Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Aesthetic Experiences

Q1) Does beauty signify superiority?

Q2) Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder?

 

E1) As I was walking around downtown Vancouver, I was feeling slightly out of body. I figured it may have been the amount of people crowding the sidewalks, or the rush that everyone seemed to be in. Maybe the constant buzzing of people or vehicles whizzing past, or the bright lights surrounding every commercial building I walked past. Walking through the streets, filled with giant skyscrapers and tall office buildings, I felt enclosed, maybe somewhat protected. I felt a sense of solidarity being there. I think this can relate back to Plato’s cave as in the reading, he explained his sense of home while in the cave. Although I had slightly mixed feelings at first about the atmosphere I was among, I realized the sense of solidarity that I felt.

E2) “How are you going to get to where you want to be?” I read this quote on a clear glass wall surrounding the entrance to the sky train. I did find it slightly metaphorical as the question being asked was at an ironic time of hopping onto a form of transportation. The quote itself didn’t really answer my questions, but it did draw me into another perspective, thus allowing me to further my outlook.

This is basically illegible, sorry about that.

 

E3) I discovered two things over my time to think about these questions. I realized there’s no way to tell if beauty has a ‘code’. To me, something like the colour pink is beautiful. To you, it’s not. Beauty is subjective, and we as a society should stop trying to uphold unrealistic beauty standards among us. They’re often unreachable, as well as completely subjective. As I thought about my questions above, I came to the conclusion that I already knew the answer to my first question.

 

I’m attempting to answer the question, ‘What are aesthetics for?’, and I think I’ve come to an answer. But, my answer, and your answer, will differ. Just as beauty is subjective, so is personal belief. As for mine, I believe that aesthetics are for pleasure. They help guide our happiness and joys, our perception of those things at least, and they shape our characteristics as humans. An aesthetic is defined as something visually appealing, and something that brings you happiness. Everyone’s personal aesthetic will be different, and I think that’s the biggest indicator that beauty is completely subjective.

 

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Epistemology Midterm – Sam Jones

Studying knowledge is something philosophers have been doing for as long as philosophy has been around. It’s one of those perennial topics—like the nature of matter in the hard sciences, that philosophy has been refining since before the time of Plato. In order to answer that question, you probably have to have some idea what the term “know” means.

Okay, a definition is tough to come by. But philosophers have been attempting to construct one for centuries.  As with most things in philosophy, the definition is controversial and there are plenty who disagree with it (as seen just in our own classroom). But as these things go, it serves as at least the starting point for studying knowledge.

P1: Knowledge is acquired through experience.

If you look up the literal definition of knowledge, you will see that the explanation is 1, facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. And 2, awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation. I think it is safe to assume that both of these state a common ground of similarity on the bases of how knowledge may be explained. I want to focus in on the theoretical part of the definition, mostly because it intrigues me that knowledge could be claimed whilst also claiming theory. Theory and knowledge seem to completely contradict the other, so researching this was especially crucial to making this premise true. I can explain theory to be the lesson initially taught or learned, with basically no basis. It’s hard to have a theoretical knowledge basis without having the practical aspect along with it. I strongly believe you do not hold a basis of knowledge until both sides of the “know” have been met. Back to my premise, though both of these are contradictory they share something. Acquired experience. Everything we know, is what we have learned through experience. Whether it be through education, communication, or any means of grasping onto a new concept, our knowledge originated through acquiring new experiences.

P2: Experience shapes our perception.

It is not really possible to separate what we call reality from our perceptions since our perceptual mechanisms are our only contact with phenomena. There is a significant “translation” of the various sensory data (that we are able to detect), by the brain and other parts of the perceptual system, in order to create a somewhat seamless experience of our world. It obviously works well enough to provide us with a (at the very least) sufficient survival capability. It also works well enough that we are able to develop considerable agreement between individuals about the details of our perceptual experience. Four people standing on separate corners at an intersection witness an accident; but each observation was different. Often, conclusions are directly opposite from one another based on perception. Even so, our understanding of reality is always expressed as recall. The present is but a point of rapid transition between future and past. We experience the present moment; but only after analysis of the data in our brains do we comprehend what has happened. The problem is that recall is imperfect. Therefore, not fully grasping the passing moment, we fill in the gaps with many assumptions and/or imagination. That is the objective reality we claim. However, even the highest demands of objective proofs by scientists are dependent on private and personal subjectivity. In other words, how do we find answers when we fail to even understand the questions. Perception is our reality. If you perceive me as having power and influence, then I have power and influence whether or not it is true.

