All posts by Will B

The Arts

I believe the arguments in “Knowledge and the Arts” and “Taste for Makers” are persuasive, However, there is something to be said about the arguments made in both “Taste for Makers” and “Knowledge and the Arts”.

Through art of all sorts, we reflect on who we are, where we are and what life is for. Through art, We explore what it means to be human. We search for wisdom. What could be more essential than that? (Knowledge and the Arts, [11])

We may learn a lot from the arts, like who we are and where we are, but if they are so essential, then why are they always the first subject group to be removed from schools as soon as there is a budget cut? With this logic, can we not make the assumption that the core subjects (math, language and the sciences) are more important than the arts?

Paul Graham stated in “Taste for Makers” that

It’s a matter of pride, and real pleasure to get better at your job. But if your job is to design things, and there is no such thing as beauty, then there is no way to get better at your job. If taste is just personal preference, then everyone’s is already perfect: you like whatever you like, and that’s it. [2]

If everything is already perfect and there is no such thing as beauty, then why do people spend their entire careers trying to design and build more beautiful and modern ideas and concepts? How can they get better at their job if there is no way to create something beautiful? If everybody has a different taste, is there a way to please everyone?

The arguments in both of these articles were persuasive and made me think about what the arts are and how they encourage me to think deeply about what the arts can teach me. They help us figure out who we are and why we are here. I believe that music is a great way to be able to express oneself in a way that only means something to the composer. If I write a song about something tragic that happened in my life, others will be able to tell that it is a sad song but the piece only means something significant to me. That helps the composer thing about who they are and their place in the world, as well as helping others find out who they are.


Imagination plays too important a role in the writing of history, and what is imagination but the projection of the author’s personality.

—Pieter Geyl

This quotation felt powerful as it made me realize that the people who write history can write it in a way that can express their emotions and how they feel about the subject. This can affect the way the people that read their books and how they understand what they are reading. If the author is writing about something they are not passionate about, they could not explain it very well or go into much depth. On the other hand, if they are writing about something they find interesting they might go into much greater depth and write in a more persuasive manner. This quotation makes us think about how we might need to look at multiple different sources to get the information we need in an unbiased way. Also, reading multiple different documents from different sources might help us get different views and opinions about history.

Something else that really made me think was the document “Analyzing a Historical Document”. It is all about how to look at different historical documents. There are seven different ways to look at a historical document or seven different ways to analyze a particular document. The one way that I found most interesting was number two. “What are the Physical Characteristics of the document?” I found this the most interesting as it talks about how we can tell if the document is fake or has been tampered with or if it is the original document or not. All this makes History an interesting AOK as there are so many different paths to look at and how we interpret what we read is completely up to us. I think that studying this AOK can make us think about what we read and how we read it. How can we really know what is accurate about history and what is not? Everything that we know about history is from history books and studying history in school. None of us were there when what we are learning about in school actually happened so everyone is affected by how the authors of history books write and that can really affect how we view History as an AOK.


Something that I found very interesting about the articles that I read was in the article titled “Narrative science”. One statement in this article caught my eye. I was talking about how putting information and lessons into a story format can improve the learning outcomes in the students. I found that interesting as I think that I would learn better is all my lessons were in a story format. In the article Until lions learn to write, the quote said “Until lions learn to write, every story will always glorify the hunter.” I found that interesting because it made me realize that every story told abut going hunting is only from one perspective. We do not know what is going through the mind of the animal before it is hunted. When people tell stories, they are always from one perspective. That of the storyteller. It becomes easy to have bias in ones stories. The next article that I read was called Two Stories. In story number one, it talks about the different between smart and lazy people. It says that smart people get jobs and become successful, and that lazy people become bums and live off of their parents for the rest of their lives. I believe that is true because is one does not be proactive and work for what they want, then they will never get what they want. in story number two, it talks about how some people are born with more privileges than others. I found this interesting as I think that is it true. It can depend on where one is born and when one is born. This can affect how ones story is told as it can possibly change ones view on the subject of freedom and how one views what certain rights and privileges are. This next document I think is the most interesting one. It states that storytelling is how we know most of what we know – or think we know. This statement hit different because basically all learning that we do in school is a story of what has happened in the past. That was a big realization for me. WE learn a lot from just listening to what is going on around us and what is being said to us wither by teachers who are retelling what has happened in the past of even just what has happened to people that we know more like what has happened at work that day or something else that someone thought was interesting.

False Positives

The human science that I am studying is Economics. In economics, false positives could be present if someone came up with some numbers that weren’t backed up by evidence or they calm up with some numbers to make themselves look better in the world of economics. This could be bad for the world because if someone had to make a difficult decision. For example, choosing whether or not to create subsidies for a certain industry, the false information could really hurt the economy of that country. Sometimes it can be really difficult to spot and call out false positives especially if the data was accumulated over multiple years as this would be hard to re-create. This could affect whole countries at a time as people would stop believing the economic information and how the country is standing in the economic world.


The three parts that I liked about the chapter “is a two way relationship between emotions and beliefs” [150], that emotions provide us with energy to “engage in intellectual activity” [150] and that emotions are an obstacle to knowledge. I liked these in particular as when I read them I thought and realized that in fact some of these things I have noticed before but only realized when I read the chapter.

The part that interested me the most in this chapter is on page 150. it states that emotions affect our beliefs and our beliefs affect our emotions. I think this is really interesting as it makes me think about what I believe and why I believe. It also means that if there is a change in our beliefs, then that could affect our emotions in both a positive of negative way. Emotions can be both physical and mental. This means that they can be affected by our bodies. For example if something hurts us physically then that could affect us in a negative way as we might have a bad day after that and that could greatly affect our mood. If something hurts us mentally then the same could happen and we could have a really bad day and not feel very good. Emotion can be changed but sometimes it can be extremely challenging.

