Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Oscar’s Week Off | A Choice of Self- Inquiry

 

My Plan?

Initially I really did not have a plan, in fact, these past weeks have been mind-clogging and in truth, the entire unit of metaphysics has not embedded a seed of clear understanding in my brain as it should be. Regardless, my plan for my P.D.O. was to go through an uninterrupted period of meditation to answer questions of my own self- an ideal I aspire. While I pondered over my existence and jousted mentally with myself, I found it incredibly difficult to decide on how I should go about my P.D.O. as this ‘day off’ was starting to turn into a week off- this ‘plan’ I had ended up being scrapped.

Upon trying to gather and create options, narrow them down and eventually take action through a process of decision making, I realized that I was doing exactly what I told myself not to do- to overthink and strive for perfection. I had too many options to choose from and while I continued to I agonized over this ‘Day-Off’ I had finally arrived to moment of clarity. I could watch some home videos I had never watched but had just been “shelved”, only for me to visit these digitized VHS tapes fifteen years in the future!

First Inquiries going into P.D.O.

Metaphysical questions. Always present, often never conclusive. After finally deciding what I was going to do going into my P.D.O I generated too many questions to be comfortable with answering; most of which subsided into my sub-conscious mind and never made it out alive onto this web-page. In any case, here is a handful of questions I gathered going into my P.D.O:

  • How is my mind and body actively contributing to each and every choice I make?
  • Are the choices I’m making actively making me grow in the mental essence? In the physical essence?
  • As I believe in free-will, at what extent am I living the best version of myself? How do I know the choices I am making are contributing to the unveiling of my best ‘self’ version? 

As these questions continued to expand, I questioned whether I was or was not living an optimal version of myself during the course of my ‘day off’ or whether my choice to sit down and view “ancient” home videos was to bring the best e-motions (literal energy motions) within me; emotions that could prompt me to seek more questions about self-knowledge.

What Actually Happened:

Everything actually worked out pretty nicely despite my indecisiveness that prolonged throughout the week. I sat down at around mid-night, uninterrupted on a Friday night where I rolled back the tape (literally, well maybe not because it was digitized) and took three solid hours to be left mesmerized by my existence throughout 1999-2003. These years fabricated the detachment from my own existence where my existence preceded my essence. Essentially, these years marked the transition between the mechanisms of a being and a Being. In hindsight, the year 2003 marked the beginning of my essence in which viewing these videos prompted me to think how much I actually knew of myself? If memory does support the bundle theory, than my past is simply a mere conjunction of qualities and not a substance- what would be of myself if my own memory was suddenly withdrawn from my physical essence?

Suddenly, I found myself choosing to take a path of self-inquiry; I was striving to seek answers to strengthen the knowledge of my own self based on past and present but not future.The American/English philosopher Stuart Hampshire’s argues that the question, ‘Who am I?’ requires a person to engage in a process of rational, reflective detachment from the first-person point of view. In direct correlation to this statement, viewing a periodic video of myself that took place at the beginning of my life states that I could now pursue my aspirations- to be more self-knowledgeable. Being self-knowledgeable in my views, lays on the foundation of every choice and action you make because that is the only realistic or “action-based” way to go about ‘things’; when thoughts and choices formulated within the mind can be expressed in the physical, spacial world.

 

Remaining Questions? Artefact?

Now that this blog is quite literally giving me a headache I’d like to introduce my artefact. I found the original VHS tapes laying somewhere in the depths of my basement. Each tape, essentially being a consequential chapter in my mind, can be rolled back and ‘fast-forwarded’ much like my brain can do within my own memories. I may wish to roll the tape back or fast-forward towards any point in my life but never in the future, for that would require the creation or introduction of another new VHS tape.

In short, none of my questions were answered but I only formulated more doubts and reasons to comfort myself because metaphysics has just clogged my mind with the nature of ‘things’ being too complex to discuss.

