Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Katherine’s Thoughts on Philosophy: AAAAAAAAH!

So, Philosophy 12 has officially begun. And in true Jackson fashion, what better way to start the year than a document of learning?

Now, I’m a little rusty on the whole format of these documents, but I’m pretty sure we start off with what we’ve done in these past two weeks.

Thoughts about love, wisdom, and loving wisdom:

I was very confused why Mr. Jackson was asking us about love and wisdom, and I only learned today that the actual definition of philosophy is “loving wisdom”. This explained a lot. In my discussions with people in the class, I had come up with a definition of “loving wisdom” as “the passion for gaining knowledge and improving yourself through experiences.” That actually sounds pretty close to philosophy to me, though in my head philosophy is a lot more thinking and looking deeply at sunsets. the most fun about loving wisdom was hearing my classmates’ thoughts on it.By talking to so many people and getting so many ideas put together, I reached a much deeper and better understand of both the words.

Thoughts on class readings:

While I’ve been a little lost in class discussions (as you’ll see later in my goals), I’ve found some pretty interesting things in our class readings. My favorite was the “Talk With Me” essay by Nigel Warburton. It was about how the stereotype of philosophers living as hermits and never talking to people is quite misleading.

I know right, Socrates??? The essay was about, funnily enough, the Socratic Method.  It is about how conversation and argument have a large place in philosophy. While many philosophers spent years in solitude, doing their best work in exile, most of them actually used letters to get other human perspective, or spent their time imagining people to talk too. Somehow, while all in isolation, they realized: there is something about human interaction that is essential to philosophy.

Audible non-verbal aspects of the interaction, such as hearing the smile in someone’s voice, a moment of impatience, a pause of doubt perhaps?), or insight – these factors humanize philosophy

As for the whole essay, the other part that really stuck with me was about argument. As someone who loves debates and arguments with classmates, family or teachers, I could easily see how disagreement is a driving force

It is the dissenters who force us to think, who challenge received opinion

Now, onto the more personal part of this post: My goals and aspirations. (Yes, it’s all about me)

Coming into philosophy, I had a pretty good idea of the atmosphere: mostly self-directed, making our own assignments, lots of class discussions. It was the content that surprised me. Epistemology?? I suppose I’ll learn more about that later, but it was really hard to form any goals without knowing what they were supposed about. He then said that anything we were worried about, or questions we had would also work. Thank god, because I am literally made of worry and questions.

  • Worried about being over-shined in a class of such keen and smart students. Will I speak up enough? Are my points good enough? Can I go “deep” enough?
  • Worried about finding a topic. What pool of topics am I choosing from? the subjects we cover?? It’s too big.
  • How to find a personal philosophy. I don”t know if this means one that I make up, or speaks to me, or even exactly what a personal philosophy is.

My only real, concrete goal for this class is: engage in class discussions and debates


I know right, Socrates?? Seems so simple, yet so unattainable. The thing is, while I absolutely adore class discussions and all the fun and wacky things they lead too, I suck at speaking in them. You find me mostly burying my head in a notebook, still listening intently, but with nothing to add. I really want to get more involved in the discussions in this class and debate more with the other classmates. that’s my main aspiration. (My aspiration for this project is to get an “exceeds expectations”, but we’ll see how that turns out.)

Until next time,


I’m really feeling the Bill and Ted vibe today



Epistemology Discussions — David Sadeghizadeh

The discussions we had in class for our epistemological questions and the rapid-fire questions were a nice time to wrap my head around my and other people’s questions. It helped me to understand my question more as I talked about it and got feedback. I really liked the rapid-fire questions because i think it helped some people with their questions and it was nice to think about some of the questions as well.

