Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Jamie’s Plato’s Cave: Post Secondary Sky

PC: Jackson Parsons Surfing occured!

PC: Jackson Parsons
Surfing occured!

I spent this last weekend surfing in Tofino with my boys. Amidst turbulent waves and cold, cold wetsuits, we spent a great deal of time chatting around a roaring fire. The topics ranged from love and identity to (as these things often go), women and adventures. As we were speaking, one thread came up that, for me, sparked how I was going to address this post:

Tofino gave us a new path. In the library of life choices that is available to each of us, a new book was just written and added to the shelf. It’s titled The Surfer, and it describes a man who lives on Vancouver Island, doing artistic endeavors to keep himself financially stable while catching gnarly waves in his copious spare time. The Surfer could be me, in five or ten years. Although the chance is slim that I will fully commit to that path, it became an option, because of my experience this weekend.

There are so many more paths than I could’ve possibly imagined. As long as I’ve been the youngest sibling (read: my entire life, for obvious reasons), of three over-achievers, I’ve been thinking inside a square. The biggest questions have generally been “what universities do I want to apply for?” and “what career will I enjoy doing for a significant portion of my live?” Yet, these days, I am slowly beginning to contemplate choices that are a little larger. These days, the questions are shifting to “how am I going to be happy?” or “if money is freedom, how can I make money so that I am free of financial incentive and can pursue paths for better reasons?” or “can I just live in Tofino and surf every weekend?” It is a paradigm shift that I’m grateful for, and is giving my mind fuel to explore those bigger questions.

PC: Devon Columbus Contemplating life underneath tall trees.

PC: Devon Columbus
Contemplating life underneath tall trees.

Plato’s Cave is an allegory that shows how people can be happy in ignorance, yet will experience greater heights of bliss and fulfillment as they are enlightened of the world. My cave has been the future, and how I can grasp it. I’m only beginning to realize all of the stars, the sun, the sky, the cosmos are all outside of what I always thought I had to do.

 

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What is the purpose of life?

What is the purpose of life and what influences our purpose in life are my two predominate questions I have regarding the purpose of life. As I talked about in my previous blog post, the purpose of human life seems to motivate our actions and push us to develop ourselves.

The ideology that I connect with the most can be summarized by subjectivism. Subjectivism states that meaning varies from person to person and relies on ones mental state. This ideology sheds light on my topic by allowing for individuals to be able to feel as if they have a greater purpose than reproduction. Some philosophers, such as Frankfurt, believed that loosing oneself initiative the our intuition to find purpose and that through our life experiences we are able to develop our own sense of purpose. The basic idea of subjectivism is straight forward and easy to follow, but just as with all philosophical things, the harder you thin about something, the more complicated it becomes.

This new material on subjectivism relation to human purpose in life both confuses and helps me understand the purpose of life. On one hand, stating that we are able to create our own purpose of life makes sense and appears to be straight forward. But there is much more to loosing oneself in order to find purpose. The objections to subjectivism’s theories also make sense, forming a cloud of confusion. How can one find purpose in being lost when purpose gives you a sense of direction? Ethics and religion also play a very important role in subjectivism creating objective means in some cases. Regardless, there is no way to easily understand the purpose of life.

I think the video bellow effectively summarizes the subjectivity of the purpose of life:

Other questions I have established regarding the purpose of human life are:

  • Does purpose evolve as an individual evolves?
  • Are there permanent factors that influence our purpose?
  • What defines being ‘lost’ and is it a static definition?
 

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Is there any purpose in this blog post?

Every week, I spend anywhere between 12 and 24 hours slicing meat at a grocery store. Every week, I spend 30 hours a week at school. Every week, I spend countless hours wondering: what’s the point of it all? I feel as if everyone is working towards a ‘greater purpose’ in life, but what is that purpose? Does a purpose in life exist? Why do human beings need a purpose? What if there is no purpose? These are all questions that I hope won’t make me have more questions about the purpose and meaning of life.

I chose the topic of purpose regarding human life because as a grade 12 student I feel there is a lot of emphasis put on succeeding and finding a purpose in life. Purpose is extremely fuzzy with no clear definition due humans finding purpose in a variety of things. I think that mental well being, emotions and beliefs are factor that greatly affect what someone defines their purpose as.