Are There Universal Moral Values?

I believe that there are universal moral values. Even though we all come from different cultures and backgrounds there are some things that we all believe. For example, all humans believe that it is a nice thing to do to say hello when you see someone you know on the street or in the hallway at school. I believe that this is a universal moral value as even though we do not see it being done all the time in different countries we can trust that it happens. This is one example of a universal moral value, Kindness.

Another example that I feel is a universal moral value is that we treat all people the same. This doesn’t always happen for various reasons but at one point in time everyone has treated other people like equals. For example, if you saw someone on the streets begging for change, we do not know what he/she went through to get to where they are now. It is assumed to be morally correct to be nice to people who have it harder than us in life and are struggling to make ends meet. one would want others to do the same for us if we were in that situation.

These are just two examples of universal moral values, and I believe that there are many more.

Key terms in ethics

After reading all the key terms in ethics, the one I relate to the most is consequentialism. I like it because it talks about how one’s decision changes based on the situation. What I mean by this is for example, if I see someone almost getting run over by a car, and I jump in to save them, but break one of their ribs in the process, it is for the best as I was able to save a life. Because a life was saved, my actions which bring harm, are acceptable. In this case, I would have made my decision based on what the outcome would be. My actions would be judged by the outcome.

Ethics AOK

Usually, my gut reaction is what I might go by to tell me that something is right. It is like a light bubbly warm feeling in my stomach which makes me think about what is happening. I know that something is good (or bad) first by the rules that humans follow and secondly, by what has been successful in the past. For example, this past summer I was working as a sailing coach and noticed many things that I felt were right. One time a young sailor saw someone else struggling to set up their boat in the morning. Right away, she came quickly to help as best she could. I felt this was right because she did not have to help but she did anyway.

Slothful Induction

The part that struck me as the most interesting thing that we read in class was the section about slothful induction. it is about denying something that obviously happened.

Hugo has had twelve accidents in the last six months, yet he insists that it is just a
coincidence and not his fault. (Inductively, the evidence is overwhelming that it is his
fault. This example borrowed from Barker, p. 189) [pg. 3]

I particularly liked this example because it made me laugh and made me think of how often I have come across this form of induction. I think that this is the easiest form of induction because to use it you just have to deny that whatever happened is not your fault.

Meno Part Five

The part that I liked the most out of part five of Plato’s Meno is at the beginning. Socrates is speaking to Meno about how people “teach” virtue.

Then are we to call those persons teachers of this thing, when they do not even agree on that great question? [39]

Socrates is saying, “How can we call these people teachers if we cannot even agree if virtue can actually be taught? How can they teach it if they do not know the answer? How does this make all of our teachers teachers? Do they know the answers to what they are teaching? If there is no answer to a question how do we learn what it means?”

This quotation made me think about how teachers actually teach so that students want to learn.

Meno Part 3-4

The part that made me think the most about parts three and four of Plato’s Meno was when they were discussing whether men are good by nature or if they have to be taught to be good. I liked this part because it made me think about what I considered to be good or not.

Then if this is so, good men cannot be good by nature. [31]

This was the sentence that made me think the most about if we are taught to be good or if we are good by nature. It was said by Socrates after they were discussing if virtue can be taught or not. I liked it because it made me think about if virtue can be taught or not.

Meno Part Two

The part I liked most in part two of Meno occurred when Socrates asked Meno if he could gain knowledge if he did not already have an opinion of something. This part made me think about what I knew and what I only thought I knew.

I understand the point you would make, Meno. Do you see what a captious argument you are introducing–that, forsooth, a man cannot inquire either about what he knows or about what he does not know? For he cannot inquire about what he knows, because he knows it, and in that case is in no need of inquiry; nor again can he inquire about what he does not know, since he does not know about what he is to inquire. [16]

I think that this was the most interesting part of the story because I liked how Socrates made the reader think differently about what we know and how we know it. Socrates says how can you ask about something that you do not know because you would not know what to ask. In my opinion, if I don’t know how something works, I will inquire about it. Anyway, that was the part that made me think the most.

Meno Response

I found the paper titled MENO slightly hard to read because it is very philosophical. The part that struck me as the most intriguing was when Meno asked Socrates what he thinks of colour. Then Socrates stalls for a bit and then finally answers Meno.

And what do you say of color, Socrates?

How overbearing of you, Meno, to press an old man with demands for answers, when you
will not trouble yourself to recollect and tell me what account Gorgias gives of virtue!
When you have answered my question, Socrates, I will answer yours.
One might tell even blindfolded, Meno, by the way you discuss, that you are handsome
and still have lovers.
Why so?
Because you invariably speak in a peremptory tone, after the fashion of spoilt beauties,
holding as they do a despotic power so long as their bloom is on them. You have also, I
daresay, made a note of my weakness for handsome people. So I will indulge you, and
You must certainly indulge me.
Then would you like me to answer you in the manner of Gorgias,2 which you would find
easiest to follow?
I should like that, of course.
Do not both of you say there are certain effluences of existent things, as Empedocles
And passages into which and through which the effluences pass?
To be sure.
And some of the effluences fit into various passages, while some are too small or too
That is so.
And further, there is what you call sight?
So now “conceive my meaning,” as Pindar says: color is an effluence of figures,
commensurate with sight and sensible.

I don’t know why Socrates, let’s say, held back his answer for a little bit, but in the end, he did answer. I agree that colour is just a flow of figures and is equal with sight and sensibility. I liked this part of the conversation because when Meno first asked Socrates about colour, Socrates replied with a bit of sarcasm which I liked. I also liked the fact that Socrates goes very deep into his thoughts and give an answer that is full of wisdom even though Socrates made it simpler so that Meno could understand better.