Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Mr. Jackson please don’t grade this

If you trace back to the video shown in class that posed the question of whether it is right or wrong to push a fat man off a bridge to save 5 people who are about to be ran over by a trolley cart, or to witness them die by not pushing him over, my intuitive answer was to not push the fat man over the bridge. Wouldn’t it be unjust to incorporate an irrelevant person to the narrative simply because I couldn’t tolerate a higher level of misery in quantity? Or is it even more unjust to have authority to decrease the amount of misery by knowing the end-result, but not taking any form of initiative to change the ultimate outcome?

Utilitarianism is the concept in which the core of morality is dependent on increasing the amount of pleasure in the world; utilitarianism puts emphasis on consequences more than its intent. Such theory supports the idea of epistemic responsibility that I mentioned in my Metaphysics post (I don’t recommend reading that); epistemic responsibility is the concept that everyone has responsibility regarding our beliefs. Going in parallel with the idea of there being no such thing as, “private beliefs” and our beliefs have a way of spreading whether it is through our actions or choices, maybe the focus of morality should be on the consequences and results more than its pure intent. Utilitarianism argues that actions should be measured by how much happiness it produces, which means that one should be aware of how much happiness an action could create.

So are morality and ethical views an objective, or subjective matter? Let’s say that we say morality is an objective matter. One of the effects of defining morality to be objective is that it automatically eliminates the concept of cultural moral relativism. Perceiving morality to be an absolute means that some cultures are “wrong” for their perspectives; doesn’t this give an underlying message that some cultures are superior over others? Isn’t this contradictory to the idea of creating more happiness in the world if it wipes out certain cultures from believing in certain things? Or does the concept only apply to cultures that seriously infringe others rights to safety and freedom? Even though cultural moral relativism might provide reasoning behind why genocides and wars happen, there is also the danger of normalizing cultures that crudely infringed others lives, the most extreme example is the Nazi culture. Kantianism supports the idea of there being a supreme principle of morality; Kant believed in one acting regardless of purpose, but on maxims that you could will that everyone else approves, one which is consistent.

So if there is no moral realism and morality wasn’t about the grounding problem, there is no absolute in morality. My personal viewpoint is that is morality is subjective, it almost explains why all the shameful historical events happened (this could be anything, but I’m thinking of events like the KKK, witch hunts, etc). These events should never be justified, although it is easier to understand the stem of it if morality is handled to be a subjective matter.

So let’s go back to the fat man and the trolley cart incident. Unless you strongly root for the utilitarian view, our intuitions tell us that pushing an innocent bystander, the fat man in this case is wrong. Why it is wrong, I believe, is because of his status of being a “bystander” and because I took the action to be involved in a murder when the alternative was an accident. I do understand that pushing the fat man would ultimately make more people happier, yet there is a vast distinction between a crime and an accident. How are you morally right if you were just responsible of a death?

me rn

I define morality to be an intuition; if you do something simply because others say it is right or because you want to seem like a “good person” I think that is being good for the wrong reasons, thus, contradictory to its intent. I am not completely solid on whether morality is absolute or not, but I am currently shifted on the side that it is subjective, as it is the only way to explain disagreements in humanity. There definitely is a “more popular” belief or “more politically correct” viewpoints; however, I am not in the position to say any of them are “better” than others; it is undeniable that some of them are about everyone being treated equally, which goes back to the concept of utilitarianism.



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.







Somewhat-not-really-like -15%-Eureka moment By Ashlee

Going into my “Phil’s Day Off”, a lot of my questions such as, “Do all our decisions rely on determination?” or “does free will exist?” (Basically any sentences that ended with a question mark in my first metaphysics post) were still left unanswered. However, one of the major questions I decided to orbit around was, “Is it at all possible to go against determinism, if that is the superior state?”

