Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


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.




Peter Singer, Liberation, and Animal Intelligence

Australian Philosopher Peter Singer

Australian Philosopher Peter Singer

After writing my blog post “Are We Really Smarter?“, it was not difficult to find real philosophers that agreed or had similar ideas to the questions I posed. After briefly researching some different philosophers, I decided to look more in depth into Australian Philosopher Peter Singer. Many of his known works, such as his book “Animal Liberation” (1975), pertain to issues involving ethics, especially with animals. In his book, he talked about animal intelligence as well. He argued that animals do have a lower intelligence than the average human, however that some animals show intelligence of that of human children. Therefore, he believes, intelligence should not be a basis when providing treatment of nonhuman animals any less than when considering the treatment of children. Thinking of the way we treat animals, would it also be an ethical way to treat children? In my earlier post, I mentioned SeaWorld, where intelligent animals such as dolphins and orcas are kept in small tanks for our entertainment. However, would it be socially accepted to do the same with human children? I think not.

Peter Singer 2Singer also argued that there is a larger difference between an oyster and an ape than an ape and a human. He says that calling a great ape, or other intelligible animals, an “animal” is truly arbitrary. I feel that this solidifies my own argument that as humans, we may not be the most intelligent animals on the planet. Because, truly, we are animals too.

To my disappointment, I could not find anything in my research about Peter Singer’s opinion on animals conscience, as it is a large portion of my metaphysics questions. I wonder if Singer even considered animal conscience, as it was not as well known about when he wrote his novel “Animal Liberation” in 1975. I feel that it would only support his arguments further.

When researching, it was difficult to find a philosopher specifically on animal conscience. I found articles about the opinions of marine biologists, neuroscientists, and other animal specialists. The majority of philosophers that had anything to do with animals focused mainly on ethics. Ethics does come into play with my metaphysics post, as with the idea of animals having intelligence and a conscience, one must think about the way we are treating animals, and if it is “right” to do so if they are equal with us.

To finish, Australian philosopher Peter Singer has ideas (along with many other opinions on ethics) that solidifies my own metaphysics arguments. Similarly to myself, he argued that animals have a similar level of intelligence to us as humans, and therefore must think about if the ways we treat animals is ethical. Unfortunately I was unable to find any writing about Singer’s opinion on animal conscience, as it is a large part of my metaphysics project, although I found multiple articles about the opinions of neuroscientists and animal experts.



A Man of Our Time

Ted Honderich is not one of those larger-than-life philosophers we can only read about in books. He is a man of the modern era, born in 1933 in a small Ontario village. Raised by devoutly religious Mennonite and Calvinist parents, the questions of existence – why are we here and what does it mean to be here? – plagued him, setting him on philosophy as his life’s path.

Still, not being of Ancient Greece or Imperial Germany doesn’t mean he isn’t a real philosopher. Honderich has attempted to provide answers to some of the most deeply rooted questions of all Western philosophy, theorizing on determinism and free will, the nature of consciousness, and the morality of terrorism. It is this last idea that has gotten Honderich in so much trouble. In face of Neo-Zionist Israeli expansionism and ethnic cleansing since 1968 war, Honderich claims, Palestinians had a moral right to resist with international terrorism. That assertion by Honderich – who married a Jewish woman, has Jewish children, and publicly supports  Israel’s right to exist – has earned him plentiful accusations of anti-semitism, leading to some of his lectures being well-attended by riot police to head off any potential violence. And who says philosophy can’t be interesting?

Honderich in the flesh

Still, his ideas on politics notwithstanding, what interests me most are his ideas on metaphysics; specifically, determinism. While I will go into more depth during our presentation, what it essentially boils down to is this: traditionally, deterministic philosophers divide into two camps, those who believe determinism is reconcilable with free will, and those who do not.  Honderich favoured a third way – while, I’ll admit, I don’t really understand what it is in the slightest. It focuses less on the explicit meaning of determinism than on its consequences; that is, it seeks to avoid the state of dismay we feel if we truly accept determinism, by combining the idea that everything is predetermined by past events with the idea that we can shape our own future when we have an idea of what we want that future to look like. Or something.

As you might have realized, I’m not quite sure what Honderich is trying to say, but I hope I eventually do – I’ve long been fascinated by determinism(though without realizing that was what it was), and the idea that events are in fact totally caused by those that have come before – and that, by extension, a being with complete omniscience could entirely reasonably be able to predict everything about tomorrow simply by virtue of knowing everything about today. It plays into our common cultural notion of fate – the idea that something, be it love, a chance meeting, or some tragedy is simply ‘the way it was meant to be’. Whether or not this is true, and the implications of that answer, play into the very meaning of what it is to live.

Even if I can’t quite make out what Honderich’s philosophy is trying to say – yet – he is a modern philosopher well worth studying – if not for the philosophy, then for the controversy, for the riot police, and for his scandal plagued past(think university professor and undergraduates). Stay tuned!

Follow me on Twitter: @LiamTheSaint