Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Katherine: my mom said to stop saying gay to everything so this post is a hetero™ post

Normally, I’m not always a big believer in honesty. but I’ll be honest here: the Aesthetics unit was the most confusing thing I’ve ever experienced. Maybe it was because I was expecting it to be easy; Epistemology and Metaphysics sound waaaaaay out of my league, but Aesthetics? I think about that stuff everyday. Should be easy!

It Was Not Easy.

To start, it took me awhile to come up with my own definition of aesthetics, or what I think an aesthetic experience is. To start, here are some of my beliefs: I believe that you cannot fully tell you are having an aesthetic experience until it is over. It would take away from the moment. In paying direct attention to what you are doing, it break the experience. Two things that really intrigued me were concentration and distance. The idea that staring at a pretty sky or a field of flowers and being distant from it, not overly concentrating but just taking the peace and thinking it is pretty,w as totally new. Contrast that to the idea that an aesthetic experience requires complete immersion, all of one’s focus and concentration, and you can understand why I was confused for a while.

Both distraction and complete concentration bring you a kind of peace. Distraction and distance take your brain away and give it peace, and complete concentration removes all distractions and also leaves a kind of peace. Even the experience of say, bungee jumping, or seeing a rock concert, could be considered peaceful while exciting. It’s pretty hard to think of grocery lists while you are bungee jumping, and an exciting rock concert leave you fully immersed in the music. Either way, they are freeing your mind from distraction.

Does that make sense? No? Too bad, we’re moving on.

Old White Dudes Weigh In: Plato

Let me say this: Plato is one of my least favorite philosophers. Ever since the whole concept of “Plato’s Forms” came into this class, he’s lost me. But I was googling aesthetics, I learned something funny about him: while to him, beauty is one of the greatest goods, and art is one of the greatest dangers. As I had always thought of them as the two major parts of aesthetics, I couldn’t understand why he had such differing opinions on them.

Art and beauty are both subjective. There is no way around it. Everyone’s’ pinions on art and beauty are influenced by their environment, their upbringing, their exposure to the world. You can argue that there are some things that are “universally beautiful”, but I contest that. There will always be someone who disagrees.

Beauty, at its base, is something “pleasing to the eye”, something that fires off positive synapses in your brain. Why do people sometimes say “beautiful disasters” and the like? Because you can find beauty in something being destroyed. Watch a fire roar over a forest, or watch a tornado sweep through a town; devastating, but with form, and precision, and clean lines.

Old (usually) White Dudes Weigh In: Confucius

Of all the philosophers, I’m quite fond of Confucius his opinions on art and beauty are quite similar to mine: they are highly important to society. He always emphasized the role of the arts and humanities, especially music and poetry, in helping human nature and bringing us back to the essentials of philosophy.

Now, I also tend to believe that an aesthetic experience is also a state of mind. You can look at something while in a bad mood and purposely find it ugly. Take one of my aesthetic experiences for example: putting on makeup. (Yes, I know how that sounds lemme explain) If I look at myself in the mirror while im in a bad mood, all I see are my flaws. I can pick apart every part of my face and find ways to hate myself. As I put on makeup, I can see myself as trying to hide how I look because I hate it, I can hate how the makeup looks on me, there are an infinite number of ways to make this a shitty and un-aesthetic time for me. But when I concentrated, looked at myself in the mirror and tried to find all the things I liked about myself, I could make the things I hated into, you guessed it, aesthetic experiences. As I paid close attention to what I was doing with the makeup, thinking of art and beauty and deeply concentrating (hey, I connected it to the paragraph above!), I found an aesthetic experience.

Art can be beautiful, but can Beauty be art?

Can you turn any experience into an Aesthetic Experience if you try?

Can you answer any of my other thousands of questions that I won’t post here but I might comment them because theya re bugging me????




Mr. Jackson’s Magical Sense-Making Aura – Katherine

This midterm is brought to you by Mr. Jackson’s Magical Sense-Making aura, aka the phenomenon where you think you know nothing about philosophy, then you talk to him and everything makes sense  and he basically tells you everything you know and you’re like “oh yea! I DO know that!” gives you three new questions and then leaves you and you just sit there going what.