The purpose of life is very important. It is what we base our entire existence upon. Darwinism states that the only purpose of life is to reproduce for the survival of man kind. Another perspective is that of various religion which follow the concept of be “good” and have a “good” afterlife. While both of these perspectives are valid ways to life, I personally do not know what the purpose of life is.

“There is not one big cosmic meaning for all; there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.”

       —  Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934
I think the above quote directly reflects my current understanding of life. We are all part of a story that cannot be directed by anyone other than ourselves. By looking more in depth at the purpose of human life, I hope to come to the understanding of why humans desire a purpose. Why are we not satisfied with being alive for a singular reason? I think that in the search for the answers of these questions, regardless of finding them, I will be able to develop my own purpose.
 

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“Pics or it didn’t happen”

Image via MemeCenter

The mantra of the Instagram era:

Think about the pictures of a horde of tourists assembled in front of the Mona Lisa, their cameras clicking away. It is the most photographed work of art in human history. You can see it in full light, low light, close-up, far away, x-rayed; you can find parodies of parodies of parodies; and yet, seeing it in person and walking away does not suffice. The experience must be captured, the painting itself possessed, a poor facsimile of it acquired so that you can call it your own – a photograph which, in the end, says, I was here. I went to Paris and saw the Mona Lisa. The photo shows that you could afford the trip, that you are cultured, and offers an entrée to your story about the other tourists you had to elbow your way through, the security guard who tried to flirt with you, the incredible pastry you had afterwards, the realisation that the painting really is not much to look at and that you have always preferred Rembrandt. The grainy, slightly askew photo signifies all these things. Most important, it is yours. You took it. It got 12 likes.

This is also the unspoken thought process behind every reblog or retweet, every time you pin something that has already been pinned hundreds of times. You need it for yourself. Placing it on your blog or in your Twitter stream acts as a form of identification – a signal of your aesthetics, a reflection of your background, an avatar of your desires. It must be held, however provisionally and insubstantially, in your hand, and so by reposting it, you claim some kind of possession of it.

 

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no matter what, we strive to look good

almost all of our lives us people are very socially aware about everything. ranging from what shoes you are wearing to even how u put them on, the way we smile, how our voice sounds, we all strive for perfection in our heads and it makes us do certain things or hold back from saying certain things that we otherwise would have done differently if we all just acted ourselves without social pressure of being perfect. everyones idea in their head is that if they aren’t perfect that they aren’t worth as much, and that people will think they are weird. don’t deny it, its easy to SAY you always “act yourself” 100% all the time. It is something to be aware of, if you believe this isn’t you, think about every time you get up to public speak, overtime you talk to someone you like, and notice you get really worried about how you look and what they will think but ask yourself why?

what do you think you or your life would be like if you weren’t this way? if you just never worried and was the most “outgoing self” and cheery? i think some of the people in their life that have managed to overcome this, have really become successful. because they don’t hold themselves back from opportunities and what their heart desires, because there isn’t fear or risk holding them back from being productive. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. don’t let your ego get in the way of your desires and opportunities. i make my following conclusions about our egos and how it affects us in these premises:

 

Premise 1: being socially aware holds us back from possibilities & ourselves

premise 2: we crave perfection

premise 3: we lack self belief and confidence

conclusion: our egos hold us back from getting what we want done and to feel good about ourselves.

 

to evaluate these premises on truth and validity,

premise 1: can be accepted as truth, i believe it is something we all know.

premise 2: rather it is molded by society, it is definitely true. just look around you.

premise 3: some could argue they are very confident people and that they always believe in themselves but i believe there is even a reason of looking good by saying that.

 

i believe we all notice these things but never address them to ourselves and its good to get you thinking and something to be aware of in your life, and trying not to let it affect you in any negative way.

 

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The Never Ending Search For Meaning – Thomas Caya

now that i know what “philosophy” means, i know i think about it ALOT. if not too much. but it is an amazing discovery for me to know that i have been thinking like a philosopher and challenging what I already know on my own. “Philosophy” or the “process” of philosophy to me is our natural need and desire to search for a meaning. That is all us humans do is create and apply meanings to everything.

t-philosophy diagram

my Diagram illustrates “you” or “us” taking our path of life. The ground represents what we know, what we live by. and he trees represent life ahead and its typical ways. As we all walk our paths, some of us may walk through the forest and reach the other side no problem and unscathed. or some may come across a “trap-door” which travels beneath you. beneath the ground. beneath what you already know and live by. it represents philosophy itself in that it is an opportunity to search beneath what you know and live by.

