to believe in a force or intangible entity of some kind to justify our interaction with reality?

  2. What is the significance in believing in a force such as the Tao to explain our reality as opposed to believing that we are its creators?

  3. What does a belief in “the Tao” suggest about our ability to use reasoning to explain reality?


 

1. How does Laozi reflect human inclination to believe in a force or intangible entity of some kind to justify our interaction with reality?

In Taoism, belief in the Tao represents an acceptance of a mystical world and the divine. This intensity may be captured in religion and spiritual practices that impact the lives of those who choose to engage and release themselves from the reins of reasoning which may be perceived as limiting the possibilities for our understanding of reality. Some choose to follow this path and explore their understanding of reality by surrendering to this mystical force and others find meaning in understanding reality through reasoning and logical explanations deprived of divine intervention. According to Laozi, our interaction with reality initially takes root within ourselves, changes in our reality spring from changes we endure as we explore our identities and begin to develop our understanding of the universe, “If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself; if you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark within yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have is that of your own self transformation.

2. What is the significance in believing in a force such as the Tao to explain our reality as opposed to believing that we are its creators?

This addresses a belief in a mystical force which may serve as the creator of reality, in comparison to the belief that we may be the creators of the reality we perceive. Laozi promotes the idea that “All things in nature are in a state of comstant flux or change: day turns to night, summer turns to winter, the strong become weak, the weak become strong. No state is permanent. Behind the flux, however, is a deep pattern: the endless cycle of development and decline, which the Tao is responsible for.” This belief conflicts with the idea that human beings are responsible for perceiving these patterns, that seeking these patterns originates from our inherent quality to seize absolute consciousness of our reality and develop our understanding of the world.

3. What does a belief in “the Tao” suggest about our ability to use reasoning to explain reality?

Believing in the Tao or another force of its kind may either suggest an ignorance to scientific explanations and reasoning to capture reality, or an acceptance and deeper understanding of the world through our experiences which may transcend our ability to explain and reason. In the physical world, Laozi suggests we may be consumed by desires of the senses and we may remain restricted from an acceptance of possibilities beyond our perception of reality and overlook our opportunities to explore the extents of reality to the fullest, “Striving to be at one with the Tao, the sage lives a life of simplicity and tranquility and avoids getting caught up in the desires of the senses, particularly artificial desires. These desires can interfere with the apprehension of the Tao. The sage’s goal is to be nature’s companion.


Why Taoism?

In the Metaphysics reading I was curious about Taoism and the ideas it promotes about nature and its arguments against reasoning, believing that it dissects reality rather than accepting it whole. I was also interested in Laozi’s ideas about surrendering to the life force as it unfolds, letting go of what we believe we are to allow what we might be, it expresses a sense of peace and purity in conveying freedom from what we might perceive as the reins of reality.


 

References

Laozi – “His mind becomes as vast and immeasurable as the night sky”


Where to next?

To further explore Taoism and its impact on our understanding of reality in comparison to reasoning, it would be interesting to compare the questions that arise from both these ideas and see where they might overlap, as well as explore the extent to which reasoning to understand reality is criticized by the teachings of Taoism.

To convey the meaning of the Tao is as impossible as trying to describe a sunset to a blind person. As Lao-tzu said, “Reasoning will not make men wise in it.”

– Stefan Carey “Lao-tzu and the Taoist Way of Virtue”

Image result

courtesy of http://mp.weixin.qq.com

 

 

 

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“war against the unbelievers”

“Jihad is used to mean struggle by means of the tongue—preaching and exhortation—and to persevere despite the obstinate resistance of some unbelievers to the beliefs and ideals of Islam. Removing all misconceptions and stereotypes in clarifying the image of Islam held by non-Muslims, building a trusting relationship and working with them in ways that accord with their way of thinking, are all primary forms of Jihad. Similarly, establishing a strong community and nation which can fulfill all physical needs of its people, thereby creating for them conditions in which the message will be heard, rather than being lost in the strife and struggle of everyday life, are requirements and form a basic building block of the Jihadic concept. These foundations fulfill the Qur’anic injunction, “Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: and these it is that shall be successful.” [3:104] Until this is accomplished the conditions of Jihad remain unfulfilled.”

The Islamic Supreme Council of America


 

animation education religion islam holy

courtesy of giphy.com

The Islamic term “Jihad,” or “struggle,” which is commonly translated as the “war against the unbelievers” is not an inherently violent concept. However, many political and religious groups including Islamic splinter groups have adopted this concept to justify various forms of violence, which continue to negatively impact the significance of “a peaceful battle for self control and improvement” that Jihad truly promotes. If military action is required to protect their faith against threat and there is no peaceful alternative, Islam permits the use of force with very strict rules of engagement which prevent violence against innocents, and advocates the acceptance of any peaceful proposals from the enemy if they arise. In the Qu’ran and Prophet Mohammed’s teachings, Jihad is described as internal and external efforts to promote the faith of Islam – political/religious groups abusing these core values further contributes to misunderstanding this religion, associating Islam with these acts of violence, which misleads the public.