Anyways, here’s my syllogism:

P1: Knowledge can be rationally determined

P2: Knowledge needs to be empirically confirmed in order to be true

Conclusion: Therefore, True knowledge is when we synthesize what is in our heads with our sense       experiences, and conform our innate knowledge.

Now let’s try and explain this bastard. Hold on to your hats, we’re gonna learn.

excited seinfeld lets go cosmo kramer it's time

P1: Knowledge can be rationally determined

To explain this, let’s go to math. To start off: I hate math. I’m pretty bad at it too nowadays. But way back when, I sued to be pretty good, especially when it came to my multiplication tables. I had those suckers memorized in beginning of grade 2. Thing is, we started in math using little blocks, putting two blocks with two blocks to show 2+2=4. But for these, I didn’t need to get five groups of five blocks to know 5×5=25. I could, and that would prove it, but rationally knew it.

Rational knowledge also deals with predictions, persistence, and substance. I can predict that if I drop a pencil off the table, it will fall. I don’t need to see it every time to know it will happen. I know if I sharped a pencil, even if the properties have changed, it is still the same pencil. I know happiness doesn’t have substance but that my desk does, just like I know that I, as a being with substance, am separate from the chair I sit on.

Rational knowledge, yo. Its pretty tight.


P2: Knowledge needs to be empirically confirmed in order to be true

I normally view knowledge as a collection of experiences that we get when we are exposed to the outside world and those around us, as we learn from each other and or environment, whether we are being taught how to read or we learn what color purple is or knowing that space is infinitely larger and more complicated than we can ever comprehend.

This is where my good friend Descartes comes in. If we can’t empirically confirm something, how can we know for sure that it is true? (Actually, Descartes would argue that since our sense lie to us, it STILL might not be true, but I don’t like him). See, things that we cannot empirically confirm could be true, but we just have no proof.

Conclusion: Therefore, True knowledge is when we synthesize what is in our heads with our sense       experiences, and conform our innate knowledge.

Basically, we blend the two together and that, as far as I can tell, is the closest approximation that I have to “True Knowledge”

justin bieber bieber learning wisdom growth

Dudes Who Helped me:

Image result for emmanuel kant

So, this guy is Emmanuel Kant. What a guy. Look at that face! He looks like he just saw something he’s mildly disgusted by but can’t wait to use it as blackmail. My kind of guy.

Anyway, my man Kant is one of my favorite cause he took all my worries about Descartes and nothing being real and essentially defenestrated them. See, Kant believes in a unified consciousness – merging sense experience with our minds. He’s also a fan of my good friend Bundle theory. He believes that merging our empirical evidence with our innate knowledge to unify them is what lets us see “the big picture”. His ideas and views on philosophy basically shaped my syllogism – thanks dude.

Small shoutout to Descartes: I still kind of hate him, but he has some good points. He shaped my second premise, so thanks, you bastard confusing old man okay guy.

How does this all connect? Well, my friend, lets skip back and look at one of my first ever blog posts: Plato’s Cave, aka the Cave is Gay.

So, at the tender age of 12, all my previous experiences had led to the conclusion that I was Heterosexual ™. I had crushes on boys, pictured marrying a boy, gossiped about them with my friends and all that jazz.

then came the innate knowledge, or sense experience part: I realized that I felt some of the same things for girls. No one had “taught” me what crushes or feelings were, yet I recognized the same feelings in relations to girls, and other genders. I wanted to date them, too. Huh.

Now for the empirical knowledge: I started learning new words, like bisexuality! I started doing research and learning about different forms of being queer and different identities, proof that these feelings were real! Yay!

Basically to conclude this all: Descartes sucks, I’m gay, and blend your thoughts like I blend my foundation.




self care is running naked through a car wash and getting into a fistfight with god – Katherine

At last, the final post –  and the conclusion to my self care titles. Two truly tragic endings, I know.

My big question going into his assignment was if I can find myself? Can I learn more about myself by looking inside myself? These had a lot to do with my theory of self, and if I am merely a collection of properties or if there is something uniquely “me” inside of me.  This led to my other questions: What am I made of? How does bundle theory work? And finally, can doing something peaceful like meditation or spending time alone lead to realizations about myself?