I don’t really remember much from the discussions as I wasn’t able to write down things fast enough but the few things I do remember are:

  1. When I was talking to Jess, we talked about the concept of the limits of knowledge and if there was such a thing. Jess said that there is no limit to knowledge itself but we have limits to how much knowledge we can take in, which I agreed to.
  2. Dom and I talked about multiple questions as we were always close to each other in the discussions but one thing that really stood out of all the questions was the information vs knowledge vs wisdom topic. Dom suggested that information is the objective thing that is out there and that has nothing to do with us and knowledge is the thing that we perceive the information using our sense and whatnot, and I agree with him. An example would be that we can see a box on a table (yes a REAL box, no gimmicks) and we all see it there so we all know there is a box there and it doesn’t even need us to perceive that it is there because it will be there with or without us. However, the colour of the box or the texture can be discussed and argued for ever as it is something that only we sense and discover. This video explains this phenomenon really well.



Knowledge Discussion/Reading Post – Courtney Mignot

When our class started the Epistemology Unit and started talking about Knowledge, the first thought that popped into my head was that knowledge is endless. No one can accurately or definitely define knowledge. Knowledge is many things, it is power, is it unique, it is knowing you know nothing and i believe that all of these examples tie together to show that knowledge is in fact everything and endless at the same time.

Once i decided on my question I started this process by coming up with my own questions and ideas. Some of these were..

-Is it possible for one person to be smarter or more knowledgeable than another? Because everyone has areas that they perhaps excel in more than others.

-Do we learn things without even knowing it?

-Can being too knowledgeable ever be a bad thing or hold you back for some reason?

-I believe that knowledge is absolutely everything and surrounds us everyday.

I did my research on “knowledge is endless” and wasn’t able to find that many blogs that helped answer my questions but instead i did find a couple really good quotes which opened my mind more to the concept of “knowledge is endless”.

“Knowledge is like an endless resource; a well of water that satisfies the innate thirst of the growing human soul. Therefore never stop learning… because the day you do, you will also stop maturing.” – Chidi Okonkwo


Our knowledge is a little island in a great ocean of nonknowledge.

– Isaac Bashevis Singer
Finding these great quotes helped me because i realized that its true, no matter how smart we think we are, how much we study or how much we actually know, it will never be close to knowing all we can because knowledge IS endless. There will ALWAYS be someone who knows more than you, there were always be new knowledge about certain things being brought to our attention and we will never stop learning, even if we want to.
I spoke with Erin, Helena, Tali and Alejandro quite a lot about this topic. When Erin and I talked about my statement about knowledge is endless, she agreed with me but also said something that stood out to me. Erin asked “how do we measure knowledge and know how much someone has learned or if it endless? and there is no real answer to that question because there is no way to measure knowledge. So I realized that knowledge being endless is just a thing that i believe strongly but cant actually ever prove.
When Helena, Tali, Alejandro and I spoke we got off topic a little and ended up trying to figure out if knowledge is perception or capital T Truth. This discussion made me realize that knowledge in a way is a very personal topic and may mean different things to different people. So back to my topic, i realized that i believe knowledge is endless but others may believe that once you’ve learnt all you can about a subject then that is that.
After talking with my classmates and researching my topic online, It helped me realize that no matter what the topic is everyone will always have a different opinion on it. I also realized that knowledge as a whole is actually a way bigger topic than i thought and its actually scary to think we will never/cant ever realistically know everything there is to know.


Discussing the Discussion Pt. II: Epistemology – Sydney

My initial proposition that I walked into class with before our discussions yesterday was knowledge is individualized. No one knows the same things in the exact same way. I think that it is possible for a group of people to know the same the thing, but the way in which they know it and how they consider what they know can never be the same as another person.

During our discussions in class, I talked to Kiana, and Dom, Liam, Adam, and Sam. When I talked to Kiana, we were talking about her topic, which was along the lines of knowledge being true belief. We talked about how one person may believe something, and therefore to them it is knowledge. Kiana also said that this belief may be justified true belief, but it would be justified to that person and not necessarily to everyone else. As a result, one person’s knowledge may be false in another person’s eyes, but to that original person it is still defined as their knowledge. Kiana’s point supports the idea of knowledge being individualized, and added another layer to the idea.

When I talked to Dom, Liam, Adam, and Sam, we initially spoke of the difference between our perception of reality and what reality itself is actually like. Essentially, we discussed the idea that our perception of reality is reality until that perception changes. This can also relate to my topic because it deals with “our perception.” I think that this idea and statement also implies that everyone has different perceptions. Our perception is clouded by our previous experiences and previous knowledge, and is also ever-changing, and as a result no two people can have the exact same perceptions of reality – nor can they have the exact same knowledge.

