Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions …….My ethical view :)

I sit here on the computer wondering why I haven’t taken the time to do this post last week because this week is finals week, and I have absolutely no time or energy to do anything. But I think this is the right thing to do, out of respect to Mr. Jackson and myself. My personal ethics definition is hard for me even to process and to put into words. Since ethics is so “casual” as you may say, the definition of the word comes form the person; no definition is entirely the same. In the dictionary “Ethics” means : moral principles that govern a person’s or group’s behavior. But to me it is simply what is right and what is wrong. How I determine what is right and what is wrong is based upon my own experiences and morals I have acquired over the years, which may be different for many people.

 

I incorporate both parts of ethics in many ways. A Utilitarian part of ethics is used in my everyday life because it describes the way we may view things differently. If you think of the quote I used in my last blog post “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, this quote represents the utilitarian part of ethics. Think about your favorite food, think about the delicious taste, think about how you feel after you eat it, this feeling is unique to you. Some people would view this food that you say is the best food ever, as disgusting or distasteful and that’s there opinion, unique to them. Utilitarian as a part of ethics mean that you have certain opinions and how you view objects an certain things is how you approach them; your view on certain things is not the same as other, you control what you see.

Act always on that maxim which you can, at the same time, will should be universal law.”

  • Emmanuel Kant

Categorical imperative is another key part of ethics. Kant defines an categorical imperative as any proposition declaring a certain action (or inaction) to be necessary. I also incorporate Kant’s view in my everyday life when having to do with moral decisions I may have to make. Lets say that I am stopped at a red light late at night and no one is around me, do I stay and wait for the light to turn green or do I go through. Kant’s view on this subject would be do to the right, moral thing to do and stay. If I were to drive through the red light Kant would view this as breaking universal law which would allow for other people too, causing a ripple effect among others.

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In my own life experience I have acquired many problems I have faced with moral philosophy and ethical views on certain things. One example I would share with you would be an experience I had when I was 10 years old. Once upon a time when Mackenzy sparks-guest was 10 years old she was playing in a usual Sunday soccer game at town center. Now this soccer game was not another game, it was the league final which was the most important game of the year. Young Mackenzy was so excited to play but her mean old coach did not play her due to her ” not being as good” as the other girls on the team. Mackenzy sat on the bench with minute left till the end of the game when a player on her team had been tripped and injured. This injury resulted in her having to come off the field and a new player being entered in, this player so happened to be Mackenzy. Nervous when she entered the field she knew and believed in her skills and with 2 minutes left in the game had scored off a corner kick. The whistle had blew to determine the end of the game and Mackenzy had won the final game for the team. Her smiled filled her face and everyone was proud of her, she proved her coach wrong and ended with an immense amount of happiness in her body and a gold medal around her neck. This is a personal issue that deals with the utilitarian part of ethics because that experience I had went through and the feelings and emotion I had acquired had been so unique to me. If another girl on the team had scored, yes she would be happy, but not the same feelings I had because I had something to prove which I did, along with feelings of doubt, and uncertainty; I was not confident. One simply views every aspect of life, and how you chose to view certain things is up to you; choose wisely.

 

 

 

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Utilitarian vs Categorical Imperative

John Stuart Mill, English philosopher, political economist and civil servant. One of the most influential thinkers in the history of liberalism, he contributed widely to many different . Dubbed “the most influential English-speaking philosopher of the nineteenth century” also brought up often in high-schoolers blog posts on Utilitarianism, which does make sense considering he is the forefather of Utilitarianism. Kant a German philosopher who is considered a central figure in modern philosophy and also funnily enough appears often in high-schoolers blog posts on categorical imperative, and now they’re both appearing on mine, seeing as i’m comparing and contrasting the two for Mr Jackson’s Philosophy 12 class. Utilitarianism and Categorical Imperative, are almost polar opposites, in what they each individually preach, Utilitarianism, is more focused on the end goal, consequential, it’s sometimes referred to as, some would even go as far as to say that, it’s so heavily based on ones own personal happiness it’s almost borderline hedonistic, and egocentric. Categorical Imperative, is basically a fancy way of saying the same old rule you’ve been hearing all your life, from a poster on your childhood bedroom, to a mural painted across your school, to treat others as an ends in themselves rather than a means, treating someone justly and fairly, doing unto others as you’d have them do unto you, all that good stuff. basically just being a not terrible person. Skimming the surface aside, lets discuss and really delve deeper into each individual theory, or philosophical standpoint.

