Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Katie Crompton – I Kant Think of a Title (ft. Other Painful Attempts to be Funny)

Premise: Knowledge resides in both the mind and the body

From our discussions on Epistemology, I have found that I get confused really easily (but that’s me with basically every topic in Philosophy so nothing is really new), but this is the topic that I think I fully understand (hallelujah). I started thinking about muscle memory and how we use it in our everyday lives, and I discovered how it connects to knowledge and where it is located. I then came up with this syllogism.

If memory is the faculty by which the mind stores information

And muscle memory exists in the body

And pieces of information make up knowledge

Then knowledge resides in both the mind and the body

Time to dissect this syllogism!

If memory is the faculty by which the mind stores information

I believe that the mind is the processing point for all information, but that information is then stored else where if necessary. This article from Live Science explains the different types of memory. From the definitions of these types of memory, we can see that some information would be stored in different parts of the brain, like short-term and long-term memory, while some may be stored in other parts of the body, like procedural memory.

A chart to help understand the connection between the different kinds of memory (Image by Nick Valmas / QBI)

And muscle memory exists in the body

STORY TIME! Whenever I am waiting in the wings to go on stage for a performance, my mind shuts down and I feel like I have forgotten everything. I forget my lines, my blocking, what character I’m playing, everything. I panic for a solid three minutes and sometimes I’m able to actually calm myself down and force myself to remember what I’m doing. Other times, I have to go on stage in a state of panic and have to have faith that my body knows what to do. Most of the time it does, but I do have the occasional brain fart (way to be mature, Katie). This whole scenario made me realize that it is impossible for knowledge to exist solely in the mind because if it did, I would just be staring blankly at the audience for an hour every time I get on stage (this is probably true anyway and everyone’s just lying to me but hey, at least I have support). This scenario shows not only how knowledge resides in the mind and the body, but also how the mind can deceive itself. The brain is telling me that I don’t know things that I know I know, which causes me to panic and doubt myself. Luckily, muscle memory takes over so I don’t look like a complete lunatic every time I perform.

My inner self before I go on stage (gif from Imgur)

And pieces of information make up knowledge

In Immanuel Kant’s eyes, we gain knowledge through experience as well as rational thought. If we gain knowledge through experience, then we must have some sort of physical form to help us experience things. If we gain knowledge through rational thought, we must have a mind. Therefore, I believe that a lot of the knowledge we gain through experience would reside in the body and the knowledge we gain from rational thought would reside in the mind. This can also relate to competence and propositional knowledge. Competence knowledge can be found in the body because this is the “know how” knowledge, while propositional knowledge can be found in the mind because it’s the “know what” knowledge. We can’t do anything without a physical form, so that is why I believe competence knowledge has to reside in the body. Though I believe there is some separation between the knowledge in the mind and the body, I still do believe that there is a large connection.

Then knowledge resides in both the mind and the body

Even though knowledge may exist in different parts of the body, they still work together. Your competence and propositional knowledge work together to make sure you are a completely functional human being. Rational thought and experience knowledge have worked hand in hand since you were a baby. For example, when you were a baby and your stomach was growling, your mind told you that that was because you were hungry. You also knew from prior experience that if you cried, someone would feed you. The knowledge that exists in the mind and the body are both incredibly important. Can you imagine a life with only knowledge from the mind or the body?

Image from PsychCentral



Emojis, Expressive Interjections, and Epistemology, All In One Convenient Blog Post!!!!!!!!!!

Side note:

For this post, “subject” will be used to define anything that can be understood e.g. an idea, a person, an object, etc. Please don’t take it as a dehumanizing word, because it isn’t intended to be. It’s just the most convenient word I could think of.

Do you ever just have a feeling about someone or something; like some indescribable knowledge of how that person or thing is, even if you may not know every fact there is to know about said person or thing? The ability to understand without ever receiving a comprehensive list of facts and information about the subject is a phenomenon that occurs all the time in the human mind, and it is a phenomenon that I find utterly fascinating.

I, myself, have friends and family members who I understand to varying degrees, or rather, I have come to an understanding about them. I think that phrasing fits better, since the understanding I have may not be the “Ultimate Understanding” of said person. I am tempted to cite Kant in saying that only one person, in being themself, is able to have an Ultimate Understanding or know the Truth about who they are, but even that is untrue. There are two reasons why this is wrong.

