Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Philosophy is dissociating and making your physical and mental selves fight to the death.

At the beginning of the semester I didn’t know what I was doing. I knew next to nothing about philosophy. I only signed up for the course because people told it was fun and “basically TALONS 12″. While they weren’t wrong, this statement didn’t prepare me for the reality of trying to distill the “truth” of the universe. Especially with people that I’d never talked to. So at the beginning of the term I said that philosophy was like panning for gold in a bathtub (gonna plead the fifth on telling y’all how much time I spent on that presentation). My justification being that I thought that there was only one truth in the universe.
Suffice to say, I’ve adapted my opinions a fair bit since then. Now, I think that philosophy is more like a kaleidoscope. It provides different ways to look at the same topic, and can make familiar things seem foreign to you. The biggest difference is in the new metaphor, everything you think can be true. If it seems true to you, it very well could be. Maybe everyone has a different truth, that’s fine. Maybe you even have a different “truth” every time you look back through the kaleidoscope. That’s kind of what philosophy has become for me over the course of this term. A way to question what I thought I knew and find different ways to look at almost everything.
What happened? Why did I go from thinking that philosophy was the search for THE truth to the search for A truth? The main influence on my metaphor was becoming more educated on the topic of philosophy.
The event that started me on this train of thought was the metaphysics Phils Day Off. When I was writing my post I noticed that many people can do the same activity and react in different ways. This led me to conclude that how people perceive things is different because of who they are. Things like past experiences can make the difference between a traumatic event and a fun one. People aren’t wrong for screaming while they bungee jump, its how they react. Much the same, the opinions of Kant are no more right or wrong than the opinions of Mill. Even while reading the thoughts of others, this class came up with different ways to determine what is moral. Exactly like how two people can look at the same thing through a kaleidoscope and see completely different images.
This continued through epistemology and aesthetics, right up to now. Unlike the first “What is philosophy?” assignment I’m actually very confident in my metaphor. It’s almost a guarantee that everyone who presents will have a different metaphor for what philosophy is. I find that very cool because it shows that philosophy lets people read the same thing, get different opinions about it, and still be right.
But where does that leave me? Do I have to accept that everyone has different opinions and those are their truths of the world? Does that mean I can’t call people out when they exhibit and act upon shitty opinions? Those are their truths after all. No, I can accept that people perceive things in a variety of ways but this metaphor applies to things like philosophy, not things that affect peoples lives and rights. This class as a whole has made me more accepting of others opinions which will come in handy in future. I learned a lot about philosophy as a whole and it’s become easier to see where people get their ideas from.


Let’s all pretend that I, Jordan, said this instead of the mess that was my in-class presentation.

Philosophy is like panning for gold in a bathtub. Lemme just make sure you guys are on the same page as me because I know I read probably too much but not everyone else does. Panning for gold you all know right? Swirling sand and dirt around and out of a pan until you’ve only got gold left in the pan. We’ve all heard of the gold rush. So basically that, but in a bathtub. Pretend bathtubs have sand in them.


Back to it then. Philosophy, the search for the truth of existence, is like panning for gold in a biiiig bathtub, more like an olympic sized swimming pool. Also almost everyone else in the world will at some point try panning the tub at some point or another. And there’s only like, one actual nugget of real gold, it might not even be there. Sure there’s a chance you can find gold, it’s just more likely that you won’t. But if you really want to find the gold, you will spend the rest of your life panning the same pool because maybe, just maybe, you’ll find the gold this time.
I don’t mean to say that looking for the truth is useless, iron pyrites/fools gold made many (delusional) men into happy gold panners, and much the same we’ve already read of philosophers who found their own version of “the truth” through discussion with themselves and others. Maybe one day while panning the bathtub someone else says they’ve found gold, but to you what someone else sees as gold could be just more sand. Who knows though, maybe fools gold will be valuable one day, and maybe David Hume was on the right track when he wrote his dialogue on the nature of Gods’ existence (mentioned in the Talk With Me reading). Unfortunately, for now fools golds’ only value is as a souvenir and David Hume wrote the phrase, “[A] planet, wholly inhabited by spiders, (which is very possible)”  in complete seriousness. So I guess philosophers are going to have to keep panning this large, large bathtub until they find their truth



Katie Crompton – Philosophy is a Garden

When asked to create a metaphor for philosophy, I immediately thought of philosophy as a garden. I know it’s super cheesy but bare with me. It works.

