Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

By

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

 

By

The Golden Ball

Philosophy can be seen as questioning the mere existence of reality, and this questioning goes beyond our material world. In the material world, reality is confined to “facts”, information and experiments that give us a false sense of reality and logic. Further more, this fascination the human brain has with the materialistic world may have its essence in the way we think, the way we think on the surface.Things we can understand that fit in with our experiments and laws that have been declared by sets of theories that have been only developing for only couple hundred years seems to give us comfort, a sense of security about this mysterious phenomenon we call life. On the contrary the human brain is so complex it also finds comfort in “abstract ideas”, such as theism and variety of dogmatic, ritualistic practices that give the illusion of an higher being, a deity that keeps you safe or destroys you with his wrathful will. A loving god that will take your soul to heaven, after you die. Death, A concept that has fascinated the human brain as far as the time our story began. Science argues that after death there’s no more existence as we know it. Our biological body decays as cellular death occurs. Does this mean our consciousness cease to exist as well? Or is there more to this phenomenon more than we can imagine. Philosophy, aims to ponder deeper into these thoughts. Is there a certain, ultimate answer? Probably not, as most of these abstract ideas such as the nature of self or how human consciousness really works ; create more questions that seem to have no answer. So? What’s the point of spending time and energy on philosophical ideas? If you would like to be believe the human race is even more fascinating than the way science perceive to be, then perfection of wisdom, pursue of enlightenment would be the path that you wouldn’t be able to wonder of another way. Philosophy is transcendental, it doesn’t favor different perspectives but the wise and the enlightened. Philosophy does not have facts to be discovered it doesn’t have information to live upon. Philosophy is a gateway to higher state of thinking and consciousness, where you can discover more about the very nature of human existence and more about you. Philosophy satisfies our fascination with mystery while having you guessing and questioning the idea of mystery it self. If knowledge is an ever expanding ocean of ideas that has existed and will exist in the future, than philosophy is a golden, glowing ball of fascination thrown into to the ocean of knowledge. It sinks and sinks to the very essence of the ocean. It doesn’t stay in the surface, for the surface of this ocean is visible. It is visible to the by standers whom have no idea how deep the ocean is. They are too stunned by the beauty of the ocean they see yet they refuse to acknowledge the dept of ocean. Praising the beauty of the ocean from the shallow end seem to be safer, it gives them comfort But the enlightened,he follows this golden ball of fascination deep into the ocean. As the ball goes deeper it sheds light upon the very darkness of the ocean of knowledge. The enlightened dives further, following the ever sinking ball. it gets darker and colder as he leaves familiar waters. As it gets darker, the ball still sheds light into the darkness, clearing a path for the man. Then he realizes, he finds comfort discovering the unknown. He realizes that the darkness will continue as the golden ball seem to shed more and more light as it sinks. This satisfies his curiosity, his craving for wisdom. Now that he’s deep in the ocean, he doesn’t see the purpose of admiring the beauty of the waves that hit the shallow shore, where people stand and watch. Does he keep following the golden glowing ball or does he go back to share what he has seen?

 

 

By

Epistemology Group Inquiries

Epistemology Inquiries

Areas of Inquiry

In the comments below, I’d like to hear from your group, or even multiple members of your group, about how you are approaching these initial questions in your epistemological inquiry:

  • What is your group’s main question?
  • What questions follow from your initial question?
  • How will you go about answering these questions?
    • Where will you look?
    • Who will you talk to?
    • What resources will you consult?
  • How will you know you have answered them?

Naturally, there will be overlapping areas of inquiry that these comments should seek out in trying to find common ground before we head into our activities and discussions next week. If you have helpful resources or referrals to add to anything your classmates are exploring, please feel free to post these links and leads below as well.

Next week, these various threads will come together to form our learning activities in the epistemology unit, culminating in a personal theory of knowledge mid-term assignment. This cumulative assignment doesn’t need to address the topic your group is investigating; however, this would likely be helpful.

 

By

Introductory Epistemological Discussion(s)

afraid of knowledge

Image courtesy of Flickr user Olya Afonina

We are embarking on our discussions of epistemology this weekend, having been briefly introduced to foundational concepts such as:

  • rationalism
  • empiricism
  • a priori knowledge
  • a posteriori knowledge
  • justified true belief
  • indirect knowledge
  • direct knowledge
  • knowledge by acquaintance
  • knowledge by description

I am curious to see where our cohort’s interests are shaping up against these introductory thoughts and ideas on the nature of knowledge, though. Because each of us is the owner of a uniquely personal theory of our own knowledge, which supplies us with answers to questions like What do I know? How do I know that I know it? Where does my opinion overlap with what is considered a fact? Where do they diverge? 

