Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Katie Crompton – Basically Just a Shameless Family Promotion

For my Phil’s Day Off assignment, I decided I would explore how we express emotions by visiting my aunt and uncle’s art studio at The Arts Factory for Vancouver’s East Side Culture Crawl. Before I got there, I had no idea what this event was other than the fact that my aunt and uncle were participating. What I found out was that the East Side Culture Crawl is an event where a bunch of artists who have studios on the East Side of Vancouver open their studios to the public and show their pieces for a weekend. When I got to my out and uncle’s studio, I was happy to find that my aunt and uncle share a space with a ton of other artists from the area.

[Left] An example of my uncle’s photography [Middle] My uncle (David Crompton) and my aunt (Tristesse Seeliger) in front of their work [Right] One of my aunt’s collages using maps

As I walked around the space admiring everyone’s work and feeling intimidated by the stereotypically pretentious art people, I began to realize that not only does art show the artists emotions, but it also evokes emotions from the viewer. A lot of the time, it is left up to the viewer to interpret the meaning and emotions behind a piece. One technique that artists use to hint at specific emotions in their work is colour association. They will use certain colours in their work that are commonly associated with certain emotions. Different shades or variations on the same colour have different colour associations as well. For example, pink is associated with romance, love, and friendship while a darker red is associated with leadership, vigour, and anger. This is shown in the picture below. The piece on the left seems much calmer and happier than the piece on the right. We use colour association extensively in our daily lives. Without even noticing it, we automatically judge and react to things based on its colour.

[Left] a painting by Marion Landry [Right] piece using mixed media on board by Catherine Tableau

Another thing I discovered from this trip was that is is easy for people to interpret emotions differently. There were a lot of sculptures and portraits in the studio and I found that different people could easily get different emotions out of the same piece.

Sculpture by Ati Ahkami

Let’s look at the picture to the left. At first glance, you may see a calm and content person, but others may see sadness or longing. Unless we talk to the artist, we won’t know for sure what the intended emotion is for this piece, but that adds to the intrigue. We can connect this to our interactions with people as well. Human’s ability to hide emotions and the fact that everyone expresses their emotions differently makes it difficult at times to pin down how other people are feeling. This is one of the reason’s why art is so great at capturing life and the human experience.


The main thing I got through this experience is that artists are very in tune with their emotions. I believe that when you are in tune with your emotions, you are living authentically. Being authentic and having complete awareness of everything that is you, including your emotions, is what Being is all about. I have reached the conclusion that though emotions may not be the soul of Being, they are a part of you that makes you more than just a collection of cells. Emotions are a vital aspect of your Being.

TIME FOR THE SHAMELESS FAMILY PROMOTION! If you are interested in my aunt and/or uncle’s work, You can check out their websites www.tristesseseeliger.com and www.davidcrompton.net. OR you can follow them on Instagram: @missytrissy and @crompsy.




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.



Emotional Confusion

My original question of, “where does emotion come from and what is it?”, it has come to my attention that i will be pondering this for a very long time. Do we have these answers? from my research it has come to my attention that we as people understand where in the brain emotion comes from, and what structure makes it up, yet we don’t have any solid answers on why we feel emotion and aspire for things apposed to other animals of just reacting seemingly unconsciously? Because we don’t have any ways of solving these questions, we only have educated theories of “trusted” scientists and doctors. which really, are just opinions. What ARE emotions?

one interesting theory i came across that seems to be the most mind boggling and opposing opinion of what i thought emotions are. it is called the “James-Lange theory”. composed by psychologist William James, He believes reactions and emotions work hand and hand. most believe that our emotions come first and influence our reactions based on the emotion we are feeling. This theory states the reaction comes before a bodily emotion to the reaction. More of , “we are afraid because we run” as apposed to “we run because we are afraid”…Anger

i find this really interesting as i perceive it in myself as an emotion before a reaction. before i react to something i think about how it made me feel and how i would want to handle the situation. saying that, there are situations where i may be frustrated and i react to something in a way i regret and my reaction came first and the emotions of what had just happened hit me like a wave. lets take on board for a minute if this theory was true, would this be implying that we don’t have control over our actions, but we have control over our emotions? or that we don’t truly have free will, we are more like atoms reacting with things around us?

this opens many more possibilities and questions for me to look into, and has actually changed my own theory a little. although i havent come any closer to finding an answer, this will ponder me for a very long time. i wonder if we even have the technology or the capacity to understand certain things like this, or if we ever will. Something so involuntary and effortless yet so complicated to understand and solve…



Energy in Motion

What if humans did not have emotions?

