Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


ethical embryo? – kirsten

Ethics are a set of moral principles that govern a person’s or group’s behavior. My personal definition of ethics follows most lineally along the basics of the categorical imperative. This view of ethics focuses on the intentions behind an action. I find myself supporting this theory in the way it suggests that a person with pure intentions and a good will is good in themselves. This way of thinking promotes the idea that if there is heart and good intentions behind an action, it is a good action regardless of the outcome. This ideology believes there may be a person of good will whose actions may produce something negative. This unfortunate accident may come from ignorance or forces out of one’s control, which does not necessarily mean they are a bad person, but more likely a good person who simply made a mistake. we cannot truly ever tell anyone’s intensions but our own, which makes it troublesome to decipher between people who have a good will and those who do not. this intangible idea of deciding the good in an action by the intention of the actor leads people to the other train of thought, utilitarianism. This idealism believes that the good of an action is in the action itself and what it produces. I do believe that every action has value, I do think where an action comes from is important. Being honest because your moral self wants to be is purer than being honest so people will think you are honest, or because we are socially inclined to be honest. In my life, i like to live along the beliefs of the categorical imperative for I try to be a good person for the sake of being a good person. I believe the reason behind why I do what I do matters, and that how I get there should be just as important as the fact that I make it. Over my high school career, I have found it easier when trying to not judge people by their actions. I never know where someone is coming from or the true intentions for their actions, and I should never give them a title that I don’t know if they deserve. Through this way of thought I have become a large fan of the assume innocent until proven guilty cliché. When someone’s actions may bring a negative outcome, I try and assume that the intentions were there, and something simply fell out of line along the execution.


My topic of ethics I would like to discuss is embryo modification. The basic idea of this practice is to genetically modify an embryo while growing in the mother’s womb, changing the natural dna and therefore life of the to-be baby. This is an idea I would like to support. Through genetic modification we could put an end to debilitating diseases, allow every child to be born with the ideal genetics for survival, and create a world where everyone’s biological quality of life is at the maximum. Unfortunately, this would only work in the ideal world where there is no corruption, greed, or financial power structure. With the presence of corruption and greed this biological miracle can be easily turned into a weapon of self interest. Couples whose child would be born with all the fundamental genetics to survive could try and manipulate their embryo for non-crucial and trivial reasons such as to meet typical beauty standards, or improve athletic growth, ect. These reasons are not void for change, and succumbing to them could create a world lacking diversity. This procedure would also cost a fair amount of money. It would be a problem for those who are not economically privileged, for their children may be born into a world where they have little to no quality of life, when others can have children who contain a biological jackpot of desired genetics. The potential good that could come from this project is revolutionary and I would like to believe that all variables would line up to see that nobody would have to suffer with degenerative diseases. Unfortunately, there are so many ways that this project could go wrong that I believe it would be irresponsible to release this science to world of corruption we currently live in. maybe one day with equal opportunity we could attempt this project, but even then, there would have to be strict restrictions on what should be changed. This would require someone to decide if a genetic abnormality was severe enough to change, which I don’t think anyone has the right to do. I am fascinated by this topic and would like to support it, but I am currently not able to put my faith in society for my own scientific inquiries if it could mean destruction.



kirsten- inquiry of the self

Metaphysics part one:

I have chosen to do my metaphysics inquiry on the makeup of the self. I will be looking into the following three topics in order to try and find a better grasp on what my beliefs on the subject are.


Q1: how much does nature versus nurture come into play with identity?

Q2: to what degree are we identity versus biology?

Q3: is there anything beyond our biology, and is it dependent on our biology?

I am going to start off my looking into the extremes of both nature and nurture. The theory behind our behaviors and personality coming from nature, is based off of science that supports genetic, hormonal, and neurochemical explanations. This way of thinking subscribes to the idea that everything that we do is based off of the way our biology behaves, and how it interacts with the world around us. Nothing is up to choice, and simply made to be based off of what we were born with. The more behaviorist approach suggests that all actions are determined by learning through the environment through conditioning. although there are logical explanations and rationals for both sides of the argument, the truth seems to reside somewhere in between nature and nurture. This leaves me with the conundrum of existence beyond our bodies. this question would be easy to answer if i believed soulfully in biological explanations for the formation of the self. this theory implies that there would be no soul, or eternal self as our physical makeup and brain stimulation end our memories and self when our bodies perish. the other side of the spectrum does not necessarily assure the existence of a soul, but does recognize that our experiences create something more than what we are born with. both arguments provide intriguing points to the topic and i intend to look further into this.