How these personal conceptions come together in the present digital age is of special concern to regular open onliner Stephen Downes:

What we ‘know’ is, if you will, a natural development that occurs in the mind, other things being equal, when presented with certain sets of phenomena; present the learner with different phenomena and they will learn different things. Like the Portugese word for ‘snow’, for example. And whether something counts as ‘knowledge’ rather than, say, ‘belief’ or ‘speculation’, depends less on the state of the world, and more on the strength or degree of connectedness between the entities. To ‘know’ something is to not be able to not know. It’s like finding Waldo, or looking at an abstract image. There may be a time when we don’t know where Waldo is, or what the image represents, but once we have an interpretation, it is not possible to look without seeing Waldo, without seeing the image.

So let us begin at the beginning, by relating our own theories of knowledge to what we have encountered in our initial reading.

We brainstormed several questions related to Epistemology in class this morning:

  • How do we know what we know? 
  • What is true? 
  • How we know was is factual? What is opinion? What is belief? 
  • How are senses and reasons different? How are they complimentary? 
  • What is knowledge? How do we acquire it? 
  • Are there things that we’ll never know? 

But now we are looking to continue to the discussion…

There are, naturally, more where that came from, and we might begin our discussion by continuing to list the essential questions of epistemology below in the comments to this post, or on the Twitter hashtag for #philosophy12.

Other items for consideration and discussion may include…

Sensory, Rational, and Objective knowledge

In terms of classifying these questions, which of them would you file under Sensory knowledge?

Which would you deem most closely related to Reason, or rational knowledge?

Which do you feel deal with certainty? 

Rationalism and Empiricism 

Of these two schools of epistemology, which do you feel corresponds to your own approach to learning and knowledge?

Who is considered to be a notable proponent of either of these disciplines? Who has made convincing arguments to introduce a combined process of the two? Or a third (or fourth) new way altogether?

Where do we see examples of rational or empirical perspectives on knowledge in competition (or dominance) in our contemporary society?

Different Types of Knowledge?

How do you distinguish between the various levels and descriptions of knowledge?

How might these distinctions be limited in their scope to a particular perspective on knowledge? How could we fix this bias, if it in fact exists?

By no means exhaustive, the above questions will hopefully serve as an opening salvo in an ongoing exploration of knowledge this weekend. So respond to one of the above, or a few, or pass along these questions to someone who might wish to offer an opinion or refer us to a significant piece of the conversation we may be missing. Don’t hesitate to pose new questions to the community as well!

 

By

I Know That I Don’t Know…I Think (Emily)

I confess, I am feeling slightly daunted by everyone’s posts. Everyone has these huge long posts about what they believe or know or drew in class.

As for me, I’m not usually very good at thinking on the spot. So, I’m normally not too involved in heated class discussions. I usually let stuff bounce around in my head for a while before I can argue about it or even know what I think about it.

Philosophy, however, seems determined to trump me. At the beginning of the year, we were told to think about what our personal philosophy on everything was. I had absolutely no clue then. Now, I’m probably even less sure. And with epistemology, I am still so confused as to what everything is that I have no idea what I think or know. Don’t even get me started on condensing it into a belief statement or personal philosophy.

Like so many people have said before, the more I think, the more confused I get. Two steps forwards, eighteen and a half steps back. Philosophy is clear as mud.

Still, I suppose there are things that I think I know, even if I don’t know what I think.

First of all, Descartes. After that project about him during Metaphysics, I looked a lot at “I think, therefore, I am.” To me, that is True. You can’t think things or experience things without first existing and, if you ask me, Hume can say whatever he wants but I don’t see a way to think or feel without existing. So, I can incorporate that I know I exist (because I know I am thinking about existence) into that chamber of my brain for what I Know and Believe about the world.

Secondly, Van Orman Quine. I also took part in a project about him, so I (sort of) know his ideas and I generally agree, at least with his thoughts on vague language. We don’t have words to accurately describe anything, so it can be hard to argue or even talk about anything, because words can never accurately describe anything, and everyone has their own (slightly different) definition for everything. So, I can also incorporate that I can’t really talk properly with anyone else about what I Know or Believe, because it will always be slightly distorted.

Third, everything. Everyone has these nice little triangles, but I envision a completely different diagram. (I really don’t know what kind of shape it could take, but I’ll work on that) I think that opinion and belief, while classified right at the bottom of the triangles, belong elsewhere. Maybe in a weird blob shape off to the side. Who knows. But I think that opinion and/or belief could be right up there with Knowledge or Truth – because they are True to you, otherwise they would not be your belief or opinion (They are falsifiable, but while you believe them, they are True to you). So if we could do some diagram involving them being in Truth for you but at the bottom for everyone else? Who knows.

So: I know that I exist. I can’t discuss anything clearly or properly with anyone, even possibly myself. And belief and opinion can be truth. Sometimes.

My diagram might end up looking like this.

