Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Nazlie Najafi – Metaphysics Post

(Completed on November 24 2016, edited over the past week)

TOPIC : FREEWILL VS DETERMINISM
Scientists often argue that free will is nothing but an illusion we use to trick ourselves into believing we’re in control. Could it be possible that the feeling of having free will is so strong that we can never really determine whether or not we’re truly autonomous? People form their identities and passions off of their belief in individuality, bravery, and autonomous decision making. It’s important for me to push the limits of my knowledge of free will and discover as much as I can through this unit.

QUESTION: ARE WE FREE? DO WE HAVE FREE WILL?

Q1: WHAT IS FREEWILL?
“Free will is the ability to choose between different possible courses of action. It is closely linked to the concepts of responsibility, praise, guilt, sin, and other judgments which apply only to actions that are freely chosen.” ~ Wikipedia

Free will = we have choices, we can choose our path in life and ultimately have control in the ‘end result’ of our lives.

Q2: IS IT POSSIBLE TO DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT WE HAVE A FATE? OR FREE WILL?

No. We will never be able to determine whether or not there is a destiny or if we really have control over our choices. I feel like it is mostly subjective, the feeling of free will or the feeling of believing in a destiny can be so strong that it can make the entire argument seem redundant. Of course there are people who are religious and believe in destiny, but all in all we tend to believe that we have control over our actions to an extent.

We will never be able to
Q3: IS THERE SUCH THING AS ‘FATE’? TO WHAT EXTENT?

Determinism is the idea that all events and choices we make are determined by a fate. It implies that people have no free will. Determinists are the biggest advocates for fate. To a determinist, all choice and all feelings of freedom are illusions. They do not believe in multiple outcomes, there is one fate and that is the only path. Many religious and spiritual groups are determinists. It is the idea that a preexisting destiny determines all of our choices for us.

After reading around, I’ve come to the conclusion that to an extent, preexisting conditions (race, class, gender, disability status, mental illness) do have control over our paths. However, these conditions do not impair our ability to make choices that will help us towards our goasl, but they create obstacles that block our way to our goals. Sometimes we might not even be able to achieve our goals due to these obstacles. And although environmental and health circumstances do have control over our situations, we are still capable of making choices within these restraints. I do not believe in faith.

Reading:

 

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Nazlie Najafi – Metaphysics Phils Day Off

For my metaphysics post I chose the topic of freewill vs determinism. I concluded that that people have freewill, but there are factors that constrain our free will and can even impair it. For my phils off, I wanted to see how far I could push the constraints that were holding me back. I planned on leaving my comfort zone at an event and putting myself in a stressful situation to see how far I can push myself!

For me, this constraint is my social anxiety. I struggle with making friends/speaking to new people because of it. I went to a show on friday with a goal of ‘making new friends’ to see how far I can push myself and how much control I have over my illness in a social situation. I ended up being pretty successful.

I usually stay around the same group of people when I leave my house, whether it be to hangout or at a public event. Although it’s important (and there’s nothing wrong with) having a core group of friends who support you and spend time with you, as an aspiring artist it’s important for me to learn how to communicate (and make connections) with people outside of my inner circle. This is usually difficult for me because I am awkward.

For this show I made a goal of stepping outside of my inner circle. I had some old friends (acquaintances) from salt spring island who were coming out for this show. Usually, I would’ve stayed with my friends, and I’d be way too shy to reach out and say hi or have a timely conversation with anyone. I practiced my ~free will~ and went out of my way to be a little more bubbly and approachable than usual. I ended up spending the entire night dancing and talking to my friend Indigo. She introduced me to her friend Ocea, who lives in Vancouver and also makes art.

This wasn’t easy, and it didn’t feel natural either. Maybe to a “normal” person these interactions would be completely normal. For me they are a bit of a struggle. I’d have to admit that it’s probably not something I’d practice every time I leave my house. But does it mean that every time I leave my house I am doomed to hanging out with the same people, for the rest of my life? Does it mean this is my destiny? No, it doesn’t. I proved that I am capable of going out of my comfort zone and making a choice (although it’s ultimately an uncomfortable and painful choice) that interferes with this “destiny”.

