Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Weekly Essay by Gus Simpson (H3 I think)

People are weird. We are a massive evolutionary success. We are brilliant.  We can deduce and infer and pattern match like no other. We have sent people to the moon. We have probes that have left our solar system. We have a vast understanding of objects in our sky that only appear as points of light. We have an interconnected world. All of our species work in the acquisition of knowledge is available at the query of a device that sits in our pockets.

Poverty. War. Oppression. Bigotry. Malnourishment. Illiteracy. Discord. Dissonance.

These are things that still plague us, and are likely to plague us for a long time. We will resist alliances with people on other plots of land because the supernatural entity they believe in isn't the same as theirs. We will kill one another for what they believe. We will supported political candidates who boisterously condone these problems with policies that perpetuate them. We will deny people food and water and shelter because they don't possess enough paper. We construct entire massive civilizations around the idea that money has value, leaving many, many people without it and suffering.

People are weird.
Do you agree with the ancient Greeks that a lasting reputation is "the only kind of immortality for which we may hope"? 
I believe this particular question can be answered several different ways given the several different definitions of immortality among people but I think that human beings need not fancy about immortality and mortality. I'd say the simple answer is to live as though each passing day was your last. The idea of death is what gives one the feeling of being alive. The quotation in the question is phrased to express a negative connotation surrounding death when in fact there is nothing dark or gloomy about it at all. 

I believe hoping for something as bizarre as immortality will only lead to regret and disappointment. As soon as a person understands that he/she has a finite existence, their life will exhibit significance. Although this is extremely arguable in the particular world we live in especially here at MTSU, I think the biggest sin is to falsely suggest there is a such thing as immortality and if you live a certain lifestyle you will be guaranteed it. Simply believing in  immortality is a selfish desire that only harbors adverse characteristics such as greed, impatience, and arrogance.  

I disagree with the ancient greeks about their one form of immortality. If humans didn't waste their time on self-veneration the world would present less evils. Commandments such as respect thy neighbor would become commonplace. Wars would not be fought because no one would feel the need to be a victor. Human beings would be instead of always wanting to be something. Immortality is out of the reach of humans therefore it doesn't need to pondered. There are plenty of tangible questions and problems that should be addressed before something as ludicrous as "immortality."

NASA's Budget

I feel like there is a lot of stuff NASA is not telling us. I can’t understand why we haven’t gone back to the moon. Why there aren’t more people going into space. How we could get into space with less technology than we have in our phones today, but can’t figure out a way to get people into space now. Why we're putting so much money into “discovering” new frontiers in space and the vast unknown, instead of putting that money into something that will help us as a people. Instead of the Space Program we could be trying to save our planet that we live on, and our children and their children will one day live on. It almost feels selfish to put so much money into trying to find exo-planets and water on mars, when we have a planet with people who are dying every day, from malnutrition, starvation, thirst, cancer, etc. I don’t feel like we should try to discover anything in space until we have taken care of our own world and those who live on it. What good is going into space and walking on the moon when we can’t find a cure for cancer or find a way to stop ISIS? We need to find solutions to solve our everyday problems first before we can go out and possibly cause more problems in the vast unknown. I don’t agree with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, we don’t need to double NASA’s budget, we need to cut it and put it into something to better our world.


My weekly essay is based on the DQ question: Do you acknowledge the authority of any individuals or institutions to interpret the truth for you? Why or why not?

No, I do not allow anyone to tell me what the “truth” is, because I will only accept MY truth. HOWEVER, I will accept council and opinions to help construct my opinions, but they are my opinions. A simple example is reading- not everything that is written down is true, but many often choose to accept it as truth with little-to-no proof.

Also, I accept the fact that there is more than one truth. EX- Someone is killed in a grocery store. Now, even though all the witnesses were present at the same event, every person will have a different rendition. This is because everyone has their own frame of reference, shaped by their knowledge, education, experience, and personal values. This often makes it hard to determine the truth. Someone could be insistent that one thing happened, while someone else insists something else happened. This doesn't necessarily mean that one is lying, or even that one is wrong. It only means that they viewed an action through different frames of reference.

One of the major issues of today is that many people don’t believe or accept that there can be more than one, universal truth. The reason that there is more than one is because people see through their own frame of reference, which is unique to each individual.

