Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Metaphysics Unit Reflection and Self-Assessment

 

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The Eternal Pursuit for Knowledge and Meaning (aka Nikki’s soul-searching journey)

Intellectual or not, the human mind is on a constant path of furthering it’s own knowledge. Whether it be street smarts gained by years of socialization or the physical push for a higher education, we grow and adapt and seek out new information to cope with our ever changing surroundings.

Since the dawn of time, man (and woman) have pushed and grown to new heights to advance as a civilization. What drives this innate sense of growth and prosperity? What pushes us to seek higher education and put ourselves through years of schooling?

In it’s truest form philosophy refers to the “love of wisdom,” but in a general sense it could also refer to “the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group.” To myself that definitely seems like the pursuit of knowledge and growth in a person. As seen by this photo, even philosophy itself, moves and adapts and seeks more and more to fulfill their insatiable need to explain the universe.

We desire knowledge to figure out this crazy universe and if there is a true meaning to our lives or if we’re just pawns in someone’s game or just specks of dust floating in space.

Different views have different opinions so what are we really supposed to believe? We as individuals seek out philosophy as a way to differentiate ourselves from the general populace of “sheeple” and to find our own meaning to life. To learn and hear people’s opinions and learn tolerance and how to argue for ourselves and stand up and fight the face of injustice.

Philosophy gives us a platform to seek a higher knowledge and expand our views. I personally am here to develop my own opinion and find my voice in the endless void. It is so easy to be lost in the sea of opinions and just give up and join the masses, but it takes real chutzpah to be the voice above the rest and really be yourself.

And along the words of the eternal cliche Robert Frost “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —I took the one less traveled by.”

TL;DR I’m very opinionated and I like big words. Different people have different views, it’s almost like we’re individuals. Philosophy gives me existential crises and I don’t know if I like that.

 

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Midterm Assignment: Personal Theory of Knowledge

εntropyıng ın-bεtwεεn Camεra▲Obscura . .

Image courtesy of Flickr user Jef Safi

All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason.

Immanuel Kant

For credit as well as open-online participants are invited to respond to the following prompts in developing a personal theory of knowledge to be share on the blog by the end of next week (Friday December 5th). 

Purpose

  • To state and support a proposition of personal knowledge;
  • To synthesize and reflect on course topics explore thus far:
    • Philosophical Inquiry
    • Logic
    • Scientific Philosophy
    • Metaphysics
  • To integrate existing epistemological ideas into a unique personal theory.

Components

  • It’s a Blog Post: Each personal theory of epistemology will be posted in the form of a blog entry on the class site.
  • Tell us what you know: Identify a specific aspect or perspective of your view of knowledge ( how, where, and under what conditions it exists, is acquired, communicated).
  • Be Logical: Represent the statements formulating your proposition of knowledge as a syllogism or logical argument.
  • Cite your Sources: Whether the website that originally posted the image at the top of your post or the thinker(s) who informed your own ideas, use links and identify how others’ have influenced your published work.

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 1.26.22 PM

 

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Discussable Object Blog Introduction

Discussable Object Blog Introduction

The Prompts

Use the above prompts to develop your contribution to next week’s Discussable Object.

 

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Scientific Philosophy Group Headings

Image from the FreeCollective.org

This week we will be attempting to respond to the question, Is Science Objective? through a variety of lenses. Read up on the links below to help us in choosing our groups for this course of study.

The Objectivity of Science
Chris Price

Postmodernism
Kristina, Daniel & Leanne

Philosophy of Deutsch
Richard and Greg

Thomas Kuhn
Daniel
Guide to Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Feminism
Iris, Yazmeen & Stephanie

Logical Positivism
Jennifer, Mariana & Misha

Karl Popper
Jonathan & Nick

Anarchistic Epistemology
Liam Keagan & Clayton

Instrumentalism
Toren, Megan & Derek

Van Ormine Quine
Kelly, Emily & Zoe

 

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Logic Week Blogging Assignments (For-Credit & Open-Online Participants)

Logic Week Blogging

Your mission, should you choose to accept it.

Above please find the criteria for this week’s assignments to be blogged here on the #Philosophy12 site.