  • Premise 1: The significance of Jihad is commonly misinterpreted.

Like most religious texts, scholars have extracted conflicting explanations and translations through their interpretations of the Qu’ran, and it is not challenging to imagine opposing perspectives on the significance of Jihad.

  • Premise 2: Justifying violence with Jihad contradicts the ideals of the concept, which are inherently peaceful.

This is an interpretation in itself, through this perspective Jihad does not promote violence and is not perceived as a declaration of war towards other religions. Promoting Islam and acquainting people with it through dialogue and kind persuasion is the “first type of Jihad in Islam”, in contrast to the belief that Jihad can be achieved by force. This is referred to in the Qu’ran where Allah I says, “so obey not the disbelievers, but strive against them (by preaching) with the utmost endeavor with [the Qu’ran]” [25:52].

  • Premise 3: Political and religious groups who have misinterpreted the Jihad and used it to justify acts of violence have contributed to feeding stereotypes and further enhancing the misconceptions about violence associated with Muslims. 

According to the Islamic Supreme Council of America, Muslims act kindly and justly towards members of other faiths except in two circumstances – firstly, if they dispossess Muslims of their legitimate land-rights and secondly, if they engage in hostile behaviour towards Muslims or show clear intent to do so because of their religion. In Islam it is the duty of the Muslim ruler to declare Jihad as a defensive action to repel such attacks.

  • Conclusion: Using Jihad to justify acts of violence abuses its core values of peace and misleads the public into associating violence with Islam and its followers as a result of misinterpretation.

The critics of Islam insist that Islam and Muslims are openly hostile and intolerant towards communities other than their own, which results from their exposure to the results of misinterpretation which have resulted in violence. They refer to the Qur’anic verses that urge the believers to fight the infidels, point to the battles of early Islam, and now, the contemporary stereotype of the Arab “terrorist”. It remains true, however, that Islam is still often imagined as threatening, fanatical, violent and alien by significant sections of the world’s media, and its peaceful principles are often overlooked.

Validity, Truth and Soundness

 

  • Assuming that acts of violence are a result of misinterpretation, Premise 1 can be accepted as true as it suggests that the concept of Jihad is commonly misinterpreted and denied its fulfillment of ideals when it is mistreated and abused.
  • Premise 2 can also be accepted as true by those same standards, which suggest that Jihad is not an inherently violent concept, but misinterpretation has led to painting this religion in a negative light.
  • Premise 3 can be more easily contested as Jihad might not be the only factor that affects how Islam is perceived, there may be other elements involved. However, it can be accepted as true as religious Muslim behaviors may often trace back to belief in Jihad, whether it implies violence or not.
  • The conclusion draws attention to the consequences of misinterpreting Jihad, explaining its effects on the public, who may associate the religion with violence. This may be seen as true when taking into account real events that have shaped society’s view on this culture and its values, building on their stereotypes.
  • Since all premises can be seen to be true, the argument’s form is valid, and is therefore sound.

Origins

  • Books about jihad appear at the end of the 8th century and the beginning of the 9th century, after the great conquests had ended. It was in the end of the 19th century with the “al-Nahda” the Arab and Muslim renaissance, where jihad was no longer referred to as a purely religious notion, but instead a secularized one – or more accurately a cultural idea. It became “a fight for the transformation of society” or “for progress”.
    Misinterpretations of Jihad trace back to the 1970s, when several groups began campaigns to overthrow the Arab World’s regimes and establish Islamic states.The US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 also helped produce a new generation of jihadists, eventually leading to 9/11. In conclusion, the notion of jihad is much broader than simply that of “the war against the unbelievers,”in Islam it is first taken as religion and civilization – a virtue. In a military sense, it is generally seen as defensive, as is also the case for both its religious meaning and its cultural development.
art animation picasso byrasalo peace dove

courtesy of giphy.com

 

 

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Philosophy is like a pair of shoes

Philosophy is like a pair of shoes, we wander and sometimes lose track of where we are and what we’re looking for, so we may retrace our steps and forget where we came from, leading us to a new path and experience, like tangent ideas that branch out from an obscurely related source. In the car we hit the accelerator and barely notice familiar and unchanging surroundings, but when we see something new or distracting, we slow down for a moment, and may even free our feet from the pressure completely, stop the car, and marvel at the scenery and the lake that stole our attention. Laces untied, we free our feet from the shoes, which may symbolize the grip of our ideas, and jump into the lake to explore its unfamiliar space, and return to our shoes with damp feet, briefly allowing us to step back and reflect from an outer perspective. Footprints on the sand leave traces of ourselves behind, and will be washed or blown away with time, symbolizing the temporary mark we leave, the mark of ideas that live and pass. In Plato’s allegory of the cave, the prisoners who remained were exposed to an illusion of reality and their imagination did not stretch beyond the walls of the cave, similar to containing our ideas and struggling to move forward, which could relate to taking a break on a journey and loosening the shoes from our feet for a few minutes before moving forward. We grow out of our shoes like we grow out of our ideas, which we soon replace with new ones. Muddy puddles and sharp stones will always be waiting, similar to expecting criticism. Our shoes give us unique perspectives from where we stand, creating diversity in what we share and after all, the sole purpose of discussion is to step in different directions and try to untangle the knot of a greater idea (?) “The love of wisdom” is explored in the journeys we take, shoebites, and looking forward to exploring new trails.