So no, I do not allow others to tell me what is true or not true, because there are many truths, and I choose to create and believe my own.

Does Movement Alone Help You Think? 


I very much believe that walking has at least some merit when it comes to a person's ability to think. I would not call myself a peripatetic but I do have a tendency to pace while trying to think up solutions for problems or just dreaming up new ideas. I write fiction as a hobby and quite a few of my better ideas have occurred to me while I was pacing around my home. Just something about moving on my own legs (as apposed to other forms of movement such as driving) seems to stimulate the creative juices.

However, when I am walking is not the only time I think up ideas. The other times I often have my "epiphanies" are when I am not doing anything, such as when I'm lying in bed trying to sleep or taking a shower. Which makes me wonder, "is it really the movement of walking that allows people to think, not just philosophically but also creatively, or is it something else?" Perhaps walking has something to do with it, but I know I'm not pacing around while in my tub or while trying to sleep. I know that for me the common denominator between these activities is one thing: I am totally left alone with my thoughts. There are no other distractions. No technology, no people talking to me, nothing. Just me and my thoughts. When I am walking, or resting, or bathing I am not focused on what is going on in the world around me but instead I am focused on what is going on internally. 

So is it really the movement of walking that helps people think? Or rather is it that when a person walks they are also separating themselves from the troubles of the outside world long enough to let their mind speak to them? Maybe even both? 

The Man of Many Thoughts


As I read through The History of Western Philosophy I come to make a realization. As I started the CoPhilosophy class last week, I walked in without really thinking I had a favorite philosopher. I just knew many different Philosophies. But reading more about Socrates I come to realize his ideas are quite realistic in my opinion and I enjoy reading about his past above the others. One such ideal I read on page 88 dealt with politics. The book merely states that Socrates “goes on to say that in politics no honest man can live long” which can be said about even todays political game. Now I do not dabble in politics (much like Socrates) mostly because it’s a very touchy subject for anyone involved. But corruption and bribery are real things that have been found numerous times. That’s all I will state on that matter. Socrates continues to even state that he had a little voice in his head that “never commands me to anything” but it did forbid him from other things. Could this be considered a godly presence? If so, that could contradict what he was accused of before being put to death. His “corruption” of the young minds was merely an awaking into a new school of thought that many simpletons could not comprehend or chose not to comprehend out of spite or fear. With the many enemies Socrates made, it is no wonder that the simplest thing would lead to his doom or downfall in the eyes of the people. Although his death was not horrific as many would think mostly because Socrates sought comfort in the unknowns of the afterlife where many today find uncertainty and fear. All of could use that same conviction in life, the idea that making a certain choice could be a lot better than the worse idea on the planet.
 This being my second official week being a college student, it is safe to say my life is overwhelmed with change. I live in a new place, I interact with new people, I am experiencing so many new things, and its very easy to become overwhelmed. I find myself stressing more and more everyday and the root of this is stress is change. As a Music Industry Major I am required to take Music Theory I and today we discussed a very interesting piece of history; many pre-socratic philosophers came to believe that the most basic essence of existence is change and in reverse, the basic essence of divinity is changelessness. I cannot think of a more fitting sentiment for my life as of right now, and I believe that this has to do a lot with the the paripatetic school of that. If we accept what Gros says about walking being an escape from all the commotion of work and life, and if the basic essence of existence is change, then we can assume that walking acts as an escape from change. But if wandering is an escape from change then it must be changeless and in turn, it must be a divine act. Not a divine act in some biblical sense, but a type of divinity which is incredibly personal while being shared by every human on earth. The kind of divinity I'm speaking of is the one which exists in the sense of awe you get when seeing a sky full of stars or a beautiful work of art. Its the feeling of eternity and our brief ever-changing time spent within it.

David Cooper (H2)
First Paripatetic Walk H2

In our first walk, my group discussed a few topics. For example, the relationship between the emergence of the first bipedal humans and a jump in intellectual capacity. We also discussed the idea that the reason for which there seems to be more interest in space than the bottom of the ocean, could be an inherent fascination in whats above us, or even greater than us.