I’m desperately hoping that I am not the only one going into Phil’s Day Off blindly lost as to how I could prove anything. It’s not a huge surprise that the question still applies, but on the bright side, I can now (sort of) say with confidence that I know where I stand in the argument of determinism vs. free will (around 65% sure!). Instead of using my time on Phil’s Day off to have quiet time to myself, I came up with an experience that would guide me in proving the topic I was striving to understand, which eventually lead me in thinking for hours.I decided to rely most of my decisions for the first half of my Phil’s Day Off on a coin flip. I would ask questions I would usually leave myself to answer on the coin; I believed that this act would result in me being solely dependent on an external factor. This would mean that I am going completely against what I was determined to do by making the most random choice…but did it?

I spent the whole day making decisions mostly dependent on my coin. I use the word, “dependent” here as there were many inquiries that arose on way.  Some examples of the questions I made through my coin:

  • Should I go get ice-cream?
  • Should I continue studying for my law test, or take a 30 minute break?
  • Should I take a bath?
  • Should I floss tonight?
  • Should I go to work, or call in sick (I was pretty sick)
  • Should I go to McDonald’s with my friend at 2 AM?

After a couple of rounds of asking the coin a question, I decided that there was a huge flaw in such hypothesis; was I really asking the coin, or was this whole experiment a hoax in disguise? This experiment wasn’t proving much and here is why:

  • I still held authority to the questions being asked. For instance, I wouldn’t casually ask, “Should I commit genocide?” and even if I did, I would never carry out such act, no matter what the coin said
  • My answers may have been dependent on the coin, but it was ultimately me who chose to do a coin flip in the first place
  • For some questions, I flipped until the answer was something I wanted it to be, for instance, for “should I go get McDonald’s with my friend at 2 AM” (because she was nagging me), I flipped until I got a, “no” because I was tired. This means that even the coin flip, which seems like the most random and dependent source of decision, has room for personal input

The second inquiry I obtained during my confusing journey of metaphysics was what lead me to solidify previous thoughts. I still believed to have the ability to influence my decisions greatly; so what was controlling my decisions that I could prove? From where I stand today, the most I could validate, were my morals and emotions.

The single strongest reason holding me back from supporting the theory of determinism was my value towards morality. Believing that human impulses reply on the world, where all decisions are determined would instantly abolish any form of responsibility anyone has for their actions (or words). To make this more clear, even a murderer would technically be able to justify their crime by saying that they were determined to do so with the power of the universe. Determinism would have to mean that the universe holds no distinction between what we label to be, “evil” or “good”, but everything is solely dependant on fate. By supporting such theory I would automatically disapprove all existing morals of mine; I could no longer be authoritative over my own values.

There also exists that my feeling of freedom was too strong to be unnoticed; the science aspect of myself believes that my brain receives signals to control my muscles into carrying out physical actions, but the feeling of my mind overpowering my entire self is superior over the thought of something else possibly being in charge of it.

There were many situations and ideas that simply stumped me, including my friend Ben (second shout out!) asking, “If a child was raised, being brainwashed by his/her parents, and that specific environment caused him/her to make certain decisions, would such situation still be accountable for the concept of free will?” This one still makes me think, and I’m sure there are still many questions out there that will cause me to ponder. My answer to this very question is that, being brainwashed by an environment in adolescent years are minimising the amount of choices available, and there are still room for personal input (in most examples I am imagining now, may not be the case for all). As this can lead to a sensitive area for many with such ease, I won’t extend it, but my answer is that with the amount of situations that can exist, there are also an infinite amount of probabilities.

Going back to my original question of the possibility of contradicting to determinism, is impossible to answer objectively. Although I can now prove that my hope for the existence of free will derives from my morals; they are both justifications for each other’s existence. My morals could not exist without true ownership, which also cannot exist without my personal authority into thinking so. My Phil’s Day Off wasn’t consisted with a continuous chain of epiphanies, but it did lead me into having a solid opinion on my own beliefs of our freedom.

p.s. Apparently I can’t attach a photo of my special coin because the file is too big?




“Do you believe in destiny?” by Ashlee

A conversation I had with a friend, he asked, “you guys seem to be perfect for each other, do you believe in destiny?” I recall debating the question and factoring out all probabilities before answering, “Yes”; but does that lead to a conclusion that humans aren’t free? Are we not capable of truly making our own decisions? Are even the most impulsive or random choices destined to be? If we don’t have free will, why are we here? After pondering those issues, I decided that in order to justify my existence and purpose, I should believe in free will, but does that mean I am just being cowardly of the potential existence of determinism?