*Please note that each of these points relates to a slide on a Keynote that I don’t really need to post because it’s really just pretty pictures and lettering but I don’t have the ability to anyway, but I digress*

Soil: The soil is the starting point to a garden. In this instance I was the soil at the beginning of this course. I knew absolutely nothing about Philosophy or what this course would entail. If we relate this to Plato’s Cave, then the people stuck in the cave would be the soil. They are unenlightened. Everyone starts out as soil because everyone has some level of ignorance. But soil holds crucial nutrients that enable the garden to thrive so others may say that soil is a base of knowledge just waiting to be given the chance to be used and shown off.

Planting the Seeds: Planting the seeds is that initial spark or piece of knowledge that really starts your journey into discovering your philosophical identity and learning to have a love for wisdom. If that seed isn’t planted, you don’t get a plant, so some may say that if you never get that spark, you’ll never truly know where you stand philosophically and you’ll never be enlightened.

Roots: Once the seed begins to grow, roots spread out to soak up the nutrients in the soil. Roots relate to philosophy because if you have wisdom, you need to be able to obtain knowledge from numerous different places in numerous different areas. Roots also offer stability, so the more knowledge you gain, the more confidence you have in your beliefs.

Rain: Rain acts as dissent. Rain can be both beneficial and damaging depending on the species of plant as can dissent depending, depending on the people giving and receiving it. With some species, rain helps a plant thrive but with others, it damages it and tears it down. Sometimes, a differing opinion will help you understand things clearer and make you more confident. Other times, it can be toxic and make you doubt your own opinions and lose confidence in your beliefs.

Bees: Bees are extremely important. They pollinate which makes flowers blossom and stay alive. When you share your ideas and beliefs, whether it be on social media, a piece of writing, or just having a conversation, you are being a bee and pollinating. You are keeping your opinions alive by sharing them with the world.

Flowers vs. Fruit and Vegetables: Flowers, and fruits and vegetables represent two different kinds of ideas. Fruits and vegetables are ideas that have a clear application and can easily be used, just like how fruits and vegetables are meant to be eaten. Flowers on the other hand are very pretty, but they don’t really have a clear application or purpose other than smelling nice and sitting in a vase. Some may say that flower ideas are useless. But sometimes, flowers turn into fruit with time and effort, so ideas that may initially seem useless may eventually have an application.

Community Gardens: There is a large variety of plants in a community garden. Some species are put together, some purposefully split apart. It relates to philosophical discussion in the way that there are a lot of differing opinions and ideas that are all intermingled in a safe and free environment. It is this richness in variety that creates something beautiful.

And that’s my metaphor! Hopefully the cheese wasn’t too much




Rosa’s somewhat understanding of Philosophy (in words)

What does philosophy mean? I don’t f**king know, as of the moment, but with the little I do know philosophy is talking about the inevitable and unanswerable questions. It’s asking questions like “What does life really mean?” or “ Do we really have a choice.” But now that I am actually taking the course, sitting in class, I find myself knowing more each day, like how there is more to philosophy. That questions and such are just a small part of it, where philosophy is the ocean and there are so much for us to explore and learn. I don’t know much about it now, but I hope that would change.

“Courage is knowing what not to fear” – Plato

We were assigned an essay type of reading in the first week, where we had to highlight interesting or agreeable parts in it. The essay “Talk with Me” made me realize something, that if I wanted to exceed in the class it was to share my opinions and thoughts. Nigel Warburton wrote how the greatest philosophers isolated themselves to gather great ideas, but they were rather “misleading”. And this is where I find interesting, because that many of them were later found talking to other philosophers, or their imaginations. It’s interesting because it leans a little towards the psychological side of philosophy, yes philosophy and psychology is a “sibling subject,” according to Jbernal philosophers wonder how ones mind is or why they think that, and it’s because theirs psychology there to make us think that. Bring back to the essay knowing that even the great, needed someone to bounce their ideas off and challenge them is rather a big part of life, and to becoming better. Another thing that he wrote which I complete agree on is that when talking, its important to make sure we change the way we get information across to different audience. I relate to this in class since I find myself sitting there getting the first half, or parts of what they’re saying because the way they present themselves isn’t suited for me. But even though I don’t understand everything, the little I do understand is what keeps me from not dropping the class.

