2010 Abstracts Stage 3

“I Just Want to Climb Rocks. Is That too much to Ask?”

Can my life be defined by a sport?

“Climbing is a rich enough experience that it can be a valid focus for your life…. you can say I’m a rock climber and that, if anybody understands it, has as much value as anything else you can spend a day doing.”-Todd Skinner.

Project Object and Aims
The object I have chosen for my project is the way in which I centre my life around rock climbing.
In contemporary society, life tends to be primarily focused on one’s job. Activities such as climbing are defined as pastimes. My project aims to ascertain whether I can, in contemporary society, define myself by my sport. This is relevant to a wide audience, since, in my conclusions, climbing can be replaced with whatever one wishes to orient oneself towards.

The key thinkers I will investigate in my work are:

Manuel Castells who writes explicitly on the idea of “resistance” and “project” identities as a means of constructing real identity

Michel Foucault who formulates a theory of power which affects choosing an identity in contemporary society.

Gianni Vattimo advances the position of weak nihilism as a means of viewing a society which has a plurality of worldviews.

2010 Abstracts Stage 3

The Philippine Condition: a Levinasian Account of Conflict

This stage three project will investigate the condition of Filipino society and the philosophical implications of its turbulent modern history. With a political past which has seen totalizing regimes with American and Spanish colonisation, dictatorship and a corrupt state of democracy influenced by Western materialism, this project will undertake an alternative philosophical approach in Emmanuel Levinas’ concept of the same and the Other to give a different assessment of power conception in Filipino history.

While the project takes into account events which have happened over the course of a century, particular attention is paid to the dictatorship in the 1970s under Ferdinand Marcos. In conjunction with this, the books Dekada 70 by Laulhati Bautista, and The Social Cancer by Filipino national hero Jose Rizal will be introduced to highlight the situation of the territory.

The philosophical aspect takes into consideration the work of Emmanuel Levinas. While beginning the project from an interpretive Heideggerian and Hermeneutic angle, a natural progression will be made to depart from a theory based mainly upon identity. By illustrating the historical narrative with the concepts of the same and the Other, this project shows how encounters on a global scale has allowed the Philippine condition to be an example of a state which is resistant toward totalisation.

2010 Abstracts Stage 3

The Advantage of Intelligence: How Wealth Affects Wealth

We are promised at school that a degree will grant us the highest paid jobs. The guardian recently conducted a survey in which they asked 81 students whether they would be willing to pay more in tuition fees at university if it meant that they would be guaranteed the highest paid jobs.

The majority of them agreed to this idea.

I do not attempt to criticise the state of our educational system itself in terms of what it produces. Instead, I simply suggest that something is wrong, in a system where wealth seems to determine your place within the educational ladder long before you get to secondary school.

There seems to be a cycle: Wealth governs Education which governs Wealth.

Higher education is a luxury that most cannot afford, during which career progress comes to a standstill. Is the maxim ‘speculate to accumulate’ only available to the wealthier spectre of society? The lack of income during this period is intolerable, let alone the massive debt that is incurred, yet we remain steadfast and resolute in the opinion that it will all be worth it in the end, safe in the knowledge that, if it all comes to nothing, there will be financial aid to compensate for our arrears in the form of our wealthy benefactors. This is a reality that some are unfamiliar with, and is potentially why they do not opt for a university education. They would much rather be out in the world, working, earning money.

This leads me on to talk about Marx and his ideas of the Commodification of Education. It has become something that can be bought and sold. I also use his writings on exploitation and social conflict and the tension between the bourgeoisies and the proletariat, offering an idea that ‘intelligence’ is an illusory idea that can hold people at bay.

I also look to the works of Hans-Georg Gadamer, who investigates the nature of education using the framework of medicine and healing, highlighting the difference between objective and subjective knowledge, as well as the importance of ‘practice’, within the context of Hermeneutics.

Adorno’s thought features also, using his idea of the ‘Culture Industry’ to evaluate the differing mindsets towards education; exploring the possibility that a reluctance to pursue education after the state minimum might be an issue of culture, in terms of the Marxist nature of his thought.

