Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


It’s time for some ghost adventures

Coming from the Greek word for ‘Para’ which means ‘next to’ or beyond and ‘nomos’ which means ‘rule’, the paranormal has been something that has fascinated humans for hundred of years. The definition of the paranormal; phenomena that cannot be explained with logic or  experiments using the scientific method. Putting it simply, it is the things that occur in our world that we cannot explain. Most commonly associated with ghosts aka spirits, it also includes physics/matter, energy and culture. ( In every culture throughout the world, there is some aspect of the paranormal. For example, in Catholic/Christian beliefs, there is the demon and angels. In Egyptian beliefs, there is Ba, an entity that can travel between the world of the dead and the world of the living. In Celtic lore, there is Ankou, the personification of death.)

 To  better explain something that is considered paranormal the way we know it, I’m going to give you an example of a well known haunting. About forty minutes outside of Chicago, Illinois is Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery. It’s first burial was in 1844 and the last recorded burial was in 1989. I say recorded because the small lake/pond the cemetery is located near became the burial place for people killed by the mob in Chicago. This cemetery is unfortunately extremely vandalized. From people digging up bodies to stealing the gravestones which created a legend that the gravestones move by themselves.

It’s common paranormal phenomenons are ‘phantom vehicles’ which might be a residual haunting, and floating lights. These lights have no source and are often red or blue in colour. It’s most common apparition is not a person but a house. According to witnesses, the house is always far away and always described the exact same. It’s a white house with porch pillars, a swing and soft lights in the windows. Yet whoever gets near it says that it will disappear before you can get close. The house is never reported in the same spot.

Photo taken by Mari Huff in 1991

There are also other apparitions seen in the cemetery and the forest that surrounds it. Some of them include a farmer and his horse who is said to have drowned in the pond, a two headed man and a large black dog. The most famous is the “White Lady” or the “Madonna of Bachelor’s Grove.” One of the most famous photographic pieces of proof that the cemetery is haunted as well as one of the best pieces of photographic evidence  is of a woman, possibly the “White Lady” sitting on a tombstone. It was taken in 1991 by Mari Huff, a member of the Ghost Research Society. Mari said that the woman was not there when she took the photo. Some people argue that it is a double exposure but professional photographers say that is it genuine.

When you think of the paranormal you might think of psychics and people standing in the dark and asking “can you give me a sign that you are here?” That is the metaphysical approach. In the Paranormal, there are two approaches. The metaphysical way and the non-metaphysical way. The non-metaphysical way is very scientific, using equipment to document phenomenon and disprove it as well as prove it. However, skeptics find the paranormal hard to believe in because the paranormal even with the non-metaphysical approach because it  cannot be tested with the scientific method.

“We have to understand that we are dealing with the unexplained. We only know what we can see, hear, smell, taste and feel; everything else is just a theory. Sometimes I feel that humans have the mentality of a two year old. Why does it do that? Why is this the way it is? Why, why why, why? We’re curious beings who are programmed to ask questions, but if there isn’t an answer than it must not exist and we ridicule it or make fun of those who believe in it. Anyone who has spent a day in the paranormal field has experienced this kind of skepticism. ‘Ghosts aren’t real and you’re an idiot if you think they are’ people say. – Zak Bagans, lead investigator of the Ghost Adventures Crew

Since this is a metaphysics post though, I’ll keep it to the metaphysics, but if you want to explore the non-metaphysical side of the paranormal like seeing some of the devices used to research the paranormal, you find some references here. (x) (x)

People believe that with a sixth sense, you can sense spiritual energy through different ways  from empathy to telepathically. Yet because of  so many frauds and lies, it is hard to believe these people. I, myself, am skeptical of people who say they can communicate with spirits, saying they can talk to them and hear them.  I do believe however, that people may be able to see or sense them more easily, sensing energy that others cannot. Maybe this is could tie into the collective consciousness idea that we are all connected in some way and when we die, that connection might become weaker for some and/or stronger for others.