To conclude, the discussions I had during our class were fruitful and provided evidence that I could use for my topic, and to hopefully consider while I pursue my active learning.




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?



Logic and Neutrality Reading & Discussion


Image via New York Times.

Today our discussion will centre around Timothy Williamson’s post on the New York Times’ philosophy forum, The Stone: Logic and Neutrality.  His closing paragraph gives an idea of where he takes his thinking about logic as a rational science:

Of course, we’d be in trouble if we could never agree on anything in logic. Fortunately, we can secure enough agreement in logic for most purposes, but nothing in the nature of logic guarantees those agreements. Perhaps the methodological privilege of logic is not that its principles are so weak, but that they are so strong. They are formulated at such a high level of generality that, typically, if they crash, they crash so badly that we easily notice, because the counterexamples to them are simple. If we want to identify what is genuinely distinctive of logic, we should stop overlooking its close similarities to the rest of science.

Williamson makes several points worthy of our discussion, especially following our study of various philosophies of science last week. Please respond to / address a combination of at least three of the following questions in a reply to this post (naturally, look to extend the discussion by commenting, prodding, and pushing the thinking of your peers by commenting on their replies before class time Thursday):

  1. How does the author describe logic? How does his reading align or inform you view of philosophy (from the beginning of the year)?
  2. How would you paraphrase what the author describes as the “power of logic”?
  3. What do you think the authors means when he writes, “logic is not a neutral umpire”?
  4. Summarize one of the author’s “challenges” to logic.
  5. What similarities does the author highlight between logic and science?
  6. Which view of science do you see reflected in the author’s perspective on logic?


life is wonders

coming into philosophy class i had no idea what the word philosophy meant or what it was. after learning it was the study of our Morales, truths and “the way life works”, it came to my surprise that i seem to naturally wonder about life’s complex ways and can not seem to shake the curiosity of trying to find some new perspective on life we can say is “right” and feel good about living it.

i find people worry and reflect about their lives being “right” or ” correct” and repeat habits that they value as right or ways of life they are living just to feel like they are successful and happy. I can tell it is a mistake people make and they live lives of being unsatisfied and unhappy. Then they will criticize or judge another persons values based on if it is right or wrong, when who says if it is? who says you are so great? who says you are so bad?  But i truly believe we all find our own truths and integrate it with our own lives and values although we naturally can not help ourselves from being outspoken and sharing our vision with the world by sometimes even enforcing it. so it truly does not matter what your own “truth” is, and you should accept that others believe in a different truth that they will fight to the death for, like you would.Revolution-Fist

through “the cave” class discussion, it came to my attention that the “men locked up” actually had an easier and less emotional attachment to life, when the one who was exposed to the world and new ideas was trying to bring emotion and happiness to the others yet was shamed and killed. makes me wonder. free thought? That is what makes philosophy a never ending discussion is because there are so many visions and truths that are so strongly believed by each individual we would all be fighting till there was only one truth anyway, and there begs the question, is it better to have free thought like a philosopher, or just simply to live to another truth and not question it? which may result in feeling more complete, more at rest,  and less wondrous. are we as humans naturally supposed to have free thought? or are we suppose to learn a way of life and live it like the men in the cave?

with so many questions in mind, it makes me wonder if any of it even matters, would me finding out the answers of life change who i am? is it something i want to find out? does ANYTHING really matter or are we just atoms reacting with one another?! without driving myself crazy, i would sum up philosophy as the seeking knowledge of others and a perspective of their truth, which u could integrate into yours or throw in the nether of your brain, and that it doesn’t matter, i just have to worry about my perspective and accept others. it is NOT about finding a truth we should all learn and live by, that is what i call government.trut1

-Thomas Caya



Harvard’s Justice and the Morality of Murder

To introduce our study of ethics and social/political philosophy, we’ll be viewing the introductory lecture(s) by Michael Sandel in Harvard’s JusticeIn addition to the introduction to the two major schools or moral reasoning – consequentialist and categorical – Sandel’s brilliant facilitation throughout the series stands out as a remarkable feat of intellectual discourse. By highlighting the guiding principles underpinning our ‘gut’ reactions to the thought experiments, the lecture/discussion serves as a model of respectful dialogue, as well as an invitation to engage everyday topics with an open mind.