In terms of offering a conclusion, I feel the most important thing is that I justify and fulfil my aims in this potentially controversial territory. I choose not to offer an alternative; that is for the labour of politics. Instead I offer a critique of education’s role in society. I don’t criticise schools in terms of what they produce. Again, that would be delving into the jurisdiction of politics. Instead I argue that our relationship to academia has changed. What once was a pursuit aimed at self-improvement and development – academia for academia’s sake – has been corrupted and is now a simple vehicle for financial gain.

2010 Abstracts Stage 3

Is a Capitalist Society the Best Form for Individual Choice?

What kind of dining set defines me as a person? – Fight Club, 1999. This quote from the American film Fight club, and various advertisements by IKEA makes one beg the question, do these systems of consumerism really provide the individual with freedom, or do they somehow take it away?

Hegel argues that civil society is the best form for which we can express our individuality and satisfy our particular needs and desires, he argues that the more needs and desires one has the freer they become because they can’t be so easily defined.

Sartre thinks that consumerism in modern society is detrimental to individual freedom, that although one may believe in free choice, corporations such as IKEA cause a person to lose their individual identity instead taking on an identity believed by society to be more suitable – one is no longer simply furnishing a room, but defining oneself as a person.

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Art, Definition and Essence: Doomed to Failure?

Many Philosophers over the centuries have debated whether the attempt to define art is plausible, indeed, possible. Numerous artist and philosopher, alike, have tried to define art in one corresponding universal term, bringing together all sufficient and necessary factors involved.

Many denied that art could be defined at all; in fact, it was considered anti essentialist. Meaning that art has an essence which is unable to be defined, the range is so broad. Others however maintained that art has no essence and turned their backs on the philosophical notion of essentialism all together. They maintained that the essence of art cannot be hidden from us, therefore denied the existence of a definition. Philosophers’ such as Weitz’s argued in his highly famous paper “The Role of Theory in Aesthetics” that it was no coincidence that there was a constant failure from both artists and aestheticians to define art in a universal term.

The aim of this dissertation is to work through a multitude of philosophical views on the definition of art, to find out the terms that art is placed under and what qualities a piece needs in order to qualify. For example, what qualities have to be similar in order for a renaissance portrait and a contemporary installation need in order to satisfy a universal definition? I will be looking at concepts such as essentialism, beauty, essence, expressionism and reality within art.

This dissertation will use a multitude of key philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Weitz, Bell and Kant; along with others that interlink during the project.

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Why the Trends in Suicide Rates?

New Religious Movements?

Aims: philosophically interpret the graphical data. Understand firstly why, since the beginning of postmodernity, suicide rates have dropped so significantly, halving in number on average. Secondly why they were inclining prior to this?

Sources: Oliver James’s ‘Affluenza’, Durkheim’s ‘Suicide’, and antisecularization theses.

2010 Abstracts Stage 3

Property Magazine: the Realities of the Market

Many would acknowledge, that in some form, the contemporary financial landscape is separated from what we would consider ‘reality’. The money which is exchanged within in the financial markets seems to have no grounding outside the markets in which it is exchanged. This edition looks at the problem and enquires to what extent this is a problem.

Capitalism. Can capitalism and the markets that work within be justified on moral grounds? A Property Week special report puts aside our intuitive moral assumptions and looks in greater depth at the concept of capitalism and the ethical dilemmas that arise out of this system.

Hyperreality. By commencing deregulation in the global financial institutions, have the governments of Thatcher and Reagan of the 1980s created a new economic domain of hyperreality? This edition looks at whether responsibility can be placed back into the financial markets.

Questioning the economic realities of the market with particular reference to the commercial property market

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

How Has the Power of Mass Communication Changed over Recent Years and What Influence and Control Does It Have over Society?

A study of the ways in which society has changed as the advancement of mass communication has occurred.

Can we think for ourselves today or is autonomy impossible in this world of unlimited influence?

History of Modernity

• Modernity
• Crisis of modernity
• Post­modernity

Aim: To discus whether we have the ability to be autonomous in society today or are we are too broadly influenced by mass communication.

Territory: various forms of advertising particularly focusing on online advertising today

Philosophical concepts: Marxist ideas of the prevention of uprising, Guy Ernest Debord ‘The Society of the Spectacle’, Jean Baudrillard “The Ecstasy of Communication”

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Unmasking the Hero: Re-Evaluating Heroic Morality with Reference to the Graphic Novel Watchmen

The object concerning my project is the comic book character The Comedian. In my project I want to investigate how The Comedian can be considered to be evil by conventional morality and yet referred to as a hero. The main objective of my project will be to argue that although the Comedian acts beyond conventional morality, his label as a Hero is very much deserved. He is the epitome of what a Hero should be and so beyond normal considerations.