Part two:

In our class discussions, I was paired with Katherine and Sarah to discuss the makeup of the self. Most of the topics we talked about revolved around physical versus spiritual self and identity. One of the paths we went down that truly intrigued me was along the path of neural connections. This concept explains how when we learn or are thinking new neural pathways are creating, connecting parts of our brain together. this literally changes the physiology of the brain with the changing of the mind. This provides a strong argument for the biological theory as it directly connects parts of our personality and self growth to the changing of our bodies. this also gives a reason of how we can evolve as individuals without necessarily needing something more than our biological self to change. My initial inquiry of nature versus nurture is greatly influenced by this, as the main argument that the nurture perspective has against the nature theory is that humans change through their lives with each new experience making us grow. As I stated previously the neural pathways changing explains actions often credited to the soul or self, through biology. This still leaves me to wonder if there is a part of humans that is created though something more than our physical selves, as I am not entirely convinced that humans are born and die with every piece of who they will be and were.

Part three:

My main question going into phils day off was whether physical and behavioral changes can prove or disprove the biological or behaviorist theories. Our Phils day off happened to fall on the weekend I went to the high school swimming provincials. At first, I thought this was problematic as there is little free time given to us on the trip, and the little free time we had was not going to likely be spent excitingly within the two-block perimeter boundary of our hotel in Kamloops. It was on day one of our meet when I realized that this trip was not actually a bad thing, as swimming relates directly to my questions about physical and behavioral makeup. It is my natural reflex to start swimming once I jump into a pool because my muscle memory naturally starts the motions that I have endlessly practiced throughout my life. my brain allows me to comprehend what I need to be doing to create the most effective movements that will allow me to reach optimal success for that certain type of stroke. These two things alone could not motivate me to swim. If there were not a part of me that loved just being in the water, I would have never made it to where I am. Although I may not swim to be the best, as swimming is not my main sport, I also do not only swim because it is good cardio. I swim because there is something inside of me that is drawn to the water. This love of bodies of water may be connected to some biological phenomenon I am unaware of, or even the way I was raised, but I do not believe that it is simply in my brain or muscle memory. There is something that makes us more than the physical space we consume. That may seam egotistical to assume that because we are human, there is something that makes us worth more than an eraser or other objects mutually agreed to not have immaterial aspects, but I also cannot rationalize humans having a soul to be wrong.



kirsten- my eternal infatuation with lights


an old philosophy on aesthetics comes from Plato, where he claims that art is a cheap imitation of reality. his theory suggests that even reality is a less valuable version of the “world of the forms” making art twice removed from perfection. he states that what is perfect is morally good and beautiful.

I can agree with the theory that art is inspired by life, which produces flaws that differentiate between life and allow room for personal deviation. i don’t agree with the conception that flaws make something less beautiful or not enjoyable. i believe that something (art, an experience or otherwise) is beautiful in its whole, including the flaws or displeasure that come with it. by experiencing enjoyment and fully appreciating something in its entirety, this makes it beautiful or pleasurable. this way of thought aligns more with the idea that we give meaning to art.

art or beauty means something different to each of us, and to neglect that would be simplifying one of the most intriguing parts of aesthetics. the idea that art is not universal. this directly conflicts with Hume’s philosophies on aesthetics, where he argues that there is a standard set for art. this requires only some opinions on art to be considered, and having a different opinion on something good or bad is simply wrong. by using this theory, we completely miss the idea that just because something is communally accepted to be beautiful, doesn’t make it pleasurable itself, only to those who find it so.

through this unit i have been able to develop my own ideas on aesthetics by learning from other philosophers and class discussion. i subscribe to the idea that aesthetics is the overall conscious submersion in where you are and what you are doing. it is about being present, without over analyzing, nor separating yourself so far that you are no longer in the moment. this moment may contain it’s problems, or struggles that are needed to appreciate it. the experience may even be overall negative, but by being completely enthralled in the situation, it becomes an aesthetic experience that teaches us something about how we see beauty or pain.


this past break i spent a fair amount of my time outside. in these outings i was able to submerse myself in the moment i was living and was a part of many aesthetic experiences.

