Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (DOL#1) -Benedict Mendes

A quick summation of this class so far for me would be: I have no idea what I’m doing. The types of learning and thinking this class has introduced to me  are quite unfamiliar. For example, the “Talk with me” paper, the stereotype of the lone thinker is debunked in the context of philosophy, saying instead that philosophy, at it’s core, is a social activity and should be treated as such. For me, I had always thought of philosophy as something that was done in your own mind, and to some degree, I still do. Of course, discussing opinions and coming to some kind of agreement or understanding is completely necessary in a debate setting, but when I’m presented with many new ideas at once I need time to process. I cannot develop a fully fleshed out argument or opinion on the spot, I need time to think about the information I’ve been presented and make my own conclusions from it before I can delve into the debating scene. This is in contrast with the principle that for philosophic discussion to occur there must be at least some dissent. I disagree somewhat, as I feel that time alone is needed to digest information and really find where one stands on a certain point, but I also agree that one can only get so far by shutting one’s self in and delving into your own mind. I also disagree with the point that dissent is always valuable, even if the dissenter is partly, or even completely wrong in their opinion. The point that dissent is needed to move away from repeated dogma can be true in many cases, however, are the people dissenting not also usually the people preaching dogma? Those who dislike change and will stick to their beliefs no matter how society is changing can be problematic as they can hinder society, as a whole, from moving in a positive direction. So, in some cases dissent is not only not valuable, but actually prevents progress.

 

On a more personal note, when this assignment was being discussed I was extremely confused and a little overwhelmed. It was only discussed in vague terms, which I’m not at all used to when it comes to school projects. Then, when the class met in room 111 (The couch room, my favourite classroom in the school without doubt) it was said that we were going to make the criteria. Here’s a little snapshot of what I was thinking: “????????¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿?¿?¿?¿?¿” In what class, on this earth, does the class get a say in the criteria? Apparently, the answer is this one. Of course, this sent my academic and structure focused mind into a complete panic. I can’t deal with the amount of responsibility that no criteria, or very little criteria, implies. It’s like, if you put me in an infinite field with no boundaries I would probably just ball up into fetal position and lay there in wait of rescue, I just wouldn’t know what to do with myself. I personally need limits to an assignment to be successful in it because it’s easier for me to be creative in a set margin, which sounds extremely contradictory I know. Also, in terms of the mindset that this class introduces, I feel like I have too much of a “scientific” mind to approach philosophy. To me, if I can’t measure it or define it, then what’s the point of discussing it? That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but that’s kind of the gist of my thinking.

 

As a whole, I think the first part of this course for me will be largely discovering more about and improving/changing myself before I can really get into big discussions. However, that doesn’t mean that I just won’t participate and will sit in my chair with my perfect eyebrows furrowed in thought, I will still do my best to get involved in discussions as much as I can, and besides, arguing with people has always been a strength of mine. So, in conclusion, do I now have kind of an idea of what I’m doing? Yes and no. Maybe. I don’t know. We’ll see.

 

By

Katie Crompton – Attempt at Communication (DOL #1)

These first couple weeks in Philosophy 12 have got me incredibly excited and thoroughly confused all at the same time. Coming into this class I had no idea what was coming my way. I was worried that my brain, which a lot of the time thinks of things as black or white, wouldn’t be cut out for this incredibly colourful course. After the first day, I realized one of the things I needed to do for me to be successful would be to stretch my mind and learn to be more open, which is much easier said than done.

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Image from The Art Studio NY Blog

  Our first few discussions really got me thinking about the isolation vs. communication debate. Communication is a huge part of our daily life. In our current society it is easier than ever to spark conversations with anyone at anytime, anywhere, which can be both a blessing and a curse. On the bright side, you can Skype with your cousins who live on the other side of the world, or you can message your best friend who moved to a different province last year. But on the not-so-bright side, there is that anonymous person on a Youtube video you put up who comments, “i h8 u” or your extremely conservative relatives posting anti-everything statuses on Facebook. Communication is something that everyone has to deal with in their daily lives, or is it? Is it better to hear other’s ideas or keep to your own? Does your mind thrive in isolation or when being social?

  Personally, I feel it is extremely important to speak with others and give people the opportunity to question you on your beliefs. This is something I am working on as I sometimes have a hard time expressing myself in fear that my opinions will be thought of as unimportant. One of my goals for this course is to become more open and not let myself fear sounding unintelligent. After all, you don’t know how much you know until someone challenges you and you have to explain yourself.

