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Introduction to Philosophical Inquiry

If Philosophers Could Tweet (Jonathan Toews)

Many great philosophers have existed over time. Many have given us the framework for what we consider philosophy to be, today. For my project on human nature, I decided to step into their shoes; literally. In an earlier post regarding ZPD, I talked briefly about my use of Twitter to present philosophers’ opinons. Here is an outline that is a little bit more detailed than the last. The project consisted of 5 major parts.

1. The Accounts

Step one was creating the medium to communicate my ideas. In this part, I considered a series of different networking sites, including Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter. Twitter won, mostly because of its publicity, accessibility, simplicity and 140 character limit. Twitter also happens to be the home of #philosophy12 tweets, so I figured comments from Aristotle or Thomas Hobbes might not be so secluded.

I decided on 6 main philosophers (with a couple of supporting ones), all of which played a key role in laying the foundations of human nature. This ranged from philosophers like Mengzi, who focused on good vs. evil, all the way to Jean Paul Sartre, who covered the bases of existentialism. All were interconnected in some form, and all had something interesting to say on Twitter.

Creating the Twitter accounts for these guys was pretty exciting, I’d have to say. Adding profile pictures, Twitter usernames, and creating 160 character bios were all part of the game.

The full list of accounts are listed below, in case you wanted to check them out. See if you can guess what their main philosophy is:

2. The Tweets

The first few tweets were difficult. I mean, where do you start when using a 21st century tool to communicate a ideas from someone who lived 2400 years ago? Nevertheless, I created a news story, using a fake account I created. Using each philosopher’s main opinions, I responded accordingly. It went something like this:

In additions to this, I also added quotes to each profile, like this one from Butler.

3. Interactions Between Philosophers

During this project, it also came to my attention that several of these philosophers did not only coexist in the same era, but they actually referenced and argued with each other. This made my project much more exciting, and allowed for them to rebut each other. Though fun, it was also challenging to maintain both sides of an argument.

4. Interactions With Live Philosophy Presentations

As much fun as virtually arguing with myself is, I do prefer interacting with real people, who still have a pulse. Throughout the Philosophy 12 class presentations, I tweeted live in regards to different points they made, using the #philosophy12 hashtag.

5. Blog Commenting

Twitter is a great deal of fun. Who wouldn’t want to present their philosophy 12 project in 140 word statements? Though this did satisfy me for a while, I didn’t feel I could participate to extent I wanted to. To top off this philosophy project, I also commented on people’s blogs, in the eyes of different philosophers. In one case, I even argued both sides of the point! My favourite comments of all were on a post from Mariana, who talked stated that ignorance is not bliss.


The project was a success! I learned a great deal taking on the perspectives of several different world renowned philosophers, and thinking in their mindset. It helped me look at the discussions in a different way. By the end of the project I even started thinking, at unrelated times, “Xun Zi would not be pleased about this” or “What would Jean Paul say?”



  1. Pingback: First Assignment: What is Philosophy? | Philosophy 12 - September 10, 2013

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