Although environmental and health circumstances usually do determine our behaviour in situations, I proved that I was capable of pushing my boundaries and doing something that I’d never imagine would be possible, which is another reason why I overall believe we have freewill, and that our behaviours don’t abide to a predetermined destiny or law, we are in control (even though health problems and morals do impair us to an extent.)

 

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Nazlie Najafi – Aesthetic Phils Day Off

This winter break, I had the goal to have a “flow” experience that meets Csikszentmihalyi’s criteria, after realizing that most of the aesthetic experience’s i’ve had have met Beardsleys criteria. I’m not a performer, so I don’t have many opportunities to experience flow (loss of self consciousness, transcendence of ego boundaries), most of the time the aesthetic experiences I have involve at least some distance from the source of ~aesthetic pleasure~. So I made it my goal to have at least one flow experience over winter break. I also wanted to have one aesthetic experience and compare it to the flow experience to see overall which experience is the most intense and more rewarding.

 

For my flow experience, my friends and I spontaneously decided to hold a dance party at a local venue. The plan was that we would all DJ at the event and it would be a fun event to wrap up the year. We planned the entire event in 4 days, which was a time crunch, but it did ended up being successful. Although nerves were high for all of us, the environment we were in felt like home, and once I got on stage, I lost track of all of the worries I had about the performance and event. I was completely immersed in mixing songs together, and although I had just started teaching myself how to dj a week before, my skills were sufficient enough to be able to overcome any difficult transitions. It was great to look up and see that the crowd was enjoying my djing and dancing along to it, there was also visual pleasure from the experience with pretty, colourful lighting and holographic streamers.

A photo posted by Elastic Collective (@elasticcollective) on Dec 31, 2016 at 12:01am PST

 

For my aesthetic experience, I involuntarily went through a german criterion collection phase. One of the films I watched during my fleeting obsession was Ali: Fear Eats The Soul by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. I have REALLY bad attention problems, and whenever I watch a film on my computer, I get distracted about 8-10 times. Since it’s so easy to pause the movie, it’s hard for me to really have a connection with the film and immerse myself in the plotline and different characters, so I usually prefer a movie theatre trip. However, this film had these really beautiful, still and silent scenes where it felt like I was also there in the scene, frozen with the characters. These types of scenes started out the film, so I was immediately immersed in the film. These scenes went along perfectly with the story line, which I also had a personal connection to, so throughout the entire film, I had completely lost myself in the film.

Ali:Fear Eats The Soul

 

Overall, I’d say that the flow experience was much more powerful than the aesthetic experience. The fact that I was actually acting out an action, and that was the source of my pleasure, was much more powerful than watching a film from a distance that I could vaguely relate to. But at the same time, both experiences are powerful in their own way and I appreciate both.

 

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Morality & Veganism – Nazlie Najafi

Utilitarianism

  • Doing what provides the most pleasure to the most people

  • Can sometimes result in “taking one for the team” (sacrificing your own pleasure in order to do more good overall)

  • Example ~ ordering pizza instead of my preferred take-out because it would produce the most pleasure for my house-guests

  • On a larger scale, utilitarianism leaves out the minority – which can lead to awful things. The “greater good” is very subjective, and what may benefit one group of people, could demolish another. In my opinion this is a deal breaking flaw of utilitarianism. It would be harmful to apply it to many situations (if I worked in a racist workplace, I would hate for my coworkers to make every decision based off of what they believe is the “greater good”, this would be extremely harmful and unproductive.)