In my project two other characters from the comic book will also be discussed, Rorschach and Ozymandias, both of which illustrate two alternative moral systems. Rorschach takes on Kant’s Deontological value system that argues for universal morality known as the categorical imperative. It is obvious in the end that due to Rorschach’s moral inclinations he is not able to function as person let alone a hero. Ozymandias on the other hand illustrates Mill’s concept of Utilitarianism. Ozymandias justifies his actions in killing millions of people by arguing that it is for the greater good. Is the sacrifice too great? If it is ever discovered what he did would he still be considered a hero? Both these moral systems are considered to be socially accepted conventions. However I will argue that although they may be acceptable for general society, it is inadequate for a Hero to use either of these moral systems.

Unlike the other “Heroes” Rorschach and Ozymandias, the Comedian’s value system is over and above conventional social morality, he is the creator of his own values. The Comedian accepts that life is absurd and that society is not as civilised as we think it is and so he acts accordingly as the hero we need rather than the kind of hero we want. The Comedian utilises Hegel’s concept of the right of heroes to be the lawgivers in an uncivilised time. They are granted the right to do whatever is necessary to establish a civilised society.

The Philosophers and concepts
Machiavelli – The Prince
Nietzsche – The Overman
Hegel – World Historical individuals
Kant – categorical imperative
Mill – Utilitarianism
– The Eternal Return
– The Rights of Heroes

2010 Abstracts Stage 3

Director’s Role of ‘Delivering’ a Play with Heidegger’s Philosophy of Art and Truth

Art enables us to interpret the world around us; just as Philosophy encourages us to understand our being in-existence. This project aims to discuss the way in which the art of theatre encourages us to reflect upon the world through a director’s recreation of reality upon a stage.

Heidegger’s notion of ‘being-in-the world’ and language in his work Being and Time, encourages us as beings to come to terms with the idea of Being, otherwise known as Dasein. From this, we are able to grasp the true nature of our existence.

I aim to pay close attention to the Artistic Director Sam Walters of the theatre in-the-round: The Orange Tree Theatre. Being-in-the-theatre is a process of entertainment, whereby as an audience we are faced with characters and scenarios that touch upon aspects of our own lives. Hence, there exists a fine line between forms of real life and the features of ‘make-believe’.

In order to connect the art of theatre with Heidegger’s philosophy, I aim to explore the concept of Being and art in his work The Origin of the Work of Art and Julian Young’s Heidegger’s Philosophy of Art, both of which consider and examine:
– The ‘origin’ of an art-work.
– The unconcealment of a ‘world’ via the metaphysical relationship between ‘earth and world’; shown through the Greek Temple.
– The notion of truth [Wahrheit] revealed through an art-work.

In order to test Heidegger’s thought on language, art and Being, I aim to discuss Alan Ayckbourn’s farcical creation of Taking Steps; a play that explores modern-day issues such as marriage and alcohol. As an audience, we recognise aspects of a ‘taboo’ subject-matter, but preserve our comfort-zone through laughter.

I aim to conclude, that through ‘being-in-the-theatre’ with Heidegger’s Philosophy, we essentially examine our world; and thus come to terms with the truth of our ‘being-in-the-world’.

2010 Abstracts Stage 3

To What Extent Is Advertising Used to Support the Capitalist Society? In Relation to the Works of Karl Marx, Guy Debord and Jean Baudrillard

Aim: The aim of the project is to assess whether advertising is a central tool to deceive and manipulate the capitalist society.

Territory: In the Modern World the importance of advertising is steadily on the increase, my Stage Three Project evaluates the problems which arise from Advertising within a Capitalist Society. This study shall attempt to analyse the role advertising plays in dictating the masses and its relation to the consumerist capitalist society. I will discuss false advertising and how it targets particular groups of individual, for example young girls in the fashion and beauty industry

A capitalist society was shaped during the 20th century when there was a certain transformation within the system of production. It changed form a society of small decentralised units to one of leviathan International Corporation; this is partly due to increase in advertising as there was a demand from a vaster quantity of consumables. In a capitalist state the political system controls the economy much more forcefully than in the 19th century, I shall be analysing the change Capitalism has had upon the advertising industry.