My plan for Phil’s Day off changed quite a bit: while I was searching for something “quirky”, as Mr. Jackson put it, I couldn’t think of anything as cool as bungee jumping, especially as my whole plan kinda revolved around me spending quiet time. Alone. Whoohooo, real thrilling. My first draft of a plan was to spend all Friday night on my patio, taking advantage of the cold and quiet and no sleep to really isolate myself and think. This was quickly foiled when I passed out at 10 pm. My ultimate plan turned out to be a bit simpler: I would climb out of bed Sunday morning at 4 am, make myself some coffee, and sit covered in blankets until 7, watching the sunrise and “thinking”. not the most thrilling, but a pretty peaceful and unique experience for me.

What happened in reality: it was cold. It was also a lot easier to wake up than I thought: wrapped myself in blankets and a hat, made myself some coffee, took my notebook and a pencil outside, put my phone away, and situated myself comfortably in a chair. Yes, it was cold. The first ten minutes were mostly me figuring out how to cover all the parts of my body with at least three layers.

Then I sat. And watched the sky.

See, it’s kind of hard to force yourself into a philosophical frame of mind. I figured the first step would be to sit back, notice the quiet, and let my thoughts take over. I had been pondering this assignment the whole weekend, so luckily my questions were fresh in my mind. the first sort of “thinking” thing I did was to take out my notebook and try to write down a list of all my properties: all the things that make up “me” According to bundle theory, I am nothing more that a bundle of properties with no real substance besides these properties. So what all went together into making me? I knew things like height, weight, age, but did emotions come into it? did the fact that I was cold and tired while writing the list influence me? Is my family a property, even though they aren’t me? Is it the fact that I was raised with a family one of my properties? Needless to say, my list got a bit complicated:

(I might have recopied this so y’all can read my writing. Writing at 5 am with no lights and gloves on does not lend itself to legibility.)

The last thing I wrote down was “warm”. By  the time I was done the list, the blankets had kicked in. So was I a different “self” by the end of the list? Technically, since I get older every second, I am a different “self” every second?? In conclusion: aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! But I tried not to think to much about it, and instead tried to write down every philisophical thought I had.

Further musings include (i had about seven more pages, but I’m not going to put you through all that) :


Summary of my unintelligible writing:

  • I “have” properties but also “am” properties. difference??
  • do i need others in order to find myself?
  • am I only interested in others for their relation and effect on me & my life?
  • am i discovering myself or my properties?
  • why am i thinking about the X-Men???
  • is personaility a property of the self?
  • are emotions??
  • i would like to live as a hermit with no distractions. I would think a lot more.
  • is thinking related to Being or Self? or both??
  • thinking outside is different from class because i am alone (though we are never alone)
  • thinking outside is different from class because there is no dissent by whats in my head/only my thoughts
  • thinking outside is different from class because theres nothing to do but think
  • who is using a drill at 4 am

As you can see, my night was mostly questions. Not in a bad way, though: just sitting there in the queit morning, pondering my life and who I was. Nearing the end of my experience, I had one final “big” question:

Am I discovering myself, or questioning myself? Are they different?

See, the whole point of my Phil’s Day off had been to try and find myself, yet all I found was questions. But did asking and trying to answer these questions teach me more about myself? Did I unlock somehting inside me or simply find more properties?

In the end, I decided: yes. Yes, I am discovering myself. I am questioning myself. And the two are not different, but connected. I can find myself through questioning myself.


Was this a success? Can’t be sure. I’m pretty sure that’s the whole point of philosophy, though: nothing is sure.

But did I learn something? Hell yea.



self care is drinking five coffees and killing your astral self – Katherine

The title has nothing to do with the post, I just wanted to have a theme going here. Anyway, onto the discussions we had in class:

  1. Who did you talk to? Kirsten, Sarah, Pourchista, Emma M, Mr. Jackson (briefly), Erin
  2. what were the main ideas you explored? The self, what changes or creates the self, how the physical structure of the brain is connected to who you are, nature vs nurture
  3. What new ideas did you encounter? Big shocks can change who you are, left brain and right brain fighting, whether our path in life is pre-determined, whether your DNA or how you were raised affects your “self”
  4. How do these ideas influence your inquiry? Is who I am already decided? Does my DNA decide my “self”, or is it separate?
  5. What questions do you still have? what questions came up? What do you want to explore further? I still wonder what created you? what inside you makes you who you are? Why are siblings so different? I now have questions about free will. Does free will exist? Is our path decided? Can you change yourself if you try? And I would like to explore the project theory and compare it to bundle theory


self care is doing cocaine behind a Denny’s at 3 am – Katherine

I’ve been tying to find a way to phrase my question that isn’t “what is the self” because we already kinda covered that in class with the four theories of the self. I personally subscribe to the bundle theory, or that the “self” is made up of experiences and memories that we collect as we live. then again, talking about it in class clearly didn’t finish it for me because I have SO MANY MORE QUESTIONS so, here we go:

  • What is the “self”?
    1. Is there a unique part of yourself that you are born with?
    2. Does that make up a part of your “self” even if most of you is made up of the memories and experiences you collet?
    3.  Can you find out more about your “self” by meditating or “looking inside yourself”?

After doing some reading on my topic, I’m starting to realize that I liked bundle theory based only on what it said in our short reading: after learning more, I see its flaws. I was searching on websites and I found this one definition that explained it quite well:

  • According to bundle theory, an object consists of its properties and nothing more

  • Hence, there can not be an object without properties nor can one even conceive of such an object

  • For example, a ball is really a collection of the properties green (color), 50cm in diameter (size), 5kg (weight), etc.

  • Beyond those properties, there is no “ball.”

(this is from bewarephilosophy.weebly.com, link in the bottom)

See the problem? I believe that the “self” is more that just the properties I posses. But if I dont subscribe to any of the other theories, what is my “self” made of??

Now onto answering the questions:

  • What is the “self”
    • Is there a unique part of yourself that you are born with?
    • There must be. While I still believe most of bundle theory, I cannot deny that there must be something within me that made me who I am before my experiences kicked in. I was struggling to explain it before I saw the dog metaphor, as I call it. If you took your dog to the vet and picked up a qualitatively similar dog (same size, same colouring, same eyes, etc.), you would notice in fairly short order that the dog you’ve picked up is not yours. Doesn’t this indicate that your dog does have an identity that remains unchanged? This must mean that there is a unique quality in you dog that makes it who it is.
    • Does that make up a part of your “self” even if most of you is made up of the memories and experiences you collet?
    • I belive both. The problem is, Bundle Theory tends to exclude all other options. In bundle theory, you are only your properties: there is no substance connecting them. This makes sense to me: All my properties, how I look, how I sound, how many cells I have, how I think, what I know, what I remember. These are all the properties that create who I am. As I age, I will remember more, look different, sound different, feel different, yet I am still me. The rest of the artical had deeper ideas on how you percieve the world and your own unchanging essesnce, but I’ll stick to what I know for now.
    • Can you find out more about your “self” by meditating or “looking inside yourself”?
    • This was a little harder to research. Searching for articles about “looking inside yourself” led me to How To Find Yourself In 15 Steps (With Pictures!) on Wikihow… not what I was hoping for.  Some articles I found toldme how calming my thoughts through meditation could “still the ripples of my mind and look deeper into the water”, while others seemed to think that finding yourself was simply a matter of accepting who you are. Are they both right? I don’t know, but I think I’ll end up trying the meditation soon. 









(okay, so this is a bit late. still, better late than never????)

So, I’m goingto be real here: I dont remember if the “What is Philosphy?” presentation was a part of the intro to philosophy or the logic unit… so im going to tag it as both and hope for the best.

I don’t really want to pist my script here, as it is a lot of me yelling REPENT!! and waving my hands about. Basically, I found my original medium in the for of a soapbox preacher screaming on a streetcorner. Now, my soapbox was a piece of paper where I had written soapbox, but it worked. My metaphor? Philosophy….. is like….. a river. Or water, to be more general. But that’s the gist.

All in all, this project taught me I’m a lot better at talking in front of people if I’m yelling dramatic nonsense at them.



you get salvation! you get salvation! EVERYBODY GETS SALVATION!

you get salvation! you get salvation! EVERYBODY GETS SALVATION!



Katherine: Make America Gay Again!


Disclaimer: this post has nothing to do with being gay. I just really wanted to make that the title.

Welcome to Logic 101: how to pick apart your opponent’s arguments flawlessly while doing a sick hair flip.

So for my argument, or point of view, I picked a Trump statement. While that does kind of seem like taking the easy way out, why not go for the low hanging fruit?