Image result for vhs tape

As this post is beginning to become somewhat of a headache, I’d like to state my remaining questions as follows:

  • What is the bridge between freedom of choice and self-awareness? How are they linked together?
  •  How is ‘reflective self-detachment’ possible in our day-to-day lives? Is this only possible through travelling through memories (in the mind, through pictures or videos?) and through lucid dreaming?
  • What kind of power can “successful” reflective self-inquiry bring upon our lives? Would we be able to make the ‘best’ and right choices without much doubt?

Questions I will try to never answer but will always want to answer…

 

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A Trip Down Memory Lane

My question going into the Phil’s Day Off project was “what are memories and how do they relate to the self?” In order to tackle my inquiry I used The Bundle Theory of the self and I first had to address how a memory is created. My plan was to research experiences, memories and the self on Saturday in order to have enough information to hold an interesting conversation with my family members on Sunday. I wanted to collect a bunch of different opinions and information and synthesize them in order to form my own philosophy about memories and the self. In addition to this I also did a lot of self-reflection on my own experiences and memories and how they have contributed to who I am today.

On Saturday I researched how memories are created and what is necessary to turn an experience into a strong memory. I found some really interesting articles, from a variety of sources, including one about why you should stop trying so hard to make memories in the social media age. It introduces the term “futurepast” and poses the question “when did we go from living our lives to striving for memories?” I also found an article about the intergenerational trauma in First Nations communities as a result of Residential Schools. The article explains that self-destructive behaviour develops as a result of unresolved trauma and that these behaviours can then be normalized within a family or community and passed down to subsequent generations. This article highlights just how significant an affect experiences and memories can have on the self and the fact that future generations can be impacted by second-hand trauma. I found another article explaining the science behind creating memories which listed criteria for an experience to be memorable. These criteria include the novelty of the experience, the amount of attention a person is paying, and the strength of the emotions evoked. As a result of my research I created a mind map to lay out my ideas for discussion.

View post on imgur.com

On Sunday I conducted a conversation with my parents over dinner in attempt to develop a more personal understanding of the topic. We ordered sushi and talked about the following topics, which I took notes on. Here are some of the highlights:

 

  • Memories attached to specific items or places
    • Do the material objects hold a piece of the self?
    • Wedding rings, first car, childhood home, bagpipes, etc.
    • A symbol of important experiences
  • Incorrect memories
    • Why do we remember somethings incorrectly?
    • We remember what other people told us about one of our experiences instead of our own memory
    • Some incorrect memories are a mix of multiple experiences, this results in a memory that never actually happened
  • The self as you age
    • becomes more concentrated as you get older, only really important memories remain
    • when you are young you have fewer experiences and can remember a greater portion of your self
    • more experiences are novel and “life-changing” when you are a child
  • Dementia and the self
    • When you lose your memories you lose chunks of your self
    • You revert back through important past memories and eventually childhood memories
      • This implies that the self is constantly shaped by experiences and memories throughout our lives, starting in childhood.
  • Can other people’s memories affect your self?
    • Yes, my parents have bad memories of skiing and I’ve never skied in my life
    • My Opa loved soccer and played it all his life, my Dad also loves soccer and I played soccer throughout my childhood. My Opa’s positive memories of soccer affected my dad and my dad’s memories of soccer affected me.
    • Family values and culture are created by the experiences and memories of parents and have a significant impact on who the kids become.
  • Kids growing up in the social media age
    • They will have access to thousands of pictures and videos of themselves from the moment they were born
    • Will this affect the self?
    • Will this affect the role of memories in their lives
  • Earliest or significant childhood memories
    • We mostly remember experiences from when we were about 5 years old.
    • Do you not have a complete self until you are around 5 years old?
    • We don’t have a specific first memory of parents because they were always there
  • Shared experiences
    • Everyone remembers things slightly differently, different things are important to different people so they focus on different parts of an experience
    • Are shared experiences better?

