Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Curiosity – Emily

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is a famous philosophical tale told to illustrate the philosophical way of thinking and how it can change us. What struck me most when we discussed the allegory was the why. I tried to imagine why and how such a thing could take place.

Curiosity. Isn’t that why experiments like the Stanford Prison and Milford Experiments happened? I always guessed these scientists and psychologists had some information or hypotheses about what people would do in such situations, but they went and conducted these experiments to learn more. Because they were curious.

So  I wondered: could something similar happen with Plato’s Cave? Could this possibly ever happen? With the Nuremburg Code, however, this is unlikely, but there have been experiments and more experiments before and supposedly since the Code was put in place. The David Reimer Experiment, MKULTRA, The Well of Despair and The Monster Experiment are all examples of experimentation that did not follow the Nuremburg Code and cause amounts of disgust and revulsion in many. In the Monster Experiment, groups of orphans were given specific feedback that affected them throughout the rest of their life.

The psychologists did this experiment to see the effects of positive and negative feedback. Those who had received the negative feedback on their fluency and speech imperfections had psychological issues and speech problems throughout the rest of their lives. Pardon me, but who are these scientists to do such a thing to a child, something that rests with them all their life?

The Allegory of the Cave is quite similar – from a young age, the participants or subjects would be forced to see only the shadows on the cave wall. When released, such an experience would surely affect them the rest of their lives, as did the negative speech therapy in the Monster Experiment. Some may argue, “But at least the kids in Monster actually got to experience life, even if they had speech impediments! The ones stuck watching shadows never got to do any of the things we do!”

This brings me around to Mariana’s and Kristina’s points: is ignorance bliss? If all you had ever known was the cave wall with the shadows, would you ever dream of there being more to life? Maybe you live watching shadows, or you’re the best or the fastest at identifying them. You might be the biggest fish in your little pond. Living in the cave with the shadows would be a completely different life, not one as we know. Perhaps living with the shadows in the cave is a far better existence and a more pleasurable and fulfilling life than we’ve ever known. We can’t know. Maybe you would have more time for introspection and thought. Or, what if you were freed and guided into living in modern society? I doubt you would take as many things for granted as we do today.

How would we find this out, other than putting some kids through this kind of existence? We’re curious. Maybe, there’s a small egoistic part of us that wants this experiment to happen – as long as it’s not to us – so we can find out a little about what it’s like.  It’s our curiosity that led us to learn so much thus far. And to me, that’s philosophy. Wondering. Thinking. Curiosity.



Man’s Underlying Ability – Stephanie

There once was a wealthy merchant who gained a life of riches through risk-taking, inquiry and wisdom.  Though a successful individual, he never exuded arrogance, rather, he enjoyed giving opportunities to the people around him.  After years of trials, failures, and successes, the merchant decided to put his business aside and travel the world to widen his knowledge.  He called his three most reliable servants and entrusted them each with a talent (a weight of a precious metal such as gold).  The first servant immediately researched on the best ways to invest his share and discussed with other professionals.  He was a man of curiosity, insight, exploration, and proactive – to him there were no limits.  Through his careful observation, he decided upon diversification of investment in a variety of assets and concluded with a workable plan.  The first servant placed part of the talent in oil investment and stock markets; the rest, he created a new product called “Megacrop”.  This invention allows countries heavily damaged by catastrophes to have longer lasting food sources.  Requests flooded in as word of this great product spread fire around the world.  Even with such satisfying results, the first servant continued to seek ways to broaden his future.  The second servant was witty and insightful, but he lacked curiosity and questioning.  In a similar way to the first servant, he invested his talent in the bank and stock markets.  With luck, he gained five times more.  The third servant, however, was the complete opposite of the first two servants: he was lazy, senseless, and unmotivated.  Without much thought, the third one went out and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money in it.  After a while, the master of those servants came and settled his accounts with them.  The first servant came out and said, “Sir, you entrusted me with a talent. See, I have gained 10 times more.”  His master answered, “Well done, good servant!  You shall be rewarded with much more than what you have now.  Enter into the joy of your master.”  Then the second servant came out and said, “Sir, with your talent I have gained five times more.”  His master answered, “Well done, good servant!  Open your mind to the world, and you will gain much more.  Enter into the joy of your master.”  Then the third servant came and said, “Sir, there was not enough rain and the harvest was poor, I thought about placing the talent in the bank but there may have been thieves along the way, thus I went and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.”  But his master answered, “You lazy servant, always making excuses!  Why didn’t you deposit my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received my money back with interest!”


In this story, the master is like God – who created and bestowed the world with boundless resources, wealth, and knowledge.  The talent is the wisdom gifted to all human beings.  The three servants represent the different characters of humankind, where one is full of curiosity, intelligence, and determination; the second being witty but with less inquisitiveness; and the last one being stubborn, lazy, and ignorant.  God has given humankind with wisdom and a world of mysteries for us to question.  But how we apply our wisdom all comes down to us: to reach out and grab as much knowledge as we can or whether we bury it in the ground.  Philosophy is an unlimited desire.  Even though we might not be able to seek out all the answers to our questions in our lifetime, we have started off something for the next generations to discover and question.  Like the first servant, he was able to experience the rewards of his questioning.  If we never crave for questions and answers, how will we understand the fulfillment the process and result will bring?  This world is full of inquiries waiting for the right people to discover, explore, and philosophize.  What will your philosophy be?