For one, a person may understand themselves less than the people who know them.

Secondly, the fact that the mind and the brain rely on different sections of themselves relaying information which is then interpreted by different sections of themselves refutes the possibility of any one section having a full understanding of the brain or mind.

Let’s assess these two points further, shall we?

Read More



Non-Physical Existence

After discussing the basics of Metaphysics in class I am very curious about the ideas of the self and existence. When it comes to the self, I believe most strongly in the theory of dualism, the idea that the self is both essence and substance, material and non-material. I also believe in David Hume’s Bundle Theory, the idea that the self is a projection of the bundle of experiences we have collected throughout our lives. However, I am curious about just how much of the self can exist as either entirely physical or entirely non-physical. In a strictly physical existence, the self can be defined as a mass of molecules and a collection of chemical reactions. But when it comes to a non-physical existence there isn’t a clear definition. I want to explore the possibility of the self existing entirely separate from the physical body and the different ways in which this could occur. For this series of blog posts I have decided to ask the question: In what capacity can the self exist outside of the physical body?


What is existence?

To begin to approach this question, we must first define existence. What is existence? Existence can be defined as the fact or state of living or having objective reality, continued survival, or any person’s supposed current, future, or past lives on this earth. For the purpose of my inquiry, I am going to look at existence more in terms of Heidegger’s “Being” and less in terms of basic survival or occupying physical space. In order to discuss this I hope to find or develop some sort of system for measuring the level of “Being” that an entity has in order to objectively as possible discuss the capacity at which it is existing.

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What are the components of the self?

Another important concept to explore is the different components of the self and how they in turn relate to existence. I want to further explore the connections and separations between essence and substance as well as mind, body and soul. I also want to look into the similarities and differences between how an individual perceives their own self and how others perceive it.

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How can a non-physical existence occur?

Finally I want to ask, in what ways can a non-physical existence occur? And is it possible for a person to exist without a physical body? While most of us can agree that non-physical emotions like pride and love and hate exist, is this type of existence possible for people? To start off I’ve made a mind map of the different ways in which I believe a non-physical existence can occur.

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I am really excited to look into this topic, I think it is really relevant to the current state of society where more and more of our lives and interactions are happening online. To begin to answer my questions I have turned to Rob Horning’s essay Me Meme. In the essay Horning explores the relationship between social media and the self and proposing really interesting ideas about “the makeshift identity” most of us have on social media platforms. He goes on to state that “this identity can be shared and consumed not only by others but by oneself. This brings up the idea that the self we portray on social media can be, in extreme cases, completely independent from our true self and therefore may be considered a non-physical existence. Moving forward with this inquiry, I am really interested in looking into the way social media is facilitating the creation of less and less physical existences.




Two Minds to Create a One (ish) Self

Who am I? That’s a difficult question. An easier one would be “what am I made of,” to which I may reply with a list of eleven elements which make up a body, a sentient structure which has three times more cells than there are stars in the Milky Way. But even this is a difficult question, seeing as my cells are constantly splitting and dying, and can live on without me if they are to be transported into another’s body.

Let us then abandon this question and return to the first. “Who am I?” or “what is the self?” I know I am a thing that thinks, and that I exist while I am thinking. The thinking part of my existence may be called the Mind, which can be split into two parts: the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. The conscious mind gets a lot of recognition for being the self, seeing as it is the source of everything that a person can control and be aware of in their mind, but the subconscious mind tends to be almost entirely overlooked in this matter. I think that the self lies more subconscious than anyone is willing to admit. The conscious mind can change day by day and moment by moment, but the subconscious mind is much more slow to change, and remains relatively constant. External interaction (experiences with people/environment/things) has a great effect on the conscious mind, and memories of these events will help create both a conscious and subconscious reaction to anything associated to that experience again. Conscious reactions are usually logic-based, whereas subconscious reactions are usually feelings triggered by association with a past experience. That would make PTSD an intensely negative form of subconscious reaction. Intense stress is one of the only things that can cause long-lasting or permeant significant change to the subconscious mind in a relatively short period of time.