Face-to-Face / For-Credit Participants (that’s you, block two!): Please fulfill the criteria to the best of your ability in the time allotted. If you would like to amend the assignments or riff in an as-yet-undescribed manner, see me during class Wednesday to discuss before setting out in your own personal direction.

Open-Online Participants (that’s you, anyone else who’s reading this blog!): Fulfill any piece or part of the above criteria, comment on For-Credit posts, ask questions, supply articles, videos, or links to interesting material that might serve others in the quest to explore and understand logic as it works in our day-to-day world. Post links, questions, or other input to the #Philosophy12 hashtag on Twitter, or jump in with both feet and drop three fully-formed posts on us as if you were taking the class for credit (I’ll see what I can do about getting some accreditation your way).

As you blog, please be sure to Categorize Your Post under Logic and Scientific PhilosophyIf you are looking to read, check under that category for the accumulated unit posts. 

To whet your logician’s whistle (maybe someone would like to dream up that schematic), here are some posts from last year’s trip through introductory logic and reason (Note: last year’s assignment was slightly different that this years and will not serve as a valuable template for For Credit participants):

Hufflepuffs are particularly good finders.

I am a Hufflepuff.

Therefore, I am a particularly good finder.

If you can’t see [Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Trall], it can’t see you.

If you wrap a towel around your head, you can’t see [Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Trall].

Therefore, the beast can’t see you, rendering itself useless in it’s efforts to try to eat you.

The Conservative Party stands for fiscal responsibility and accountability.

The Liberal Party opposes the Conservative Party.

Therefore, the Liberal Party opposes fiscal responsibility and accountability.

And as we have already begun to make his acquaintance this semester, I would like to extend a personal invitation and thanks to Mr. Stephen Downes, who brought such a comprehensive and illuminating perspective to our logical studies last year, and is (aside from being one of the pioneers in open learning from whom this course draws great inspiration) an outstanding example of an intellectual living in a global, digital community.

We are fortunate and grateful for his participation!

 

 

 

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First Assignment: What is Philosophy?

Image courtesy of the University of Philidelphia

In the interest of inviting our Open Online participants to join us right from the outset, I wanted to share the introductory activity the face-to-face class will be working on over the weekend so that we might get to know some of you out there as we come into next week.

The assignment – one of a few that won’t be completely wide open in choice – is this: to answer the (potentially) unanswerable question, What is Philosophyin an engaging and personable fashion that accomplished two goals:

  • We will begin to construct a collective definition of the beast we are setting out to tame: Philosophy.
  • We will get to know the members of our learning community and encounter their initial impressions of the subject at hand.

Your assignment may be completed as an essay (spoken or text on the blog), video, soundscape or song, visual representation or something that you feel represents you, and your answer to the question What is Philosophy? (If your work is visual or otherwise interpretive, your presentation should address the process and choices you made to communicate your thesis.)

Your presentation should be approximately 5′ – 15′ long, and can be shared as a new post on this blog. Please be sure to file it under the Introduction to Philosophical Inquiry category, tagged with “What is Philosophy,” and any other tags you feel might help organize our work over the course of the semester (including your name).

Direct any questions to Bryan Jackson, either on Twitter, @bryanjack, or email: brjackson at sd43.bc.ca

Looking forward to working with you!

For those looking to last year’s efforts as examples, here are some links to the first cycle’s responses to the question What is Philosophy? 

 

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Heal the World… with art

Art can be labelled as the appreciation of beauty because to everyone beauty is defined differently whether it’s the way someone looks, the rich taste in food, or even music. An object’s beauty would appear to be a relational, mind-dependent property – a property it possesses in asset of its capacity to affect observers in a certain manner.

Immanuel Kant presented an idea of an aesthetic judgment as a judgment that must be founded on a feeling of pleasure or displeasure; he insisted that a pure aesthetic judgment about an object is one that is unaffected by any concepts under which the object might be seen; and he tried to show that the implied claim of such a judgment to be valid for everyone is justified. But how acceptable is his conception of an aesthetic judgment and how successful is his attempted justification of the claims of pure aesthetic judgments 

 

 

There’s A Place In
Your Heart
And I Know That It Is Love
And This Place Could
Be Much
Brighter Than Tomorrow
And If You Really Try
You’ll Find There’s No Need
To Cry
In This Place You’ll Feel
There’s No Hurt Or Sorrow