C:  Knowledge is subjective, and objective.

The distinction between objective and subjective normally refers to judgments and claims which people make. Objective judgments and claims are assumed to be free from personal considerations, emotional perspectives, etc. Subjective judgments and claims, however, are assumed to be heavily (if not entirely) influenced by such personal considerations. Knowledge can be based around both of these two topics, as our perception leads us to believe that something it true, we genuinely believe that it is. I think subjectivity and objectivity can be closely related with practical knowledge versus theoretical knowledge, as each share a contradictory side in similarity, as well as differing majorly. Knowledge is subjective because of its unsteadiness. Knowledge isn’t always valid or correct, it’s subjective. We know what we acquire, and it doesn’t guarantee solidarity.
Knowledge is objective because knowledge is what it is. You cannot argue you carry the knowledge. You may argue the conception, and the validity, even if it is right or wrong, but you cannot argue that the knowledge has somehow been placed there.

 

Proposition: Knowledge is self-determined. I say this with the strong belief and knowledge that we acquire knowledge through experiences, and that bases our perception. If these are true, than it would have to conclude that everyone’s knowledge is determined by their own person. Of course my thoughts and reality are different from yours, because I have acquired different experiences throughout my life time, altering my perception, and altering my knowledge. Just as your experiences have shaped your own knowledge.

 

A lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea that there isn’t universal knowledge. Descartes thought that only knowledge of eternal truths –  could be attained by reason alone; other knowledge, the knowledge of physics, required experience of the world, aided by the scientific method. Also, since conscious sense experience can be the cause of illusions, then sense experience itself can be doubt able. As a result, Descartes believed that a rational pursuit of truth should doubt every belief about reality. On the other hand, Aristotle’s theory of knowledge was based on his strong belief in Logic. He developed the principles of reasoning. He argued that the possibility of error forces the mind to determine the truth validity of a given statement.  This meant the intellect must have adequate reasons, which can ensure the proposed judgment conforms to reality. He believed that such reasons, were the foundation of perfect knowledge, perfect knowledge being knowledge through causes.

 

Shout out to Google for defining all the big fancy terms, Wikipedia for making me read pages of useless information about famous philosophers, and my Mom for taking the time out of her day to discuss this annoyingly intriguing topic of knowledge.

 

 

 

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Phil’s Day off

Consciousness.

Everyone knows this word, but who REALLY knows what it means? What is a conscious? Where are they from? Why are some people seemingly missing one? This was my main question of inquiry in my original blog post.

For my Phil’s Day Off, I spent my time with Ami. We drove to Chilliwack (where I moved from last year) to visit some of my old friends. We decided to use the drive out as our uninterrupted time to think about our metaphysical questions. Ami created a playlist of relaxing music to make up for the fact that we couldn’t speak to each other for an hour. Near the beginning, I was started to get bored. I didn’t like the songs she was playing which was starting to put me in the very opposite of relaxed. It started to get me thinking about how ungrateful I was being, and how many people would love to be able to drive out and enjoy the freedom that I am blessed with.

The 17th century French philosopher René Descartes proposed the notion of “cogito ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am”), the idea that the mere act of thinking about one’s existence proves there is someone there to do the thinking.

Descartes also believed the mind was separate from the material body — a concept known as mind-body duality — and that these realms interact in the brain’s pineal gland. Scientists now reject the latter idea, but some thinkers still support the notion that the mind is somehow removed from the physical world.