This topic has been one that has been talked about for centuries, becoming increasingly popular since the Victorian era when things like Ouija Boards and  Spirit photography were invented. As well, people were starting to really think about death, especially during and after the first world war when death was something people faced every day. People want closure when they lose someone. People want to know that this isn’t over, that there is something that makes all of this worth it.

Photo my friend took at Riverview Hospital in 2014.

Photo my friend took at Riverview Hospital in 2014. A face is visible in the window.

There is more to the paranormal than things that go bump in the night. If you truly believe, a ghost is more than something scary. It’s someone’s consciousness. It’s someone who lived a  life like you and me. The paranormal is like direct contact with our past. For example, if you were to go to a place where there was a battle, you can still experience sounds, and see things from that time.

When you look past the things people experience in the paranormal, you realize that something must be keeping this energy here and that is the greatest mystery of all. Maybe it’s their actions and choices from when they were alive. Maybe it’s something that is bigger than what we can possibly understand that keeps them here. (I haven’t even touched on demons/demonology and other entities that are not human-like that have been documented. If you are interested on reading more of that, you can go here (x) (x) )

That only leaves more questions that with our current technology and thinking cannot even begin to answer yet. What is consciousness? What keeps a soul/spirit here after death? Why are some more connected to these spirits than others?

So until we fully answer these questions, all we can do is stand in the dark and ask “Are you here? Can you give me a sign?”




The Golden Ball

Philosophy can be seen as questioning the mere existence of reality, and this questioning goes beyond our material world. In the material world, reality is confined to “facts”, information and experiments that give us a false sense of reality and logic. Further more, this fascination the human brain has with the materialistic world may have its essence in the way we think, the way we think on the surface.Things we can understand that fit in with our experiments and laws that have been declared by sets of theories that have been only developing for only couple hundred years seems to give us comfort, a sense of security about this mysterious phenomenon we call life. On the contrary the human brain is so complex it also finds comfort in “abstract ideas”, such as theism and variety of dogmatic, ritualistic practices that give the illusion of an higher being, a deity that keeps you safe or destroys you with his wrathful will. A loving god that will take your soul to heaven, after you die. Death, A concept that has fascinated the human brain as far as the time our story began. Science argues that after death there’s no more existence as we know it. Our biological body decays as cellular death occurs. Does this mean our consciousness cease to exist as well? Or is there more to this phenomenon more than we can imagine. Philosophy, aims to ponder deeper into these thoughts. Is there a certain, ultimate answer? Probably not, as most of these abstract ideas such as the nature of self or how human consciousness really works ; create more questions that seem to have no answer. So? What’s the point of spending time and energy on philosophical ideas? If you would like to be believe the human race is even more fascinating than the way science perceive to be, then perfection of wisdom, pursue of enlightenment would be the path that you wouldn’t be able to wonder of another way. Philosophy is transcendental, it doesn’t favor different perspectives but the wise and the enlightened. Philosophy does not have facts to be discovered it doesn’t have information to live upon. Philosophy is a gateway to higher state of thinking and consciousness, where you can discover more about the very nature of human existence and more about you. Philosophy satisfies our fascination with mystery while having you guessing and questioning the idea of mystery it self. If knowledge is an ever expanding ocean of ideas that has existed and will exist in the future, than philosophy is a golden, glowing ball of fascination thrown into to the ocean of knowledge. It sinks and sinks to the very essence of the ocean. It doesn’t stay in the surface, for the surface of this ocean is visible. It is visible to the by standers whom have no idea how deep the ocean is. They are too stunned by the beauty of the ocean they see yet they refuse to acknowledge the dept of ocean. Praising the beauty of the ocean from the shallow end seem to be safer, it gives them comfort But the enlightened,he follows this golden ball of fascination deep into the ocean. As the ball goes deeper it sheds light upon the very darkness of the ocean of knowledge. The enlightened dives further, following the ever sinking ball. it gets darker and colder as he leaves familiar waters. As it gets darker, the ball still sheds light into the darkness, clearing a path for the man. Then he realizes, he finds comfort discovering the unknown. He realizes that the darkness will continue as the golden ball seem to shed more and more light as it sinks. This satisfies his curiosity, his craving for wisdom. Now that he’s deep in the ocean, he doesn’t see the purpose of admiring the beauty of the waves that hit the shallow shore, where people stand and watch. Does he keep following the golden glowing ball or does he go back to share what he has seen?