This is all sounding so great right? well, i think it can be 1 of 3 things.

1. Philosophy could be a safety net of knowledge and truth and could open your eyes to new possibilities.

2. Philosophy is like a trap door, you can spend too much time trying to force it open, that you could fall into insanity.

3. Philosophy could be nothing, empty and scary, or it could be something you cant handle.

which begs the question, is it better to even touch the trap-door? or to ignore it and carry on walking down your path the way you were?

free thought? or follow?

does any of it matter? or is this me just trying to apply a meaning to it?

I believe that there is no true purpose of life. i believe we all create our own purpose and there is no wrong answer and that philosophy is about being exposed to new outlooks, new truths, other peoples purpose’s and we can take what we want from it, maybe integrate it into our truth, and what we disagree with we should throw away into the abyss of our brain.

-Thomas

 

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My Thoughts on Philosophy

Philosophy has always been a growing subject of interest for me as I’ve matured and grown throughout my youth. Many times I would find myself wondering about the many mysteries of life. My name is Derek Goddard and I took this class in order to get a wider view and understanding on the things in our world which cannot be easily answered.

While we have only been in session for a short amount of time I can already see the differences around me. Many of the ideas I had previous to this course have come into question where before I had none. While the recent readings and discussions have all been interesting and some quite thought-provoking, some of the questions raised have seemed less intriguing than I had hoped. Philosophy seems to be a class which you must put in a lot of your own time thinking about and pondering over alone, which I thoroughly enjoy as It is something I have been doing for sometime already.

For me Philosophy and conscious reasoning is what makes us as human beings so amazing and radically different from everything else before us. The mere fact that we can even question Why? and question what it means to be alive, rather than just existing.

One of my favorite articles What Makes You You?, Discusses the mystery of the individual and who we really are as people. While our time is miniscule in the grand scheme of things, a mere 30,000 Days in an average life span, I am simply glad that we are able to question the crazy thing called life in which we are all in together.

 

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“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Philosophy is essential; at least according to Matthew Beard and Socrates it is. Personally I’ve always been fascinated by Socrates’ bold statement: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” He doesn’t exclaim that the “unexamined life” is less meaningful or less valuable, he simply and clearly states it’s not even worth living. Well, why does he make such strong, unmistakable statement? Socrates believed that the purpose of life on Earth was to gain personal and spiritual growth. Although, we are unable to comprehend a greater understanding of our true purpose unless we take the time to delve into and reflect upon our life. As another philosopher, Santayana, observed: “He who does not remember the past is condemned to repeat it.”

Examining our life reveals patterns of behavior. Deeper contemplation yields understanding of the subconscious programming, the powerful mental software that runs our life. Unless we become aware of these patterns, much of our life is unconscious repetition. The good news is that it is never too late to start examining our life more thoroughly and to reap the rewards. We all have blind spots, missing pieces of the puzzle. But when I examine a returning problem in my life, I have that unnerving feeling that I must be missing something, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. We try to analyze ourselves, but none of us can see our own back side (our “shadow” if you will).

That’s why Socrates’ method of self-examination included an essential element that became known as: “Socrates Dialogue“. Conversing with a close friend, a spouse, a skilled psychotherapist or spiritual adviser helps reveal those blind spots we cannot see by ourselves. Our society discourages self-awareness with a weekly cycle of working and consuming that keeps us too busy to slow down for self-reflection. Consumer capitalism’s game plan prefers an unaware and vaguely dissatisfied populace that tries to fill the emptiness inside with shiny new products. It’s an overwhelming act to stop and contemplate your life. But according to Socrates, it’s the only game that really matters.

 

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life is wonders

coming into philosophy class i had no idea what the word philosophy meant or what it was. after learning it was the study of our Morales, truths and “the way life works”, it came to my surprise that i seem to naturally wonder about life’s complex ways and can not seem to shake the curiosity of trying to find some new perspective on life we can say is “right” and feel good about living it.

