Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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To Pee, Or Not To Pee: That Is The Question – Urinetown The Musical

Now, I don’t know if you, the reader, have ever had the pleasure of seeing or hearing of a musical by the name of Urinetown (I applaud you if you have), but I think it brings up an interesting moral dilemma that begs to be discussed.

For those unfamiliar with this show (don’t lie to me, you probably are), Urinetown is set in a time of drought that has lasted a long twenty years, and shows no signs of stopping. The town in the show has put in place a system to regulate water usage, the story highlighting one particular aspect of it: toilet regulation. Those in charge can’t let people have private household toilets, and they also can’t have people urinating in the streets, so the Urine Good Company (UGC) sets up public amenities where people need to pay a hefty fee to use the toilets there. And to combat the people’s desire to ignore the public urination laws instead of using the amenities, the penalty for getting caught doing your business anywhere but a public amenity is being sent to the mysterious “Urinetown.”

The story follows those who frequent amenity #9 as they rebel against the UGC by refusing to pay the fee, and using the washroom whenever they want. Of course, this causes conflict with the UGC, but they are eventually overthrown by the revolutionaries. It is revealed throughout the story that the UGC is buying off the legislature so they can do whatever they want and not run into the law. This includes raising amenity fines, the profits, of which, they are using to become fabulously rich, since they have given up on actually trying to find a scientific solution years ago. Furthermore, they have also paid off the police force, which is responsible for sending people to “Urinetown,” but in the words of one of the cops, “there is no Urinetown; we just kill people!”

So, the people of amenity #9 had good reason to take the UGC down, and as the show is coming to a close, things look like they’re going to be good for all in the town. This is soooooooo not the case. The hard truth is that they chose to live good and die fast, using up what little resources they had left in a short period of time, ending the show dead on the stage from dehydration and sickness. Their brief happiness ensured everyone’s death, and the viewer, despite their hate for the UGC, is forced to revaluate the positives of the company and the regime it formed. It is mentioned in a line during the closing number that the UGC was very effective in regulating water consumption, and was able to supply its employees with healthy salaries and good lives that would have lasted for quite a while if not for the revolutionaries. And even though there were people suffering, they were alive, weren’t they?

Herein lies our dilemma, dear reader (if you’re still there), because one is forced to confront two options: Have everyone be happy for a short amount of time (then suffer and die), or have the people suffer a bearable, yet constant amount for a long time and be happy rarely, and experience happiness of a lesser strength than the first option. Otherwise known throughout the show as side “what of today” and “what of tomorrow.”

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Would You Like To Hear Me Stumble Over My Words Over A Bad-Quality Recording? Here You Go!

Here is said recording for all your listening pleasures.

And this is the painting I mention:

View post on imgur.com

 

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Emojis, Expressive Interjections, and Epistemology, All In One Convenient Blog Post!!!!!!!!!!

Side note:

For this post, “subject” will be used to define anything that can be understood e.g. an idea, a person, an object, etc. Please don’t take it as a dehumanizing word, because it isn’t intended to be. It’s just the most convenient word I could think of.

Do you ever just have a feeling about someone or something; like some indescribable knowledge of how that person or thing is, even if you may not know every fact there is to know about said person or thing? The ability to understand without ever receiving a comprehensive list of facts and information about the subject is a phenomenon that occurs all the time in the human mind, and it is a phenomenon that I find utterly fascinating.

I, myself, have friends and family members who I understand to varying degrees, or rather, I have come to an understanding about them. I think that phrasing fits better, since the understanding I have may not be the “Ultimate Understanding” of said person. I am tempted to cite Kant in saying that only one person, in being themself, is able to have an Ultimate Understanding or know the Truth about who they are, but even that is untrue. There are two reasons why this is wrong.

For one, a person may understand themselves less than the people who know them.

Secondly, the fact that the mind and the brain rely on different sections of themselves relaying information which is then interpreted by different sections of themselves refutes the possibility of any one section having a full understanding of the brain or mind.

Let’s assess these two points further, shall we?

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3D Movies are a Special Kind of Hell For People With Bad Eyesight, and are Unable to Place Clear, Wet, and Cold Hemispheres on Their Pupils

The plan: go out with friends to see a movie, then go get bubble tea after.

The question going in: how am I going to connect this to my topic?

A suggestion: Go read my first article here so you have a chance of making a lick of sense out of this one.

