Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Everyone is responsible for what they know by Ashlee

Simplifying my theory of knowledge, I managed to summarise how I perceive knowledge in a few bullet points:

  • You should withhold judgement before you investigate the situation
  • belief should exist in correlation to validity and true in order to be perceived as knowledge
  • knowledge is subjective; for every object or matter there exists different ideas
  • Without a human mind that can think, the existence of knowledge is impossible

And with pondering lead by these thoughts, I concluded  that with all forms of knowledge follows epistemic responsibility. The thought process (shout out to Mr. Jackson for guiding me in finalising my rather jumbled and disoriented mind) looks something like this:

  • Premise 1: Knowledge tends to affect the way people view the world
  • Premise 2: the nature of one’s knowledge tends to have an implicit effect (even without the explicit intentions/actions) on the world in which we live in
  • Conclusion: All form of knowledge holds epistemic influence that affects our surroundings, no matter its intentions

Knowledge tends to affect the way people view the world:

Coinciding with the idea of knowledge being perpetuated as a belief, I believe that one’s knowledge is mainly rooted from the way they tend to perceive the world. Knowledge is often interpreted as facts, information, data and what the current education system teaches our adolescents, yet knowledge exists in forms of layers. Its concept is often believed to be subjective among many philosophers; Plato has argued that two conditions must be fulfilled in order for anyone to claim to withhold knowledge: truth and belief. From here, I much agree with Plato, except I personally put the emphasis on the “belief” aspect more than the “truth” part. Often, there is much contrast put between belief and knowledge, but I believe that knowledge stems from individual’s beliefs; if there exists enough motivation to pursue proving a point one possesses, then that is the reality in which they live in. The knowledge that individuals carry is a paradigm that has a direct effect on our emotions, opinions, and thought processes in general. In clarity, you see how much you know, and how much you know is directly impacted by what you believe in.

The nature of one’s knowledge tends to have an implicit effect (even without the explicit intentions/actions) on the world in which we live in:

After much investigation I decided that even without physical or verbal actions being taken, knowledge has its way of making an effect in our world. The way we treat others and our actions derive from the epistemic responsibility that is behind our choices. English philosopher, W.K. Clifford purposed that there is no such thing as a “private belief”, meaning that it spreads not always with our fullest intentions. One example I want to bring up to support this very premise is how epistemic responsibility is of absence when it comes to religion. Clifford suggested that a belief in a God was “epistemically irresponsible” and is proven as a “blind faith”. Clifford believed that a blind faith leads one to live an unexamined, unthoughtful life by ignoring facts and arguments.  Just like how a religious person’s reality consists of believing in a superior being and actions carried out may be through attempts in conversion (of others) to weekly rituals. Although, I want to accentuate even without those religious actions, a religious person relies on a God (possibly more than any other factors in their life), which has an impact on to which they show gratitude towards, thoughts on evolution, and personal morals. For instance, when I was younger I was much more indulged in Buddhism because I attended a Buddhist-kindergarten, located inside a Buddhist temple (I still can’t believe such thing exists, but it was honestly the coolest thing ever). My knowledge and beliefs was raw, and I had first-hand experience in obtaining them; such environment shaped the way I thought and the way in which I expressed myself. Through this, I want to prove that the Buddhist morals and values I gained directly impacted things like my diet, manners, behaviour and personality (to this day).

All forms of knowledge holds epistemic influence that affects our surroundings, no matter its intentions:   

Brought by the above premises, I believe that all forms of knowledge has an epistemic background that have an effect on our surroundings, in regardless of its intentions. The dictionary definition of epistemic responsibility is, “related to capacity to engage in adequate policies in search of truth, the ability to give reasons, or the readiness to revise one’s beliefs in the light of new evidence.”   This leads to my point of epistemic responsibility being what dictates our decisions. Epistemic responsibility is told to hold an idealistic character, that in order for knowledge to exist there must be someone who has the ability to process and appreciate the concepts. With the knowledge perceived by individuals comes an epistemic responsibility as the subjectivity of knowledge comes with a choice. After much thinking, I decided that people choose to believe certain things, and people choose to learn or educate themselves and because of this very thought, belief coexists with knowledge. Of course when the word “knowledge” is used in modern day society, its connotations are known as what is, “true”, but because I personally believe that knowledge is the nature and reality of one, it’s impossible for the person to not have authority over how their belief is shown through. To make it more precise:

  • belief requires knowledge in order to be valid
  • knowledge reflects the person’s reality and,
  • the belief that derives from one’s knowledge holds epistemic responsibility

So basically, our actions or words, or even sometimes our implicit intentions have a way of being carried out. Knowledge is only an illusion of seeming to be the “absolute truth”, but with different realities everyone holds, in no way is it achievable for there to be a universal truth; common-sense realism is viewing the world in a flat approach. From where I stand today, my understanding is that knowledge comes with much responsibility and is a direct reflection on the nature of one’s paradigm.







Katherine: Make America Gay Again!


Disclaimer: this post has nothing to do with being gay. I just really wanted to make that the title.

Welcome to Logic 101: how to pick apart your opponent’s arguments flawlessly while doing a sick hair flip.

So for my argument, or point of view, I picked a Trump statement. While that does kind of seem like taking the easy way out, why not go for the low hanging fruit?



Quote from Donald Trump, Playboy Magazine in 1990

Now, this isn’t just a Trump(tm) thought. There’s a lot of people who believe that as a country gets kinder, less strict and more “politically correct”,  the more weak countries become. Countries are only powerful if they have an aura of fear!!!! and scariness!!

To break it down into some premises and conclusions:

Premise 1: America is becoming a kinder country

Premise 2: Countries that are kind are seen as weak

Premise 3: Weak countries will cease to exist

Conclusion: America will cease to exist

Now, to use the good ol’ valid, factually correct, and sound method to debunk this argument.

Valid: this argument is valid, as the three premises together do lead to the conclusion

Factually correct: Well, this one we have to look at piece by piece. For premise one, it is hard to measure the “kindness” of a country, as it’s not really like population, it is probably true that America is becoming kinder. With more and more rights being recognized, it’s probably safe to say that since the beginning, America has become kinder. I’d rate the factual correctness of this one as a solid “can’t tell”

In premise 2, it is stated that so called “kind” countries are seen as weak. Again, this is kinda a hard thing to measure. It is true that countries with weapons and harsh laws and threats of war are seen as threats, but is that the same as being powerful? Can you measure how weak a country is? Perhaps countries that are kind and welcoming are seen as strong because they are joined togther and united. A country can be “kind” to it’s citizens and be politically correct and still have a thousand nuclear missles. This premise still confuses me a little, so I’ll give it a second “can’t tell”

Premise 3 states that weak countries will cease to exist. Is that so? If a country is kinda, does that mean it will just start beind eroded by other countries until it disappears? I’m assuming that this argument believes that “kind” countries will just be taken over by other countries. I find that stupid.

Okay, but actually: no where deos it say that being kind or gentle does not mean you are defended and a pushover. I mean, this is a whole country we’re talking about here. (also, this is America were talking about. Not the definition of sunshine and rainbows in the grand scheme of things). For factually correct, I’m going to give this one a “nope”.

Sound: Now, it’s pretty hard to be a sound argument when you are not a factually correct argument. In fact, kinda impossible. So imma vote this a solid nope.

Now, as his argument is neither factually correct nor sound, it should be easy to ignore. The problem is, there’s a lot of people who subsribe to this theory. That if America becomes more kind and gentle, it will just *disappear*. Poof. Magic.

Man, I love fighting.