“Telling someone something he will not understand is pointless, even if you add he will not understand it” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

Image from The Rock School

Image from The Rock School

  This quote got me thinking a lot about the connection between communication and wisdom. I have discovered through our class discussions and the essay Talk With Me by Nigel Warburton that wisdom isn’t knowing a bunch of useless facts that you can blurt out whenever you want to sound ‘smart’. It is having a wealth of knowledge that you are eager to share and discuss with others. Wisdom is also having the ability to see and understand other people’s opinions, though you may not fully agree with them.

  These discussions on communication and wisdom have really helped me realize how I learn and how I can grow as a person in this course. I am looking forward to hopefully letting my guard down and adding a little bit of colour into my black and white brain. It will be a challenge for me but I am excited to see what the next few months have in store.

 

By

Here, Have Some Wisdom!

Current Mood

Two weeks into Philosophy and I feel like I have an infinite amount of questions and no real answers. I came into this class expecting it to be a challenge as well as an opportunity for me to step outside my comfort zone and expand the way in which I interpret the world around me. I have the tendency to become engrossed by difficult questions and problems without a solution until I am able to find an answer. I am beginning to realize that this is not the case for philosophy and I need to be okay with the possibility of never finding an answer and not let it limit my thinking or stop me from asking questions.

One of the many question that has been bugging me lately is the very first questions we addressed in class what is wisdom? I don’t have a conclusive answer and in fact I have more and more questions on the topic every day. However, I currently believe wisdom is a collection of experiences, information and values that is built up over time by your nature and nurture. I also believe that there is nothing that we really know that has not been imprinted on us or shared by other people in our lives. This conclusion supports the idea that philosophy must therefore be “inherently social” as Nigel Warburton refers to it in his essay Talk with me. I believe that sharing information and experiences, or “wisdom”, amongst ourselves is the only way to begin to understand or strive for knowledge surrounding topics like the meaning of life.

I agree with Warburton on his points that philosophy should be a conversation and that philosophers need “an intelligent listener who could criticise and help [them] focus [their] thought.” I also think that the input from another person, with an entirely different perspective and set of experiences, not only adds value and perspective to a philosophical conversation but cannot be objectively replicated by any other means.

I also agree with John Stuart Mill* in terms of his ideas on the value of dissenters. It is very easy to gloss over flaws in your thinking when there is no one there to call you out on them. When conversing with someone of an opposing view point it actually allows a philosopher to strengthen their argument and increase their own clarity of understanding as they work to persuade the dissenter.

*Fun fact, John Stuart Mill was a white man born in 1806 and a feminist*

On the other hand, I don’t believe that philosophy must be a social practice all of the time. Warburton’s essay highlights a recurring pattern of great philosophers seeking out isolation in order to further develop their ideas and complete their written work. I think that there is a place for both heated debates and independent pondering and that taking time as a philosopher to sit with your thoughts is essential.

 

 

Another question posed in class that has resonated with me was what is school for? It was odd to really critically examine and question the motives of an institution that has been a significant part of my life for the past 12 years of my life. However, when it came to exploring educational philosophies, I wasn’t surprised that I agreed the most with progressivism. I consider myself lucky to have been in very progressive learning environments in the form of programs of choice from 6th to 10th grade and I believe they helped me become an autonomous and life-long learner. I really appreciate the progressive learning philosophy because I feel it helps students find and cultivate their strengths and passions in addition to preparing them for the real world. I strongly agree with the role of the teacher in a progressive classroom, as a guide for problem solving and scientific inquiry”. I believe that teaching students in a progressive environment is the best way to raise a generation of people capable of finding innovative solutions to societies increasingly complex problems.

 

In terms of my personal goals for philosophy, I am really interested in working to finding a mix of science and philosophy with which to approach big questions or problems. Although I am very scientific and left brained I also believe there are some things in life that just can’t be explained by science and that sometimes there are multiple correct answers. I am also excited about working to develop a personal philosophy and my own definition of a “good life”. As a grade 12 student, I’m approaching one of the most significant changes of my life to date. Within the next year I will be transitioning into adulthood and heading to university to start out on my own. I want to go into this new chapter with a strong personal philosophy and a defined “good life” to strive for. Most of all I would like expand my thinking ability by developing the skills necessary to conduct philosophical conversations and approach situations with an open mind.

Moving forward I am looking forward to discussing topics including intuition and coincidence, why some people don’t like bagpipes, and the effect of social media on philosophical discussions.

 

 
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