So I took a different approach, something that I wouldn’t usually do. I reevaluated the situation, and remembered why I was here. Why we are where we are in that exact moment in time, and how weirdly satisfying being able to drive was. How satisfying is was being happy, and sad, or any other emotion. What are emotions? Where do they come from? Why can I see the sky and the stars, or smell the air freshener in my car, why can I taste the stale water in my mouth from my water bottle? Where does water come from?

I had so many questions about life, life in general. About how things work, and where they come from… why we have them. This left me with another main question… Why me?

Not just me, why us. Us as humans, us as mammals, us as things that reside on this weird planet.

 

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Discussion

Though I was apart of the original discussion that was had during Thursday’s class, I did partake in one of my own with Ami.

I had a hard time narrowing down on which topic of metaphysics I wanted to reflect upon, but the state of being, (consciousness) was really pulling my attention. I discussed my thoughts about who was to decide upon whether or not you are ‘conscious’ and how many different forms of consciousness may be present, even if we are not aware of them. Ami explained her topic of afterlife, and elaborating on the different stages of death, and what they meant to her in a logical way. She explained that there are three stages, one being clinical death, second being biological and third being unknown. What really stood out to me in her reflection was the last stage, the unknown one. It makes me curious if there really is an after life, something we move on to after death, or may I say, loss of consciousness?

 


 

 

I think our topics could be argued together, as some may consider death to be when you lose consciousness. I’m sure there are many different observations and research done upon that, so my point is quite ignorant, but only a slight idea. After discussing our topics and seeing how they may interlink with each other, I think I have a more clear understanding of how everything in metaphysics is evidently so diverse, but connected. 

 

Trajectories | 7Electrons Guest Artist - Marius Watz Marius Watz is a New York/Oslo based artist and coder “working with visual abstraction through generative soft...:

 

 

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Consciousness?

Consciousness.

Everyone knows this word, but who REALLY knows what it means? What is a conscious? Where are they from? Why are some people seemingly missing one?

The literal term of ‘consciousness’ is the state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings. It is often associated with  sentience, awareness, subjectivity, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of self-hood, and the executive control system of the mind.

 

1. What is the self?

2. What is the function of consciousness? What are experiences for?

Researchers have now discovered that many cognitive functions can take place in the absence of consciousness. We can perceive objects, make decisions, and even perform apparently voluntary actions without consciousness intervening. One possibility stands out: consciousness integrates information. According to this view, each of our experiences rules out an enormous number of alternative possibilities, and in doing so generates an incredibly large amount of information. I personally think this answer is going to be different for everyone, but isn’t that the entire point of consciousness? It’s like a mini you, one who reminds you your right and wrong, the one who reminds you of your opinions and experiences, and how those things have shaped how your conscious. My personal belief on this topic is that the function or purpose of a consciousness, and our experiences shaping it, is to learn. To improve and reflect upon.

 

3. What are the critical brain regions for consciousness?

The brain contains about 90 billion neurons, and about a thousand times more connections between them.

But consciousness isn’t just about having a large number of neurons. For instance, the cerebellum, which contains over half the neurons in the brain, doesn’t seem much involved. We now think that consciousness depends primarily on a specific network of regions in the cortex (the wrinkled surface of the brain) and the thalamus (a walnut-sized structure buried deep in the interior). Some of these regions are important for determining the level of consciousness (the difference between waking and dreamless sleep) while others are involved in shaping conscious content (the specific qualities of any given experience).

 

As for how some of the well known Philosophers have perceived consciousness, please watch this short video with a brief explanation of each.

 

 

What I know right now is a slightly embarrassing question in itself, I am full of questions and confusion. As far as I know, I am here, my conscious and I, living, and existing. I would love to hear some sort of explanation on how we got here, what we are here for, and how our conscious was created in the first place. It brings me to the infamous, ‘nature vs. nurture’ debate, I am asking myself whether or not these are innate ideas we have been born into, or whether or not this conscious is an acquired capability.

 

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Post Secondary = Deteriorating Mental Health?