While completing my Phil’s Day Off project I was able to gain knowledge and develop conclusions that have contributed to my own personal philosophy about the self. The first of which is that the non-physical components of the self or memories are more important than the physical components of the self or the chemical reactions and atoms. When it comes to making you who you are, experiences and memories are far more influential than the body they are contained in. If anything the body, like social media, is just a platform through which we can interact with others, experience, share and express ourselves. This idea can be supported by looking at dementia, when someone has dementia their physical self is still present and functional, they look the same. However, they are slowly losing their memories and their ability to interact with the world around them, they are losing their self and their ability to continue to build up their self. Without their memories chunks of their self are missing and they aren’t the same person.

Another thing I realized is that no two selves are the same, although people may have many shared experiences they can’t have the exact same memories of said experiences and therefore can’t have identical selves. Even if two people experienced the exact same situation they would remember things slightly differently based on what is important to them, what they were focusing on, and the emotions they felt. This can be illustrated by interviewing people after a crime has taken place, people that all witnessed a shooting may remember numbers of shots fired, the appearance of the suspect or the getaway car differently. Although they all saw the crime take place they focused on different parts of it and none of them have the whole story. Therefore, the self is completely unique and also a very subjective record of experiences.

My final conclusion is that the self is dynamic and always changing because we are constantly having new experiences and creating new memories. People can change drastically throughout the course of their lives and part of growing up is having new experiences and finding yourself.  An example of this is the change in self that occurs when people move away to attend post-secondary school. For many it is the first time they have lived on their own, they are being exposed to vast amounts of new information, and they have the freedom to meet new people and try new things. The strong emotions and novel experiences presented by this situation are perfect conditions for strong memories to be made and collected by the self.

While conducting this project I also looked for real-world applications of the knowledge I had gained about the self. The strongest message I took away from this project was that memories are more important than material objects. With Christmas only a month away it is easy to get caught up in holiday consumerism and focus on the giving and receiving of presents when we should really be thinking about making memories and spending quality time with family and friends. One way to do this is to give people you care about experiences instead of presents, you can take them to a play or concert, try a new restaurant, or even plan a road trip. If you are looking for ideas or interested in learning more, check out the Create Memories, Not Garbage website.

In a very meta and unplanned way I actually had the chance to put my philosophy to work in real life and reflect on it. As a volunteer leader at a science club for elementary school girls I play a role in creating “self building” memories in the girl’s lives. This past weekend our theme was Genetics and we led the girls in chemically isolating their own DNA, an extremely cool lab that most people wouldn’t encounter until Biology 12 or university. For many of them Genetics was an entirely new concept and they were extremely excited and proud of their little vials of DNA. I believe that for many of them, this experience will become a strong memory and contribute to their future selves. The goal of the club is to help young girls develop the confidence and passion necessary to be a woman in STEM, it provides them with female role models and opportunities to explore different areas of science.

I know that this club has a significant impact on the girls who attend it because I was a member. I have a wide range of vivid memories from the club, including dissecting a tilapia, developing homemade pinhole camera pictures, and doing the UBC Botanical Gardens canopy walk. Part of my “self” was built as a member of the club, I developed a love for science and as a result I am pursuing a future in medicine and medical research. Some people may say that my future in science was determined before I was even born or that the physical components of my “self” make me interested in the sciences; however, I strongly believe that the experiences I had and the memories I collected as a young girl in the club are truly responsible.

 

 

 

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self care is doing cocaine behind a Denny’s at 3 am – Katherine

I’ve been tying to find a way to phrase my question that isn’t “what is the self” because we already kinda covered that in class with the four theories of the self. I personally subscribe to the bundle theory, or that the “self” is made up of experiences and memories that we collect as we live. then again, talking about it in class clearly didn’t finish it for me because I have SO MANY MORE QUESTIONS so, here we go:

  • What is the “self”?
    1. Is there a unique part of yourself that you are born with?
    2. Does that make up a part of your “self” even if most of you is made up of the memories and experiences you collet?
    3.  Can you find out more about your “self” by meditating or “looking inside yourself”?

