Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Phil’s Day Off: A Purple Doggy and A Dragonfly

On April 15, 2016, I volunteered at Shining Star Daycare from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. One of the things that the daycare believes in is making sure that the kids have constant and consistent routine. After lunch, they read books before their nap time, which was how I actively explored and learned about my modified question,  “Does an object exist if it does not have a name?”

While I’m reading books to them, I often like to point out animals or colours so they can practice and remember what certain things are called, and to just get them more engaged in general. It often proceeds as follows:

Me: What’s that?

Them: A doggy!

Me: What colour is that?

Them: Purple!

However, because they are two years old and they’re still learning about their world, sometimes they don’t know what I point to, and it goes something like this:

Them: What’s that?

Me: A dragonfly!

I think that this concept, especially when it regards children, is really interesting because we are able to see the different ways that nature and nurture affect their growth and development. During the weekend, I also reflected on how nurture plays a large part in naming objects and knowing that they exist. Personally, I don’t think that we are biologically predisposed to know what certain things are called – I’m sure I didn’t come out of the womb knowing what a dragonfly is or what it’s called.

As a result, I observed that children themselves provide evidence that perhaps objects that are unnamed truly do not exist to them – they didn’t know what a dragonfly looked like, and therefore there was no name to provide the dragonfly’s existence to them.



Discussing the Discussion – Sydney

Previously, I posted a blog post about Saul A. Kripke’s Naming and Necessity. I explored my question, “How do we judge, assess, and label “things?”” and read about how words have different connotations and denotations, and what the actual definition of a “name” might be. Kripke’s work allowed me to rephrase my question and change it into, “How do names refer to things in the world? However, during the class discussions, I found interest in topics other than simply naming objects.

On the first day of discussion, I talked with Kiana about the afterlife. This was really interesting because she mentioned how something she read had stated that death is merely a concept. Kiana and I discussed how it might be possible that because we are raised knowing that we will eventually die, that is simply the reason that we allow, so to speak, ourselves to die. Of course, our bodies will eventually deteriorate, but if we were unaware of death, our soul could possibly continue living. This concept is sort of similar to the idea of people who look at lists of symptoms for certain diseases online, and become suddenly so aware of the possibility that they could have the disease and think that they do when they actually don’t. We also applied this concept to other situations, such as when Mr. Jackson mentioned in class one day that blue was one of the last colours to be named. We wondered if just because there was no name for the colour blue, did they not see it all, or would they have just classified it as another colour or shade? This example of the colour blue does relate to my initial question in the way that it involves naming objects, but it relates more to questioning an object’s existence if it does not have a name at all.

On the second day of discussion, I was in a group with Jessica, Helena, Laike, Kiana, David, and Shem. In this group, we discussed different points about God:

  • Is there God? Does he make our decisions, or do we?
    • If people believe there is God, He has a plan for us.
    • Religion can be abused – how do we know what is real?
    • Religion gives people purpose, may be an external motivator
      • Especially in hard times, can provide relatability and be hero-like
    • Religion will evolve and change through time
  • Is religion put in place for justice?
    • Morality vs. actual law
    • There are obviously rules in the Bible, but what effect do they have on the law?
    • Can scare or limit people, but it may not be as useful today.

As much as this discussion was useful and interesting, I don’t think that this particular topic relates as much to my previous discussion or questions. It could be related through the question as to whether God is a name or a description, or whether God exists because we are aware of the possibility of His existence.

However, through these discussions, and especially my discussion with Kiana, I think that my question may be evolving into: Does an object exist if it does not have a name? Does an object exist if we are unaware of it?