i find people worry and reflect about their lives being “right” or ” correct” and repeat habits that they value as right or ways of life they are living just to feel like they are successful and happy. I can tell it is a mistake people make and they live lives of being unsatisfied and unhappy. Then they will criticize or judge another persons values based on if it is right or wrong, when who says if it is? who says you are so great? who says you are so bad?  But i truly believe we all find our own truths and integrate it with our own lives and values although we naturally can not help ourselves from being outspoken and sharing our vision with the world by sometimes even enforcing it. so it truly does not matter what your own “truth” is, and you should accept that others believe in a different truth that they will fight to the death for, like you would.Revolution-Fist

through “the cave” class discussion, it came to my attention that the “men locked up” actually had an easier and less emotional attachment to life, when the one who was exposed to the world and new ideas was trying to bring emotion and happiness to the others yet was shamed and killed. makes me wonder. free thought? That is what makes philosophy a never ending discussion is because there are so many visions and truths that are so strongly believed by each individual we would all be fighting till there was only one truth anyway, and there begs the question, is it better to have free thought like a philosopher, or just simply to live to another truth and not question it? which may result in feeling more complete, more at rest,  and less wondrous. are we as humans naturally supposed to have free thought? or are we suppose to learn a way of life and live it like the men in the cave?

with so many questions in mind, it makes me wonder if any of it even matters, would me finding out the answers of life change who i am? is it something i want to find out? does ANYTHING really matter or are we just atoms reacting with one another?! without driving myself crazy, i would sum up philosophy as the seeking knowledge of others and a perspective of their truth, which u could integrate into yours or throw in the nether of your brain, and that it doesn’t matter, i just have to worry about my perspective and accept others. it is NOT about finding a truth we should all learn and live by, that is what i call government.trut1

-Thomas Caya

 

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Euthanasia By Nadine and Alyssa

Throughout the past few week in class we have been discussing morals and philosophers views on ethics. While diving into an exploration of some ethical issues one stood out for us, that topic being Euthanasia. Euthanasia is the intentional killing of another person as requested by them as they may be facing terminal, painful illness and would rather end their lives immediately than fade away slowly and painfully with time. There are different types of Euthanasia.

  • Voluntary euthanasia: When the person who is killed has requested to be killed.
  • Non-voluntary: When the person who is killed made no request and gave no consent.
  • Involuntary euthanasia: When the person who is killed expressed a wish to the contrary.
  • Assisted suicide: Someone provides an individual with the information, guidance, and means to take his or her own life with the intention that they will be used for this purpose. When it is a doctor who helps another person to kill themselves it is called “physician assisted suicide.”
  • Euthanasia By Action: Intentionally causing a person’s death by performing an action such as by giving a lethal injection.
  • Euthanasia By Omission: Intentionally causing death by not providing necessary and ordinary (usual and customary) care or food and water.

Euthanasia is currently illegal in most of Canada and many other countries around the world. As with all ethical problems, there are two side; for and against. The present law in Canada does not distinguish between euthanasia, assisted suicide and other forms of murder.  The key consideration is the intention to cause death.  Consent or motive – even one of compassion – does not change the reality of killing a human being.

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People who are against Euthanasia are just that for a multitude of reasons.

Many believe that allowing Euthanasia to become a legal norm would weaken society’s value for human life. People with disabilities and illness may soon be viewed as burdens to society as they have the option to die sooner and no longer use up our hospital’s resources and space, a view that would negatively impact the mental health of millions of patients. Every human being has the right to be valued equally in society. By legalizing Euthanasia some may develop the mindset that the weak should simply be disposed of, a view that is detrimental to the equality of our society. Human life should not be a means to an end, it is a good in itself and should be treated as such.

The philosopher Immanuel Kant said that rational human beings should be treated as an end in themselves and not as a means to something else. The fact that we are human has value in itself. Our inherent value doesn’t depend on anything else – it doesn’t depend on whether we are having a good life that we enjoy, or whether we are making other people’s lives better. We exist, so we have value. It applies to us too as we shouldn’t treat ourselves as a means to our own ends meaning that lives should not be taken for the sole reason that it seems like the most effective way to alleviate suffering. To do that, through the eyes of this moral argument, would be to disregard people’s inherent worth. This view is known as the Slippery slope argument, the idea that allowing something seemingly harmless to happen may enable it to eventually spiral and escalate to allowing more worse things, currently unthinkable things, to become the norm. If Euthanasia were to be legalized and made a norm, many believe that vulnerable people will be put under pressure to end their lives. It would be difficult, and possibly impossible, to stop people using persuasion or coercion to get people to request euthanasia when they don’t really want it.

vancouver rally iv

Euthanasia is usually viewed from the viewpoint of the person who wants to die, but it affects other people too, and their rights should be considered.

