Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Katie Crompton – The Scientific Version of if You’re Happy and You Know it Clap Your Hands

*title creds to Erinn*

In our group discussions on Thursday, I discovered exactly how universal my topic is. Though I was able to connect my topic with most discussions, there were a few big topics that really stuck out to me in relation to my topic of the connection between Being and emotion.

The first was discussions around AI. At first, I didn’t really expect to get much from this topic, but I was pleasantly surprised when I was able to make a big connection. The AI discussions made me think about the authenticity of emotions. If we are to say that emotions constitute Being then does that mean if AI expresses emotion, it is Being? Even though the emotions are programmed into them, can they still Be? Are the human emotions just programmed into us? If so, is it possible to be completely authentic? Authenticity is what creates the separation between being and Being, so if it’s impossible to be completely authentic, how can anyone Be?

Wall-e and Eve being happy gif from Tumblr

Another big idea I got from the discussions is that we as humans have a power that other species don’t. We have the ability to hide our emotions and feign different ones. Lying about our emotions has become so normal that if someone asks if another person is okay and they respond with, “I’m fine,” we know that may not be the case. So, if we are lying about our true emotions, are we being or Being? We are still experiencing our true emotions, but does the fact that we are trying to hide them mean we are being? If we don’t completely embrace every single one of our emotions, does that mean we are inauthentic? This whole idea also makes me think of actors. Is an actor Being or being while they are acting? They are faking their own emotions, but they have completely embraced the emotions of the character they are portraying. So, are they being because the emotions they are showing aren’t their own, or are they Being because they have “become” the person they are portraying and are authentically showing that character’s emotions? Before I have an existential crisis surrounding my future career path I should probably stop. This post is getting pretty long anyway so let’s just sum it all up.

Hades from Hercules gif from Tumblr

All in all, these discussions were really interesting, but definitely didn’t help clarify anything. I have so many new ideas and questions and I don’t really know where to go next. I will definitely continue to explore human’s ability to fake their emotions and also continue with how we express emotions, which was mentioned in my first post. I have finally come to accept that I won’t be able to answer any of the questions I have formed, but only make suggestions and just broaden the topic further.

 

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Non-Physical Existence

After discussing the basics of Metaphysics in class I am very curious about the ideas of the self and existence. When it comes to the self, I believe most strongly in the theory of dualism, the idea that the self is both essence and substance, material and non-material. I also believe in David Hume’s Bundle Theory, the idea that the self is a projection of the bundle of experiences we have collected throughout our lives. However, I am curious about just how much of the self can exist as either entirely physical or entirely non-physical. In a strictly physical existence, the self can be defined as a mass of molecules and a collection of chemical reactions. But when it comes to a non-physical existence there isn’t a clear definition. I want to explore the possibility of the self existing entirely separate from the physical body and the different ways in which this could occur. For this series of blog posts I have decided to ask the question: In what capacity can the self exist outside of the physical body?

 

What is existence?

To begin to approach this question, we must first define existence. What is existence? Existence can be defined as the fact or state of living or having objective reality, continued survival, or any person’s supposed current, future, or past lives on this earth. For the purpose of my inquiry, I am going to look at existence more in terms of Heidegger’s “Being” and less in terms of basic survival or occupying physical space. In order to discuss this I hope to find or develop some sort of system for measuring the level of “Being” that an entity has in order to objectively as possible discuss the capacity at which it is existing.

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What are the components of the self?

Another important concept to explore is the different components of the self and how they in turn relate to existence. I want to further explore the connections and separations between essence and substance as well as mind, body and soul. I also want to look into the similarities and differences between how an individual perceives their own self and how others perceive it.

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How can a non-physical existence occur?

Finally I want to ask, in what ways can a non-physical existence occur? And is it possible for a person to exist without a physical body? While most of us can agree that non-physical emotions like pride and love and hate exist, is this type of existence possible for people? To start off I’ve made a mind map of the different ways in which I believe a non-physical existence can occur.

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I am really excited to look into this topic, I think it is really relevant to the current state of society where more and more of our lives and interactions are happening online. To begin to answer my questions I have turned to Rob Horning’s essay Me Meme. In the essay Horning explores the relationship between social media and the self and proposing really interesting ideas about “the makeshift identity” most of us have on social media platforms. He goes on to state that “this identity can be shared and consumed not only by others but by oneself. This brings up the idea that the self we portray on social media can be, in extreme cases, completely independent from our true self and therefore may be considered a non-physical existence. Moving forward with this inquiry, I am really interested in looking into the way social media is facilitating the creation of less and less physical existences.