After a long and tiring Friday, me and my friends, Hannah Wood and Hannah Wiebe, all went out to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them for Hannah Wood’s birthday. It was a 7:30 showing, and – now this is not something I had known going in – was in 3D. This poses a little bit of a problem, because I wear glasses, and glasses don’t really mix well with 3D movies. You see, since 3D movies require you to wear these weird sunglass-type-things that aren’t compatible with normal glasses, so people like me are forced into a bit of a tough spot. Either you wear your prescription glasses, which would let you see what’s on the screen, or you wear the 3D glasses, which lets you see the movie in 3D, as the name suggests. There are issues with both of these potions, of course. If you wear just prescription, you are able to see the movie, but what you can see is rather odd, since the footage must be altered in order to be 3D when the glasses intended for it are worn, but is nearly unwatchable without them. So why don’t I just wear the 3D glasses, you ask? Well there’s a good reason. Yes, the glasses would allow me to view the movie in 3D, but I wouldn’t be able to see the images being shown very well. There’s a good reason why I wear prescription glasses every day. My vision low-key sucks. So, since both options had major faults, I decided to create a third, rather uncomfortable option, which was to try to balance the 3D glasses on top of my prescription ones, providing me with a proper view of the movie, which was quite good, by the way. Read More

 

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In Which Things Are Discussed

Okay, so I´m terrible with names (it’s a miracle that I even remember my own, to be honest) and I never asked anyone theirs, so I will not be able to name who I spoke to in this experience. For that I sincerely apologize.

The first discussion was with two lovely people who spoke about nature vs nurture and finding vs creating the self. My own topic, being on what makes up the self, fits in with these two quite nicely. In my own document, I speak of how memories of past experiences change the self on various levels, and affect how a person acts in the future. This kind of thinking works well with the idea of nurture-based behavior, as well as the idea of creating the self through experiences. However, I find myself also thinking about the nature side of things. Because I cannot say that everything in my life is a result of nurture. My need to take a break after being social for an extended period of time is more a product of my introversion than anything that was taught to me. I guess it’s “in my nature,” and it’s something I’ve found in myself rather than created. I guess that what I’m saying is that maybe the self is a combination of these things rather than one or the other.

 

My second conversation was with a group of three that created a conversation about religion and the universe. One thing I found interesting about this particular conversation was the idea that, since no one really knows what may have started the big bang, that maybe it could have been a work of god. Now, I’m not strictly-speaking religious, but I do find this idea quite intriguing. I feel it does well to tie religion with science, and have them work together. It does not serve the world well to have them fighting.

 

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Two Minds to Create a One (ish) Self

Who am I? That’s a difficult question. An easier one would be “what am I made of,” to which I may reply with a list of eleven elements which make up a body, a sentient structure which has three times more cells than there are stars in the Milky Way. But even this is a difficult question, seeing as my cells are constantly splitting and dying, and can live on without me if they are to be transported into another’s body.

Let us then abandon this question and return to the first. “Who am I?” or “what is the self?” I know I am a thing that thinks, and that I exist while I am thinking. The thinking part of my existence may be called the Mind, which can be split into two parts: the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. The conscious mind gets a lot of recognition for being the self, seeing as it is the source of everything that a person can control and be aware of in their mind, but the subconscious mind tends to be almost entirely overlooked in this matter. I think that the self lies more subconscious than anyone is willing to admit. The conscious mind can change day by day and moment by moment, but the subconscious mind is much more slow to change, and remains relatively constant. External interaction (experiences with people/environment/things) has a great effect on the conscious mind, and memories of these events will help create both a conscious and subconscious reaction to anything associated to that experience again. Conscious reactions are usually logic-based, whereas subconscious reactions are usually feelings triggered by association with a past experience. That would make PTSD an intensely negative form of subconscious reaction. Intense stress is one of the only things that can cause long-lasting or permeant significant change to the subconscious mind in a relatively short period of time.

Stress and negative experiences also affect memories, particularly repressed or forgotten ones. Memories are often repressed or altered if they are extremely traumatic to the person. When the memory is repressed, it is hidden away from the conscious mind by the subconscious mind, and the conscious mind goes on as if nothing has happened, even though the subconscious mind knows full well what went down. Memory alteration occurs when aspects of a memory is altered by the mind. This is usually a product of low level repression, and usually takes the form of nostalgia. The guy who hated High School may recall the torturous four years a decade later and say that it wasn’t so bad because he had lost the specifics of the negative emotions and experiences that he had hoped to forget, (and had moved past years ago) and would therefore be unable to recall properly what his High School experience had actually been like. When recalling the experience he will only have an handful of memories to draw conclusions from (most of the ones kept being not-so-bad ones), so he would most likely think of High School as a place where only not-so-bad, or even good memories were made. Hence the alteration of memory resulting in nostalgia.

Since the subconscious holds on to many memories that the conscious mind throws away, and since it stays so consistent over time, I might say that it is the glue that holds the self together. If the conscious mind changes for a short period of time, it may affect the memories being produced, causing a slight change in the unconscious mind, but the reactions of the unconscious mind affect the conscious mind much more than the other way around. Still, the unconscious mind is hardly recognized for this influence.