Quote from Donald Trump, Playboy Magazine in 1990

Now, this isn’t just a Trump(tm) thought. There’s a lot of people who believe that as a country gets kinder, less strict and more “politically correct”,  the more weak countries become. Countries are only powerful if they have an aura of fear!!!! and scariness!!

To break it down into some premises and conclusions:

Premise 1: America is becoming a kinder country

Premise 2: Countries that are kind are seen as weak

Premise 3: Weak countries will cease to exist

Conclusion: America will cease to exist

Now, to use the good ol’ valid, factually correct, and sound method to debunk this argument.

Valid: this argument is valid, as the three premises together do lead to the conclusion

Factually correct: Well, this one we have to look at piece by piece. For premise one, it is hard to measure the “kindness” of a country, as it’s not really like population, it is probably true that America is becoming kinder. With more and more rights being recognized, it’s probably safe to say that since the beginning, America has become kinder. I’d rate the factual correctness of this one as a solid “can’t tell”

In premise 2, it is stated that so called “kind” countries are seen as weak. Again, this is kinda a hard thing to measure. It is true that countries with weapons and harsh laws and threats of war are seen as threats, but is that the same as being powerful? Can you measure how weak a country is? Perhaps countries that are kind and welcoming are seen as strong because they are joined togther and united. A country can be “kind” to it’s citizens and be politically correct and still have a thousand nuclear missles. This premise still confuses me a little, so I’ll give it a second “can’t tell”

Premise 3 states that weak countries will cease to exist. Is that so? If a country is kinda, does that mean it will just start beind eroded by other countries until it disappears? I’m assuming that this argument believes that “kind” countries will just be taken over by other countries. I find that stupid.

Okay, but actually: no where deos it say that being kind or gentle does not mean you are defended and a pushover. I mean, this is a whole country we’re talking about here. (also, this is America were talking about. Not the definition of sunshine and rainbows in the grand scheme of things). For factually correct, I’m going to give this one a “nope”.

Sound: Now, it’s pretty hard to be a sound argument when you are not a factually correct argument. In fact, kinda impossible. So imma vote this a solid nope.

Now, as his argument is neither factually correct nor sound, it should be easy to ignore. The problem is, there’s a lot of people who subsribe to this theory. That if America becomes more kind and gentle, it will just *disappear*. Poof. Magic.

Man, I love fighting.



Katherine: the cave is gay

Plato’s cave: a beautiful and well-known metaphor about how we perceive life and truth

Also kind of terrifying. Seriously, was I the only one in class thinking “Why are these people chained?? They have been chained since they were born??? THEY CANT MOVE??!?? What the actual h*ck is going on in this cave? Who put them there??”

Needless to say, this cave messed me up for a little while.

But the point of this post is not to talk about my mental scarring (we’d be here for years if that was the case) but to make a connection between me, my life, and this sadistic cave.

When looking at the people in the cave, it’s easy to wonder: why don’t the people chained in the cave try to leave? Why don’t they struggle, break free of the chains and explore? The thing is, we need a prologue. Plato’s Cave: The Early Years. If the people in the cave had been there their whole lives, they have no reason to un-chain themselves. They see nothing wrong with it. They don’t see the chains as anything more than a part of life. At the risk of sounding horribly, horribly cliche, these chains symbolize the shackles or society and how we must break through in order to move forward.

I think I threw up in my mouth a little by saying that.

you have no clue how many wierd photos i found while searching for this. image courtesy of huffington post

But anyway, onto a fun lil metaphor to connect this whole post, my title, and add in some fun images for the visual learners out there.

When Mr. Jackson, asked up to find a time when we were “in the cave”, the only real thing I could think was “BEING GAY” That might just be my brain, but I decided to run with it.

I was in the cave (or the closet) until grade 8. It took me realizing I was not striahgt for me to start seeing “the sun” about lgbtq issues. I’d heard gay being thrown around as an insult. I’d seen my grandparents turn their lips at pride flags and heard my priest warn about the dangers of same sex marriage. That had all passed over my head until I started stepping into the light and actually hearing everything they were saying. While I now know so, so much more about issues and subjects surrounding lgbtq, I’ve realized that certain people I know are still locked in the chains of the cave, and always will be. I’ve likened the man in plato’s cave being unable tos ee well in teh dark and getting mocked for it to me, not finding gay sterotypes funny and getting mocked for it. Maybe I’m just being self centered and trying to make it about me. Who knows??

