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






Jamie Fajber’s Philosophy is: the most distasteful spread

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I had this written up last week, but as I’m unsure whether or not I’ll have a chance to speak about it, I thought I would share it here first.


Philosophy is a buffet. It’s a big ole buffet stacked high with plates, and various dishes. A strong gamut of colour is on display, and the smell wafts towards your nose. As you whiff it in, your nose is scrunching in repulsion. The image in front of you is repugnant, because everything on the table is foods you detest. You despise them. Yet, your stomach is rumbling, and time is passing. You’d rather be hungry, knowing you are a proud, exclusive eater that sticks to your standard diet of cheetos, mountain dew, 100% all Canadian beef w/ corn product, and hot chocolate. After all, you are what you eat, and you’d rather not try something like that.

The rumbling is full throttle now, but you should stick to your convictions – you think. Your previously indomitable willpower is a lot shakier, and you decide that it can’t hurt to try a bite.

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The first bite is distasteful – in the way that exotic foods always are, so different you can’t like or dislike it because you have no comparison. The second bite, obviously reminiscent of the first, makes you smile. The flavour isn’t so bad, and the texture is funky enough you don’t mind taking a third bite, too.

Soon enough, you are trying all the foods on the table. You thought they were unpalatable, but to your surprise they each bring something distinct to your mouth.

Finally, you are done eating. Full to the brim with new cuisine, and new ideas. You are made healthier, you are enriched, and you will grow from all that, yummy, food.


Although the idea of Philosophy as a buffet may not be as radical as say, our teacher becoming an angelic wizard (see Jasmin Ghorbani), it’s still far fetched enough that it may require some explaining.

The italicized words in the writing above are attempting to draw your attention to the core concept of this metaphor: the foods are ideas. From this central point, there are many branching comparisons that can be made.

  1. Humans need food to grow > humans need ideas to grow
  2. Different foods have different nutrients, and the more variety one gets the better > different ideas have different values, and the more variety one gets the better
  3. Although all foods have a place, there is a distinct variance in quality between some foods > although all ideas have their place, some are far more qualitative than others
  4. It’s common to be afraid or hesitant of trying new foods > it’s human nature to be afraid or hesitant of understanding new ideas
  5. Consumption of food is a necessity of survival > consumption of ideas is a necessity of life

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It’s a metaphor with a lot of elasticity, able to be stretched in different directions to represent a breadth of connections. Also, it seems to be true in the real world! For example:

When I was a kid, I hated veggies. I was ALSO a selfish, arrogant boy that thought girls were gross.

Now, I tolerate, sometimes even really enjoy veggies! Furthermore, I’m less egotistical and I care WAY more about other humans – and, girls are certainly not gross anymore.

There is definitely a correlation here.

#flawlessscience #didnotcitesources #anecdotalevidenceisbest






Call me Mel. Melody is too much of a mouthful, I can’t even say my own name properly without cringing.
I like video games, but that phrase has been rendered meaningless in the contemporary world, because who doesn’t play video games. Even fetuses in a womb play video games. I also draw, for money and for free (mostly for money because I’m broke and the motivation helps me). I’m thinking of starting a web comic in the near future if my parents don’t force me to get a job. But I do want to work at the same time, because I need money and a steady income to buy
Star Wars™ merchandise. Also for post secondary. My parents aren’t paying for all of that. (By the way, as well as Samson, I am a walking meme).

Maybe if I keep rambling I’ll reach thDOOT DOOTe required word count??? Writing is hard for me when the topic is so vague.

Now speaking of the topic: on to the subject at hand; Mr. Jackson asked “What is philosophy?” Honestly, I am not sure. Is it just talking about topics in depth, and getting so in depth that your head starts hurting? Or is it a pleasant conversation that comes up at lunch time and suddenly your thoughts are branching off into hundreds of different subjects? Like boys? Makeup? Cars? The best way to hit someone with considerable force on the head without causing permanent neurological and psychological damage? Or maybe, it’s a way to pass the time, and a way to understand the world and your life more clearly. To philosophize, in a general statement, is to “. . .study [the] fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline”.

I love to think about life and the nature of things in depth. The discussion we had earlier in class this week about the article, “Does Color Even Exist?“, was very intriguing. We were able to take one simple? topic and generate many ideas, theories and concepts. If color doesn’t exist then how do cameras capture it? Or do cameras capture the black and white, and then our brains imagine the color because who wants to live in a world of black and white? Do the minds of people refuse to see a dull world so much, that from the beginning of mankind we’ve forced to imagine up hues and shades- WHAT IF COLOR IS JUST SOMETHING WE’VE MADE UP?? WAIT. IT IS SOMETHING WE’VE MADE UP. WHAT THE HELL IS A YELLOW–

“Color hovers uneasily between the subjective world of sensation and the objective world of fact.”

I wish we had more debate time, I had just started getting into a heated conversation. I’ll flip a table next time to prove my arguments.

In my respectful opinion philosophy is more composed of speaking and holding a debate between a pair or a group of people, than writing. Of course, writing makes it easier to access ideas and keep track of the different thoughts, but speech takes one idea and holds it up within the group, a simple shape floating in the air, and the rest of the group bends it and shapes it and stretches it so it is a mixture of thoughts and ideas and it grows as more people add to it. Talking is an important element – a vital aspect, of circulating ideas throughout a society, and ideas are heard and reinforced more often through word of mouth, than when written on paper.

TL;DR (even though its not that long), what if we’re actually all in comas and what we’re living in now is just a computer generated dream and Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Connor are fighting off Skynet.