the first experience i had occurred on a spur of the moment drive out to Lafarage lake, which was decorated with Christmas lights along the walk way around the circumference of the lake. there was one section of the lake that had hanging stars that twinkled in white light. this was my favorite and most pleasurable part of the walk. i began to afterwards consider how humans had created these lights specifically to mimic the beauty of our stars. although one could literally put a price on these artificial stars, i found myself contemplating if that meant they were less beautiful than the stars in the sky. although i personally believe seeing the milky way from isolated locations of darkness is one of the most breathtaking views, i don’t believe that the two are comparable as the situations are completely different. the man made flaws that make the lights different from stars are some of the aspects that make them so beautiful, and the overwhelming natural stars are connected to the infatuation with the beauty of our universe.

a picture by my brother (zach edwards) of the milky way on our summer trip to the Queen Charlotte Islands

blurry pic from lafarage lake

the second experience i would like to share was an intentional aesthetic experience where my family, some family friends and i had set out to Capillano Suspension Bridge. here we were surrounded by magnificent lights that stretched high above the tree tops, and sparkled in the air. i found this experience extremely joyous as i appreciate lights very much. on this cold night, a few of the others who had joined me took no pleasure in walking among the lights, which caused me to think of everyone’s different perception of beauty. although most people on the light walk would agree that it was pretty, doesn’t make the experience inherently beautiful.

another blurry pic from Capillano






Every action is an act or creation- Kirsten’s Midterm

Knowledge is a delicate thing to determine, and is often misunderstood to be the same as information. This past week I have struggled to try and define the blurred line that separates the two ideas in a sensible order.

At the beginning of my conquest I had assumed that information laid hand in hand with knowledge. I though by holding one, you must also have the other. This path swiftly fell apart as I came to see the plot holes within my own theory. Information itself is defined by merriam-webster.com as

“facts provided or learned about something or someone”

I am unsure whether this is the most accurate definition of information, I feel it is a general statement that could be applied to all information therefore valuable for the understanding of this post. This definition proves to be problematic for my assumptions, as knowledge reaches far beyond facts. Though the definition of knowledge is arguable itself, I would like to give a rough definition labelling it as an applicable understanding. This would mean not all knowledge requires information, nor does all information result in knowledge.

This is the revised version of how I have come to understand the process that defines simple information from knowledge.

Premise One – if information is only useful when stimulated

Information may lay stagnant in many ways. whether in books, genetics, or muscle memory; unused information is not constructive. By stimulating information, or creating a need for it, information soon becomes important. A book on how to replace lightbulbs may lay unread in a library for years, until someone needs to learn how to put in new lights creates a need for the information stored, and reads the book. This works in all aspects of life, whether it is a fight or flight reflex that exists in all generations of humans and may not be used for years on end, or the muscle memory of how to ride a bike, once the information is needed, it becomes useful.

Premise Two – if knowledge is applicable information


a metaphor for knowledge?

This statement is where I could find the distinction between information and knowledge. To help explain this point am using an example used by Mr.Jackson in class the other day about building furniture. Pretend you have just bought a chair from Ikea, and now need to assemble it. in this scenario, we are going to pretend you have no prior experience to the function of nor building process of chairs. your chair has come with an instruction manual and you therefore have all the information you need to set up said chair. Knowledge when you have a full comprehension of how to build your chair. For some people this may require building the chair (learning kinesthetically), whereas others have a full understanding by in depth studying of the manual and internal comprehension. Either way you now have knowledge of how to build your chair because if you were required to build a duplicate chair you could.

Information is not to the same level of comprehension. In this example, I am going to use the manual once again as information. Now the manual is in a foreign language. All the information is in front of you, but you are unable to build the chair and apply this information because you cannot understand it, and have no prior exposure or information. this creates a theoretical situation where due to the inapplicable information, we cannot create knowledge.


Conclusion – Then, for knowledge to be gained, information must be stimulated and applied.

When information is applied, it becomes knowledge, but before this basic step happens, information first requires stimulation. By inquiry or necessity, a need for information is stimulated, and the conquest to turn this information into applicable learning and eventually knowledge will begin.

One of the reasons I am comfortable with this statement has a lot to do with the philosophies of Kant, and his view on how we gain knowledge. Kant believed that most of our aposteriori ( gained after birth) knowledge comes from exposure to new experience. This closely relates to the way my conclusion states knowledge must come from a stimulation. without the need for new knowledge in new experiences and environments, a lack of inquiry leads to no new stimulation nor exposure to new information. With no new information needed or stimulated, we do not gain knowledge.