There Are Ways
To Get There
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Little Space
Make A Better Place…

Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race
There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

If You Want To Know Why
There’s A Love That
Cannot Lie
Love Is Strong
It Only Cares For
Joyful Giving
If We Try
We Shall See
In This Bliss
We Cannot Feel
Fear Or Dread
We Stop Existing And
Start Living

Then It Feels That Always
Love’s Enough For
Us Growing
So Make A Better World
Make A Better World…

Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race
There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

And The Dream We Were
Conceived In
Will Reveal A Joyful Face
And The World We
Once Believed In
Will Shine Again In Grace
Then Why Do We Keep
Strangling Life
Wound This Earth
Crucify Its Soul
Though It’s Plain To See
This World Is Heavenly
Be God’s Glow

We Could Fly So High
Let Our Spirits Never Die
In My Heart
I Feel You Are All
My Brothers
Create A World With
No Fear
Together We’ll Cry
Happy Tears
See The Nations Turn
Their Swords
Into Plowshares

We Could Really Get There
If You Cared Enough
For The Living
Make A Little Space
To Make A Better Place…

Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race
There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race
There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race
There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me

Heal the world we live in, save it for our children
Heal the world we live in, save it for our children
Heal the world we live in, save it for our children
Heal the world we live in, save it for our children

 

Michael Jackson’s song Heal the World is a beautiful song that shows art with the lyrics and message that comes a long with it. On February 3, 1992, he created the “Heal The World Foundation”  and spoke about that during during a press conference the goal of the foundation is to provide rescue to world-wide children; protection against abuse; care giving; delivering medicines for children and fight world hunger, as well as to convey awareness on children’s rights and necessities, and improve world’s life standards. It is clear that these are things that Michael cared about and that is shown through his humanitarian work. However he left us with his song Heal the World that’s aim is to open the mind of his audience in ways that they can give back. The song is to heal the world, to make it a better place for you and for me and whole entire human race. He tries to make it clear that YOU can change or “heal the world” from what it has become and “make it a better place” caring for homeless people and helping the poor feeding the hungry. It’s about world peace there are much more important things than politics or government.  If we care about the people who are living in poverty and do something to help them the world would be a much better place. Jackson tried to send a message  about his strong beliefs in helping the world through his music to the audience in a different way than just making a speech, it was done in an enjoyable  that can still however impact you in ways that make you stop and think even if it’s just for a moment and to me that’s art. 

http://youtu.be/BWf-eARnf6U

 

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Calling All Dawns – Emily

Album artwork  –  Source: christophertin.com

Video game music is hardly the most prestigious or recognized form of art. Sure, it’s music, but it’s not a very common definition of “art” or “beauty”.

Christopher Tin composed the first ever piece of music written for a video game to receive a Grammy – Baba Yetu. Some of you might recognize it from our choir performance at the end of last year. This song was not only the theme music for Civilization IV, but also the first song on Tin’s album Calling All Dawns. This album, started in 2005 and released in 2009,  features twelve songs in twelve languages with lyrics coming from all over, including sacred texts, prayers, blessings, proverbs, and traditional poems. The album is done in the form of a song cycle. The songs are divided into three movements: Day, Night, and Dawn; corresponding to life, death, and rebirth.

The first movement, Day, has five songs – Baba Yetu (Swahili), Mado Kara Mieru (Japanese), Dao Zai Fan Ye (Mandarin), Se É Pra Vir Que Venha (Portuguese), and Rassemblons-Nous (French). These songs are about the future, joy, mystery and mortality. To me, all these songs make you want to move.

Night, the second movement, has three songs: Lux Aeterna (Latin), Caoineadh (Irish), and Hymn do Trócy Świętej (Polish). They are about death and sorrow; Caoineadh is even a traditional grieving song. These ones would fit perfectly in a sadness montage in a movie. Reflective and sobering.