Kant – Categorical Imperative

  • Basically “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”

  • It is not fair to make exceptions for yourself, imagine your actions/moral values universalized – moral rules should apply to everyone

  • “Always as an end, never as a mere means” do not do things only for your own benefit, always take the interests of the thing you’re using into mind

  • Although I prefer the categorical imperative, I believe that all people differ in what they consider harmful, and regardless of how pure our intentions are, the impact could still end up harming others

Personally, I believe that on a smaller scale, doing things that benefit the majority is the respectful thing to do, (working on a group project in school, choosing food for a party, the railway situation that was given in the harvard justice video, any situation as long as it doesn’t cause anyone serious harm or contribute to social barriers.) However, on a larger scale I think utilitarianism can be dangerous and unproductive, and we must take in the interests of the minority and include them in the picture or we may never heal social/economic barriers.

I also really like how Kant’s categorical imperative builds up empathy in us, and forces us to call ourselves out for being selfish and harmful. I think this could completely change the way we think in regards to the environment and could lead to tons of positive change. I’d definitely apply Kant’s categorical imperative to situations where utilitarianism is harmful, and in almost all situations, as long as the impact does not harm others.

A personal issue I can apply my morality to is my veganism. Over winter break, I went vegan solely because I wanted to clear up my skin. I honestly didn’t really care about the entire environmental and animal rights aspect of veganism, I’d always brush it off because I saw both as trivial (which I’m aware was very ignorant of me.) After learning about the categorical imperative in class, I realized that I was only using veganism as a “means” to clear up my skin, not because I cared about all of terrible things the meat/dairy industry does to the environment and to animals. I was not a vegan out of empathy for animals, I had my secret evil vain motives. However, now that I can apply my newfound morality to the situation, I decided to look into the environmental benefits that come with veganism. I completely see the diet as an “end” in itself, and even though my skin has not cleared up one bit, I am continuing the diet because I believe it’s the ethically and morally correct thing to do.

 

 

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DOL #1: ~philosophy and me~

We’re only a few weeks into Philosophy 12, and I’m not gonna lie, it’s already been pretty eye opening. Everything from the intensity of our class discussions, to Willie’s nihilistic rants have left me with unanswered questions and a curious mind. Although it’s somewhat of a punch in the face to come back from such a lazy summer to a rich and stimulating classroom, I find myself looking forward to Philosophy class everyday.

 

I came into this class with limited knowledge on philosophy; outside of fake deep youtube videos on nihilism and eavesdropping on my dad’s philosophical rants, I know precisely nothing. My goals for this course are to explore and make personal connections to the branches of philosophy we explore, as well as eventually develop my own  ~life philosophy~. Ideally, I will end up with a rough set of morals I hold up for myself and actively follow, and overall a refined outlook on life. This goal is undeniably a difficult one, but this class is an excellent opportunity to get started. Another goal of mine is to work on composing myself better during class discussions, which will help with my overall participation. Also I have no idea what epistemology is, so it’d be cool to figure that out as well.

 

During class, I’ve been trying to apply my goals to the assignments and class discussions we’ve tackled so far. The wisdom and love discussion was particularly captivating for me. When we were told to dissect and define “the love of wisdom,” I started with a list of words I felt accompanied love and wisdom.  For love, compromise, compassion, and dedication, came to mind. As for wisdom, a few words were all-knowing, humble, and inquisitive.

 

To me, loving wisdom means actively seeking out experiences that exercise, expand and mold your perspective; loving wisdom is devoting your time to actively seeking answers and starting conversations to feed your curious mind. And sometimes in the process, you have to compromise what you believe in to gain from the conversation/situation you’re in. Based off of that definition, I would consider myself a lover of wisdom. I chase opportunities to learn and grow no matter where I end up, and the Philosophy classroom will not be an exception.

 

All in all, I’m excited for an engaged and stimulating semester in Philosophy 12. I’m looking forward to the learning and challenges this class will introduce, and hopefully I’ll come out with a brand new outlook on some things.

(Here is a video shining a light on one of the most influential modern philosophers, Kanye.)

 

 
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