Looking back on my previous work, I can see how this truth of knowledge has changed my life, without me even recognizing it was there. In my Plato’s cave post I had talked about how I arrived on Hiada Gwaii and was put into complete culture shock as the common poverty and different ways of life had completely changed my perspective. This not only included my views on how others less privileged than I live, but also how we could support their culture and aid in making Canada and overall better place for everyone who lives here. By exposing myself to this new experience and stimulating inquiry of the world around me, I could gain a better knowledge of how to be respectful and helpful to the community.

I am extremely grateful for the opportunities I have been given, and the knowledge I gained along the way.it is important to remember that without the inquisition and stimulation that comes with new experiences, it is difficult to apply what you know and gain knowledge.



kirsten- an insight on insite

Vancouver was one of the first cities in Canada to start condoning safe injection sites for drug use. This is a controversial that has brought many discussions about the nature of these projects. The hope behind these safe injection sites is to decrease the number of overdoses in the area, and provide a clean and therefor safer environment for drug users. There have been many skeptics to this idea. One opinion expressed in thelinknewspaper.ca claims that the project is going to

“make the vehicle for drug abuse easier to access”

and cost cities too much to maintain. The Insite supervised injection site costs Vancouver just under $3 million annually to pay for clean supplies and worker pay.  I decided to look further into the arguments of the movement apposing the Insite project and ones like it all across Canada.

Premise 1: taking narcotics such as heroin and methamphetamine is an irresponsible and dangerous act.

True: Heroin is a hard drug that is often injected through needles. It creates a reaction in the human brain that releases dopamine and creates feelings of pleasure. This is a dangerous drug that has long term effects on mental and physical states, and users face a high risk of overdose.http://healthycanadians.gc.ca

Premise 2: supervised injection sites are a place open to the public designed for drug users to inject narcotics into their bodies.

True: Safe injection sites are open to anyone who may want a place to use needles or would like help with their drug use.

Conclusion: by cities supporting these sites, they are encouraging the use of hard drugs by making the narcotics easier and more accessible to the public.

Not valid: there is a flaw in the link between the two premises and the conclusion. There is often a misconception of the second premise where people will mistake the support for people on drugs as supporting the action of taking narcotics. These are two very different things, as supporting drug users is ensuring that people are safe while they are high, and trying to find ways to allow the ill to become strong and well once again. Many of these sites also provide help for people who struggle with mental illness and HIV/AIDS. By implementing theses places, the cities are not condoning to illegal drug use, but instead providing a place for those who are already struggling with addiction and abuse.

“Insite is the first rung on the ladder from chronic drug addiction to possible recovery”


The argument against these establishments may seem easy to support as it is hard to believe that heavy drug users are willing to use these facilities. Many of the arguments question whether or not it is worth our Canadian tax dollars to fund these establishments if they may or may not even be making improvements. Fortunately, there are facts produced by Insite that show the program is doing good things for the people who access the facility. In 2015 alone there were 263,713 visits to the site by 6,532 unique individuals with an average of 722 visits per day with approximately 440 of those visits to the injection room. In the span of a year there were 5,359 clinical treatment interventions. This means over five thousand lives were saved thanks to this program in a single year. By supporting and funding programs like this one, our city is creating a safe environment for those who are suffering and our help the most.

For more information and statistics please visit http://www.vch.ca/your-health/health-topics/supervised-injection/




roses are red, plato had a cave, government funding is putting Canadians in the grave

Plato’s cave was an allegory used to explain enlightenment and how he saw our duties as human beings in evolving humanity. My interpretation of the story was to say that it is a public responsibility to communally advance how we see the world. Every single person on this planet sees the world through different lenses. By sharing what we see and offering solutions to the problems seen, humanity is able to grow off of one another through genuine care or one another. When humanity is able to recognize people in a state of distress, and is willing to lift them up for the bettering of another’s future, the world will become an overall elevated.


Haida totem poles courtesy of hellobc.com

This past summer I took a trip to Haida Gwaii, previously known as the queen charlotte islands. Upon arrival I was welcomed to the breathtaking sights of a shimmering coastline, bountiful forests, and a well maintained road that connected the two. the entire road was spotted with provincial campsites that overlooked the constant crashing waves. the spots provided a place of comfort to rest with washrooms, personal fireplaces and picnic tables. Within the first few kilometers of our trip we came across a gorgeous wooden building with totem pole giants standing in vibrant colours in front of the glass window entry way. This was the museum for the island. It was filled with historical artifacts of the local natives, decorative traditional clothing, and ancient carvings that told stories of the island’s past. the first few days of our trip were like this, a comfortable stay with a classic hometown feel. the funding put into keeping our campsites maintained, roads smooth, and vacation comfortable was very convenient and definitely made the stay enjoyable. those were the first few days of the trip. the further away from the ferry terminal and tourist attractions we drove, the true heart behind most of the island living was exposed. The towns were filled with caring families struggling to keep their houses from shambles, playgrounds crumbling to rust, and public spaces left to become dense overgrowth. The heartbreaking truth soon become evident that living here in comfort was nearly impossible.