Philosophical Thinkers

Karl Marx – Critique of Capitalism and his ideas of Commodity Fetishism. Marx’s work refers to the consumer culture characterised by omnipresent adverting and the diffusion of techniques of advertising into all realms of life.

Guy Debord – The Situationist thoughts within his works ‘Society of the Spectacle’, he expresses his central ideas on the spectacle and how to escape the reality of a Capitalist society, which has influenced an increase in Advertising.

Jean Baudrillard – Jean Baudrillard was one of the, combined his work with philosophy and social theory. Being a foremost thinker to critique contemporary societies, culture and thought he has written several works relevant to consumerism and advertising.

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

The Strange Case of Dr Ego and Mr Shadow

For this project I’m investigating views on the unconscious. I think that it is important to learn as much as we can about ourselves in order to better ourselves and the society in which we live. Philosophers who I have looked at are Freud and Jung. I have used Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ to parallel with the idea of hidden aspects of our personality in our unconscious. The novel also reflects upon the notion of drugs unlocking these hidden, repressed aspects of self; a topic in which I am also interested.

2010 Abstracts Stage 3

What Are the Reasons Behind the Perceived Loss of Identity Prevalent in Today’s Society? Could this Loss of Identity Be the Reason Behind the Increase in Subcultures and Gangs?

Territory- Gang culture

Aim- In my investigation I wanted to see how the change in individual identity has impacted society today. By analysing this change I found that identity today appears to be fragmented. This is due to the breakup of the tight nuclear family which was found in previous eras and the lack of moral rule systems available to the individual today. This has clearly impacted the youth of Britain and has resulted in the rise of gang violence.

I have used both Beck and Giddens to highlight the impact of modernity on society as well as to further discuss the implications of identity fragmentation. I used both of these philosophers to shed new light on my territory which is gang culture amongst the youth of the UK today. By using both of these philosophers I hope to have drawn a direct link between identity fragmentation and the increase in gang violence prevalent in modern day society. This certainly paints a bleak picture of the UK today.

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

The Rise of the Posthuman: the Redefinition of the Human

The aim of my project is to demonstrate that a redefinition of the Human has taken place in contemporary culture.

Here is basic outline of my investigation

• I will explain, firstly, what Ontology is, due to the fact that it is this branch of philosophy that has been traditionally occupied with defining things, including ourselves, in order to categorise the universe

• Secondly, I will reveal that this system of ontology is obsolete in a postmodern landscape, as we see the crumbling of these categories.

• The questions we are left are, why has this crumbling of categories occurred and how does it affect our understanding of ourselves and of that which surrounds us differently?

• The answer lies simultaneously with an increasingly technocratic and cybernetic culture and the realisation that Man is not a categorical some priori but a historical one. In other words, the Human is an epistemological concept which is grounded within a particular epoch that is inevitably going to change when that knowledge finds a new form.

• Michel Foucault attributes our particular epoch’s understanding of the human to Immanuel Kant, since he was the first to recognise the epistemological consciousness of man as such.

• Therefore, I will investigate Kant’s understanding of the human and determine whether it has already found new form.

• By studying the notions of the philosophers, and in the developments in science and technology, that followed Kant, I will reveal that the Human has found a new form of knowledge.

• I will also demonstrate that certain art forms, such as literature and cinema, particularly that of the Science Fiction genre, reveal this by applying the aforementioned philosophical, scientific and technology developments to certain texts. Since art is generally seen as representation of truth, this method is perfectly valid.

• Finally, I will expose the result of this redefinition, The Posthuman.

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Protecting the Wealth of the Nation. A Study of the Ideological Structures of Radical Capitalism

As anyone may notice there is an obvious assumption in my title which I should first work to explain, namely my assertion that current, late capitalist power structures are radical. I use this term in its meaning of ‘extreme’. As I will seek to show, while the values of the majority of people, across most societies of the world, are those, broadly speaking, of freedom, democracy, choice and fairness, and of respect for the dignity of human life, these are not values that are followed through in the operating of modern states or the capitalist system.

In my project I intend to explore how this radical state manages, through its prevailing Ideology, to continually reproduce the conditions of production, and so continually assert itself over the rights of the majority of the people.