After doing some reading on my topic, I’m starting to realize that I liked bundle theory based only on what it said in our short reading: after learning more, I see its flaws. I was searching on websites and I found this one definition that explained it quite well:

  • According to bundle theory, an object consists of its properties and nothing more

  • Hence, there can not be an object without properties nor can one even conceive of such an object

  • For example, a ball is really a collection of the properties green (color), 50cm in diameter (size), 5kg (weight), etc.

  • Beyond those properties, there is no “ball.”

(this is from bewarephilosophy.weebly.com, link in the bottom)

See the problem? I believe that the “self” is more that just the properties I posses. But if I dont subscribe to any of the other theories, what is my “self” made of??

Now onto answering the questions:

  • What is the “self”
    • Is there a unique part of yourself that you are born with?
    • There must be. While I still believe most of bundle theory, I cannot deny that there must be something within me that made me who I am before my experiences kicked in. I was struggling to explain it before I saw the dog metaphor, as I call it. If you took your dog to the vet and picked up a qualitatively similar dog (same size, same colouring, same eyes, etc.), you would notice in fairly short order that the dog you’ve picked up is not yours. Doesn’t this indicate that your dog does have an identity that remains unchanged? This must mean that there is a unique quality in you dog that makes it who it is.
    • Does that make up a part of your “self” even if most of you is made up of the memories and experiences you collet?
    • I belive both. The problem is, Bundle Theory tends to exclude all other options. In bundle theory, you are only your properties: there is no substance connecting them. This makes sense to me: All my properties, how I look, how I sound, how many cells I have, how I think, what I know, what I remember. These are all the properties that create who I am. As I age, I will remember more, look different, sound different, feel different, yet I am still me. The rest of the artical had deeper ideas on how you percieve the world and your own unchanging essesnce, but I’ll stick to what I know for now.
    • Can you find out more about your “self” by meditating or “looking inside yourself”?
    • This was a little harder to research. Searching for articles about “looking inside yourself” led me to How To Find Yourself In 15 Steps (With Pictures!) on Wikihow… not what I was hoping for.  Some articles I found toldme how calming my thoughts through meditation could “still the ripples of my mind and look deeper into the water”, while others seemed to think that finding yourself was simply a matter of accepting who you are. Are they both right? I don’t know, but I think I’ll end up trying the meditation soon. 

Sources:

http://bewarephilosophy.weebly.com/bundle-theory.html

http://mywholesomehome.blogspot.ca/2011/08/meditation-made-easy-10-steps-to.html

schoolworkhelper.net/hume’s-bundle-theory-of-the-self/

 

 

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I’m gonna astral project myself into the sun – Benedict Mendes [WARNING: Mild Dr. Strange spoilers may or may not be in this post]

Okay, so for my big Metaphysics topic I decided to look into, you guessed it, Astral Projection. Now, many believe this to be a big hoax and generally quite silly, but this is because of the way it’s presented in current media. Often people use crystals to “speed up their vibrations” when astral projecting, which sounds quite ridiculous and it probably is, but I’m not talking about that branch of it. I’ll be talking about what astral projecting would mean for “the self” and in relation to space and time. So, this is my big question:

How does astral projection relate to the self, and space-time?

Of course, this question is quite vague, so I’ll be using some sub-questions to hopefully reach the goal of answering that big question. These are my sub-questions:

What exactly is astral projection?

How would astral projection divide the self?

How would one travel through space and time using astral projection?

