Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Philosophy is like a Constellation

Philosophy at the beginning of the semester was simple, like the big dipper. Epistemology was knowledge; metaphysics was the hard, annoying questions that nobody enjoys to answer unless forced to; logic appeared self-explanatory; aesthetics were ‘beautiful’ things; and ethics was where we come from and what we believe. Now, philosophy is much more complicated. According to epistemology, I know nothing. Metaphysics hurts my head. Logic turned into math? Aesthetics became what I consider to be a proper form of gratitude that we are all capable of perceiving. Ethics changed into intentions and what means to an end are acceptable.

I initially thought that philosophy was like rugby. The plays initiated were the philosophical ideas and the players themselves were the philosophers. Now, I believe that philosophy is stargazing at constellations. Essentially the constellations themselves are the philosophical schools of thought while the stars themselves are each individual idea.

In my mind, things I thought about philosophy were the stars that made up the big dipper. This is because ever since I was a child, I have never had to strain too hard to discover where the stars of this constellation were scattered in the night sky, this is the same with my initial philosophical ideas.

  • Aesthetics is the little dipper. It’s a small grouping of stars that can be a challenge to find, but once one does, it’s very easy to appreciate and find aesthetically pleasing.
  • Logic is like Volans (the flying fish) because it comes our of know where and smacks one in the faces, metaphorically speaking. I say this because through philosophy, logic became math which I do not particularly enjoy.
  • Epistemology is like Horologium (the clock) because it pertains to knowledge and what one can truly know. I think that I learnt that there is a sense of time running out when it comes to epistemology because one does not want to forget before they can articulate their findings.
  • Metaphysics is like Microscopium (the microscope) because metaphysics questions anything and everything all the time. It picked apart the world as we once knew it and reforms it to become a new paradigm.
  • Ethics is like Circinus (the compass) because it reminds me of ones moral compass. Nobody can have a direction, purpose or sense of right and  without a something guiding them. Ethics will never be set in stone, just as constellations will never be set in stone.

The main reason I changed my allegory from rugby to constellations is because rugby was a black and white understanding of such a broad topic. Through philosophers, such as Kant, I have been able to develop a greater understanding of what my definition of philosophy is. While researching for various blog posts, I found myself struggling to articular and comprehend my ideas, thoughts and readings to the standards I wanted to. By blogging, researching and philosopher’s days off I began to develop a new sense of what philosophy is to me.

The one thing I wish I could change about my time in philosophy was how involved I was in and outside of class. I think that the lessons I learnt about the world around me and myself will stay in my mind for the remainder of my existence. I will miss sitting (napping…) on the couches in block two. Philosophy has been a one of a kind class that I think every individual would benefit from. And in the words of my favourite philosopher (Phil Dunphy from the TV show Modern Family):

 

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Jess’ Phantasmagorical Philosophy Final

My prezi isn’t embedding again, so I shall instead link it here and the script/lyrics/words are below:

What is philosophy?
Philosophy is the study of ourselves 
So place our races on the shelves of humanity
It’s insanity to call ourselves equal
What is equality if not pulling the hijab from your head
Because not doing so means winding up red in the streets of Australia
It’s alien to me that in 2015 people still have to march to be free
What is equality but people telling me my father doesn’t look very Chinese,
Please.

Four months ago I sat there, asking you to compare faces
Because race is the deciding factor in all of our lives
But we can’t all be colour blind
Rank ourselves by the tone of our skin
Stop.
Let’s begin.

I’m the Mixed Up Files of a childhood
Propelling me towards the idea that
Being a person means choosing one title or
The other.
What philosophy means is finding our label
It’s a fable that we construct who we are
We get farther if we’re the main character
But tear at the notion that those around us
Simply occupy space
Whatever happened to the Human Race?
Let’s face it.
We suck.