David, Andrew, Jarred

First Parapatetic Walk H3

On our first parapatetic walk, we began by discussing the merits of walking and it's legitimacy as a sport. We pondered the idea that it used to be an extremely popular sport, but as many other sports have been introduced into popular culture it's merits have decreased. I believe this is due to the corporations such as ESPN that have put focus on newer sports such as football and basketball that are more interesting to watch and create large amounts of revenue. However, while walking may not be as popular as it once was, I believe that there is still legitimacy in it as a sport, even if it is not interesting to most people.

Intent of Thinking (H3)

     On my way to class this morning, I realized most people do not walk with the intent of thinking. Most people walk with the intent of reaching a destination. I walked with the purpose of reaching my class on time, as were the many students I passed. But why can't people do both? Why can't people think on their way? Probably because they are in a rush and/or on their cell phones, at least I am. I'll be listening to music and texting, not even bothering to look up to see who I'm passing. People are so caught up in what so-and-so texted them or where they have to be next that there is simply no time for philosophical thoughts. I disagree with the idea that “…perhaps we do not walk because there are no sidewalks” (Orlet) because even if there were more sidewalks, humans would still be caught up in their every day lives. They can't stop rushing around long enough to go for a walk without having an end destination. There are way too many distractions around to think clearly, such as cell phones, schedules, and noise in general. I find it best to go somewhere more secluded in order to clear my mind. Hiking or walking in a park surrounded my nature can inspire and encourage profound thoughts. Unfortunately, most people today won't set aside the time to go for a stroll especially if there is no destination. Perhaps if they did, though, they could put their lives into a different perspective.

H01 Peripatetic Walk

Our group mainly discussed how our size even affects our impact. We agreed that the universe's size has no affect on the impact of our lives, as they are still important and influential.

Our Impact On The Universal Ocean (H01)

Previously, we have talked about our impact on the universe. I like to believe that while we are only the tiniest fraction of our universe, I like to believe that we are as important and as vital as the vast solar systems around us. I believe our impact should not be measured in things such as wealth and power, but with influence. For example, I believe that a single mom who gives her all to provide for her children has much more influence that any celebrity. Not only are her children influenced by her, but those around her are also influenced as they see how hard one works to provide for his or her family. This impact that we have causes a huge shift of the world around us, even by the simplest of means. Something one person says in this philosophy class could cause any one of us to change our entire views, and therefore our lives. This is simply the choices we make at an individual level, but the choices we make as a society, a nation, or a world can make an even bigger affect. It was discussed before about the earth-like planet discovered near Proxima Centauri. If our planet so decided that we would venture to this planet, our society would cause a huge impact on not just our world, but our whole universe. Decisions like this are built by each individual's thoughts and opinions. I agree with the analogy that our universe is a deep and great ocean. When individuals take action, little ripples spread across the surface, but quickly dissipate. When those ripples join together, huge waves begin to form, and those waves can change the whole current of the ocean.

As the famous Doctor Who said, "Nine hundred years of time and space and I've never met anybody who wasn't important before." I agree that we are all small and minuscule in the universe, but our actions and decisions make an impact that may outlast ourselves for centuries.


     It seems most people have a sort of visceral reaction to the implications of being on our ‘pale blue dot’ all alone and floating in a vast emptiness on the edge of our galaxy. One classmate mentioned that his reaction, essentially, was that the size of our bodies compared to our planet compared to the universe ultimately has no immediate effect on his life; therefore, he has no plan to make any sort of fuss over the matter. Others expressed that the scale is simply an obstacle to overcome on our way to new frontiers, and another selection of students voiced that if contact were to happen in the tiny blips we call our lifetimes, a foreign life form will need to be the ones to make the call. Our minuscule rock has many facets, and I believe the microorganisms we call humans shine the brightest. Not because of what we are but because we have the ability to know who we want to become.

     It took billions of years, according to our current estimations, to finally arrive at a species complex enough to understand what it is. Only now is that species beginning to take its first steps, and the walk has not been far, especially with the backwards steps it tends to take. The ultimate irony in this little species, at least at this distance in its walk, is that the realization of who they are tugs along the realization of how insignificant they are in the grand scheme of things. For many generations they will be powerless and anxious for their future. Only 2% of a difference in DNA separates the worrisome humans from the blissful monkeys, who are free to spend their generations wild and carefree until the ultimate end they will never see coming.