I set out to answer this question further than my original thoughts (that life would be meaningless without them). I also set out to discover a philosopher who also has some insight into emotions. And I found David Hume’s very interesting perspective of emotions into the world from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

He proposes that emotions are part of the passions, along with feelings and desires. These passions lead us to the top of will, definitely not where I was headed. However, what he has to stay is quite interesting. Its the thought that “we discover just as much necessity to hold between human motives, character traits, and circumstances of action, on the one hand, and human behavior on the other” from this realm of passions and will and emotions.

To understand what he is saying, and how it relates to my initial understanding, I am going to breakdown his quote. He incorporates a sense of necessity into motives, character traits, actions, and behaviour. Human motives represent our ambitions and aspirations towards some goal. Our character traits are what defines us, which is parallel with emotions in the we act out based on our circumstances. A particular judgement often made against others is how a person might react to a specific situation. I think Hume is suggesting that emotion is a driving force in the action we make of our circumstances, and this outlines the kind of person we are. Human behaviour comes into play also with reactions. It is how we decide, whether nature or nurture, to respond to our environment.

I agree with David Hume on this point, before he begins to gets into Free Will and Morals. One of the things I feel most compelling in my life is to seek happiness, which I guess can be thought of as a purpose of life. But back to my original question, what does the absence of emotions in humans entail? Overall, I think it would equate to a lack of connections between us. We would be more self sustaining, have other motives or drives, and perhaps not be able to recognise a purpose in life. The lack of emotions may lead as far as a less evolved brain, and more primal instincts because that is what I see humans would rely on. Without emotions, we not really be human at all (I mean this far outside of mental illness/disorders, please do not think my intentions are related to that topic).

While emotions may just seem like a thing that we happen to experience, it can involve many other metaphysical inquiries, and is not as simple as one may think at first.



What if humans had no emotions?

I came upon my inspiration for this post during our class today. Our task was to simply state how we worked well and what we could improve amongst ourselves, however our discussion ventured far from that path. We emotionally argued about the existence of emotions, and I began to wonder if the ideal resolution would be to not have emotions. But what would that entail?

I feel that emotions are an intricate part of our lives, whether we realize it or not. A lot of people would recognize passion as the single most important element of life. What is passion driven by? If we are passionate certainly we are not void of emotion. What about marriage? Love is a common emotion that forms a foundation for many actions humans partake in from marriage and children to  forming trust to bonds between teammates.

Let’s not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives and we obey them without realizing it. ~Vincent Van Gogh, 1889

Vincent accurately describes how I view emotions. Their role in our lives is enormous and constant; an unconscious command.

Without emotions, our lives as humans would be void and pointless, with no motivation or inspiration to do great things. We would live in a dull world where nothing had meaning. Ambition would be not captured or understood and we would operate like robots or artificial intelligence.

Think of emotions as colour. All the neon and highlighter colours would turn into a grayscale. The world would seem black and white, figuratively and literally.

Literally our word would be black and white. Figuratively the world would lose meaning or purpose.

I looked online to see if my thoughts on emotions were far off from others, and I found a large collection of words on emotion in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. In it I found an interesting quote:

Descartes said it thus: “it is impossible for the soul to feel a passion without that passion being truly as one feels it.”

I understand this as passion being the rawest form of emotion. Its a form that only the keeper can interpret correctly. I think we underestimate the power of emotions in our daily lives and may even neglect them. We shouldn’t feel like emotions are a sign of weakness, we should think of it as a form of strength. They make us who we are, creating diversity between us all. I think that we don’t have emotions, emotions have us.