Play-Doh and other philosophical things-Benedict Mendes

The concept of Plato’s cave just absolutely messes with my head. When I first looked at it, I thought “Wow those guys are dumb don’t they even know that those are just shadows??”, but really, in the same situation none of us would have thought differently to them. The concept that everything we’re seeing is not really in it’s true form and there is more there than meets the eye is kind of terrifying, because we believe all that we observe to be true, after all, “seeing is believing” -An Old Proverb from somewhere probably. Really, how are we to know that what is before us is real or not? We could be in some kind of simulation, just a creation of some higher singular/plural Thing made for amusement. I mean, personally I don’t blame them though because humans are petty and hilarious, but I digress. But in terms of my interaction with the concept of Plato’s cave, the concept of discovering a world you never knew, there’s one time in my life that comes along.


Picture me, at eight years old. My hair was blond, and I was smol and innocent and pure, and also had not yet moved to Canada. Now it’s a little weak to compare the natural ignorance of a small child to the huge concept that is Plato’s cave, but bear with me here. I was a well traveled child, I’d been to Europe and USA and all over South America, but for all those travels I had never actually seen snow. Okay, now imagine telling me, an eight year old living in South America who had never seen snow, that I was MOVING TO CANADA. I was HYPED. I immediately started vividly imagining how I would live. I would get along with the wild life and ride a moose and/or a polar bear to and from school everyday. My family and I would live in a cozy little igloo, our meals consisting purely of maple syrup and poutine. I would ski, or ice skate, everywhere as OBVIOUSLY there would be snow all year round. This was what I thought was actually going to happen, and for some reason no one really contested this misguided knowledge so I just continued happily believing whatever. Now, it was kind of an opposite thing to Plato’s cave, where instead of being amazed and confounded by what I found, it was more of a huge disappointment. When I landed in Toronto, the snow part of my fantasies was instantly fulfilled as it was the middle of March and extremely cold. Oh also I didn’t think it would be freezing for some reason. Now, the disappointment started when I did not see a SINGLE MOOSE OR POLAR BEAR for the entirety of the time when I was in Ontario. It was very anticlimactic really, I went out into the snow and just thought to myself “Wow it’s cold here this sucks” and continued to be disappointed from then on. But, poutine and maple syrup were certainly real things so I was excited to, for the first time ever, try these foreign foods for the very first time. To make a potentially long story short, I don’t like poutine and prefer Aunt Jemima to any kind of maple syrup, so needless to say I was yet again disappointed with this grand new world I was being introduced to. Of course, since then I have come to terms with my early on misjudgement and disappointment with Canada, and have come to realize it’s pretty great all around. But for eight year old me, it was like being led from the glorious outside into Plato’s Cave.


Since then I have of course discovered much more about this half-decent place called Canada, and I really love it here. My life here is more than it ever could have been back home, so really even though I was led into Plato’s Cave, I’ve made my own way out and learned to appreciate and be in awe of all that I have before me. And of course, as for my friends back in South America I do not hesitate to tell them of the glory of Canada.



¯\_(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.



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.




Katherine’s Thoughts on Philosophy: AAAAAAAAH!

So, Philosophy 12 has officially begun. And in true Jackson fashion, what better way to start the year than a document of learning?

Now, I’m a little rusty on the whole format of these documents, but I’m pretty sure we start off with what we’ve done in these past two weeks.

Thoughts about love, wisdom, and loving wisdom:

I was very confused why Mr. Jackson was asking us about love and wisdom, and I only learned today that the actual definition of philosophy is “loving wisdom”. This explained a lot. In my discussions with people in the class, I had come up with a definition of “loving wisdom” as “the passion for gaining knowledge and improving yourself through experiences.” That actually sounds pretty close to philosophy to me, though in my head philosophy is a lot more thinking and looking deeply at sunsets. the most fun about loving wisdom was hearing my classmates’ thoughts on it.By talking to so many people and getting so many ideas put together, I reached a much deeper and better understand of both the words.

Thoughts on class readings:

While I’ve been a little lost in class discussions (as you’ll see later in my goals), I’ve found some pretty interesting things in our class readings. My favorite was the “Talk With Me” essay by Nigel Warburton. It was about how the stereotype of philosophers living as hermits and never talking to people is quite misleading.