This entire thing has been rather focussed on the immaterial, and now I’m just itching to talk about brains. Throughout this document I have referred to the conscious and unconscious mind as if they were cooperative, yet separate beings. This has been inspired by an interesting epilepsy treatment which involves the severance of the corpus callosum. The corpus callosum is the largest of the bundles of axons, or commissures, that connect the left and right hemispheres of the brain, and help them communicate and stay on the same page. Since the severing of the corpus callosum appeared to have little to no effect on the cats and monkeys which had been tested on, neurosurgeons got the idea to use it to ease the suffering of patients with severe epilepsy. Read More

 

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Mama We’re All Full of Logic

Premise 1:           MCR’s song “Mama” shares a melody line with Pink Floyd’s “The Trial.”

Premise 2:           MCR’s song “Mama” follows similar format to Pink Floyd’s song “Mother,” shares a similar title, and references war just like “Mama.”

Premise 3:           Both Pink Floyd songs are from the album “The Wall.”

Conclusion:        MCR’s song “Mama” was inspired by Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.”

 

 

One of the clearest references to Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” is a piece of shared melody. The line “you should have raised a baby girl, I should have been a better son” is sang nearly identically to a recurring melody in the song “The Trial.” I say nearly identical, because throughout “The Trial” the melody is sung and played many different ways, usually playing around with the starting notes, ending notes, and the key as shown.

View post on imgur.com

You may notice that variation #1 is the most similar to the melody from “Mama,” since they differ only in their last note.

 

One thing I must mention is the fact that both “The Trial” and “Mama” feature a ‘mother’ character at some point, but although the mother character shows up and sings in “The Trial,” I don’t believe we have a strong enough basis to assume that a mother character is addressed in “Mama” is because of that instance. Instead I would argue that the idea to have this song addressed to the mother in a letter style format came from the song “Mother,” also from Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.” To strengthen this, there are references to war in both songs as shown below, so it is highly likely that this song was also drawn on for inspiration.

“Mother, do you think they’ll drop the bomb?
Mother, do you think they’ll like this song?
Mother, do you think they’ll try to break my balls?
Ooh, aah, mother, should I build the wall?

Mother, should I run for president?
Mother, should I trust the government?
Mother, will they put me in the firing line?
Ooh, aah, is it just a waste of time?”

  • Pink Floyd

“Well, Mother, what the war did to my legs and to my tongue,
You should’ve raised a baby girl, I should’ve been a better son.
If you could coddle the infection they can amputate at once.”

  • My Chemical Romance

 

One might say “the evidence before the court is incontrovertible; there’s no need for the jury to retire” (Pink Floyd) and call it a day, but despite how unlikely it is that MCR does not know about Pink Floyd, or how silly it would seem to present all this to someone and have them say that “Mama” is not based on “The Wall,” it still may be possible for someone to prove all of what I have written to be wrong. Many of the statements my conclusion is based upon are merely extremely likely, and have resisted falsification thus far, so I wouldn’t be surprised if someone questioned my logic. The fact that one line of “Mama” is extremely alike to the general melody of “The Trial” could still arguably be a coincidence, and the same goes for the similarities between “Mama” and “Mother,” since it hasn’t been publicly confirmed that there is any correlation between the two. Nonetheless, since my statements have resisted falsification, and if statements which resist such a thing can be considered true, I think one could safely say my logic is sound.

 

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I know That I’m Wrong

In Plato’s cave, all the people trapped down there have a very different understanding of reality than the people outside the cave. They see shadows cast on a relatively flat surface standing vertically in front of them, and occasionally hear noises from behind them that they end up associating with the shapes. This world they live in, to us, is dark, monochromatic, and, well, wrong. But to them it’s all they’ve ever known, so why should they question it? Sure, it seems clear that the reality they are living isn’t quite right, but these people are quite happy to continue to sit in the dark, and to dismiss any ulterior idea about reality as a far out fantasy.

The cave people might seem rather stubborn and irrational in the act of dismissing something that those who have seen outside of the cave know to be true, but they would actually be acting quite rationally. If someone told you something that contradicts all of your firsthand knowledge, and if that person has no definitive way to prove what they told you is the truth, other than “because I said so” and the like, would you just disregard everything you know and believe them? No, of course not. That’d be absolutely ridiculous. Unbelievably irrational. Yet, upon hearing of this story, I tend to feel like the cave people are idiots for not understanding the world for the way the outsiders know to be true, even though the cave dwellers would be put in the same situation as my example.

Furthermore, if any one of the cave dwellers were to question their reality, and maybe even think up their own theory for what the world might be, they would still be incorrect about the state of reality; likely even more so than the others. To predict what the world might look like beyond the cave, or to even think that there is anything beyond the cave, would be like predicting what alien species we’re going to be irradiated by in the future. First of all, we’ve never met an alien species, and we may never know with any reassurance if there are any intelligent life forms in this universe, and if there were aliens that we could eventually come in contact with, how would we ever know if they would irradiate us at all? The whole prediction is absolute nonsense, and could never be actually true.

