Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Human, all too Human (BBC Documentary on Sartre, Heidegger, & Nietzsche)

From the good folks at the Open Culture blog:

Human, All Too Human” is a three-hour BBC series from 1999, about the lives and work of Friedrich NietzscheMartin Heidegger, and Jean-Paul Sartre.The filmmakers focus heavily on politics and historical context — the Heidegger hour, for example, focuses almost exclusively on his troubling relationship with Nazism.

Beyond Good and Evil, Frederick Nietzsche

Human, All too Human, Martin Heide





After the Dark, A Thought Experiment

So today in our philosophy class, we conducted a thought experiment. Based off of an idea in the 2013 film “After the Dark“, our class had to decide who would “live or die”. In this activity, each of the twenty-eight of us picked a random piece of paper from a jar. On that piece of paper was an occupation, such as “Heart Surgeon”, “Daycare Worker”, or “Published Poet” to name a few. We then transported ourselves to a nuclear apocalypse, where we would all inevitably die. However, there is a shelter for us with enough food, energy, and other supplies to last a year, after which it would be safe for us to leave the shelter and restart civilization. The catch is that there is only room for ten people. The facilitator of the experiment (myself) does not choose an occupation, but instead is a “Wild Card”, whose special skill is known only to the moderator. The Wild Card has a skill that could be beneficial or detrimental to the group.

Making Do or Die Decisions

As a class, we had to decide who would be chosen to go in the shelter, and who would be left outside to die. During the first round, people like Aileen (heart surgeon), Kevin (professional chef), Ryan (farmer), Sam (civil engineer), Nadine (psychologist), and Liam (construction worker) were chosen to live in the shelter. For the last spot, there was a tie between myself (the Wild Card) and Shiyun (underwear model). It was a surprise to myself that the underwear model was even considered, however most of my male classmates seemed to disagree. We re-voted, and Shiyun was chosen for the last spot in the shelter. Thanks guys.

I was left to die outside with some of my other classmates, with careers deemed useless in rebuilding civilization. Those included Avery, (published poet), other Kevin (frozen yogurt store worker), Tara (marine biologist), David (accountant), Kimberly (concert pianist), Alyssa (TV news reporter), and Devin (Olympic swimmer-despite his strong argument that being Michael Phelpsesque, he would be capable of reproducing awesome, muscular, swimming, babies).

The lucky group chosen to survive happily lived out their year in the shelter. HOWEVER, when it was time to leave the shelter, they realized that there was a code needed to exit. The only person who knew the code was the Wild Card. So, everyone was unable to leave the shelter, despite trying almost everything. They all perished, one by one, from either suicide, suffocation, or by being eaten by their fellow classmates. Not really a successful simulation, considering they all died. However, I think we all learned a valuable lesson. (Maybe being an underwear model is not as “useful” as previously thought.) Some argued afterward that they would rather choose Shiyun instead of take a risk choosing the unknown, which could have had detrimental effects, which seems logical.

For the second round of the simulation, each person picked a second card, containing another factor about themselves. After the DarkThis changed up who would be picked to live in the shelter. For example, Kevin, who was previously useless,(frozen yogurt store worker) picked a card saying he participated in recreational hunting. Tara (marine biologist) had a card saying she was a certified midwife. Some cards had neutral effects, and did not change whether or not they were chosen. Jayden (quantum physicist) was also a YouTube star, and still voted in. Joel (lifeguard) had contracted the Ebola virus and again, was not chosen. Some who were previously picked did not receive a spot during the second round. Ryan (farmer) was a convicted criminal (arson), and Shiyun (underwear model) was a carrier for cerebral palsy. This simulation the Wild Card was not in play, so the survivors lived out their year in the shelter and rebuilt civilization. Happily Ever After.

To conclude, I think our thought experiment went very well! I was glad that the Wild Card was not chosen the first round (similarly to the film), as it put an interesting spin on things. I hope that everyone enjoyed themselves, and feel a little more philosophical. If anyone has any comments or questions about how they thought it went, please let me know! I would love some feedback.



The Examined Life | Cornell West and the Pursuit of Truth

Cornell West covers a lot of ground in this 7′ taxicab ride: the courage historically written into the language of philosophy and its various expressions across music and arts. He weaves an epic and energetic thread deftly, to be sure; but what do you make of his major conclusions?

Among the many points he’s making here, how would you characterize his overarching idea?