Utilitarianism, the philosophical baby of one John Stuart Mill, is defined by Merriam Webster as: a doctrine that the useful is the good and that the determining consideration of right conduct should be the usefulness of its consequences; specifically :  a theory that the aim of action should be the largest possible balance of pleasure over pain or the greatest happiness of the greatest number, in simpler terms, a  theory that is mostly thinking more so about the end game, and how happy you are at the end of the day. Mill has a theory that i feel most liberal teenagers nowadays would be at a subconscious level subscribing to, if there’s something you dont like, it’s not worth doing, and it’s you shouldn’t do it because it doesn’t make you happy, I however dont agree with that, and here’s why, I believe that there will be times in your life where you will be faced with an obstacle, and to overcome that obstacle, is gain, you’d benefit greatly from overcoming that obstacle, yet because you wholeheartedly subscribe to Mills way of being, you wont attempt to overcome said obstacle, why? Because it doesn’t make you happy, therefore it’s not worth doing. The world is an imperfect place, with lactic acid build up when we work out, with our phones going off on a regular basis when we try to do home work, youtube videos are more interesting than studying for your English provincial, and there are easier, fun, ways out of things that we need to do, however the harsh reality is that, if we all live trying to have fun, and be happy, then nothing would ever get done, even if the end goal does provide joy, the getting there part, wont be enjoyable.

Categorical Imperative, the philosophical baby of German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, is defined by Merriam-Webster as: a moral obligation or command that is unconditionally and universally binding, a much more straight to the point explanation compared to Utilitarianism, but for those who need reiteration, such as myself, in laymans term’s treat others the way you’d want to be treated. Really? That’s it? You may be asking yourself, essentially yeah, that’s pretty much it. Delving deeper than what you’d see in a preschool classroom however, Kant’s theory actually goes something like this: None should be treated as a means rather then an end in themselves, see that sounds alot better, atleast in my opinion. This would be more of an rights activist point of view, Kant was using this theory as  a means to protect peoples rights, so that their autonomy would be respected, because everyone is entitled to being treated like a respectable human being. I personally subscribe to this more so than Mills theory, mostly because I feel that, Kant’s theory in it’s bare bones form, is the way that everyone should be living, just because something someone does, doesn’t make you happy, doesn’t mean that you have any right to treat them with any less respect because of the fact, being a decent human being, i personally consider the Categorical Imperative way of being makes more sense. mostly because that’s just, the right thing to do, worrying about other people over yourself, it’s something you’re taught from a very young age, share your toys because the other kids might not, and then one day they’ll share with you too, cause that’s being a nice person, I feel like, if more people followed this idea, then the world would honestly just be so much better, everyone would be nice, donald trump wouldn’t be a cheetoh full of rage, and we could all live a cheetoh free lifestyle, what a world that’d be.

I was planning on making a whole paragraph on what i personally think of the two, but i kindof already did that within the second and third paragraphs. so i guess we’ll just wrap it up here then. I just feel as if though, we need more people thinking in the Categorical Imperative mind set, treating people how they should be treated, and obviously in a perfect world we’d all be nice to eachother and life would be great, and i realise that we’re not perfect, and to err is human, so obviously that’s no ones fault other than our own, but nevertheless i feel that’s the way that we should be moving as a society.  Just be a not mean person, open the door for little old ladies, tip your waiters/waitresses, and dont be rude, and we’ll all be able to sleep easy at the end of the day.

 

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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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Aesthetic Experience Synthesis- David

For me an aesthetic experience is an experience that speaks to you – something that either rekindles a memory from the past or ignites a new type of excitement. For example, an event might invoke a feeling that connects you to your childhood, and might shower you with a warm gush of comfort. Or an event might pave a new path and spark a completely different feeling that you were foreign too. An aesthetic experience is a derivative of what you enjoy.

When I spoke with my peers regarding their definitions of aesthetic experience, I was showered with a variety of interpretations, but all with the same theme: To explore upon something that you enjoy. An aesthetic experience can not be achieved unless the person is doing something that he enjoys to some extent. To enjoy something, a relative level of control and excitement has to be exerted over that specific experience. For example, for some people, can aesthetic experience can border from a life threatening experience, but even so the person has some form of control over the situation to be able to enjoy that experience.

My peers mostly agreed with my interpretation of an aesthetic experience. I am sure, all of us have had experiences that revisit fond memories from the past and also spark new feelings that we would like to further expand upon. An aesthetic experience can also be achieved through a combination of both – an experience that seeks to appreciate what we already know and also explore beyond into the unknown.

For me an aesthetic experience that I treasured a lot during my Winter holidays was a revisit of the Chinese night market that I always used to visit as a kid. I had the pleasure of flying back to China to visit relatives over the winter and through my time in China i was able to rekindle with many of the things I used to be fond of as a kid. One such was my love for late night streets snacks. As a kid, I would visit streets in my hometown, Shanghai, filled with vendors that sell various types of street food such as grilled lamb skewers, fresh baked bread, fried tofu, fried chicken and many more delicious snacks. Even though, these stalls are shutting down more and more across the city due to stricter health guidelines and government control, there are still a handful left in the vast metropolitan city.