 

Well, if we look at astral projection very broadly, it has been mentioned in many, many cultures and religions around the world. There are many different variations, but at it’s core astral projection is said to be an OBE

(out of body experience) that is usually willful and controlled. It can be seen as a form of telepathy, and one is thought to be able to manipulate another’s thoughts whilst astral projecting. It is basically the separation of spirit from the body. Forms of astral projection can be researched in many societies and cultures, The West, China, Japan, India, Ancient Egypt, and even The Bible all have examples of astral projection at some point. Now, astral projection of course begs the question, if I am astral projecting and I see my body before me as if it is not my own, do I really have a body? Is it my body? Well, this differs, but generally in terms of astral projection a human is divided into three parts. These parts are mind, body, and spirit/soul respectively. The body and spirit are two separate things that, from what I’ve seen so far, are only linked by the mind. The mind is what links the soul to the body and allows it to return to the body after astral projecting, so that you’re not stranded in the enth dimension for all of eternity. This is only a rough look at it though, and I’ll delve deeper into this topic in the future. There’s also an important distinction that must be made within the concept of astral projection. One can project on the “astral” plane, or the “etheric” plane. Etheric refers to our physical world as it is now, when performing etheric astral projection you will supposedly only experience the universe as it is at that moment. Astral refers to some kind of transcending of time and space. There have been reports of people claiming to visit past civilizations and old, long destroyed places, these would be examples of what I’m going to call for now, “true” astral projection (I don’t really have another term for it at the moment). Basically, while “true” astral projecting one is able to travel through time as well as space through some form of time-space manipulation, the exact “how” of it is still lost on me at the moment.

 

The most prominent representation of astral projection in popular media at the moment is actually in the recently released movie “Dr. Strange” by Marvel. Seeing this movie is actually what inspired me to research this topic, because I found it infinitely interesting (also these are the spoilers I warned you about so turn away now if you must). In the movie astral projection is seen as a way for the spirit to travel through space and perhaps through certain dimensions, though that is unclear in the movie. Of course this movie deals with it in the comic book sense so it may not be true to what has been recorded in human history, but it’s a good place to start. Whenever a character astral projects in the movie, time seems to slow down drastically, although this is inconsistent, indicating that there is a way to willfully manipulate time whilst you are in the astral plane. In the movie, the interaction one’s projection can have with the physical world is also unclear. It seems to have a kind of “poltergeist” rule, where one cannot “touch” objects on the physical plane, but can move them through great force of some sort. Again, this is only in a Hollywood movie so perhaps the sourcing is unreliable.

 

The philosophic school of thought that this lies in is called Theosophy. Theosophy explores mystical and occultist answers to the many questions of the universe. This is particularly so in the fields of the origin of the universe and the nature of divinity. It’s an incredibly interesting school of thought, I don’t know if it exactly fits in with what I believe currently but I am willing to explore it for the purposes of this research, and I’m really excited to do so. Many scientists have actually looked in to the credibility of something like astral projection, even conducting experiments. The results on the whole have been mixed, and I will certainly look into those experiments in more detail later on. This might take more than just three blog posts, but oh well, it’ll be interesting at least.

 

In conclusion, for the next while I’ll be researching astral projection and how it affects the self and space-time. Who knows, maybe I’ll learn how to astral project myself along the way (although you’re supposed to be relaxed while attempting it and since I’m never relaxed probably not).

Dr. Strange (2016)

 

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Humanity and Freedom part 2 – Jessica Lewis

In My last post, Humanity and Freedom, I mentioned the idea of humans and freedom. My first question for this assignment was are humans free? to gain more knowledge on the freedom of humans I read an article called, Morning as the Origin of Humanity. The article helped me gain a firmer grasp on what it means to be free but as much as it helped it also confused me, New questions were raised from the article. These new questions were are we as free in death as we are in life? These questions led me to the conclusion that could there be an afterlife? Is there a whole purpose to this ride were on? I understand that the question about purpose seems rather far fetched from my original questions but it isn’t, My question led me down the path of religion and the argument many historians, priests and realists have argument for years, Religion or reality?