So, what is determinism? Determinism, a noun, the principle that all events, including human action, are in the end, determined by causes external to the will. Some philosophers have even gone to the extent of taking determinism to imply that human beings have no free will, therefore, cannot be held morally responsible for their actions. Such definition that the concept of determinism concludes to the idea of humans living with an absence of freedom, or that they can’t be hold accountable for their actions leads me to ponder the question: “Are humans ever free?”

The Libertarian free will is the conviction of human actions being freely chosen, and truly free actions will necessitate options so that there are other potential chances of probability. The belief concludes that decisions aren’t necessarily caused by anything that happened before it, but solely is the result of non-physical events. This means that all our choices are based on our impulses and there is no external factor or a prophecy that can factor into that.  After looking more into a libertarian’s views on free will, they validate their point with the distinction between event causation and agent causation. Event causation is the argument that no physical event can occur without being caused by a prior event, while agent causation is the belief of a being starting a whole chain of causality, with no other causes.

On the other hand, I perceive determinism to be linked with reductionism greatly; reductionism is the view that all parts of the world, and of our own experience, can be traced back/reduced down to one singular thing. If this is the case, then moving backwards, it could define that everything is the inevitable result of what came before including our actions.

The main reasons drawing me back from hopping onto the idea of determinism completely, is that the concept of determinism would validate any actions committed, including those classified to be wrongful. Can a murder argue that they were determined to kill the victim and that the universe disregards the good and evil, and that such action was meant to be? Another reasoning that many libertarians seem to argue is that it’s nearly impossible to disregard the feeling of freedom entirely; if we feel free, we should consider the likelihood that we are. So are decisions and circumstances purely a result of belief, desire and temperament leading to an action, or is it just, “meant to be”?


Still being unsure whether I hold any authority to my decisions, it’s hard to ignore the concept of determinism if it attacks the purpose of my existence. I still cannot answer any questions I have asked above, nor do I know why we are here. Although after doing much research, it’s evident that my morals are what’s drawing me away from determinism, and that deep down it generates fear of my existence being upon something or someone else’s superiority.



“She was asking for it” by Ashlee

After countless nights of pondering, and an infinite amount of research, the vital factor that really helped me solidify my topic was the conversation I had with my good friend, Ben (shout out to you!). The question, “What’s one topic that irks you? Without hesitation, my reflex answer was rape culture and its discriminatory traits. So, why do these thoughts occur? Where is the foundation of such beliefs? It’s time to dissect what has constantly been bothering me: why is there fear generating from the victims, when what’s been done had an absence of consent? Maybe a step by step analysis will help me (and whoever is reading) at least understand the root of such logic.


Premise #1: women dressed provocatively evoke men’s sexual urges

Premise #2: men cannot control their sexual urges

Conclusion: Therefore, men aren’t to blame for sexual assault

Let’s start with validity. The definition of a valid statement is a one that has a conclusion that follows from its premises. Considering such definition, the premises above technically lead to the final conclusion. The argument is structured, putting aside its lack of truth or consideration. If the way women dressed did provoke sexual arousal from men, and if men had a difficult time controlling such desire, then men shouldn’t be the ones to blame. It’s as simple as which party pried it out and which party has less control over their vulnerability. As much as I think it’s quite unprofessional to incorporate personal opinions into my work, I will! Personally, I value the “truth” part of a deductive argument more than its validity; anything can be valid because validity is mostly about its structure. For instance, the argument:

Premise #1: all dogs are astronauts

Premise #2: All astronauts are Spanish

Conclusion: Therefore, all dogs are Spanish

aw ye boi

With common sense, most people can detect that such argument is blatantly false (although, never take away a dog’s right to become an astronaut). The way that this argument is structured however, is completely valid. This example can be used to prove the importance of both aspects of an argument: validity and truth.