The first walk (H3)

Our group started off wondering how the outdoors affects our thinking in terms of philosophy and how walking can guide, or lack thereof, our thinking. We got sidetracked by a coffee stand but it made an excellent point about what could have influenced the ancient, as well as the modern, philosophers. We concluded that solitary thinking promotes problem solving, but having distractions can promote new ideas.

Utopia H3

     Plato's definition of Utopia and my own differ vastly. As described in A History of Western Philosophy, Plato's perfect form of government is different from what most would think. He believes that only the "wise" should be in charge. The wise include people who are disciplined morally, the educational elite, and the leisurely rich. So, basically Plato calls for a mix of an oligarchy and an aristocracy. He believes that this elitist form of government would put the wise in charge and therefor create the most effective government.
      Now, while Plato's utopia would indeed be efficient, it would not work out well in the long run. Governments that don't give everyone a voice and an impact are unmoral. And how can it be wise to be unmoral? Therefor Plato's utopia is unwise. People tend to revolt when they don't have a voice. In fact, the American colonies broke away from England for just that reason. Countries in the world that have oligarchical and aristocratic principles include North Korea and China. These countries are no popular immigration destination for a reason. They are similar to Sparta, Plato's favorite state, in the aspect of "communist" form of government. The idea of everyone being equal sounds good in theory, until babies are killed for being different and the State controls every important aspect of one's life. I think that government should care for all of its people, which communism aims to do; however, communism only cares for all the people that the State deems beneficial, or exploitable. For this reason, I am against communism and rather for democratic socialism in which everyone gets a voice and an impact, and the government makes sure everyone is taken care of. So, my idea of utopia is a government ruled by the people, that cares for all of its people while simultaneously guarantying the freedom and rights of the people.

3 Types of Walking

There are, I believe, to be 3 different types of walking: walking to get somewhere, walking to think or clear your mind, and walking to lose yourself. 
The first is walking to get somewhere. This is where someone is walking to get from point A to point B typically not thinking about much else except getting to the destination. This is the most basic in that it is what everyone does everyday. As humans, we are constantly rushing about to our next destination to complete some sort of task. This form of walking leaves no time for thinking or asking questions.
The second type of walking is the kind where we walk to clear our heads and to think about questions we have in our lives and the world around us. This is what I like to call philisophical/parapatetic walking because during this time, we usually ask the big questions  and ponder the answers even if there isnt a definite answer. Typically we do not perform this type of walking anymore because we are too busy in our day to day lives to take time to just walk and think. 
Lastly is the type of walking where the goal is to just lose yourself, where you become one with the world around you and bring peace to your mind. This I find is usually best accomplished in nature because it is easy to just look around and obvserve the beauty of this world without thinking and just being. This is my personal favorite type of walking because I enjoy the peace of mind that it brings me throughout our busy day to day lives.

The Philosophy of Philosophy (H3)

As Bertrand Russell's definition of philosophy leads us to believe, philosophy is a combination of religion and science that meets in the middle. This shows us how each persons personal philosophy is different. Some people may take science so seriously that that is all they believe in, supported by facts and evidence. Some people are so religious that they question nothing outside those beliefs. But I don't see a good reason as to why our answers to these huge questions can't be explained by both, working together.

Carl Sagan pointed out to us how everything we have ever known in our small lives are restricted to that one "pale blue dot" swallowed by the immense black universe, and whether or not there ever would be anyone else around to help us when the time came. Science has allowed us to explore that infinite black space around us to discover more about our being, while religion has allowed us to feel strength that we are not alone and that there is a greater being looking down on us with love. Science is what gives us the explanation of how our world works, and religion gives us comfort as to why our world works. Science gives us ways to keep our environment stable so humans can continue to exist, while religion gives us the purpose to continue on. Without both of these elements, one would be missing a large part of our existence as a race. Our philosophy of philosophy as humans should be to try to better see and understand the relationship between the two, in order to understand our meaning and our being.