Upon completing the discussion, Sandel poses three questions I would like to pose here for our own debate and introductory musings on morality and ethics. Please add your thoughts to one or more of the following prompts in the comments to this post:

  1. Do we have certain fundamental rights? (Follow up: What are they? Why can we assume that they exist?)
  2. Does a fair procedure justify any result?
  3. What is the moral work of consent? In other words, Why does/can consent make the amoral moral?


Epistemology Group Inquiries

Epistemology Inquiries

Areas of Inquiry

In the comments below, I’d like to hear from your group, or even multiple members of your group, about how you are approaching these initial questions in your epistemological inquiry:

  • What is your group’s main question?
  • What questions follow from your initial question?
  • How will you go about answering these questions?
    • Where will you look?
    • Who will you talk to?
    • What resources will you consult?
  • How will you know you have answered them?

Naturally, there will be overlapping areas of inquiry that these comments should seek out in trying to find common ground before we head into our activities and discussions next week. If you have helpful resources or referrals to add to anything your classmates are exploring, please feel free to post these links and leads below as well.

Next week, these various threads will come together to form our learning activities in the epistemology unit, culminating in a personal theory of knowledge mid-term assignment. This cumulative assignment doesn’t need to address the topic your group is investigating; however, this would likely be helpful.



Much ado about The Smiths

While I might deliver my dissertation on the Smiths posted above another day (or how they should be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year), we did talk a little this morning about Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s children, Willow and Jaden, and an interview they recently gave to T Magazine, wherein they discuss several topics that sound a little like they might enjoy our course.

These two quotes struck me. For starters, this metaphysical riddle sounds familiar:

…this is a fragment of a holographic reality that a higher consciousness made.

As well as this perspective on the mind and consciousness:

Because your mind has a duality to it. So when one thought goes into your mind, it’s not just one thought, it has to bounce off both hemispheres of the brain. When you’re thinking about something happy, you’re thinking about something sad. When you think about an apple, you also think about the opposite of an apple. It’s a tool for understanding mathematics and things with two separate realities. But for creativity: That comes from a place of oneness. That’s not a duality consciousness.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one to take note of the sheer exuberance of what the interview contained, or wondered about the caveat offered following the piece:

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Hazlitt humourously wondered what might have been edited out of such an interview, and presented a fictionalized run down of what may have been cut:

What would it be like if human beings showed no outward signs of pain? If we didn’t groan or grimace, et cetera? Then it would be impossible to teach a child the use of the word “toothache.” Well, let’s assume the child is a genius and itself invents a name for the sensation! But then, of course, he couldn’t make himself understood when he used the word. So does he understand the name, without being able to explain its meaning to anyone? But what does it mean to say that he has “named his pain”? How has he done this naming of pain? In giving a name to his sensation one forgets that a great deal of stage-setting in the language is presupposed if the mere act of naming is to make sense. And when we speak of someone having given a name to pain, what is presupposed is the existence of the grammar of the word “pain;” it shows the post where the new word is stationed.

Now, as humourous as we might find these adolescent philosophers’ ideas, my question this morning was about whether or not we should. If Jaden and Willow were in our philosophy class, for instance, would we (or you, if you did upon reading the interview) be laughing at them? Or would they be leading our discussions down all kinds of interesting paths.

As someone mentioned this morning, might such minds be the Philosopher Kings who have made it out of Plato’s proverbial cave? By mocking them, are we not those still in chains poking fun at the enlightened?

McSweeney’s takes this notion a little further, asking if its readers can distinguish between quotes from the Smith children and notable eccentric genius William Blake.  After all, is

In the universe, there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between, there are doors.

so much different than

When you think about an apple, you also think about the opposite of an apple?