Epistemology Discussion: Paradigms 11.04.13


With visual notes provided by Jessica and the Livescribe pen. Enjoy!



Metaphysicians to be Encountered

Metaphysicians in #Philosophy12Above are most of the Metaphysicians #Philosophy12 has decided to study for the coming unit. We have also added Plato to the list, and still one remaining choice to be made. But stay tuned to hear more about each of these philosophers as introductory posts begin to show up on the blog in the next few days.



What is Metaphysics?

Image courtesy of Kahfi Wisdom

Read the following post, and the attached comments posted on the blog Talking Philosophy for class Tuesday:

“What is metaphysics? In the Western tradition, metaphysics concerns the nature and description of an Ultimate Reality that stands behind the world of appearances. One dominant strand holds that we can somehow come to know a world that exists undetected by our sense perceptions and unexplained by the natural operation of causes and effects. Unfortunately, our powers of sensation and perception reveal to us only a partial survey of the contingent universe unfolding around us and within us. We are part of that unfolding process, no doubt, but we have profound limitations in what we can do and what we can know. We are radically limited in our contact with the universe, and it is hard to see how, in our embodied state, we can overcome these limitations. Despite all that our sciences have done to inform us of realities unknown to sense perception or naïve common sense, we are unable, using the normal touchstones of truth, to argue convincingly for the character of Ultimate Reality or for Beings that exist in a supersensible or supernatural world.”



CBC Ideas | Spinoza

Baruch Spinoza

Thanks to Ms. Bogan for passing along the link to this week’s CBC Ideas episode on Baruch Spinoza:

Baruch Spinoza was a 17th century lens grinder known for his precision optical work. But it was his philosophy that made this Dutch-Jewish thinker famous, then and now. IDEAS host Paul Kennedy explores how Spinoza’s thoughts on God, the universe, ethics and politics helped ignite the flame that became the Enlightenment.

Baruch Spinoza was a 17th century Dutch Jewish philosopher (1632-1677). He was known for his radical views on religion and politics. As a young man, he was banned by his own religious community for his scandalous ideas.

He made his living by grinding precision lens for scientists. He died young, at the age of 44, presumably from inhaling glass dust.

Spinoza did not believe that God created the heavens and earth – the universe.  For Spinoza, God was equivalent to all of nature. He believed that “false religion” created superstition.  A “true religion,” on the other hand, was liberating because it allowed freedom of thought.

The Europe of 17th century was a place  of stifling religious orthodoxies, strife and war.  Spinoza believed in freedom of thought and the principle of religious tolerance.

Spinoza also had radical ideas about the nature of politics.  He believed in democracy.  He is credited with helping to shape the revolution in human thought known as The Enlightenment.



My Epistemology – Mr. J Edition

About halfway through my attempted introduction of Philosophy 12’s Epistemology unit assignments – clumsily introduced here Jonathan asked a salient question: 

Could you do one of these assignments first, so we can see what it is you’re looking for?

To refresh myself ourselves, the individual piece of the Epistemology study will be to create a personal epistemological proposition: to state and explain something about what we know, and how we know it.  

Can I do this first so I the class can see what it is I’m looking for?

Um… yeah, sure. Of course. 

First Steps

What I Know… How I Know It

This started out as a messy, painful process for me that I trust will emanate throughout the class this week. But this sort of psychic discomfort is integral to the learning process, I’ve come to think; and it is something that I was curious to lean into with the hope of seeing where my thinking took me.

I started with the attempt to create simple statements that I hoped would lead me somewhere meaningful.

Statement A

I doubt what I know; it fluctuates. My relationship and understanding of my self and the world is subjective. 

Statement B

I read (some of) Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason” to be about the need to live as though the things that cannot be known *can* be (even while admitting that they can’t). 

Therefore (Statement C)

Learning is central to trusting in the fleeting knowledge gained while I interrogate and reform my “knowledgable paradigm.”

I have always been fond of the Hemingway quote

There are some things which cannot be learned quickly and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are the very simplest things and because it takes a man’s life to know them the little new that each man gets from life is very costly and the only heritage he has to leave.

OK, so…?

Having come to some understanding of what I wanted to say, what I could stand behind as my beliefsabout knowledge at this stage, I then sought to ground these statements in the contexts of philosophy and epistemology. I had a few different ideas here, mostly due to recent thinking about Immanuel Kant, Thomas Kuhn, and Gregory Bateson.

Ecological Mind

Where to next?

As it stands now, I’m returning to the syllogistic A & B –> C format of attempting to lay out my proposition about knowledge and learning, trying to hone the statements offered above and support them with some of the thinking of other philosopher’s.

My “A” Statement at the moment begins with the preface of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason

Human reason,” he says, “in one sphere of its cognition, is called upon to consider questions, which it cannot decline, as they are presented by its own nature, as they transcend every faculty of the mind.”

I’m hoping to contrast some of my thinking about the above with what he says later, that: “…a dogmatist promises to extend human knowledge beyond the limits of possible experience; while I humbly confess that this is completely beyond my power.”

Taken together (A & B), this rationale – to seek, even when the knowledge may be beyond us – creates a dizzying cumulative effect that Gardner Campbell spoke about a few weeks ago in Vancouver: the double bind. I think this scenario is where I find my thinking aligning with Gregory Bateson‘s Hierarchies of Learning, and even the ‘scientific crisis’ written about by Thomas Kuhn, wherein the old paradigm is the prison, but also the route to salvation (for a time).

Mr. Jackson, it seems like you’re more confused than when you started…

Of course not! 

Well, maybe a little.

But I’ll let you know how the next few steps go.