Finally, we come to Dawn, the final movement of the album. Hayom Kadosh (Hebrew), Hamsáfár (Farsi), Sukla-Krsne (Sanskrit), and Kia Hora Te Marino (Maori). They are triumphant, joyful, and bring the cycle back around to life. In fact, the last song ends with the same chord as the first song opens with. All the songs flow through each other almost seamlessly – not only representing the circle of life, but also making it all one song, when it all comes down to it. It’s unifying – all the languages and styles together as one, even text from different religions’ holy books. To add to that, bits and pieces of some songs find their way into others, tying the whole thing together even further. To me, the whole album is like a journey. You are led through different emotions, countries, cultures and styles. The feeling I get at the end of Kia Hora Te Marino is the same as when I hear the finale of a musical as the curtain closes, or after I’ve watched a great movie or read the last few pages of a really good book. This album has even been described as “a musical story” in some reviews.

The mystery of hearing the music and lyrics in a foreign language is beautiful already. But upon reading the translations and meanings of the songs, they take on another level.

I find it beautiful in a descriptive way: this is my kind of music, and it makes me feel. It’s not your average piece of classical music, yet it’s so much more than just another pop song about another breakup, it’s about life, death, and the future. It makes me feel happy, energetic, pensive, peaceful, sad, welcomed, hopeful, and triumphant; all throughout these 45 minutes of art. This is one piece of art and beauty that makes me feel strongly again that art is anything that can make you feel like that. Many people who know me will remember me trying to tell them about this album at some point or another. I know that every time, I try to convey just how pretty it all is and how it makes you feel, but there aren’t really words for it. You just need to hear it yourself. So I think Tin really used a thirteenth language – music.

It’s also beautiful by normative standards: Calling All Dawns has won two Grammys and every review I’ve read has been outstandingly positive. Tin, Baba Yetu, and Calling All Dawns seem to have a massive fallowing on the internet as well. Not bad for a composer’s debut album.

 

Listen on.

 

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Ethics Blogging Assignment and Readings

Image from the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

Image from the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

Having crested the mid-point of the semester’s study of Philosophy 12, the face to face participants in the course have taken a brief respite from the class blog and focused on classroom-based activities and assignments.

As a synthesis of collaborative learning and knowledge-construction, two weeks ago the group delivered an hourlong, four-part lecture on Epistemology. This last week saw the class split into groups to prepare creative lessons / resources on Ethics to be shared with middle school students sometime next week. As these projects move forward with filming, songwriting, and illustration, this week will include a few different discussions of ethical questions and issues, both in class and on the blog.

Each of the for-credit participants will be asked to submit a post introducing and summarizing a moden ethical issue. These posts should roughly respond to the following criteria:

      • Describe the context, stakeholders, and ramifications of different outcomes of the debate. 
      • Summarize the key questions involved in processing the issue. 
      • Explore ways in which the debate could be framed in a larger context or conversation (eg. what is the essential question at stake?)
      • Outline past philosophers’ attempts to answer questions involved with this issue, and whether their wisdom can be applied to contemporary times. 

In addition to the standing invitation for our open online participants to join in the various discussions that these posts will likely illicit, and to ask questions, push back, or explore these issues and debates alongside our for-credit students, we would also welcome posts you might like to share with us outlining events or questions we might be overlooking.

If you haven’t yet, you can still drop your details in the course signup form and be added as an author on the blog. Also be sure to join us on Twitter by following the class hashtag at #philosophy12.

Some suggested areas of inquiry in the coming week:

Lying, Cheating and Stealing

Survey finds less cheating in high schools
““Changes in children’s behavior of this magnitude suggest a major shift in parenting and school involvement in issues of honesty and character,” Josephson said in a statement.

“Brian Jacob, a professor of education policy at the University of Michigan, said providing students with more information is one way to help curb cheating in schools. For instance, Jacob, who has looked at plagiarism in college, said research shows that you can help students understand, through tools such as an online tutorial, what constitutes plagiarism and strategies to avoid it.”

Freedom of Expression & Censorship

Bradley Manning: a tale of liberty lost in America
“Whatever one thinks of Manning’s alleged acts, he appears the classic whistleblower. This information could have been sold for substantial sums to a foreign government or a terror group. Instead he apparently knowingly risked his liberty to show them to the world because – he said when he believed he was speaking in private – he wanted to trigger “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms”.

War

Rethinking the Just War
“Can war be justified? Is there such a thing as morally proper conduct in war?