Talking Back: Knowledge’s Dependency upon Communication

Image taken from flickr.com user “liz west” and used under Creative Commons License.

You touch a hot stove. The nerves in your fingers send frantic messages screaming up your nervous system, travelling first through your arm then up through your neck. Your brain registers and processes the signal, then sends a reflex hurtling back to the rest of the body. Muscles in your arm contract and release, yanking your hand out of danger. Total time elapsed: a fraction of a second.

Communication is the essence of knowledge. We as humans communicate in many different ways, from text and speech to more basic systems such as body language. The initial communication, the first, most vital step in the hierarchy of information transfer, is none of these. Before text, speech, or body language is the human brain’s communication with the environment surrounding it. The stove is hot, the counter is smooth, the knife is sharp; all of these properties are recorded by our sensory organs. Our eyes, ears, nose, hands, and mouth all pick up information that is transmitted to the brain for processing. This is the initial communication, better described as the first and most basic transmission of information for all humans. Without this, it is impossible for humans to posses sensory information.

Note the careful use of vocabulary in the previous paragraph. There is a very important distinction between information and knowledge, and it would be folly to use the two interchangeably. To better explain what knowledge is (or at least my interpretation of it), I have prepared a logical argument that I will be going over piece by piece.


if information is a collection of facts provided or learned about something or someone;

and communication is the imparting or exchanging of information;

and an entity is a thing with distinct and independent existence;

and a conscious being is an entity that maintains self-awareness, responds to stimuli, and acquires information;

then knowledge is the communication of information where at least one of the communicating entities is a conscious being.

This argument is a list of definitions, starting by defining important terms and ending with a declaration of the essence of knowledge. To enable understanding, I’ve broken the argument down into bite-sized pieces for each individual statement.

Image taken from flickr.com user “Heath Brandon” and used under Creative Commons License.

Definition #1: Information

information is a collection of facts provided or learned about something or someone;

The different uses of the word information cause issues when attempting to define it. An article by Luciano Floridi quotes philosopher Claude Shannon that “the word ‘information’ has been given different meanings by various writers in the general field of information theory.” Essentially, the word can be used to represent multiple distinct philosophical objects. For clarity and simplification, I have whittled down the definition of information to a manageable size.

Information is, quite simply, facts. A piece of information is a property or attribute of the object which it references. For example, sharp is a property of a knife whereas dull is a property of a spoon. Information exists independently of language. To return to logic, although the statement (words) may be different the proposition (essence) remains the same. I would extend this to argue that information can also exist without the need for consciousness. To put it simply, if a tree fell in the forest it would make a sound regardless of whether anybody was around to hear it. This may clash with the unprovability of anything outside our own minds, but that’s a different argument in itself.

Definition #2: Communication

communication is the imparting or exchanging of information;

Drawing upon our definition of information, defining communication brings us closer to our final definition of knowledge itself. Communication is the transmission of facts, except that the original information is copied instead of moved. For example, if I read from a textbook that the sky is blue, the textbook still has that information after I read it.

To further break down the definition of communication, it is necessary to regard the two verbs used in the above definition. The exchange of information is a two way path; I tell you something, you tell me something. A basic example of this would be a conversation. On the other hand, the imparting of information is a one-way transfer. An example of this would be reading a book, where you receive information but send none back.

