Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Humanity and Freedom – Jessica Lewis


 Are humans free?

At the beginning of the assignment, I didn’t quite know what my question would be. The self has always interested me and the way we act and process information has always been a topic of interest henceforth I chose to take a closer look at humans our  freedom.  For years in history there have always been the argument between religion and reality. What is what and who is who.  Freedom is an interesting topic because although we feel free we really aren’t. We still are confined by society  , gender roles, and religion restrictions. For example  even something as simple as coming to school, we don’t choose to go. However school isn’t my topic of interest, my question tackles freedom as whole and zones in on our survival. To help answer my question I found a few articles that made sense to me..

” is it really possible to say that the awareness of his own mortality is what is proper to the human? Is not the feeling of a fundamental vulnerability shared by all living beings? We can in fact easily imagine that animals are, like us, afraid of dying, since they spend their lives trying desperately to survive.” 

One of the readings that helped me understand my question better was Mourning as the Origin of Humanity The topic of  human beings  and how they have have always been conscious of the difference that separates them from other living beings was raised in the article . The example the   author used was  the fact of wearing clothes or painting and how  sometimes deforming their bodies in accordance with specific rituals.Another aspect of the reading that helped me string together my question was when  an allusive reference to Descartes’s was mentioned saying that ”  man has to become the master and possessor of nature, but rather, as Heidegger says again in What is Metaphysics?, the “place-holder of the nothing,” a nothing which is not in the human‘s power to bring before itself and in which it finds itself held.


My reading certainly does confuse me as there are many argument are made that I don’t fully understand.  In the article the author mentions  how humans haven’t made a cure for death and along side the comment about death, immortality is brought up. A new question of mine would be are we free is death? I hate to ask such a morbid question but its always been a wonder of mine. Are we still restricted to the rules of life as we are in spirit?



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?




Aman’s Metaphysics

“The basis of reality is suffering and pleasure which are fundamentally linked so that we may experience pain to gain happiness.”

-Aman, Dylan, Aidan

What are the contradictions? While it’s quite simple actually, the statement says you have suffering which leads to pleasure, but the contradiction is there no suffering and it leads you to pleasure. In a perfect world there would be no suffering, but we don’t live in an utopia and we don’t have that privilege.

Is no suffering a privilege though? It would be a wonderful thing but would we learn anything without suffering? How will we know what we have without loss? How will we know that “things get better in time” without pain? How will we find love without heartbreak? Or find true friends without backstabbing? Don’t the things that break us, make us?

I’m guessing most readers are going to agree with the fact that yes, the pain paves the way to greater things. And that is why we can live with this contradiction of life. I’m openminded to opinions here so please, if you can, tell me how we would know of things like happiness without the opposite? Ying and Yang, black and white, “good” and “bad”, life is all about balance. We learn that as a lesson, we learn that as a fact in science. Balance is key because it keeps us steady in a world that’s like the biggest and longest roller coaster ride ever. So, because balance is a lesson in life, it’s what it ingrained into us from a very young age. Because of this lesson of balance, we are confined to think that good things can’t come without bad and that black and white are complete opposites. This is why we can live with both ideas, because we know that one only happens in our stories, dreams, and ideas. That is how we go on.

Anne Conway in her book states:

“He [God] made all ‘nations’ of human beings to be ‘of one blood’ so that they would love one another, would be united by the same sympathy, and would help one another. In implanting a certain universal sympathy and mutual love into his creatures, God made them all members of one body and all (so to speak) brothers who all have the same Father, namely God in Christ, i.e. God made flesh. They also have one mother, that unique substance or entity from which all things have come forth, and of which they are the real parts and members. And although sin has greatly weakened this love and sympathy in creatures, it hasn’t altogether destroyed it.”

From this I infer that my philosopher felt that sympathy is how humans connect with each other. Again, I’m open to ideas and suggestions, but how is there sympathy in this world without suffering or pain of some sorts that the majority feels?  Personally, I don’t believe sympathy or empathy for that matter, is felt without the mutual connection of suffering. How do we feel what others are going through without going through it ourselves?  So in terms of my philosopher, I agree that sympathy links humans and from this I concur that suffering is present in life.

Arthur Schopenhauer, Dylan’s philosopher, believed that “The Will” is the root cause of suffering. He believed suffering is there, but not that it leads to pleasure. I guess another contradiction to my groups theme would be this: suffering is present but it’s what hinders our life without any pleasure as a byproduct. But if we believed that as a society we would all need shrinks and everyone would walk around with the gloomiest aura. As well, Schopenhauer believed that there is a meaningless end and that doesn’t cohere with pleasure as the end, because to most people happiness is not meaningless and actually leads you to feel good.

Epicurus, Aidan’s philosopher, believed pleasure is a measure of good and suffering is a measure of evil. So basically pleasure=good, and suffering=bad, and Epicurus believed that we should avoid suffering. If this is true, can we link it to the balance lesson so that one cannot be without the other because they steady each other. So suffering doesn’t necessarily lead to pleasure, but they are linked and present in our world.

Using these three opinions, I have come to my own conclusion. When we present the objects I will share my metaphysics with the group. Basically though, I believe that suffering does lead to pleasure, however we are not as confined to both as we think. We can choose to avoid suffering and live our life in a state of ignorance (or bliss), or we can choose to live our life with both pleasure and pain. It depends on the person and how much they truly want to experience in life and what they want to experience in life. It’s based on how the person wants to learn and teach.



Jennifer: Tell Your Own Story

Life enters our eyes and then reality blurs. The world around us, even the emotions that flood our brains,  are subject to our interpretation, to our imagination. They distort as we evaluate them, as we work through our experiences.

The metaphysicist Paul Ricoeur focused on this theory, among connected others, revealing his expertise in the area of hermeneutic phenomenology. Hermeneutic, meaning ‘pertaining to the science of interpretation,’  is a way of looking at the essential properties of experience and consciousness that are studied through systematic reflection, or phenomenology. Ricoeur (1913-2005) was interested in identifying what defines “the self,” or as he liked to put it, “selfhood.” His conclusion, built upon the works of Aristotle and Kant, is that the self is composed of the stories we write to explain what we feel and see. In other words, “you are who you think you are.” Therefore, Ricoeur’s main question, “Who am I?,” can’t ever truly be answered, as the seeker is also the sought (Paul Ricoer, IEP).

This theory can be disheartening, the idea that a person never really understand themselves and that history can never be objective, or it can be satisfying. When I first read about the narrative description of self, something clicked. I’m one to quite obviously, at least to myself, dissect experiences and my reactions to them, trying to make sense of the world and answer Ricoeur’s second main question: “How should I live?” In my view, the narrative theory means that I don’t need to pour energy into discovering my “true” self, as such a thing can never be obtained. Instead, I  should work on unifying my narrative, bringing together my thoughts and actions.

Ricoeur was famed “For his capacity in bringing together all the most important themes and indications of 20th century philosophy, and re-elaborating them into an original synthesis” (Paul Ricoeur, Wikipedia).  An expert in weaving together different thoughts and fields of study, he was very interested in the paradoxical element of humans; that is, we have a place in the cause and effect world of nature while possessing the amazing quality of freedom of will. Ricoeur recognized the tensions, or fault lines, that pervade the complex human existence, and strived to map them out and identify different sources of instability. He realized that our lives are unstable, ready to shift under us when our story takes a turn, spurred on by external or internal factors.

Poetics, he believed, is the best way for humans to fulfil their need to understand their life.

Or at least that’s what I’ve garnered.

Wikipedia: Paul Ricoeur