 

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Monsters beyond the cave

In Plato’s allegory of the cave, shadows are mistaken for the truth, which lives beyond the walls. Beyond the cave dwell creatures of beauty, a journey through knowledge and discovery, and internal awakening. However, parallel to these elements, those who escape the cave are also prey to the reality of their fears, challenges, and the claws of pain. Outside the cave we are vulnerable beings, victim to the unpredictable nature of life, the inevitable troubles that teach us pain and the reality of what scares us most, being thrust into the oblivion – but how do we know we have truly left the cave? I think it may be through recognizing the illusion of truth created by the shadows, the discovery of reality that takes root in the awareness of the cave’s protection, and the possibility of further discovery beyond its walls.

In my childhood, I knew only the walls of the cave, my parents believed in preserving my innocence for as long as they possibly could. I believed I was safe within the cave, protected from pain and other monsters who roamed beyond these familiar walls. My journey out of the cave began prematurely, but I believe it happened naturally, and it wasn’t preventable because I could not be protected from pain when it was born from the shadows on the wall, the images projected from my own perception of truth, which began to gnaw at my innocent view of the world. My parents were going through a divorce at the time and I began to feel the growing distance between them as I would catch a glimpse of their tears and pretended I saw nothing, this was when I first felt pain drawing me out of the cave. I believed I was leaving the cave behind because this recognition of pain seemed unfamiliar within the walls, and it changed my perception of the shadows.

I felt liberated from a truth built in fantasy when I found reality waiting outside, pain that I found beyond the cave and adopted. I felt protected from everything within those walls, and I often found myself returning to the cave, to the space where I felt satisfied with the shadows and the illusion of truth and the imaginary paradise in the comfort of those walls. I think it’s important for us to allow reality to draw us in and taste the truth, knowing that a cave exists in the absence of truth and the presence of dancing shadows, which will continue to remind us where we grow from, through our exposure to reality and how it shapes us.

When I left the cave I grew familiar with the emotional pain I feared so much, and I no longer perceived it as a monster but as an important and accepted part of my life, it taught me strength and the importance of love and it continues to teach me about reality and identity. We continue to grow through challenges and emerge with the experience of adapting to change, being open to the idea that change is inevitable and that our response is what affects our growth.

 

cave nature dark light travel

 

courtesy of giphy.com
 

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The intangible nature of philosophy

Week 2

  • What is philosophy?

From the last two weeks in class, my understanding of philosophy continues to grow from the ideas expressed in class, as well as the articles we discussed, all of which have captured my curiosity and driven me into a realm of questioning. When I think of philosophy, I think of its intangible nature and fluidity when it’s explored in conversation, eternally morphing. The conversations we had in class are a good example of how we expressed our ideas and noticed them develop, challenged by different perspectives and strengthened by others. In the article “Talk with me,” by Nigel Warburton, John Stuart Mill elaborates on the importance of challenging an idea,

“…he argued for the immense value of dissenting voices. It is the dissenters who force us to think, who challenge received opinion, who nudge us away from dead dogma to beliefs that have survived critical challenge, the best that we can hope for.”

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Wrong

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I think it is often our reaction to disapproval that tests the strength of our ideas, whether they emerge stronger, or disintegrate. In class we are free to express our thoughts and be direct with our beliefs, and appreciate our collective participation and engagement in the conversation, which starts and ends with questions. Our ideas are cultivated in a space of unity, where they are born and shared from inspiration, influence, and varied perspectives. Ideas endure an eternal transformation which is witnessed by both listeners and those engaged in conversation as they challenge, develop, and reflect change. At its core, I think philosophy triggers ideas that are beyond a quest for truth, or concrete answers, beyond learning fact and confirmed evidence of realities.

“The point of philosophy is not to have a concrete range of facts at your disposal, …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.”

Defined as “the love of wisdom,” philosophy takes root in the heart, through the passion for life and making the most of our own experiences, individual perspectives, and the meaning we attempt to unveil from our thoughts and ideas when we express them and feel them grow. Essentially I believe philosophy cultivates curiosity and deepens a love of exploring the extremities of our mind.

“These are not trivial questions we are discussing here, we are discussing how to live.” – Socrates

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  • Goals

Some of my personal goals for this course include carefully studying the assigned material to have a better understanding of it and be prepared for class discussions, participating in conversations by expressing my ideas clearly and being open to criticism, and being aware of how the ideas that are expressed may echo or conflict with personal beliefs, for possible insight. I would like to leave this course being more comfortable in an environment without instructions or a manual for success, have an increased sense of awareness of different perspectives in relation to my own, and a better understanding of the significance of questioning without seeking concrete answers.

 

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