One of the best bits about the IB Philosophy course is that it keeps philosophy ‘real’. I don’t mean that to sound quite as ‘street’ as it does but the arrangements ensure that the academic side will never become too separated from the real world.
Unfortunately SQA (Scottish) Philosophy does not have this link, although there are plenty of good teachers out there trying to forge it, and doing this despite massive time pressures. As someone who believes that philosophy too separtate from ‘real’ life is just plain boring I try to ensure that my students get this link better than their examinations authority.
Every year I ask my exam and core classes to find their own examples of musicians, filmmakers and artists ‘doing philosophy’. The sources they bring are invariably brillliant. Here are a few:
I think people in my class might be a little surprised to see this on my blog. It’s not really the sort of International Baccalaureate Philosophy Internal Assessment stimulus I would immediately think of. Having said that, it is probably proof that you could write your essay using nearly anything as your non-philosophical text.
I more than appreciate that this might not be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ but it is a pretty beautiful insight into (at least part of) what it means to be a person. I was made to think of a whole lot of philosophy: Wittgenstiein on behaviourism, Sartre’s account of intersubjectivity but perhaps more than anything (and this will be less surprising to my students) I thought of Kierkegaard on consciousness.
This Danish philosopher used the word ‘despair’ to describe human existence that manages to fulfil our created potential of becoming a ‘self’. Some people describe this as the gap between the ‘me I am’ and the ‘me I could be’. But ‘gap’ is a problematic word… It makes you think of le Néant in Sartre. And it is clear to see this influence of the Dane on the frenchman but Kierkegaard is talking about the way the two relate together. It is the relationship that can constitute myself. This is the difference between atheistic and religious existentialism. We know that SK thought we were created with and for this relational ability – that it is part of our design but also our potential (Evans). In 1846 he wrote that
“people in our time, because of so much knowledge, have forgotten what it means to exist”*
This is perhaps more true now than then, but in this clip Sandra Bullock shows she is not one of (or at least knows people that are not) those people. ‘Despair’ is a word that ‘turns off’ a lot of new Kierkegaard readers but what he means is not what one might initially think.
The tension that SB talks about, the ‘struggle’, is very close to what SK is on about. Now Kierkegaard thought that we could either avoid this reality or tackle it head on but only ever in a ‘difficult’ way. It is only the struggle towards a goal, the ‘relationship’ with that goal, that refuses to bury oneself in an objective system and does not hide from the ‘torn apartness’ of subjective experience that allows a human to claim to be a self in any real way.
I used ‘Yellow’ by Nathan Sawaya as an IB Philosophy Core Theme Paper 1 exam Stimulus a couple of years ago. I didn’t know a great deal about him but having watched the short video on youtube, I’m more convinced that his work would be an excellent thing to discuss in ib philosophy as well as in ToK (Theory of Knowledge).
You could talk about the relationship between maths and art in ToK, and even discuss topics like determinism and Sartre’s understanding of nothingness in the ‘What makes is ‘us’?’ section of the course. Awesome.
That’s because she understands the way things are…. People work together when it suits them, they’re loyal when it suits them, love each other when it suits them and they kill each other when it suits them… She knows it. You don’t.
Awesome for an internal assessment… watch this whole episode for a fairly convincing exposition of social contract theory.
In series three of ‘Game of Thrones’ there is a subtle but clever illustration of a criticism of the idea of God that was made by German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach . Feuerbach thought that theology was essentially anthropology, that is to say that when people speak of ‘God’ they are in fact speaking of some reflection or perhaps amplified ‘projection’ of what the know of humankind. He says:
God is man, man is God.
The idea is that the infinite Geist of Hegel is not something that originates outside of us but something that is grounded in our wishes, desires and understandings of ourselves.
In Game of Thrones this idea is particularly clear during the wedding ceremony of Edmure Tully and Roslin Fray (above). The icon at the front of the ceremony is the seven pointed star and the wording of the wedding vows include:
In sight of the seven.. say the words “Father, Smith, Warrior, Mother Maiden, Crone and Stranger, I am hers and she is mine…
It’s almost as though the whole concept of The Seven and even the concept of ‘everythingness’ has its origins in the experience of living in the seven kingdoms.
‘Philosophy TV’ is a site of which I was previously unaware. I haven’t watched any of the videos yet – but looking at the names and the discussion topics, it could be very useful. Let me know if you find anything good…
Bioethics bites was around at the beginning of philosophy bites and you may have listened to a few of these without really knowing where they were from. They are full of really useful information that will help you to gain top evaluating marks in the exam…