Thinking about the cave in this way can be a little unnerving, actually. Taking everything at face value is dangerous because the knowledge you would be given wouldn’t necessarily be all true. On the other hand, not believing what you are told would make it so nothing you knew was true, because the knowledge you could have been given had the chance of being false, and you wouldn’t want to believe something that is false. Either way you would be wrong about reality.

The analogy of Plato’s cave asks the one who hears of it to think of the commoner as the one in the cave, and the enlightened philosopher as the one living a free life in the outside world, but sometimes I fear that we are all in the cave, and none of us are any closer to being right than the next chained up cave dweller, and that the philosopher may actually be the cave dweller that disregards truth in place of fantasy. This is the cause of many existential crises, but somehow I find myself contempt with the only two things I know for certain in this world: I exist, and I will always be wrong about something. That may not be the most reassuring thing in the world, but at least it’s something. It’s good enough for me, anyways.

 

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On Understanding

Philosophy is the love of wisdom. But what does it mean to have wisdom; what does it mean to be wise? To me philosophy is about coming to an understanding about the nature of something. That understanding is based upon one’s knowledge and experiences, and therefore, will most likely never stop changing as new knowledge and experiences are acquired. Speaking with people who have different knowledge and experiences can help reinforce or even make one question their own ideals, whether it be by agreement or disagreement.

 

By speaking with people who have many different experiences, knowledge, and viewpoints, wisdom, knowledge and understanding is gained. However, that may not be completely consistent with the strange enigma that is the “Irrational opponent.” This is a person who has no logical reason at all for their stances (which makes their arguments sometimes comically idiotic), and are frustratingly stubborn in those stances. I have much experience with this particular type of person, most of which have been denoted as negative and unproductive experiences. I particularly recall (on more than one occasion) my uncle spewing baseless statements over the dinner table as my brother, father, and I retaliate with reasonable ones. Most often he continues speaking over us, completely disregarding our statements. In fact, our attempts at compromise and understanding are furiously rejected, and serve as fuel for his anger as he continues the argument that ultimately goes nowhere. We have all learned to stay quiet when my uncle says something that might be a pathway to a lengthy and unproductive argument. He is not the only person I’ve met who exhibits these traits, but he is the one who has made the biggest impression.

 

One thing that must be mentioned is this: if someone makes arguments with logical reasoning, they are rational; even if you disagree with them greatly. Also, if a person makes an illogical argument, but is able to come to a logical understanding by the end of the conversation, they are also rational. It is the unwillingness to understand a well-founded argument that characterizes the irrational opponent.

 

In the article Philosophy as a Conversation, Cartina Novaes speaks about ‘virtuous adversariality,’ and about manners used to produce cooperative exchanges. This, I think, should be especially applied when speaking to opponents who have ideals that conflict particularly with one’s own. One must remain civil, as in a conversation, it is the goal to reach some kind of mutual understanding of the topic or to understand the other’s perspective, even if the participants still disagree on several things. Without civil manners of speaking, a lot gets said, but not much gets done. It’s more like two people yelling for brick walls to move, and expecting them to comply because of the sheer willpower in their voices. Nothing is going to happen, no matter how compelling the argument is. I personally value discussions filled with mutual compromise and understanding, because they end with everyone better understanding their own and others’ beliefs, instead of ending in the participants walking away without having achieved anything.

 

In the article Talk With Me by Nigel Warburton, the author quotes the first chapter of On Liberty (1859) by John Stuart Mill, which says “Dissenters are of great value even if they are largely or even totally mistaken In their beliefs.” This can be true, but it is something that must be elaborated on. As previously stated, an illogical opponent can still be a rational one, as they may be able to come to an understanding by the end of the conversation, but even, albeit occasionally, a mistaken dissenter who Is unwilling to understand their opponent, aka. an irrational opponent, is occasionally useful for asking questions no one else would. This is useful because it will force the one speaking to the irrational opponent to think up a response they would have never thought of before. This helps a person flesh out their ideas and opinions, and often sparks a person’s passion about the discussed topic.

 

Throughout this article I have written about the importance of understanding, and about what happens when one refuses to understand another, and becomes an irrational opponent. Understanding, to me, is the foundation of philosophical thought and discussion, and it is the drive to understand that created Philosophy in the first place. The more diverse people with a disparity of experiences a person speaks to, the more that person can understand the world from many perspectives, and the less biased their ideas will be to solely their own experiences. That kind of understanding is a wonderful thing, and speaking to people who will question the merit of your ideas is the kind of thing that a philosopher lives for, because it helps them understand themselves and others more. To be wise is to understand the world for what it is. Why wouldn’t you love wisdom?

 
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