Another important method of imparting information is somewhat less obvious. Unlike a book, the environment around us does not always have facts displayed in written format. Despite this, humans still manage to acquire information from the natural world. How this happens can be thought of in two different ways: either humans take information from concrete objects, or concrete objects give information to humans. Whichever one is true is irrelevant for this definition, because either way it is a one way transfer of information from the environment to humans.

Definition #3: Entity

an entity is a thing with distinct and independent existence;

Image taken from upload.wikimedia.org and used under Creative Commons License.

An entity, quite simply is something that exists. Whether physical, mental, concrete, or abstract, an entity is something. Almost synonymous to “thing”, the word entity is simply used to describe the independence of some type of object. This term was mostly included in the argument to provide clarity for the definition of a conscious being.

Definition #4: Conscious Being

a conscious being is an entity that maintains self-awareness, responds to stimuli, and acquires information;

Defining consciousness remains an enormous issues for philosophers, scientists, and psychologists alike. Simply put, no-one can agree what is is. Nonetheless, for brevity’s sake I have created a simplified definition of a conscious being that is satisfactory for the scope of my argument.

The first quality of a conscious being is that it maintains self-awareness. In other words, it knows that is exists and is distinctly separate from other entities. Human are organisms that exhibit this quality, though primates and other animals may also posses complete of incomplete versions of self-awareness. The importance of this quality is that it separates humans from computers and other entities that may have the other two required properties.

The second quality of a conscious being is that it responds to stimuli. Philosopher Rubert Van Gulick restates this as “[a creature] capable of sensing and responding to its world”. This means that a conscious being changes, and perhaps adapts to differing environments and situations. Many non-conscious beings also exhibit this trait, but it is still an important attribute for a conscious being to have.

The third quality of a conscious being is that it acquires information. This quality is almost included in the previous property, but is still an important distinction for a conscious being. Something that is conscious must be able to use some form of sensory system to acquire and possess knowledge, whether from their physical environment or from elsewhere.


knowledge is the communication of information where at least one of the communicating entities is a conscious being.

The key of this statement is that one of the communicating entities must be a conscious being. This is what separates information from knowledge. If two computers are exchanging data, they are transferring information. It can be though of like this:

information is the basic facts, whereas;

knowledge is information filtered through consciousness

Because of this, knowledge cannot exist independently of a conscious being. Just like how information depends on concrete objects, knowledge depends on consciousness. Information is always true or false, right or wrong, but because of its dependency on consciousness knowledge is slightly more nuanced. Issues such as belief and justified belief come into effect, demonstrating how knowledge is influenced by the mind that contains it.

What this tells us about knowledge is that it is the humanization of information. Information is objective, but knowledge is the opposite. Just like humans, information is more complex than simply being true or false. Knowledge’s subjectivity could be considered the root of all human conflict. For if there was no knowledge, just unbiased information, wouldn’t that make everything so much simpler?


Floridi, Luciano, “Semantic Conceptions of Information”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2014/entries/information-semantic/>.

Van Gulick, Robert, “Consciousness”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2014/entries/consciousness/>.



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). 


  • 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.


  • 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



Political Animals

Following from some of the work Kelsey and Jeff have been doing, this New York Times Opinionator post may lead us into interesting discussions of social and political philosophy:

Homo sapiens has long sought to set itself apart from animals — that is, apart from every other living species. One of the most enduring attempts to define humanity in a way that distances us from the rest of animal life was Aristotle’s description of the human being as a “political animal.” By this he meant that human beings are the only species that live in the “polis” or city-state, though the term has often been understood to include villages, communes, and other organized social units. Implicit in this definition is the idea that all other animals are not political, that they live altogether outside of internally governed social units.

This supposed freedom from political strictures has motivated some, such as the 19th-century anarchist aristocrat Piotr Kropotkin, to take nonhuman animals as a model for human society. But for the most part the ostensibly nonpolitical character of animal life has functioned simply to exclude animals from human consideration as beings with interests of their own.