Let’s dissect the truth aspect of such argument:

The first premise that states, “ women dressed provocatively evoke men’s sexual urges” not only comes straight from the ancient prejudice of labelling men to be more aggressive and sexually active, but is false. This generalization is an attack to not only the reputation and characterization of men, but the safety of women (or any sexual assault victims).

The second premise, “men cannot control their sexual urges” is a biased cliché, and there are countless reasons as to why it isn’t factually correct, but let’s state some of the obvious. The real question here is, what is the difference between the sexual desire of a man versus a woman? The common belief that men have a stronger sexual longing than woman, to mark them as “the gender that has the uncontrollable crave to reproduce” is a myth. This myth exists due to the fact that men generally tend to place the emphasis on the outcome of the relation (in this case, sex), while most women might value the relationship, mood, or their partner more. Although this is also a societal image formed over a period of time. There is no solid answer as to how exactly specific genders feel about sex and the amount of control they have; it’s solely dependant on the person. Being aware that many studies have proven that in fact, men do have a stronger sex drive than women, that can never be an excuse to sexual assault. Everyone, no matter the gender, is entitled to a right to safety; it’s unfair for their rights to be taken away because of someone else’s lack of self-control. A more truer statement would be, “some people cannot control their sexual urges”.

With two false (and biased) premises, it’s impossible for the final conclusion to be sound. “Therefore, men aren’t to blame for sexual assault” is technically valid, but far from being factually correct, therefore, not a sound argument. After reading many articles, my ultimate conclusion was that the main cause of rape are the rapists. There might be a higher statistic in a certain cohort or a recurring similarity in sexual assault cases, but that does not change the fact that what potentially caused it was the mindset of the rapist.

It should never be okay to normalise rape culture. Although, the argument stated above, unfortunately is still the perception of some. I do not aspire to brainwash every single existing misogynist into considering gender equality, yet I do think it’s possible for me to get some people thinking, or at least myself. These things should infuriate us; one of the biggest benefits to such arguments is that it gets us thinking. I do not believe I am doing this “because I’m a woman”, but because violation against other’s rights should never be tolerated. Some might say that this argument is completely sound, but even being the frankly neutral and indecisive person I am, my answer to that is, and will stay in a strong disagreement. 



That time Ashlee was mind blown

Being the naïve, yet overly enthusiastic 13-year-old, I somehow got the chance to volunteer at the Downtown East side along with my classmates. Our main role was to give out food and clothing to the homeless; the fact that I could devote my time in serving the community drove me. The bus ride there was already impactful itself; you could see the tall buildings and high-end stores of downtown, all the expensive cars to five-star restaurants… and tick. As if someone turned the switch, it drastically changed to homeless people roaming the streets. I could probably even draw a line to classify where the poverty started, it definitely wasn’t gradual. It was unbelievable how quick the atmosphere changed, and being the young kid I was, I classified myself differently from them. My default mode was to pity them, and to generalize them with the stereotype I formed.

Handing out the food and clothes to the numerous homeless people, I took the initiative to start conversations with them. The conversations I had, I still remember to this day; a huge slap across the face that crossed out all previous stereotypes I ever had. Some of them were vegan, some had a distinct taste in fashion (when choosing clothing to take), some had preferences over the type of bread, and the diversity within them was endless.

My mindset as a 13-year old may sound blatantly ignorant, and it is. Volunteering that day made me realise that they’re no different from anyone else that I would classify as “normal”. I used to categorise them differently from where I stood, and had a default mindset of placing myself higher than them (to which I never admitted, nor wanted to). It even bothers me as I’m writing this, that I have to refer to them as “them” or “homeless people”. I hated myself for generalizing, to think that they’d accept whatever was given to them. I was so blind to see only what was on the outer layer; I didn’t even bother to understand. I didn’t seek to find out their stories, I only assumed.

I felt a rush of indignity and disgust at myself on my way back home, even though I wanted to focus on the reminiscent insights I had; it was difficult to wash off the guilt. Not only did my life-long stereotypes was shattered (thankfully!), but I just proved myself to be the person I never wanted to be.