“With Veterans’ Day upon us and, with the Obama administration preparing to face another four years of geopolitical choices in unstable regions, The Stone is featuring recent work by Jeff McMahan, a philosopher and professor at Rutgers University, on “just war theory” — a set of ethical principles pertaining to violent conflict, whose origins can be traced back to Augustine, that still influence the politics and morality of war today. The work will be published in two parts on consecutive days — the first dealing with the background and history of the traditional just war theory, and second consisting of the author’s critique of that theory.”

Euthanasia

Appeal Court upholds exemption from doctor-assisted suicide ban
“Gloria Taylor’s right to avoid a “frightening and repugnant” death in the clutches of Lou Gehrig’s disease shouldn’t be sacrificed because the courts have yet to decide the fate of Canada’s doctor-assisted suicide ban, a judge ruled Friday as she upheld the British Columbia woman’s personal exemption from the law.

“The woman from West Kelowna, B.C., who was diagnosed with ALS three years ago and whose health continues to deteriorate, was among the plaintiffs in a landmark case that saw the B.C. Supreme Court strike down Canada’s ban on doctor-assisted suicide as unconstitutional.

“While the court suspended its decision, Taylor was granted an immediate exemption, making her the only person in Canada who can legally die with the help of a doctor.”

Genetics

Human Evolution Enters an Exciting New Phase
“Most of the mutations that we found arose in the last 200 generations or so. There hasn’t been much time for random change or deterministic change through natural selection,” said geneticist Joshua Akey of the University of Washington, co-author of the Nov. 28 Nature study. “We have a repository of all this new variation for humanity to use as a substrate. In a way, we’re more evolvable now than at any time in our history.”

Conservation & Preservation of the Environment

What is Education for? by David Orr
We are accustomed to thinking of learning as good in and of itself. But as environmental educator David Orr reminds us, our education up till now has in some ways created a monster. This essay is adapted from his commencement address to the graduating class of 1990 at Arkansas College. It prompted many in our office to wonder why such speeches are made at the end, rather than the beginning, of the collegiate experience.”

Treatment of Non-Human Animals

Animals Can Tell Right from Wrong
“Until recently, humans were thought to be the only species to experience complex emotions and have a sense of morality.

“But Prof Marc Bekoff, an ecologist at University of Colorado, Boulder, believes that morals are “hard-wired” into the brains of all mammals and provide the “social glue” that allow often aggressive and competitive animals to live together in groups.”

New Science Emboldens Long Shot Bid for Dolphin, Whale Rights
“Just a few decades ago, cetacean rights would have been considered a purely sentimental rather than scientifically supportable idea. But scientifically if not yet legally, evidence is overwhelming that cetaceans are special.

“At a purely neuroanatomical level, their brains are as complex as our own. Their brains are also big — and not simply because cetaceans are large. Dolphins and whales have brains that are exceptional for their size, second only to modern humans in being larger than one would expect. They also possess neurological structures that, in humans, are linked to high-level social and intellectual function.”

Intellectual Property

Remix, Aggregation, Plagiarism, Oh My
“Remixing is the 4th most nefarious form of plagarism, and mashups are #7…at least according to these 900 teachers and instructors. This saddens me because I happen to consider these two activities some of the most creative and original cultural actshappening today. And to think there are 900 some instructors and teachers out there who do not recognize the creative value  and sheer amount of work it takes to create something new and original out of what existed before.”

Ethics in Business

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Business Ethics
“This entry focuses generally on academic business ethics, more particularly on the philosophically-informed part of business ethics, and most particularly on the constellation of philosophically-relevant questions that inform the main conversation and ongoing disagreement among academic business ethicists. It covers: (1) the history of business ethics as an academic endeavor; (2) the focus on the corporation in academic business ethics; (3) the treatment of the employment relation in academic business ethics; (4) the treatment of transnational issues in academic business ethics; and (5) criticism of the focus and implicit methodology of academic business ethics.”

Advertising

Rogers Misleading Advertising Case: Truth-In-Advertising Laws Violate Our Rights, Telecom Giant Says
“Telecom giant Rogers is arguing before an Ontario court that truth-in-advertising rules are a violation of its right to freedom of expression, according to a news report.

“Postmedia’s Sarah Schmidt reports that Rogers is challenging a $10-million fine levied on it for misleading advertising by the federal Competition Bureau by arguing that being forced to test its products before making claims about them is a violation of freedom of expression under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

 
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