Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Old Souls Talk About Souls

If you remember from my last blog post, I am looking into the concept of spirits and souls. I was exploring the difference in the two terms, whether or not they exist, and theories of how they affect life (and afterlife). I found this lovely reference website that has allowed me to look into different theories. The soul is a very old concept, so in order to gain a deeper understanding of it I have to research ancient philosophers like Plato and Socrates.

One theory is known as the Phaedo’s Theory of the Soul. In around fifth century Greek culture, it was not a popular belief to view the soul as an immortal thing. People viewed it as more of a substance that could be dispersed or disintegrated like smoke once a person died. Plato had a different view, which he inscribed in the Phaedo. The Phaedo is a dialogue written by Plato. It is important to note that Plato was influenced by Socrates, his teacher, so his dialogues detail Socrates. Also, Cebes was a disciple of Socrates. This website details three argument presented about the immortality of the soul.

The Cyclical Argument: Essentially Socrates states that opposites (ex. small and large) balance each other. He states that being dead and being alive are opposites. In order to balance out these opposites, coming to life must balance out dying. Therefore, the soul must come back to life after death. There are difficulties with this theory, mainly about the how small and large are comparative words while dead and alive are contraries. People question whether his argument can be applied to these two different terms.

The Argument From Recollection: Cebes states that the soul’s immortality is supported by Socrates theory of Recollection. It says that our soul must exist before we are born because it is possible to answer questions that we did not appear to know the answer to, if you use the proper methods.

The Affinity Argument: In this argument, it is stated that there are two types of existences: the visible world that we perceive, and the invisible world of Forms that we can only access with our minds. The body belongs to the visible world, whereas the soul belongs to the invisible world.

There are other theories of the soul, most of which adapted or inspired from these original theories that I have talked about. For the purpose of this post I will not go into detail about the other theories, but you can read about them in the links provided.

I feel that I have a pretty good understanding of different views of the soul after research and discussion. I think I have answered most of my original questions, but this may be leading me towards different topics altogether, like consciousness, the paranormal, or religions (as some of my classmates have been studying). With so many different theories on the soul, I still wonder how these beliefs affect our daily lives. How does it affect my life? I will hopefully explore this during my “Phil’s Day Off” adventure, where I will search out an opportunity to grow a deeper understanding of this topic.



“Every philosopher is a child of his time…”

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

While the balance of this article might come more clearly into focus as we approach social-political philosophy and ethics, the opening paragraph offers an interesting perspective for our epistemological consideration:

At the beginning of the nineteenth century Hegel wrote that every philosopher is a child of his time and none can jump over his own shadow: every philosophy, then, is “its time grasped in a concept.” In the twentieth century Adorno took up this idea again when he spoke of the irreducible “kernel of time” embedded in the center of any philosophical view, and of the “temporal index” of truth. Whatever these rather difficult doctrines mean, they clearly are not intended to imply that at any given time all opinions are equally true.

Here are Hegel’s own words translated to English, from the preface to Elements of the Philosophy of Right:

To apprehend what is is the task of philosophy, because what is is reason. As for the individual, every one is a son of his time; so philosophy also is its time apprehended in thoughts. It is just as foolish to fancy that any philosophy can transcend its present world, as that an individual could leap out of his time or jump over Rhodes. If a theory transgresses its time, and builds up a world as it ought to be, it has an existence merely in the unstable element of opinion, which gives room to every wandering fancy.

How do you interpret Hegel’s thinking above? Do you agree that “every one is a son of his time”? Of that “it is just as foolish to fancy that any philosophy can transcend its present world”?



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.



Metaphysics Unit Assessments

Higgs Boson!

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Lala Lands

After covering an introduction to Metaphysics through text reading and digital summaries, the unit’s study will revolve around individual inquiry and research into the lives and minds of philosophers who have waded into the discussion of just what there is, and what it is likeIn blog posts and presentations, the intended learning outcome in the next week is to create a variety of biographical and critical information on various metaphical philosophers.

For Credit Learners

Blog Post – Demonstrate research and introduction to a philosopher of Metaphysics in a blog post submitted no later than Wednesday October 24th. Look to answer the following questions in your introduction:

  • How did the philosopher’s life or biography influence their personal philosophy?
  • What ideas or concepts are they credited with or notable for?
  • How have these ideas been built on or incorporated into our modern zeitgeist or mindset?
  • What personal response do you have to the topics your philosopher explored?

Presentation – Beginning next week (Monday October 29th), for credit participants will be hosting Pecha Kucha style presentations of their evaluation of one of their philosopher’s arguments, or contentions on a metaphysical topic. These presentations should adhere to (approximately) this structure:

  • Slides 1 – 5:  You and your Philosopher – How do you differ, what do you hold the same?
  • Slides 6 – 10: What they are saying – Outline a single argument / proposition from your selected philosopher.
  • Slides 11 – 15: Truth, Validity & Soundness – How would you evaluate your philosopher’s argument?
  • Slides 16 – 20: Metaphysics in the Modern World – Where do you see the influence, or evidence of the ideas expressed by your philosopher?

Open Online Participants

As always, you are invited and encouraged to take on either of the assignments, or propose and submit an alternate response to the topic that you feel compelled to share. We value your input wherever you have the time to offer it, and look forward to your engagement with the blog’s comments, and on our class wiki site for this unit.