This story would be tragic if I ended it here, but luckily there’s more to it (hooray!). I mean, who wants to read a story about a girl who victimized herself and lived sadly ever after?

Ever since, I decided to redeem my once-oblivious-mindset by continuing to add on to what I’ve learned, and by giving back to the community. I devoted myself to help those who really needed it; although the more vital part is that my mindset while doing so was what has changed.

Now, everyone starts with a clean zero, until I get to know them myself, I don’t let anything factor into what makes them who they are. It doesn’t matter where in society they are placed, or what they are labelled as, but what I remember them by is what makes them unique. Because that’s how I want others to perceive me, that’s how I will perceive others.  Everyone has a story worth being listened to. We never know how people got to where they are currently without seeking to comprehend. I still think about my experience that day, and share it with others; hoping to make the impact that I’ve cherished to this day.



Ashlee’s disorganised cluster of thoughts

You can often find me making metaphorical references to almost everything, as well as scolding my friends when they don’t make sustainable choices, such as putting plastic bottles in the garbage (shame on all of you who commit such sin). So when I was posed with the question, “What is philosophy”, my default mode went into comparing it to how a plastic bottle gets recycled. Philosophy is rather subjective and endless topic, and the question, “What is philosophy” is as challenging, so I decided to compare it to one of my most adored topics.

One of the first stages of recycling is when one starts with a fresh bottle of fluid, and of course, it will eventually disappear. This is much like how in philosophy, you start with a bright new topic and absorb all the knowledge you might need. One of the most fundamental stages of developing a personal theory is to ensure that you can create a strong, deductive argument with valid premises that leads to a true conclusion. In order to do this, it is a priority to absorb in all the relevant information and to practice prior research, yet, like mentioned in Talk with me by Nigel Warburton, the purpose of philosophy is not to become a human ambulant data bank, philosophy is beyond just pure information.                    

If you are a compassionate human being with a place in heart for sustainability, you are aware that plastic bottles belong to the recycling when empty. Subsequent to, it getting sorted according to its type and being chopped up into little fragments. This can be compared directly to how in philosophy; thoughts may be sorted into different people having different “answers”. Often times, those “answers” tend to branch out into smaller fragments to support its root. A key aspect of developing your personal theories is through conversation. It is a gateway to challenges, questions, and a chance to further polish any flaws in your premises. Like stated in Talk with me,

“Without conversation and challenge, philosophy very quickly lapses into the dead dogma”;

without conversation, there is no bone to philosophy, or any topics of that matter.                                                  

A personal favourite stage is when the once-plastic-bottle is cleaned and compressed into tiny pellets… to become an even newer plastic thing! Much like this stage, philosophy tends to greatly affect future outcomes. If knowledge is information you can learn and intake, wisdom is what you do with your past experiences, and personal theories can greatly influence that (Miles Kingston once said, “knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad”). Having the ability to develop your internal conflicts into perfecting your beliefs is an attribute I highly respect. I’m a huge believer that change is by choice, and that means that one’s mindset tends to influence their life the most; more than any external causes.                                                                                                                           

The question, “What is philosophy “makes me think, and it always will. I can only wish that my response to this question by the end of the semester is more strongly developed than it is now.  Although, the past week I definitely did conclude on the fact that philosophy is constantly being recycled; it’s endless. It’s beyond just knowledge, it’s about wisdom and human interactions. However, for now, all I can do is to think and to question myself; to perceive any opposition as challenge, and to be the creator of my life. As for now, I am still in the stage of drinking my delicious juice, aspiring to come across my plastic bottle again after it becomes a new one.   

pondering “what?”




The Eternal Pursuit for Knowledge and Meaning (aka Nikki’s soul-searching journey)

Intellectual or not, the human mind is on a constant path of furthering it’s own knowledge. Whether it be street smarts gained by years of socialization or the physical push for a higher education, we grow and adapt and seek out new information to cope with our ever changing surroundings.

Since the dawn of time, man (and woman) have pushed and grown to new heights to advance as a civilization. What drives this innate sense of growth and prosperity? What pushes us to seek higher education and put ourselves through years of schooling?