After thinking long and hard about something I am super passionate about, it was school. Not just school, but a higher education. The goal of people’s lives (seemingly so) is to maintain good grades throughout their adolescence in order to get into a good school, in order to get a good job, in order to make good money, it never stops. Is the price we pay too high? Are we putting too much on the line? Trying to live up to these unreachable standards has been completely stressing me out. Though I really shouldn’t complain, as I know people have it much worse than I do. I am starting to apply for universities, and if trying to maneuver through their damn websites wasn’t enough, the financial pages seem to be the only legible ones. Back to that, if I hadn’t had loving and generous parents, as well as having lucky timing, my chances at having a low stress school experience would have been pretty slim. I have a savings account which covers a little over a years costs of most of the universities I have looked at. If it wasn’t for my mom selling her house when she did, I would have completely suffered from student loans, probably for the rest of my life. If drowning in debt wasn’t enough, the mental health issues that come along with it are probably the worst of it.

loan

This can be broken down into the following premises and conclusion:

 

Premise one: Post Secondary is expensive as hell.

 

Premise two: Root of deteriorating mental health is stress.

 

Premise three: Student loans are commonly used for post secondary.

 

Conclusion: Students who took out more student loans were more likely to report poor mental health in early adulthood.

 

By evaluating the various premises’ truth and/or accuracy, we might be able to reveal the soundness of my argument.

Premise one can be easily accepted as true.

Premise two can be contended with, but I can guarantee that anyone with mental health issues (aka anyone with a student load) and agree to the fact that stress is the leading cause in many mental health issues.

Premise three can be seen as true, as the trend of most Canadians is to ensure independence and responsibility at a young age. Not only that fact, but many Canadian families also have more than one child. Many parents cannot afford to send all of their children to school, therefor making them equally suffer together in student loans.

Is there soundness? It’s hard to say. I think for anyone on the opposite side of the spectrum would agree with me in the costly advances universities have made. On the other hand, the factual correctness is all on my own perspective, so to say the main cause of these students mental health is dependent upon whether or not they have student loans could be seen as narrow-minded as there are always confounding variables in any situation.

Over all, I feel although I am being a bit of a generalist with these terms (sorry Jackson I’ve been up sick all day and of course put this off until midnight), I have looked up a few stats about this which can be found at the following links,

Canadian Polling in British Columbia

CBC News

I would like to think that I have made completely sound and agreeable premises and conclusion, but to be honest I cannot really be sure until I am there, living life one dime, nickel and penny at a time.

 

 

 

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Why Philosophy is like a bag of chips. Sam Jones

Philosophy is like a bag of chips.

To think of it literally, imagine yourself reaching into those Sweet Chili & Sour Cream Miss Vickie’s chips. The excitement is slowly creeping down your fingers as you open the bag, just to open to a whopping gust of air. That is the first round of disappointment. You continue to reach in for the ever longing taste that you’ve grown to love. The first few chips are okay, then you grab a burnt brown chip. This alters the way you feel about these chips, but continue to wearily try again even after the discontent you just endured. You continue this process until you find yourself in a cycle. Eating a crunchy chip, a sour chip, a good chip. If you’re starting to wonder how this at all relates to Philosophy, relate it to yourself in a daily situation. For example, I can relate this towards my Plato’s Allegory of the cave reading. I get myself into a cycle of habit. Habit is a stable and not easily altered disposition to act in a certain way, usually acquired by repetition of such acts. You push yourself to do something that’s considered the ‘norm’ whereas Plato was pushed out into a completely parallel universe than which he was used to. I myself relate to this because I also find myself lost in a trend, or pushing myself to do something just to follow what’s going on around me. I think that a lot of people feel pressured to fit into this type of box, but nobody knows where it’s shape lies. When you step out of it, you’re instantly judged and objectified, making everything feel surreal.

That moves me along to my second point.

Perspective.

Me and you may think the burnt brown chip is distasteful. But what about Ami who challenges that? Philosophical meaning is nothing when no one is there to challenge what you’re saying, that is the meaning of Philosophical inquiry. Maybe some people don’t even like miss vickie’s chips. What a world we would live in. My point is, everyone’s predispositions are somehow chosen, through biological happenings or just a luck of nature. By someone, or something. Everyone’s opinions are different due to the exact reason that perspective from each and every person will almost never be persistent.