“It began with a sense of mystery, wonder, and confusion, and the powerful desire…” – Nigel Warburton

In conclusion I do find myself seating in class in confusion more than any other classes, like math, and even with this essay “blog” I’m still not sure if I’m doing this right but that’s the beauty of philosophy there isn’t a right or wrong. At the end of the semester it would be nice to know that I’ve changed, and like I said to not be scared to share my opinions or get intimidated by others judgements or their own opinions.

Here’s to a good semester.

wis philosophy?

what is philosophy?




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



#Philosophy12 in 2016: Introductory Readings, Documents of Learning, What is Philosophy?

Shuttleworth Bight

Just over a week into our course, Philosophy 12 moves into the digital today, with almost sixty new authors joining the site authorship and two new assignments beginning to take shape over the next few days. By the end of the week, our philosophers will be publishing their first Documents of Learning; as we look ahead at next week, the first signposts in our journeys toward developing personal definitions of “philosophy” itself in presentations to be delivered in class as well as posted to the blog.

In the meantime, I encourage new students to get to know this space: explore the subject categories, tags, and what past philosophy 12’ers have shared here. The site’s content runs from reflections, presentations, and critical analysis, to interesting videos people have made or found, archives of class discussions, and commentary offered by inquisitive minds beyond our school community.

To the first readings we have encountered this semester, I will add these past articles and essays with the hope that they help you further your thinking toward our first two assignments:

“Philosophy matters, simply, because the answers to philosophical questions matter. Not only is it a matter of life and death, but a matter of, to name a few examples, the nature of law, the role of language, where morality comes from, whether there is a God, whether there is a self and what constitutes our identity, and what beauty is. What makes these questions important is not only that they help societies to function (although they certainly do), but that they reflect something deeply fundamental about human beings: that we are physical creatures, but our consciousness is not restricted to physical matters. Indeed, philosophy is both reflective and perfective of human nature.”

“In most cases, obscurity is a defect, not a virtue, and undue concern with interpretation puts the focus on people rather than problems. It is not easy to write clearly, especially on philosophical topics, and it is risky. Clear writers stand naked before their critics, with all their argumentative blemishes visible; but they are braver, more honest and more respectful of the true aims of intellectual enquiry than ones who shroud themselves in obscurity.”

“The examined life does not need to be the life of the sage, removed from society in order to evaluate it impartially. In fact, in order for it to serve in guiding the lived experience of individuals, it is actually a deeply practical enterprise. Another Greek philosopher, Epicurus, believed that a philosophy that did not assist a person in living a flourishing life was akin to medicine that did not heal the body: it was pointless. This is a little extreme: in some fields such as metaphysics the practical implications may not be immediately evident and it would be foolish to expect them to be, but even in these cases, the knowledge obtained by such reflections can be, and should be, shared because knowledge itself can be a constitutive element of the good life.”



Philosophy is like a Constellation

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

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

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

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

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

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



Philosophy = Couch

In the very complicated equation that is my title, it states that philosophy is a couch.
Now you may not think these two ideas relate, but they do, and here is how:

  1. “Live Life Comfortably” – Lazyboy
    When couch-shopping, people often think of comfort as the number one condition their couch will need to have. We affiliate this cushioned chair as a place of rest or to feel relaxed. This is much like how humans want to feel when socializing. Philosophy is based on the principles of conversation and sharing ideas. If we do not feel comfortable to vocalize our opinions, then philosophy loses its meaning and appreciation.
    Lazyboy sums up the goals of philosophy pretty well – we should go through life seeking comfort. That can mean broadening our comfort zones and exploring new places while being free from judgement or discrimination.
  2. Personality
    Most couches are situated in a living room. And each couch is chosen to enhance or bring something intriguing to the space, but every one of us has a different style. Some will prefer the leather look while others will appreciate a more retro sofa. Each Philosopher in us has our own taste of philosophy. We could be really interested in space exploration or imagining the unseen. A great thing about philosophy is that we all look at it differently, a great example is  this project. With our own style comes a unique perspective into the equation that can enrich conversations and ideas.
  3. Function
    The cool thing about couches is how functional they actually are. We spend copious amounts of time using them to rest, relax, or entertain guests. They fill up space in a room and (hopefully) look pretty. The cool thing about philosophy is we all use it for a different purpose. Whether you are dying to discover the meaning of life or just trying to open up your mind to potential, we call this way of thinking “philosophy”. Its important to recognize that while your life’s work could be asking questions, my dream may be to think of the next best seller.