What might we be missing when we cut animals off in this way from political consideration? For one thing, we are neglecting a great number of solid scientific facts.This supposed freedom from political strictures has motivated some, such as the 19th-century anarchist aristocrat Piotr Kropotkin, to take nonhuman animals as a model for human society. But for the most part the ostensibly nonpolitical character of animal life has functioned simply to exclude animals from human consideration as beings with interests of their own.



What’s up[,]dog? Not much, what about you?

In my first post, “Aliens, Koko the Gorilla, and Interspecies Communication,” I talked about how animals should be defined as people due to their sense of self. In my research on animal consciousness, specifically on animals being aware of self, I found multiple philosophers that argue both for animal consciousness and against, with some notable philosophers like Descartes and Thomas Nagel taking the opposition, and Douglas Hofstadter and Donald Griffin as the proposition. In this blogpost, I will be analyzing the thoughts of Bernard E. Rollin, an American philosopher and professor of philosophy at Colorado State University who argues that animals are both conscious and able to feel pain.



In Animal Rights and Human Morality, Rollin splits the book into four parts — Moral Theory and Animals, Animals Rights and Legal Rights, The Use and Abuse of Animals in Research, and Morality and Pet Animals.

Part one of the book describes the moral theory and its application to animals. Part two Rollin tries to convince the reader that because of the implications of part one, we should also grant legal rights to animals. Part three firmly analyzes the theme of ethics in animal experimentation while also describing the role of humanists in both scientific and philosophical issues. Part four describes pets and morality, arguing that pet animals, if treated humanely, is still morally right.

In general, Rollin’s views can be described as a healthy medium between die-hard, vegan, animal-activists and Descartes’, whose mistreatment of animals due to his view that animals are not conscious, earned him the reputation of a man with blatant mistreatment of animals. For that reason, I have come to agree with his more moderate views of animal rights, stating that humans should be treated with legal rights but also still be classified as something other than ‘persons’ under the law.

In conclusion, I’ve come to find Rollin’s views on animal rights and consciousness as refreshing, considering the two extremist views we always see. His realization that animals are conscious, but not to the extent of humans, therefore putting them as ‘humanoid’ but not completely human in the level of consciousness.






God Gave You a Third Eye for a Reason

This isn’t the way things are, this is the way things look.

I say God ironically because I believe that we (todo) are God and we have created our third eye (consciousness) so that we may perceive that we are God and that we have created consciousness. So on and so fourth.

Initially I wanted to explain how the human mind is a filter, a valve to the reality of consciousness. How we’re peeping through a keyhole and seeing only a small part, and some of the ways to go through the key hole, open the valve, remove the filter, or kill the conductor so all the orchestra’s instruments may perform on their own.

Then I thought to myself, what is the best way to explain this (without bringing in 30 cups of Ayahuasca and saying “alright, bottoms up”). It’s hard to understand how to expand your consciousness without first knowing what layers of consciousness we are (have). I’m going to try to outline those for you.

Technically there are 12 dimensions. Technically there are infinite. No one needs to know that really. Let’s look at seven. (Also lets look at them using words applicable to consciousness rather than space-time-gravity etc.)

The 1st Dimension: Is the building block of everything (while simultaneously it encases everything). This itself is consciousness. This is also where we experience reality.yinyang

The 2nd Dimension: This is where there becomes differentiation. Black and White, Yin and Yang, Light and Darkness (to relate it to other posts I saw), Beauty and Ugly, Joy and Melancholy. This is where we enter the realm of subconsciousness. This is also where we interpret reality.LFMlGEp8

The 3rd Dimension: This is where it is possible to perceive past-present-future. This is the realm of the unconscious. The trifecta of conscious-subconscious-unconscious creates the self or one’s identity. Here events become reality. The Illuminati symbol is simply a representation of us looking into these 3 points of reality.