To finish it off, I have another lil fun metaphor to tie both of these together. Imagine you are in a car. As a child, you sit in the backseat, oblivious to the cars around you. You watch them go by, watch you parents stop at lights and signs, but ultimatly don’t concern yourself with the actions on the road around you. But then you grow up. You start learning how to drive, learning the rules, learning the limits. Now, as you sit in the front seat, you see everyone breaking the rules, speeding, cutting people off. You never noticed it as a child, but now you can’t go back to not noticing. You’re aware. You’ve learned.

This is kinda like being lgbtq. Once you have see what homophobia or transphobia can do, once you’ve learned what’s hurtful and why, you can’t go back to not noticing. Same with Plato’s cave: when you see the sun, theres no going back to the dark.



Katherine’s Thoughts on Philosophy: AAAAAAAAH!

So, Philosophy 12 has officially begun. And in true Jackson fashion, what better way to start the year than a document of learning?

Now, I’m a little rusty on the whole format of these documents, but I’m pretty sure we start off with what we’ve done in these past two weeks.

Thoughts about love, wisdom, and loving wisdom:

I was very confused why Mr. Jackson was asking us about love and wisdom, and I only learned today that the actual definition of philosophy is “loving wisdom”. This explained a lot. In my discussions with people in the class, I had come up with a definition of “loving wisdom” as “the passion for gaining knowledge and improving yourself through experiences.” That actually sounds pretty close to philosophy to me, though in my head philosophy is a lot more thinking and looking deeply at sunsets. the most fun about loving wisdom was hearing my classmates’ thoughts on it.By talking to so many people and getting so many ideas put together, I reached a much deeper and better understand of both the words.

Thoughts on class readings:

While I’ve been a little lost in class discussions (as you’ll see later in my goals), I’ve found some pretty interesting things in our class readings. My favorite was the “Talk With Me” essay by Nigel Warburton. It was about how the stereotype of philosophers living as hermits and never talking to people is quite misleading.

I know right, Socrates??? The essay was about, funnily enough, the Socratic Method.  It is about how conversation and argument have a large place in philosophy. While many philosophers spent years in solitude, doing their best work in exile, most of them actually used letters to get other human perspective, or spent their time imagining people to talk too. Somehow, while all in isolation, they realized: there is something about human interaction that is essential to philosophy.

Audible non-verbal aspects of the interaction, such as hearing the smile in someone’s voice, a moment of impatience, a pause of doubt perhaps?), or insight – these factors humanize philosophy

As for the whole essay, the other part that really stuck with me was about argument. As someone who loves debates and arguments with classmates, family or teachers, I could easily see how disagreement is a driving force

It is the dissenters who force us to think, who challenge received opinion

Now, onto the more personal part of this post: My goals and aspirations. (Yes, it’s all about me)

Coming into philosophy, I had a pretty good idea of the atmosphere: mostly self-directed, making our own assignments, lots of class discussions. It was the content that surprised me. Epistemology?? I suppose I’ll learn more about that later, but it was really hard to form any goals without knowing what they were supposed about. He then said that anything we were worried about, or questions we had would also work. Thank god, because I am literally made of worry and questions.

  • Worried about being over-shined in a class of such keen and smart students. Will I speak up enough? Are my points good enough? Can I go “deep” enough?
  • Worried about finding a topic. What pool of topics am I choosing from? the subjects we cover?? It’s too big.
  • How to find a personal philosophy. I don”t know if this means one that I make up, or speaks to me, or even exactly what a personal philosophy is.

My only real, concrete goal for this class is: engage in class discussions and debates


I know right, Socrates?? Seems so simple, yet so unattainable. The thing is, while I absolutely adore class discussions and all the fun and wacky things they lead too, I suck at speaking in them. You find me mostly burying my head in a notebook, still listening intently, but with nothing to add. I really want to get more involved in the discussions in this class and debate more with the other classmates. that’s my main aspiration. (My aspiration for this project is to get an “exceeds expectations”, but we’ll see how that turns out.)

Until next time,


I’m really feeling the Bill and Ted vibe today