Pluck yourself from your body
Call shotty on the passenger seat of a day in the life of someone else
The hand you’re dealt is all you have
Navigate your way out of the boxes you were placed in
Ignore the din of people calling you anything but your name
Because philosophy is not about ourselves

Delve into the consciousness of those around you
The view is nice inside their head
Spread yourself out
Don’t doubt that everyone else is human too
It’s true our thirst for knowledge is what drives us
Poised on the cusp of what is to come
Don’t run out of questions for who you are
You won’t get far if you bleed dry
Have a backup supply of quandries and ponders
Wander away from the idea that humanity is a herd waiting for a master
Cast your follower ideas away
Because hey.
Have hope.
Tie a rope to the idea that
We are not all the same
But don’t forget your names
(Jess, biracial, girl, student)

It’s prudent
That we ask who we are
Carve the words ’til they scar
Because they do
It’s true we don’t choose our own fate
Brought anew with a silver spoon
or cast aside not worth our weight
In gold or in lead
You dread the day when someone says
“What are you?”
Because to ask yourself the same
Becomes a daily game
Of labeling the world which represents you best
Who Are We?

We are the titles we’ve been handed
Branded forever by society
Propriety tells me not to question the quo
So take pride in your rank
It’s the plank that you stand upon
As the ocean wind brushes by
Say your goodbye’s to the naysayers and threats
Deal out your debts
And take a step back,
Remove your rose-coloured glasses
The last thing on your mind
Should be an appeal to the masses
Ask yourself what to do as you start over again
Because What is Philosophy?
Just a means to an end.

Actually, something that I think shows my growth is this random parallel, which is comparing my first and last prezi. I didn’t realise they were the same template until I was halfway through but hey. If it works.

I think that, looking through my tag, some of my best examples of growth are the posts where I tried to tackle issues which I had never learned about before. My first post about nothing and my theory on Epistemology were especially difficult because I had never really thought on the issues that I tackled. Interestingly, I didn’t think that my post on Ethics was one of my better ones because although I tried to make it as non-argumentative as possible, I’ve always had some kind of a position on abortion, so I didn’t have to research it as much as I did for Epistemology or ‘Nothing’, so I don’t feel as though it showed as much growth as my other work.

I googled ‘Language’ and found this fun and informative image from zengardner.com

My favourite post that I made was my ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’ post about the various protests and riots that were going on globally. I felt that, not only was it relevant to life, philosophy, and current events, but I had to do a ton of excess research to actually know what I was talking about, and I felt like I put some of my best effort into making that post a good one, if only because I thought (and still think) that it is relevant.

Scgnews.com

With certain posts I made (On feminism, protests, abortion, and my slam poem above) I tried to make them more relevant to real life, or rather: I tried to get people to connect philosophy to their everyday life, and I hope I was successful in this endeavour, because I know that I connected a lot of what we did in Philosophy to my everyday life (even if it is just contemplating aesthetics on my walk home). I think that these are the best ways of using philosophy in the future, because to take current events and view them through the lens of a philosopher is always important, especially in regards to Ethics, Logic, and Social & Political Philosophy. In this way, I hope to be able to use what I’ve learned, but I also think that just in general, Philosophy has already been able to permeate my everyday life because it helps me see things differently, and from angles that I’ve never thought of before.

If I were to do it over again, I would probably comment more on other people’s posts, because I know that I enjoyed getting comments on my posts, yet I didn’t comment as often as I would have liked. One of the comments which I was actually quite proud of was the one I posted in response to the question of systemic misogyny, because I thought that the discussion that blossomed from it on harassment and women feeling safe was one of the (if not the) best discussion we’ve had all year (save for Kelsey’s thought experiment). I enjoyed the chance to talk about my own experiences and hear others, because it also contributed to my knowledge, and I think that I’ll use what I learned in that discussion in future. ((Sidenote, I also enjoyed the discussion that Avery, Vincent and I had on my Theory of Epistemology post))

On the whole, I’ve really enjoyed this class, and to say that it was just good would be a gross understatement, so thank you to my classmates for being amazing and making me feel as though I can share my opinions on everything and thank you to Mr Jackson for a) scoring Mr. Findley’s classroom and b) being a fabulous teacher/teaching a fabulous course.

 

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Take a deep breathe…we’re almost done and learned so much, but we haven’t gotten very far yet!

Well, it’s been a long semester!  We’ve all learned so much and come so far, but we have only just scratched the surface.  And with that notion I stand by what I said from day one…philosophy is on going.  I’ve gone on to believe that no one will ever finish their studying of Philosophy because that is an unachievable goal.  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.  But that isn’t a bad thing!  But there are a lot of things we know a lot more about anyway.  I sure learned a lot, and I even learned what learning is!  Now isn’t that interesting!