  • family and friends
  • medical and other careers
  • other people in a similar situation who may feel pressured by the decision of this patient
  • society’s balance in general

To outline each and every argument against Euthanasia out there would make for a monstrous blog post, so instead here are some of the most common arguments against Euthanasia in point form:

  •  Voluntary euthanasia is the start of a slippery slope that leads to involuntary euthanasia and the killing of people who are thought undesirable
  • Proper palliative care makes euthanasia unnecessary
  • There’s no way of properly regulating euthanasia
  • Allowing euthanasia will lead to less good care for the terminally ill
  • Allowing euthanasia undermines the commitment of doctors and nurses to saving lives
  • Allowing euthanasia will discourage the search for new cures and treatments for the terminally ill
  • Euthanasia undermines the motivation to provide good care for the dying, and good pain relief
  • Euthanasia exposes vulnerable people to pressure to end their lives
  • Moral pressure on elderly relatives by selfish families
  • Moral pressure to free up medical resources
  • Patients who are abandoned by their families may feel euthanasia is the only solution

In contrast, there are many who believe that Euthanasia is something that should be made legal for all people. There are a few different moral approaches that have come to this conclusion.

Protesters

Consequentialism & Utilitarianism would focus on looking at the consequence of the affected people of the situation. John Stuart Mill said in his famous essay that

“good consequences are simply happiness, and happiness is pleasure and freedom from pain – not only physical pain but also distress of other kinds.”

The idea of this explains that there is the possibility of producing most pleasure and the least pain for everyone involved. Mills also stated

“ good consequences depend not only on the quantity of pleasure but also on the quality of the experiences which produce it and of the human being which is developed by them.”

According to this, the right action is something that promotes in oneself and others in a higher happiness.

Another approach to this issue would be Deontology, the idea that some or all actions are right or wrong in themselves because of the type of actions that they are. In this article by Elizabeth Telfer, she explains this concept by stating:

“Examples of these would be John Locke in the seventeenth century, Richard Price in the eighteenth century and David Ross and H. A. Prichard in the twentieth. Some Deontological philosophers speak in terms of duties, others of rights, but for our purposes they may be grouped together. However, we need to distinguish between two kinds of rights. Some rights, commonly called negative rights, are rights not to be treated in certain ways, and there are corresponding duties not to treat the owners of these rights in these ways. Other rights are positive rights to receive goods or services. Other people may have a duty to provide these, though it tends to be difficult to decide exactly who, as with such rights as the right to work.

There are two negative rights, found in most lists, which are particularly relevant to voluntary euthanasia. These are: the right not to be killed, corresponding to a duty not to kill, and the right to liberty corresponding to a duty to respect others’ liberty. I shall say a little about each of these. The notion of a duty not to kill seems at first to rule out euthanasia of any kind, and those who oppose euthanasia sometimes seem to think that all they need to do is to say ‘Thou shalt not kill’ in a suitably solemn voice. But we do not regard the prohibition of killing as absolute: we may think there can be justified wars or justified capital punishment, or that killing in self- defense or defense of others is justified. And it is easier to justify voluntary euthanasia than the killing in these other cases, where the person who dies does not choose to do so. If the reason why in general we ought not to kill is that life is a person’s most precious possession, then that reason can be overturned if the person no longer wants to live.”
-Elizabeth Telfer

The Moral theory of Egoism; the belief that the right action is always that which has the best consequences for the doer of the action, or agent, would further find that Euthanasia should be a legal right.Similar to topic one, this is more about how the doer of the action presents itself to something that benefits him/her. Such as a selfish family member that would rather have the money one gets from a fallen family member.Aristotle’s policy in life is not to pursue our own pleasure but to develop our own flourishing or foster our best selves. This however is the opposite of Egoism. One must find and develop a non-egoistic self. Someone who possesses moral virtues, which includes the act of regarding others values. Such as the idea of a death with dignity. Euthanasia lets someone have their values preserved and their better self is seen at the end, rather than a declined better self.

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In general, those who are for Euthanasia believe that legalizing it and making it accessible to the people who are in dire pain would make their better self shine through at the end of their lifespan, would benefit many families and would give them the freedom to control their own lives.

Like many topics in this world, Euthanasia is extremely controversial. As it stands, Euthanasia is illegal in most of Canada, but there are many arguments against it. As is the case of all ethical situations, there are pro’s and con’s, what you believe and which philosopher you agree with is an opinion thats entirely up to you to form.

 

 

 
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