The ‘Power’ of Philosophy

An inside look at the Philosophy elective with Mrs. Powers.

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“The thing that I love about Philosophy is that regardless of whether you’ve spent your life studying philosophy or whether you just woke up and put on your camera, everyone has a take, everyone has an opinion.”

Alefiya Presswala, Bear Hub Staff

Who are we? Do we actually have morals? Are we selfish or unselfish people? How can one live a happy life? These are all questions that Philosophy students at EBHS attempt to answer. Right now, the question they are focusing on is: Free Will or Determinism? Do we have free will to make our own choices or is everything determined for us before we are even born?  Mrs. Powers gives us a sneak peek into this unit and what it includes:

 

Q: IN YOUR OPINION WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF PHILOSOPHY?

A: Our Philosophy course is actually a survey course, it’s a light version of a college level Philosophy course. We try to study not just the main figures of philosophy, but we get into a number of surface level issues- like Free Will and Determinism. We try to ask questions and learn about the world but also ourselves.

 

Q: WHY DO YOU INCLUDE FREE WILL AND DETERMINISM IN THE CURRICULUM?

A: Free Will is your role as an individual to have agency in your life and to think about how the choices you make are actual choices that are not planned for you. One notion that resonates with a lot of students is this notion of pre-determinism, which is this divine entity that has a plan for you. It’s this nice idea of, like, destiny and maybe everything does happen for a reason and it comforts you. I think this unit may be able to answer a lot of questions about things about like, ‘why is this happening to me?’ Another way to think about it is like you’re here with me right now because you took my Philosophy class and you took my Philosophy class because someone recommended it to you, or you just like thinking about these things, and maybe you like thinking about these things because you read a lot, and these things go back to way before you were born, to maybe your cavemen ancestors; everything you have done so far has led up to this moment. I love exploring these ideas because my students always bring something new to the table. If we do have Free Will, I think our first act should be to prove it.

 

Q: PART OF THIS UNIT IS TO EXPLORE YOUR OWN ‘ORIGIN STORY’ AND ALL PAST MOMENTS THAT MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE LED UP TO WHERE WE ARE TODAY. CAN YOU SHARE YOUR OWN ‘ORIGIN STORY’ ?

A: Yeah, I’ll share mine in terms of Philosophy. In high school, I was never the best student, but I did always have that English major brain- I loved to read and write. I never had any particularly inspiring teachers or any teachers that cared what I thought. In college, I was an English major with a concentration in secondary education. We had to take these elective courses and one of the classes I took was Intro to Philosophy. My professor, Dwight Goodyear, was sooo incredibly inspiring. I left class every day in awe. As I was close to graduating, I learned that I was 6 credits shy of majoring in Philosophy and I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll take those 2 extra courses’. When I told my parents I was majoring in Philosophy, they said, ‘Well, what are you going to do with that?’ and I said, ‘I’m gonna be a scholar. I’m gonna think.’ In those courses I took, I was kind of able to choose what I wanted to do and study and what path I wanted to take. Being able to steer a conversation a different way, and be flexible and respond, and create these ideas is one of my favorite things. It’s one of the things that makes this class so enjoyable. There are very few high schools that even offer courses like this, so we’re really lucky that EB does.

Madison Fahkrzadeh (11), pictured in the bottom right corner, explains that “our Philosophy class isn’t that big, but it allows for us to have really cool, close-knit conversations.”

 

As Mrs. Powers said, we are lucky that EB offers Philosophy as a course. Philosophy offers us a chance to take a deeper look at our own selves and understand our own actions. Philosophy gives us the power to ask the bigger questions without fear of judgment. It gives us the opportunity to think.