The Haida who live on the island were given fancy museums and flashy tourist points, but there is lacking funding that is going towards the public spaces, and where they live. One of the local men who lived near Long Beach was telling us how he had collected berries and started his own coop of chickens so his grocery bill would come to a minimum. He said that many of his neighbours could not afford their monthly food supply, nor could they afford to start their own way of nutritional income, so they were forced to turn to loans. These loans would start an unhealthy cycle of debt that was known to destroy lives in a frantic effort to pay off the accumulating loans. To avoid greater debt people would even avoid going to hospitals in case the healthcare would reveal hidden problems that they would be unable to pay for. This was my moment of enlightenment. The thought that people would rather live in bliss than know they have an illness they cannot prevent or cure due to their financial situation was shaking for me. Some kind stranger on the beach was able to be completely vulnerable and give me insight to how poorly his community was doing. He told me how the funding that was going towards his land was not truly reaching the people who needed it, only letting those in poverty sink in poverty, and those living on the figurative “other side of the island” to grow in their surplus. With more money going to support the lower class, the community on Haida Gwaii could become a strong and cultural force it has the potential to be. This is an important issue that is affecting Canadians and needs to be looked into by the government so that the money spent is helping the people who need it most.



Kirsten’s quest of curiosity

These past two weeks of philosophy have been an exciting as well as mildly intimidating experience for me. Walking into class on the first day was a complete 360 turn from all the other courses I am taking this semester. Asking the student their opinion on love and wisdom, and allowing those ideas to be treated as legitimate, important, and a driving force for the conversation in class, is a completely new way of teaching that I have not seen taken to this extent in my school career. I will admit that this new idea of having the freedom and respect to create our own learning was a gratifying thought. Through all of school I have been told that my opinions matter and creativity should be nourished, this class is providing an open space for those opinions and creativity. Now that I have finally been given a space to open up my mind and let my ideas free, I’m not sure how to.

Your philosophical ideas photo from hsday.blogspot.com

Your philosophical ideas
photo from hsday.blogspot.com

VS the the philosophical ideas she tells you not to worry about

VS the the philosophical ideas she tells you not to worry about photo from www.mlahanas.de












I know Philosophy 12 is an open place for ideas to be discussed without judgement, but I still have a feeling of hesitation. Over the course of this semester I hope to break this wall down. I am currently at a strange phase where I know I have to make a change, and now I have to create a motion to obtain results. Fortunately for me, the place that is creating a problem also provides a solution. Being in social and lively situations, where philosophical ideas are welcomed, has already allowed me to come to better terms with my ideas without feeling the need to censor or hold myself back. As discussed in our “talk to Me” essay:

“Enthusiasm expressed through voice can be contagious and inspirational.”

This is a topic I have found myself strongly agreeing with. Our class discussed how philosophy is a vocal event, and I have come to the belief that this is true.

Previous to this year I had never thought of philosophy as anything other than a personal, internal, and almost spiritual idea. Whenever I thought of philosophy I would think of wise old men such as Ludwig Wittgenstein, who would hide away in their reservations of deep thought. This may be why I originally why I had doubt in my own ideas, I was simply scared my thoughts did not have time to brew, and that would make them less valuable. Even through this first week I have seen that my ideas are able to thrive and develop through the aid of others. I am truly grateful that I have been given this opportunity to become candid with myself and the others around, and let us use one another’s ideas to evolve our own thoughts to create a larger picture.

Seeing where we have started, I can feel this will be an interesting semester. I am willing and excited to open up to this new way of learning, even if it does take a bit of time.

“In philosophy if you aren’t moving at a snail’s pace you aren’t moving at all”

-Iris Murdoch

I'm moving at a confused snail's pace, but that is better than nothing. photo from lunapic.com

I’m moving at a confused snail’s pace, but that is better than nothing. photo from lunapic.com