 

In a discussion with Laike on April 11th We  brought up both our topics and immediately knew we had similar ideas. As regards to my question are humans free? Me and Laike talked about how although we feel free we really aren’t. In society today we are confined by gender roles, Societies view and religious restrictions.  Lake merged our questions together and we came up with God. Due to us both having religious backgrounds it wasn’t hard to think back to all the rules that comes with Christianity. One of the examples we spoke about was Adam and Eve and how god gave us freedom but took it away so quickly ( and some may argue we are still paying for it today ). Talking to Laike allowed me to have more insight as to how religion plays a role in our lives just as much as gender roles does. In the conversation I brought up the idea of school. I related it to freedom and how we ‘feel’ free. We come to school and yes, some people hate it but they still come. W mentioned how yes, we do have the right ( once 16) to refuse to come to school but it doesn’t mean were free. Deciding to not come to school anymore till have strings attached and isn’t as easy as just never looking back.

 

In Our class discussions I found that although we had similar ideas, The differences were that some interoperated story’s and quotes from the Bible in different ways. Some interpreted Eve eating the apple because the Snake wanted to give us sin or some say that the snake was right and god simply wants to confine us from freedom. One finding I think everyone in my group came to was that the question of God,as with religion, wont be ever be answered.

 

In a second discussion on April 12th, when we  formed a bigger group with other students in the class, The topic of God and the restrictions of religion was yet again the topic of discussion. Helena, Laike , David and Shem all borught up interesting points about why and how do we react to certain aspects of religion. In the discussion It was mentioned that some people find safety In looking to some Higher Power, It gives some people relief. We also talked about how the Bible doesn’t always make sense. For example, As mentioned previously, ‘God’ punished Adam and Eve for eating the fruit and its said that everyone now is born with that ‘sin’. However in the new testament on the Bible things were changed and rules were altered. Why? and how? If the Bible was so real why doesn’t  it make sense? and if the religion constricting us to roles and rules is false, maybe we are free after all? or maybe ourselves are what is restricting us? Are we sub consciously confining ourselves?

 

 

 

 

 

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Humanity and Freedom – Jessica Lewis

 

 Are humans free?

At the beginning of the assignment, I didn’t quite know what my question would be. The self has always interested me and the way we act and process information has always been a topic of interest henceforth I chose to take a closer look at humans our  freedom.  For years in history there have always been the argument between religion and reality. What is what and who is who.  Freedom is an interesting topic because although we feel free we really aren’t. We still are confined by society  , gender roles, and religion restrictions. For example  even something as simple as coming to school, we don’t choose to go. However school isn’t my topic of interest, my question tackles freedom as whole and zones in on our survival. To help answer my question I found a few articles that made sense to me..

” is it really possible to say that the awareness of his own mortality is what is proper to the human? Is not the feeling of a fundamental vulnerability shared by all living beings? We can in fact easily imagine that animals are, like us, afraid of dying, since they spend their lives trying desperately to survive.” 

One of the readings that helped me understand my question better was Mourning as the Origin of Humanity The topic of  human beings  and how they have have always been conscious of the difference that separates them from other living beings was raised in the article . The example the   author used was  the fact of wearing clothes or painting and how  sometimes deforming their bodies in accordance with specific rituals.Another aspect of the reading that helped me string together my question was when  an allusive reference to Descartes’s was mentioned saying that ”  man has to become the master and possessor of nature, but rather, as Heidegger says again in What is Metaphysics?, the “place-holder of the nothing,” a nothing which is not in the human‘s power to bring before itself and in which it finds itself held.

 

My reading certainly does confuse me as there are many argument are made that I don’t fully understand.  In the article the author mentions  how humans haven’t made a cure for death and along side the comment about death, immortality is brought up. A new question of mine would be are we free is death? I hate to ask such a morbid question but its always been a wonder of mine. Are we still restricted to the rules of life as we are in spirit?

 
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