Through my visit to the Chinese night market I was able to connect back with the past me, the five year old me, and what he enjoyed. It helped me understand how much I’ve grown as a person, and how much my perspective has changed. I am now more aware of the many details that I did not care for in the past. For example, the dirty ethic that vendors might display, like touching money whilst cooking the food. All in all, re-visiting this memory brought me great joy, but also has helped me understand more about the experience that i otherwise would not have known.

 

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Phil’s TIME off ;)

For my metaphysics post I talked a little about time, and since I was away on vacation I though it would fit perfectly. My three questions concept of…

  1. what is time?
  2. what is cyclical time?
  3. what is linear time? 

As you read this imagine yourself landing in Punta Cana after a long flight, the air is fresh and crisp. The weather was better than expected sunny with just the right breeze, as you got on to the bus that toke you from the airport to the hotel you saw a forest of green and how the rural area looked like. When you got to the hotel (brand new btw) drinks greeted you with warm welcomes, thats when you knew it was the vacation you were in need of. The next day you wake up just in time before breakfast ended, coffee and some nice muffin or omelette (whatever you want), as you ate the sun was out and was a perfect day for the beach or tanning day. Well ladies and gents, that was not exactly my vacation:( it was sunny 2 out of the 7 days I was there. But back to Phil’s day off, we need to answer the three questions.

What is time?

My time in Punta Cana I got to understand how it’s really like for different countries, cultures etc. Being 4 hours early it made everything felt like it went faster even through I woke up the same time I’d normal do in Vancouver on weekends, it didn’t really answer my question of what is time. But one thing that I thought about (related to question) is how much they treasure the moment, they knew how important every minute was. Both those who worked in the hotel and people I saw in the cities showed how they aren’t really scared to seize the day, really.

What is Cyclical Time?

Waking up everyday, getting breakfast, doing an activity in the afternoon, dinner then drinks really felt like a cycle while I was there. It was kind of the same routine every night, but a little different. Everyday felt like a repeat of the events that happen since the first day I got there, because life was quite different in Vancouver compare to Punta Cana (eating 3 times a day etc) it felt like something we had to do. Once we did activities it felt like time kind of kept going and didn’t stop, during that time was continuos.

What is Linear Time? 

During the whole trip I didn’t really feel that time was Linear, until the last day where I finally notice that my trip came to an end. It made me remember that our adventures started on a certain day and will come to an end. Therefore it did kind of answer that question but not in a way where I feel like time is always Linear, this is because I believe their are certain events in life where it is Linear and other situation is Cyclical time.

In conclusion my Phil’s day off didn’t answer all the questions that I had but it did answer most of them, the ones related to Cyclical and Linear was more easily to conclude compare to the question of what is time, since there are so many possible answer depending on person/culture. Some believed that time is control by human while others disagree, therefore my trip there was quite hard to pinpoint an exact answer to it. But other than not being to answer that question my trip there was delightful, it allowed me to see what it was like to live in a place like Punta Cana/Dominican Republic, it showed me the importance of saving and using every moment of our lives not giving a dam really (to a certain point).

PS. i still don’t know if this make sense or if I did it right, but there isn’t a right or wrong in philosophy right??????

 

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Sledding my way to an aesthetic experience

Originally I was going to do a oral presentation on this but I thought that maybe people would not fully understand my demonstrations as well as the words coming out of my mouth. As well as I was embarrassed to share my idea because I thought people wouldn’t take me seriously.

Anyways let me start, Over the holiday I had several questions that I wanted to answer for this aesthetics post but I had narrowed it down to just 3:

  1. What substances contribute to the emotion of happiness?
  2. Can you achieve true happiness through simple action?
  3. What does happiness mean to me and what do I feel in that moment

One of my most memorable aesthetic experiences I had over the break was simply going sledding with one of my friends. This simple yet meaningful experience helped me answer the question of “What substances contribute to the emotion of happiness” This experience helped me answer and really learn about how I view certain things. Starting form the top of that hill to the bottom may have been a slight joy for some, but for me made my mind fill up with dopamine and brought a big smile to my face. I learned through this experience the reasons and substances that help me achieve this feeling of true happiness were through the memories that this had brought back from when I was younger. I was so happy remembering when times were easier, where I didn’t have to worry about getting into university, where I didn’t have to worry about certain drama, and where everything was lived so simply; stress free. I learned that the true reason I was so happy was because of the memories and the thoughts it had brought back to me, giving me that feeling back was like reliving that moment.

Although beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, the feeling of being beautiful exists solely in the mind of the beheld
 -Martha Beck

My aesthetic experience or journey reminded me and connected me with the philosopher Descartes. Descartes really believed in the phrase “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” which I agree with very much. My aesthetic experience was individual to me, I am the only person to feel what I felt in that day and I can choose to make it beautiful which is exactly what I did or I can simply ignore its beauty, which others may do in the situation. It proves in this situation, and I am very confident in that phrase, that things became beautiful to you when you make them. Not all things are valued the same way in everyone’s eyes, we must make them our own and then either view them as beautiful which I had done while sledding, or ignore their beauty; Its all up to you.

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