I stand by much of what I said from my first reflection.  My first reflection was brief, and of a more confused version of me who was more than rushed to get his homework done.  But I still feel when looking back on my first post that it sums up how I still feel about philosophy.  It is confusing, but it is important.  Everyday I come to class I learn something new, and it seems that everyday, we have a new topic to discuss that is often a part of our everyday life.  We’ve learned more than just how to put an argument together, or test an ethical idea under the umbrella of a categorical imperative or utilitarianism.  I know that my way of thinking has changed.  I’ve opened my mind to new ideas and thought deeper, for example, on the consequences of the decisions we make on life.  How to treat people, what is just and unjust.  What is subjective and what is objective (if you even believe that objectivity is possible).  But I know from day one, I’ve never faced a more thought provoking or challenging subject such as philosophy.  I never thought that I would go home every night and lay in bed and just think…think about anything.  Think about life and argue life’s limits and what is real and what isn’t.

This class has also opened a new way of learning for me.  Now the rest of the school may call it sitting around in comfy couches until lunch, but we have a different idea of what we do…it’s called class discussion.  Not only did I find it helpful and insightful to sit around with my peers and learn from them and share views and opinions on various subjects, but I also found it helpful that Mr. Jackson wouldn’t just give is the answer, he would make us work for it and actually put us through the process of learning.  If I remember correctly someone had screamed out “my brain hurts!”  And Mr.Jackson said “that’s what it feels like in your head when you’re actually physically learning something!”

Now what am I proud of?!  I’d have to say that I’m proud of opening up to a new way of thinking/learning (class discussions, blog, actual learning).  I am also proud of what we accomplished as a class.  As a class we discussed and feverishly depated some of the most controversial and intense topics out there, from abortion to capital punishment, and the ins and outs of the rights and wrongs of murder under all circumstances, and of course what to call “the Joels” and “the Kevins”.  I’m glad we all furthered our knowledge of the world around us which in turn will make us more conscious citizens and will push us to question all aspects of life and allow us to make more informed and stronger decisions from how to vote to what to make for breakfast (if you choose to use your knowledge in such a way).

Personally I would really love to go back and improve my involvement in this class.  I look back and I missed a blog post or two and I could have commented more.  I do care but that’s on me to be better and push myself.  But no matter the grade I get, I know I’ve learned a lot and I’ll take it with me wherever I go and I will apply my newly formed knowledge to my life.  I know what I’ve taken from this class and that is for me.  I know that I will apply my knowledge to how I live my life from now on.  I have no control over my thoughts now as they will always go through a philosophical filter.  I will think with more purpose on my actions and will consider the possible outcomes of my decisions.  I will allow my new knowledge to make me a better person for those reasons.  I will not be ignorent and intolerant, but will open my mind to all opinions and views and consider them before I argue them or not.  And going forward I know I will continue to learn philosophy, by research or experience…which ever comes first.  I know I’ve only scratched the surface, and I’m sure by the time I’m dead and gone I’ll have only moved up ever so slightly on a philosophical ladder.

With all that has been said in the last few months, and all that we’ve learned, we’ve all taken something different out of this course and our journeys have all been very different even though we’ve all been on the same path.  So just to review, my views on philosophy have expanded more than solidified.  I still believe in the same things I said in my first reflection like that philosophy touches all aspects of life.  It does and I can feel that presence touching mine right now.  Philosophy is kinda like a glove with some holes in it…its still pretty cold but it’s better than nothing.  And I believe it is definately a lot better than nothing.  I won’t say philosophy has made my life easier, in fact it’s made it more challenging.  But life is all about challenges.  Life isn’t supposed to be easy.  I don’t think life should be easy, because it wouldn’t be so amazing if it was.  And thats what we are here to do, we are here to live.  And we should live it to the fullest and do our best as individuals to continue to search for that ever so slippery meaning of life.  Hopefully when it’s all over we can at least figure out the meaning of life for us as individuals.  But philosophy is ongoing and may hold the key to unlocking the door to the room that has the locked vault, and in that vault is the directions to where the meaning of life used to be.  So I’ll say like I said on day one…”If after reading this you are confused, that’s ok, cause you still probably aren’t as confused as me!”

 
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