Philosophy is a couch because we need it to have comfort ability, personality, and function. Purpose and meaning give worth to the things we want to understand. With the diversity of both couches and philosophy, we as people are able to appreciate the opportunity of imagination.

You can philosophize the world right from your couch.







the door handle is the handshake of the building

Philosophy is like a door knob.

Each belongs to a different door, looks different, and leads to a different place, but they all do the same basic thing – they open a door. In my metaphor, the handle of the door is each individual question and each individuals opinion on a matter. What one see’s beyond the door is the answer, or philosophical gatherings of the person. What each person sees beyond the door depends on many different factors, like perception and place in life – it also is majorly what they want to see.

Doorknobs allow us to both open and close doors – revealing or ending a thought process or idea. No matter what someone sees, opening a door relates to philosophy in the way that everyone may have a different opinion of view but its all based on a similar open and philosophical mindset. Those who do not think openly prefer to stay behind the door, and not discover what lies beyond it.



A Dress, Perceptions, and Ideas

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we were asked to answer the question, what is philosophy? With such a broad concept, it is easier to compare it to something than it is to try and explain it. My conclusion was that philosophy is a lot like #thedress, which I’m sure you’ve heard of if you’ve been on the internet sometime in the past 8 months. If you haven’t, essentially it is a photo of a dress where some people view the dress colours to be white and gold, and some people view it as blue and black. I suggest looking it up, as it is very interesting. Below I will paste the link to a slideshow I used along with an edited script of my main points.

If you would like to view the slideshow, click here.

Main Points For Slideshow (edited to fit blog context)


Slide 1: “On February 25th, 2015 …. the internet was shaken by a photo of a dress. It caused many debates, and most people are quite over it now. Let’s take a look at how this internet phenomenon is like philosophy.”

Slide 2: I had a class take a vote of who sees the dress as what colours. We had a bit of disagreement on this issue, but isn’t that a lot like any issue? There will always be different viewpoints. Upon an initial viewing of this photo, with no additional knowledge, we did not know which answer was right and which was wrong. So both viewpoints had to be taken as equally valid. In philosophy, we look at ideas and concepts that we do not know a definite answer to. To be successful at expanding your idea of the world, you have to look at other people’s perspectives. Even if you still disagree at the end of the day, considering other viewpoints could lead you to new knowledge, and new questions.

Slide 3: So what happened when this picture showed up? Conversation. As my class had read about in the article Talk With Me by Nigel Warburton, philosophy is all about conversation. Now, in the case of the dress it was a mix between civil conversations and intense arguments. This can still line up with philosophy though. When we talk about philosophical issues that we personally care about, for example, what happens after we die, people will get passionate and try to explain why they think what they think. I saw many people arguing over the dress picture when it first came out, just like people will argue over complex topics such as morality.

Slide 4: So what colour was the dress? In real life, the owner has said it was blue and black. Still, people will defend that it isn’t. Why, after a truth has come out, do we still defend our old ideas? In our journey through philosophy, many times we are trying to find the ANSWER. Most of the time, we don’t. Some topics might not have an answer, but others do. People will all have opinions on topics, and since we don’t know the answer to those topics they are all equally valid points. But even if we know the answer, it can still be challenged. People will still say their opinion is truth.

Slide 5: So what is philosophy? Philosophy is topics that get people interested. Confused. Intrigued. Philosophy is taking in different viewpoints to expand your knowledge of life and the universe. Philosophy is trying to find an answer, and either accepting that there is no answer, or choosing what you will believe for yourself.


Though this perhaps only gives a basic idea of what philosophy is, the more time I spend studying philosophy, the more formed my ideas will become. Comment your ideas, opinions, or questions below!