Happy birthday Maria Montessori

It's the birthday of Maria Montessori (books by this author), born on this day in Chiaravalle, Italy (1870). She was a bright student, studied engineering when she was 13, and — against her father's wishes — she entered a technical school, where all her classmates were boys. After a few years, she decided to pursue medicine, and she became the first woman in Italy to earn a medical degree. It was so unheard of for a woman to go to medical school that she had to get the approval of the pope in order to study there.
As a doctor, she worked with children with special needs, and through her work with them she became increasingly interested in education. She believed that children were not blank slates, but that they each had inherent, individual gifts. It was a teacher's job to help children find these gifts, rather than dictating what a child should know. She emphasized independence, self-directed learning, and learning from peers. Children were encouraged to make decisions. She was the first educator to use child-sized tables and chairs in the classroom.
During World War II, Montessori was exiled from Italy because she was opposed to Mussolini's fascism and his desire to make her a figurehead for the Italian government. She lived and worked in India for many years, and then in Holland. She died in 1952 at the age of 81.
She wrote many books about her philosophy of education, including The Montessori Method (1912), and is considered a major innovator in education theory and practice.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

My Solace is Among Books (H3)

Where it seems that many great philosophers find solace in nature, I have always found solace in books. Where others look to the sky and are overwhelmed by the vastness of the universe and their small corner of it; I have always wondered at the vastness of the human imagination. How could something so large, something that could create so many things be living in one person's head? Among books, I will find millions of different universes, all tiny and living in a world all their own, a world few appreciate, a library. My aversion to the outdoors has on many occasions led me to seek comfort among the books, thinking, reading, writing. There are no "bookish" questions, creative answers are no more likely to come while in nature than while surrounded by books, because books are made of someone's creativity.
I think that I may become peripatetic, if only to ponder the world in relation to the vastness of the human imagination. Of course though, all of my walking will be done among the books.

“A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man's mind can get both provocation and privacy.” - Edward P. Morgan

Where a walk in nature might temporarily help one lose their identity, I tend to find that books often help me find my personality more clearly. Where on a walk in nature, personal identity is lost an one becomes inherently more aware of the surroundings around them, in books one lives many different lives and has many different thought processes, they loses themselves thrice over. When they do find themselves to be themselves again, their prospective on problems are only wider.

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.” - William Styron

(257 words (excluding the quotes))

Pale Blue Dot - H1

Watching Carl Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot" brings several interesting points of view to the surface. Many of the things that he saying in his narrative are often the same thoughts I have whenever I have the chance to stargaze. Sometimes it can be overwhelming just thinking of the vastness of our universe... And in all it's wonder and mystery are many questions that we will likely never know the answer to - such whether or not humans have a purpose aside from simply existing, whether or not there is a god (or gods), if fate is actually a thing, etc. Furthermore, it puts into perspective how trivial and insignificant our problems here on earth are on the scale of everything. For me, it's relieving.
Philosophy can be both an effect and cause of the character of various communities in which different systems flourish. Philosophy is a product of one or two factors: one, inherited religious and ethical conceptions; the other, the sort of investigation which may be called “scientific” (Pg. xiii). Philosophy can help us discover our way through cosmic loneliness. Ever since men became capable of free speculation, their actions, in innumerable important respects, have depended upon their theories as to the world and human life, as to what is good and what is evil. To understand an age or a nation, we must understand its philosophy, and to understand the philosophy, we must ourselves be, in some degree, philosophers (Pg. xiv).
I read over previous text we have studied to get a better understanding of what philosophy really is and what it stands for. I summarized a few concepts above. My interpretation of the text is a glimpse into the true nature of the human mind. We as humans on planet Earth are here to discover not only the universe itself but how we belong to it and how we are part of the collective cosmic energy. Different cultures, ancient and modern, have influenced our ways of theology today. In the last peripatetic discussion I had with a few classmates, we contemplated the idea of how religion plays a role concerning the development of philosophical thoughts and questions. It was interesting how we could discuss opposing theories and never end up coming up with a conclusion as to how and why we are all here. It felt as though we were talking in circles and kept getting closer to a what-seemed-like-realistic theory, but then we were bombarded with thoughts such as, well, where did the universe come from? Will it ever come to an end? What is the true meaning of life from the perspective of another human vs. from the perspective of the universe around us? There are so many answers to seek and so many questions to ask that bring you right back to the same place you started. So, with that being said, why study philosophy? Within the first few chapters of The History of Western Philosophy, I had discovered the reason for myself; to come to a better understanding and well-roundedness with the world around us. I think in order to create a better futuristic environment for the human race we must question everything and ponder these thoughts in order to thrive and survive as a species.