I know right, Socrates??? The essay was about, funnily enough, the Socratic Method.  It is about how conversation and argument have a large place in philosophy. While many philosophers spent years in solitude, doing their best work in exile, most of them actually used letters to get other human perspective, or spent their time imagining people to talk too. Somehow, while all in isolation, they realized: there is something about human interaction that is essential to philosophy.

Audible non-verbal aspects of the interaction, such as hearing the smile in someone’s voice, a moment of impatience, a pause of doubt perhaps?), or insight – these factors humanize philosophy

As for the whole essay, the other part that really stuck with me was about argument. As someone who loves debates and arguments with classmates, family or teachers, I could easily see how disagreement is a driving force

It is the dissenters who force us to think, who challenge received opinion

Now, onto the more personal part of this post: My goals and aspirations. (Yes, it’s all about me)

Coming into philosophy, I had a pretty good idea of the atmosphere: mostly self-directed, making our own assignments, lots of class discussions. It was the content that surprised me. Epistemology?? I suppose I’ll learn more about that later, but it was really hard to form any goals without knowing what they were supposed about. He then said that anything we were worried about, or questions we had would also work. Thank god, because I am literally made of worry and questions.

  • Worried about being over-shined in a class of such keen and smart students. Will I speak up enough? Are my points good enough? Can I go “deep” enough?
  • Worried about finding a topic. What pool of topics am I choosing from? the subjects we cover?? It’s too big.
  • How to find a personal philosophy. I don”t know if this means one that I make up, or speaks to me, or even exactly what a personal philosophy is.

My only real, concrete goal for this class is: engage in class discussions and debates


I know right, Socrates?? Seems so simple, yet so unattainable. The thing is, while I absolutely adore class discussions and all the fun and wacky things they lead too, I suck at speaking in them. You find me mostly burying my head in a notebook, still listening intently, but with nothing to add. I really want to get more involved in the discussions in this class and debate more with the other classmates. that’s my main aspiration. (My aspiration for this project is to get an “exceeds expectations”, but we’ll see how that turns out.)

Until next time,


I’m really feeling the Bill and Ted vibe today



Induction and Deduction Video (Crash Course)

This video really does a good job of explaining induction and deduction, along with a bunch of other philosophical terms. It really helped me to understand the definitions. If you want to learn more about induction or deduction or you just don’t understand it that well, I highly recommend you watch this video. 



Is great philosophy, by its nature, difficult and obscure?

A good question posed on the always-provocative site Aeon:

To some degree, all texts need interpretation. Working out what people mean isn’t simply a matter of decoding their words, but speculating about their mental states. The same words could express quite different thoughts, and the reader has to decide between the interpretations. But it doesn’t follow that all texts are equally hard to interpret. Some interpretations might be more psychologically plausible than others, and a writer can narrow the range of possible interpretations. Why should philosophy need more interpretation than other texts?

As we look ahead at some of our more challenging units – thinking specifically of Metaphysics and Epistemology – the article may help frame the difficulty of engaging these more opaque topics, not in as much as it makes the unclear clear, but hopefully for offering the rationale and some inspiration to dig deeper when the going gets tough:

…some great philosophy is creative in a way that is incompatible with clarity. It doesn’t seek to construct precise theories; rather, it reaches out to unmapped areas of thought, where we do not yet know what techniques to employ, what concepts to use, or even what questions to ask. It is more like artthan science, and it makes its own rules. It is not that such work is defective by being ambiguous; it is trying to do something that cannot be done clearly, and its aim is precisely to stimulate diverse interpretations.



Crash Course Philosophy Video

I really enjoyed watching this video. I know that it doesn’t really go in-depth into anything really specific but I just wanted to introduce you guys to this YouTube series. I will definitely be watching the next episodes and I really encourage that you would follow along this series because I think it will touch upon a lot of topics and philosophical ideas that we will talk about and analyze in class.



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):