You take a chance of eating a gross chip in hopes to find the one you like. Or better yet, to find another one. This ties me into my first document of learning. I was completely and utterly confused, something I can guarantee I will always be. I was focusing on my goals and personal aspirations, and this made me realize that not following that cycle of sticking your hand in the chip bag, in hopes for that delicious chip, is something I will start to improve on. Sometimes you have to let things fall out into a natural occurrence, letting what’s to be, be. I am always pushing myself into a box, hoping to get some sort of beneficial factor correlated into my life. Every chip I eat has somehow altered how I feel, but I will still continue to eat the chips. As will you, and everyone else. Because no matter what alters your feelings towards the chips, your initial feeling(s) will remain the same.

 

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Living in the dark- Sam Jones

Through the many questions running through my mind about this completely abstract topic, my biggest one of my own personal inquiry would not be to emphasize on a time in my life where I’ve felt like I’m in a cave but really when I am not. To be more specific, the question of where our precedent knowledge comes from is completely beyond me, and probably many others. I find myself questioning the actuality of many things since starting this class. It’s confusing and exciting and over all leaves me completely anxious.

Learning of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave reminds me of last year, moving away from everything I thought I knew into something completely unknown. In the middle of high school, I moved city’s, home’s, school’s and friends. Every single aspect of my life had changed and I didn’t know how to handle it. I was repeatedly questioning what was going on, hoping for a glimmer of clarity, begging for something to make sense.

For a slight overview, as well as a very agreeable perception, this video was very helpful in helping me to comprehend this topic.

We talked about moral obligations of enlightening people upon our beliefs and or knowledge about our own experiences, and I do have to agree that spreading your findings feels like something of human nature. I believe humans strive for acceptance and approval from others, so whether or not you’re sharing your thoughts for the factor of compassion for other people, or you’re simply doing it for yourself, it must be done. Over all, I truly believe Earth is one giant cave that every human is semi connected into, living vicariously through each other in unimaginable ways.

 

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Document of Learning #1- Sam Jones

During my first week of philosophy, I’ve acquired new attributes about myself, as well as branches of this course. Though my innate ideas have been slightly blurry since starting, I seem to be heading in the right direction. I was very interested in noetic and spiritual topics long before beginning this course, which has seemingly made everything slightly more interesting, as well as easier to listen to. While reading the let’s talk essay, I was trying to rationalize Wittgenstein isolating himself in order to write his Tractatus Logico- Philosophicus. ‘While there, he did little more than think, walk, whistle, and suffer from depression’. This line from the text really made me question the validity of his words. Not because people with depression don’t have an equal value of word, but because he doesn’t seem to be proactively handling his life. I am questioning his discerning in the process of writing this book because it doesn’t seem like enough of a reason to lock yourself away from humanity and suffer just to get the words on the paper. I completely agree with the line, ‘ Philosophy is an inherently social activity that thrives on the collision of viewpoints and rarely emerges from unchallenged interior monologue’; I believe the abstract idea is to question the actuality of Wittgenstein’s words and counteract them with our own, to some what rationalize his actions.

My definition of wisdom is having experience in a subject of matter where a person’s knowledge may be more valued and or respected due to their prior experience. Memories may be repressed into subconscious to be unknowingly used when the subject comes up. Having wisdom is just a prolonged nature of having knowledge. Many of the topics we’ve discussed in class are themes of which knowledge, wisdom, inquiry and self-awareness are seemingly related to each other. When you think of wisdom, knowledge will always be contingent to it.

My personal aspirations for this course are to help me question what I know, or better yet what I think I know. I want to learn more about the epistemology aspect of philosophy, mainly because I find it the most interesting. My personal goals reflect some of the discussion made during class time, in reference to establishing foundations of personal philosophy, and developing self-awareness about personal perspectives and reflecting on how it influences my day-to-day life.img_2565

 
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