Stress and negative experiences also affect memories, particularly repressed or forgotten ones. Memories are often repressed or altered if they are extremely traumatic to the person. When the memory is repressed, it is hidden away from the conscious mind by the subconscious mind, and the conscious mind goes on as if nothing has happened, even though the subconscious mind knows full well what went down. Memory alteration occurs when aspects of a memory is altered by the mind. This is usually a product of low level repression, and usually takes the form of nostalgia. The guy who hated High School may recall the torturous four years a decade later and say that it wasn’t so bad because he had lost the specifics of the negative emotions and experiences that he had hoped to forget, (and had moved past years ago) and would therefore be unable to recall properly what his High School experience had actually been like. When recalling the experience he will only have an handful of memories to draw conclusions from (most of the ones kept being not-so-bad ones), so he would most likely think of High School as a place where only not-so-bad, or even good memories were made. Hence the alteration of memory resulting in nostalgia.

Since the subconscious holds on to many memories that the conscious mind throws away, and since it stays so consistent over time, I might say that it is the glue that holds the self together. If the conscious mind changes for a short period of time, it may affect the memories being produced, causing a slight change in the unconscious mind, but the reactions of the unconscious mind affect the conscious mind much more than the other way around. Still, the unconscious mind is hardly recognized for this influence.

This entire thing has been rather focussed on the immaterial, and now I’m just itching to talk about brains. Throughout this document I have referred to the conscious and unconscious mind as if they were cooperative, yet separate beings. This has been inspired by an interesting epilepsy treatment which involves the severance of the corpus callosum. The corpus callosum is the largest of the bundles of axons, or commissures, that connect the left and right hemispheres of the brain, and help them communicate and stay on the same page. Since the severing of the corpus callosum appeared to have little to no effect on the cats and monkeys which had been tested on, neurosurgeons got the idea to use it to ease the suffering of patients with severe epilepsy. Read More



Memory, Ideas, and Control

We often think that we have control over our thoughts and ideas, yet the underlying unconscious does its best to place bias upon it all. Our ideas, memories, feelings, they are all warped by our bias. A massive collection of memories, feelings and ideas, that is our bias. In essence, our bias does not just decide how we feel about our memories/experiences, it also decides to keep or discard details of that memory. Our bias, which we have no control of, edits old and new memories with all other memories in mind.

Why do we debate? Why do we argue our points? When in reality it is as if we are our memories. We are not arguing for our “selfs”, rather we are slaves to the memories and ideas trapped inside our mind. But are they really “trapped”, our ideas want to be shared, we want to share them. They spread like viruses, they ripple like a disturbance on the calmest of pools.

What is freedom? Nothing more than idea, an idea that wants to be shared, an idea that wants more followers. Perhaps from another perspective, our mind is more like a massive chemical reaction. Ideas react with memories, memories with feelings. All of this further advancing our ideas, or creating the madness we see in so many. Perhaps that is the point of philosophy, to ponder those ideas so that they may react with each other. Leading to great discoveries or diving into the depths of madness.

Here is my prezi

During my prezi presentation I told the class about how are memories seem to have more control over us than we would think. However what I did not refer to above was the introspective and outrospective construction of memories/ideas which I discussed in my presentation. This is also extremely important as through introspective means, the host of the ideas will think about how those ideas relate to themselves, therefore creating new ones, based on their already existing bias. When through outrospective means, this construction is influenced by both our own memories and the bias of the one who we are speaking to. This is why we often need two people to come up with powerful ideas, because otherwise you become trapped inside a world of recurring thoughts and they never change because there is no outside bias. Anyway, I found this connection between psychology and philosophy fascinating. When some say there is a division between philosophy and science, and I examine these ideas, I begin to think that line between science and philosophy is very faint indeed.

Only read what is below if you are extremely bored and have nothing else to do with your life because when I wrote what is below, I certainly couldn’t think of anything better to do.

Note: I don’t care if this post is late, the thoughts were still ruminating within my mind. I hate all of those who criticize me for my late post, despite that what just I said was ignorant of all the other factors that determine a person. Forget it, I still hate all of you, your welcome.