In it’s truest form philosophy refers to the “love of wisdom,” but in a general sense it could also refer to “the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group.” To myself that definitely seems like the pursuit of knowledge and growth in a person. As seen by this photo, even philosophy itself, moves and adapts and seeks more and more to fulfill their insatiable need to explain the universe.

We desire knowledge to figure out this crazy universe and if there is a true meaning to our lives or if we’re just pawns in someone’s game or just specks of dust floating in space.

Different views have different opinions so what are we really supposed to believe? We as individuals seek out philosophy as a way to differentiate ourselves from the general populace of “sheeple” and to find our own meaning to life. To learn and hear people’s opinions and learn tolerance and how to argue for ourselves and stand up and fight the face of injustice.

Philosophy gives us a platform to seek a higher knowledge and expand our views. I personally am here to develop my own opinion and find my voice in the endless void. It is so easy to be lost in the sea of opinions and just give up and join the masses, but it takes real chutzpah to be the voice above the rest and really be yourself.

And along the words of the eternal cliche Robert Frost “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —I took the one less traveled by.”

TL;DR I’m very opinionated and I like big words. Different people have different views, it’s almost like we’re individuals. Philosophy gives me existential crises and I don’t know if I like that.



Aesthetics and Symmetry

Which face is the most aesthetically pleasing?

Julian Wolkenstein’s “Symmetrical Portraits” project (click on for a closer look)

Which face is most aesthetically pleasing? Human nature tells us that we would not pick the face on the far right, which is asymmetrical. Facial symmetry is associated with beauty and is aesthetically pleasing to look at. Even babies are more attracted to and will look longer at people with more symmetrical faces than others. So why is symmetry so beautiful?

On a biological level, there are many reasons why humans are attracted to more symmetrical faces. Facial symmetry is associated with stronger genes and a healthy well-being. Asymmetry on the other hand, indicates aging and stress. Therefore, on an evolutionary scale, being attracted to those with symmetrical faces would help humans procreate with those who can create even stronger genes.

Even though facial symmetry is considered most aesthetic, when looking at completely symmetrical faces, humans feel that they are freakish and abnormal. Closely symmetrical faces are considered the most attractive.



Midterm: Knowledge and Language

Proposition: Knowledge cannot be effectively shared only through spoken language.

As humans, we are constantly sharing and gaining knowledge through communicating with others. The question is if the knowledge we are communicating is the same knowledge gained by another. Is communication ever fully effective? By definition, effectiveness is decided by successfully producing a desired or intended result. I would argue that no type of communication is ever fully interpreted correctly.

Can we fully communicate without a universal language?

Can we fully communicate without a universal language?

A main form of communication is through spoken word. Languages vary all over the world, with roughly 6500 spoken in the world today. Mandarin Chinese is the most popular language in the world, spoken by about 1.21 billion people. This is one of the main flaws in communication. There is not one universal language that all humans use to speak with one another. Translations between languages are never 100% accurate, already altering the meaning of the shared knowledge.

Again as humans, we are all unique individuals with different experiences, personalitities, opinions, and values. Anything that we observe, hear, or feel is different when compared to another human. Therefore, when interpreting knowledge, it will not be exactly the same as the knowledge outputted to us.

Some may argue that there is a universal language between humans, but not through spoken word.

What emotions do these facial expressions portray?

What emotions do these facial expressions portray?

All humans smile, laugh, and cry, despite where they live in the world. Our facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language definitely aid in communication, but cannot be solely relied on for sharing knowledge. This can also be interpreted incorrectly, and some people cannot comprehend this universal language. Some humans suffer from social-emotional agnosia, which is the inability to interpret facial expressions, body language and voice intonation. This disorder usually effects people with autisim or schizophrenia, and limits social interaction.

To conclude,


  • If many languages are spoken all over the world and can never be translated 100% correctly,
  • And humans are all unique indivuduals that interpret knowledge in their own way,
  • And the universal language of facial expressions cannot be comprehended by everyone,
  • Then knowledge cannot be effectively shared only through spoken language