The 4th Dimension: Here many versions of reality may exist. This is the realm of possibility. The possibility for many realities in the fourth dimension is the key to rebirth. Many lifetimes may be lived in the third dimension’s past-present-future by the fourth dimension’s allowance of possibility and the existence of the fifth dimension’s spirit. A small example of breaking through to the fourth dimension would be when a small amount of DMT is released in your brain when you sleep, aiding dreams. Dreams where anything is possible. A larger example would be smoking DMT (N, D-Dimethyltryptamine) and breaking through for a 15 minute eye-opening journey in the timeless fifth dimension.220px-Pentacle_2.svg

The 5th Dimension: The process and large release of DMT during death allows you to leave linear time and break into the fifth dimension, the Spirit World. The place where souls await rebirth. This is the dimension of choice. This is where your spirit chooses to enter the fourth dimension of time and arrange itself how it likes in the other three dimensions. Nothing is created, nor destroyed, it only ever changes form. Quasars feed Black Holes feed Quasars feed Black Holes. So on and so fourth. This is a place of powerful choice and choice is what manifests here. The pentagram represents the fifth dimension of consciousness: the Spirit World.

Here I may loose a few of you. Lol who am I kidding i never had you to begin with

The 6th Dimension: The Creator. This is the version of you – your consciousness that is – that produces thought. The creator’s thought produces reality. Thought constitutes reality in the sixth dimension.

The 7th Dimension: The Many Creators. This is the place from which stems desire. Desire manifests reality. This is where we as a collective create by desire.

Great! What does this have to do with me?

Desire combines with Thought combines with Choice combines with Possibility to manifest Events that we Interpret and ultimately Experience.

Ultimately what we Experience is our own Interpretation of Events which occurred because it was Possible because it was Chosen from Thought which stemmed from Desire.

I’m not going to try and conclude this because it is totally un-sum-up-able. My original notes are attached below for you to interpret how you will (blue scan button). If you’re at all interested please come and talk to me, I will tell my personal belief on the future human evolution, the valve of consciousness, and entering the fourth and fifth dimensions. If you managed to make it to the end thank you for your endurance. :)




What it is to be Conscious – Ted Honderich on Philosophy Bites

You are a living consciousness.

Today we’ve been listening to and deconstructing Nigel Warburton’s interview of Ted Honderich on the subject of consciousness, which you can listen to here: What is it to be Conscious? (mp3)

In looking around for materials to supplement this listen, I stumbled onto this article about a feud Mr. Honderich has found himself in regarding a review written of his book, Actual Consciousness. While it may not help you digest the content of the podcast any, it is an illuminating tour of the personalities that can drive intellectual discourse and disagreement:

…the feud is escalating into philosophy’s equivalent of a prize fight between two former colleagues who are both among the showiest brawlers in the philosophy dojo. In one corner is McGinn, 57, West Hartlepool-born professor of philosophy at the University of Miami, and the self-styled hard man of philosophy book reviewing. In the other corner is Honderich, 74, Ontario-born Grote Professor Emeritus of the philosophy of mind and logic at University College London, and a man once described by fellow philosopher Roger Scruton as the “thinking man’s unthinking man”. They are using all the modern weapons at their disposal – blogs, emails, demands for compensation from the academic journal that published the original review, an online counter-review, and an online counter-counter-review.

The heart of their dispute, though, may not be over intellectual matters at all, but about something one of them said more than a quarter of a century ago about the other’s ex-girlfriend (of which more later).

Something you might find of more use in trying to decode Honderich’s consciousness is this review summarizing the author’s premises:

What of Honderich’s proposal? “Being conscious”, he says, “is for something to be actual.” If this does not strike you as particularly informative (if what is actual is what exists in fact, this seems to apply to many things that have nothing to do with consciousness), things become clearer when Honderich explains what it is that is actual in different types of consciousness. In sensory perception, what is actual is a subjective physical world: something that is physical (like the table out there) but that also depends on facts about the subject (those facts being physical through and through, such as its neural states and its location). What is actual in thought, desire and the like are representations. For Honderich, representations inhabit the subjective physical realm too and, as such, are both physical and subjective.