 

By

Socrates (Gregory Gosse)

Socrates:

  • You and your philosopher (How do you differ, what do you hold the same?)
Differences Similarities
Socrates has his students to write down his life and his philosophy.   (Mainly Plato) We don’t document our lives through journals or other ways of writing.
  • What are they saying?(Outline a single argument/proposition from your selected philosopher.
    • Socratic Method aka Method of “Elenchus”
      • To solve a problem, it would be broken down into a series of questions, the answers to which gradually distill the answer a person would seek.
  • Truth, Validity, and Soundness (How would you evaluate your philosopher’s argument/proposition?)
Truth Validity Soundness
This argument is true.The Socratic Method is solving many branches of problems formed from   a single seed.When you answer the branches, the seed will then be solved. The argument has a solid point. It’s possible to find the answers to   questions which can help lead the first question to completion.If you continue questioning the premises, you will have a final   answer. This argument can be both sound and not sound.Sound because you do in fact get the first question’s answer by   finding out the premise of it.It’s not sound because when you question your premise, it can just   lead to more questions.

 

  • Metaphysics in the Modern World(Where do you see the influence, or evidence of the ideas expressed by your philosopher?)
    • Socrates once said
      • “I know you won’t believe me, but the highest form of Human Excellence is to question oneself and others.”
  • Socrates (Quoted in Xenophon’s “Economics”)
    • “Can it be, Ischomachus, that asking questions is teaching? I am just beginning to see what is behind all your questions. You lead me on by means of things I know, point to things that resemble them, and persuade me that I know things that I thought I had no knowledge of.”
 

By

Discussion Point: Is Science Objective?

look downstairs into stairwell whirl

Picture courtesy of Flickr user: quapan

As a culminating activity to our introduction to Scientific Philosophy, the class will be discussing the nature of objectivity in science from a number of perspectives outlined in the course text. In groups of 2-3, for-credit learners will prepare the following to be delivered next Tuesday (October 16th):

  • A one-minute introduction to their philosophical perspective (listed below);
  • A two-minute response to the question, Is Science Objective? 
  • A question for one of the other selected perspectives;

In addition, each group will post a synthesis of their thinking after the discussion to readdress their response to the original question, and incorporate influential points made by their peers during Tuesday’s class.

The different lenses / perspectives we will be addressing in class will be:

  • Post-Modernist
  • Feminist
  • Scientific Realist
  • Karl Popper
  • van Orman Quine
  • David Deutsche
  • Anarchistic Epistemologist
  • Instrumentalist
  • Logical Positivist

Invitation to Open-Online ParticipantsAs ever, we welcome your input, feedback, and engagement with the classroom learning wherever you are able to supply it. For this particular aspect of the course, if you would like to submit a response to the question from one (or more) of the listed perspectives (or one of your own choosing), feel free to submit a post or comment on the blog (If you are not a registered author on the blog, fill out the form on the Open Online Participants page to remedy this.) and join our discussion on Tuesday live on #ds106radio, or Google Hangout.

 

By

Thinking Dutch | Interesting read on NYTimes Philosophy Blog

Reflections

I came across an interesting read on the recent philosophical climate in the Netherlands on the New York Times’ Philosopher’s Stone Blog:

Attention to the subject, Mulder points out, peaks each year on the Night of Philosophy. Held annually at the International School of Philosophy, it attracts a lay audience a thousand strong. As one organizer says, “The Dutch see an evening of philosophizing as a night out”: many cafes hold philosophical readings and discussions and books of philosophy regularly become best-sellers.

Mulder dates the growth of popular interest in the subject to the early 1990s, when neo-liberalism, commercialism and “hyper-individualism” began to disenchant the Dutch, whetting their appetites for fresh conceptions of society and the good life.

Regularly among the most desirable places in the world to live, Holland’s public discourse has had to encounter many uncomfortable conversations as the nation’s character has met with developments in a post-9/11 geopolitical climate:

But more recently, Mulder writes, Islam may have done the most to push philosophy into public life, by bringing certain fundamental (and discomfiting) questions to the fore: What is Enlightenment? What are Western values, and what grounds them? Is there a legitimate basis for the cross-cultural appraisal of values? Do all religions need to pass through a secularizing phase to have a place in the modern world and its political arrangements? Is democracy antithetical to religion? The various answers returned to these questions have sometimes been disturbing, but one cannot doubt that the questions have philosophical substance.

I think a few of the questions above – not to mention a few others that could be tied into this conversation – connect to something that Nick & Chris are getting at in the comments of Chris’ post (which is really a lengthy reply to Liam’s original question, Nature? What Nature?), but may also beg the question of how Canadian, or North American philosophical life measures up against our Scandanavian friends. What might our different degrees of commitment to personal and public philosophizing say about our different societies, or cultural experience?

 

By

“It was a musical thing and you were supposed to dance…”

I have to thank GNA Garcia for referring me to this brief animation from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, set to the narration of philosopher Alan Watts. It is an interesting thread to connect to some of the conversation in the comments of the Cornell West video post, where Tobey Steeves has pointed out Deleuze’s fascination with philosophy’s need “to go to school with the musicians.”

What do you think about Alan Watts’ musical analogy? Is the comparison he is making to our education system, or our societal view of ‘success’ apt?

 
css.php