 

 

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I’m Emotional – Katie Crompton

I’ve always thought that emotions are what make us human and that you need them to survive. If we couldn’t feel, how could we communicate and develop relationships? But what if you could live without expressing emotions? My questions on the ties between emotion and life have developed a lot during our metaphysical discussions, particularly when speaking about Heidegger’s theory of being vs. Being. From that topic came this question:

Does expressing emotion mean you are Being?

Before we can try and answer this question, we need to attempt to answer the following questions.

What is Being as opposed to being?

Martin Heidegger says that the difference between Being and being is how you live your life. He says that Being is having complete awareness of your Being while being is merely being a physical thing on the planet. In other words, being is existing while Being is truly living. Also, when you are Being, you are considered to be living an authentic life, while you are not if you are just being.

What is an emotion?

Merriam-Webster defines emotion as:

“the affective aspect of consciousness”

or

“a conscious mental reaction (as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body”

This may be the literary definition, but science makes this seemingly simple human action a lot more convoluted, as described in this article. This article depicts the difference between Paul Ekman’s universality theory and Lisa Feldman Barrett’s natural-kind view. The article describes these two theories and many more that fit in the middle of this psychological spectrum in much more detail, but in a nutshell, the universality theory says that all human’s express and observe emotions in the same way while the natural-kind view says that emotions aren’t biologically basic and aren’t interpreted and expressed in the same way. It well may be that emotions are just something we can’t explain or have a definitive answer on, which makes this whole concept a little more difficult.

The some of the pictures used in Ekman’s experiments from the article from The Atlantic

How do emotions happen/how are they expressed?

To answer this question, it would make it a lot easier if we could know if emotions are a biological thing or not, but we can attempt to answer this from things we already know.

*Note: I am not in psychology so this is not going to be a scientific explanation at all*

We can all basically agree that emotions are triggered things that happen in your daily life. Happiness from being with friends, sadness from hearing bad news, fear from watching a horror movie, and so on. Even though emotions can also be triggered from memories, it all happened in real life at some point. But what about things that happen in your dreams or just in your imagination? They can make you happy or scared or confused on their own. This then opens the question on reality and if the things that “happened” in your life are really just made up by your mind. As mentioned in the article, human’s have a special power. We have the power to create our own reality on agreeing on things like currency roads and possibly emotions. But did we create the reality or was it created for us?

Where to next?

This is a giant situation chalk full of unknowns. The next thing that should be explored is different definitions of reality and how they connect to the expression of emotions. This would then help us to discover the link between the expression of emotions and being.

Anchorman gif from Tenor

 

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Come Join the Hivemind

(Okay, don’t really.)

So, consciousness and unconsciousness. In theory, we’ve all got one. They’re the defining traits of what makes us who we are, and, in the words of Descartes, “thought exists, it alone cannot be separated from me. I am; I exist,” the idea then, that nothing can be confirmed except ourselves – except the presence of our own thoughts and conscious. That concept then, is that we are alone.

But, we cannot perceive all of our unconscious. For the most part, it’s unknown to us, coming out in the form of passive dreams, hidden desires, and for some, intrusive thoughts that we know we didn’t have. Nobody knows all there is to know about the thoughts they have, no matter how much they may claim they do.

So, if we cannot perceive all of our conscious that lets us Be, then who’s to say that it functions autonomously? What if Descartes was right, that the only thing that can be proven is our own thought. But also, what if our thought was not only ours? Taking a page out of Carl Jung‘s book, what if we shared a collective unconscious?

It’s not a new idea. Archetypes, the concept that the collective unconscious relies on the most heavily, were first mentioned with Plato relating to his Theory of Forms. However, it was Jung who refined the idea the most.

His idea was that we all collectively are aware of archetypes as concepts, and as history and culture move forwards, we experience people and moments that display these archetypes, whether through real or fiction. (In the case of fiction specifically, try The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell.)

So, through the collective unconscious and the archetypes within, we see reflections of concepts such as the motherthe devilthe childthe tricksterthe wise old man, and others. While broad terms, they’re seen reflected throughout history and throughout all cultures. These archetypes touch our myths and define the heros of media even today. Play them straight or juxtapose them, but they come out all the same regardless.

A collective unconscious, a shared reality. They’re ideas that have been touched both by Psychologists and Philosophers, due to the very distinct nature of the consciousness and our understanding of ourselves, which makes it a very rewarding topic to broach.

But, how do we prove it?
Can we let it define us?
Are we our own people, let alone capable of originality, if our ideas all come from before?

We might not ever be able to tell, but we might as well ask anyway.

 
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