In order to do this, I shall use Guy Debord’s concept of the visible manifestation of ideology – the spectacle – in order to show the spectacle/reality distinction in several examples, centred in the last ten years of Neo-Liberal Capitalism.

EXAMPLES INCLUDING: The Illusion of Democracy Capitalist Realism and The Myth of the West’s Civilizing Force

I shall expand on these examples with comparison to Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four as a paradigm for a radically oppressive ideological system, as well as theory and analysis from Slavoj Žižek, a prolific writer on the functioning of ideology, Noam Chomsky, an outspoken critic of modern state manipulation and the manufacturing of consent, Louis Althusser’s theory of Ideological State Apparatuses and Mark Fisher’s book Capitalist Realism. In this way I intend to show how Ideology dictates what is thinkable in life, how our free market Neo-Liberal system, is really just a system for funnelling rights and capital into the hands of the incredibly wealthy, and how our free and fair democracy is in fact a cynical sham, in which policy is dictated by corporate leaders.

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Glastonbury Festival and the Festivals of the Cherokee Tribe of Indian America

Aim: I intend to explore, in depth, both the Glastonbury festival and the festivals of the Cherokee Indian American tribe. I will compare and contrast their methods of celebration and their traditional customs.

Territory: I will be looking through the history of Glastonbury festival; how it has changed and developed through its forty-year span, including its transformation through commerce, charity and attendees. Conversely, I will focus on the Cherokee festivals through their very broad historical traditions; establishing the reasons behind their elaborate celebrations and the methods used to do so.

Philosophers and Concepts: I will mainly focus on Bataille’s philosophy, with particular reference to The Accursed Share and amongst his other writings; looking at his notions of unproductive expenditure, potlatch and the sacred. In addition, I will use a variety of resources, such as film, literature and internet sites to illustrate these notions and apply them to my aim.

2010 Abstracts Stage 3

Should the Advertising of Alcoholic Products Be Restricted?

In my project I am going to be focusing on advertising of Alcohol in our current society and its positive and negative effects.

By looking at how the negative health effect of smoking changed the advertising of cigarettes I will relate this to what we already know about alcohol and its damaging attributes both physically and mentally, and assess if the advertising of alcohol needs to change.

It is arguable that because alcohol is a legal product then it should be legal to advertise.

However, the same can be said for cigarettes but because of the clear connection between cancer and cigarettes.

Clearly a total ban on alcohol advertising would be detrimental to individual brands of alcohol, but possibly not on the general sale of alcohol.

The main arguments against alcohol advertising suggest they increase sales in existing drinkers and provoke new young drinkers.

Cheap accessible alcohol promotes anti-social behaviour and heavy drinking which can lead to alcoholism and depression in later life, as well as various health issues.

Essentially, advertising of alcohol legitimates excessive use of a potentially damaging product.

To establish if it is right to ban alcohol or an infringement of our liberty I will be looking at Bentham and Mill’s concept of welfare. A vitally important question for Mill is what are: “the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by the society over the individual’ (L.1.1)

I aim to establish whether the health effects of alcohol are reason enough to ban the advertising of it.

2010 Abstracts Stage 3

The Relation of Advertising and Branding to the Rise of Capitalism in Britain

My third year project presentation is on the rise of capitalism in Britain by means of advertising and branding with reference to Theodor Adorno’s The Culture Industry and Dialectic of Enlightenment and Naomi Klein’s No Logo. I will evaluate the rise of capitalism in Britain, and what led to the individual’s willingness to conform to this particular type of industry. I will analyse the techniques of the colossal chain companies that engage individuals to consume, these being advertising and its origins and the increase of companies starting to produce „brands‟ instead of concentrating on the production of the product.

This leads my dissertation on to the work of Theodor Adorno, Adorno subscribed to many of Karl Marx’s about the economy and the exploitative relations of capitalism and advertising. Adorno argued that capitalism fed people with the products of a „culture industry‟ the opposite of „true art‟, to keep them passively satisfied and politically apathetic. The strength of his theoretical contribution owes a great deal to the originality with which he traced pathways between the central themes of German idealist philosophy, Marxist sociology and Freudian psychopathology.

I will discuss his ideas about alienation, the regression of listening, fetish consciousness and the domination of nature, in relation to our capitalist society today. The repercussions on society of Adorno’s notions are colossal; such as the ideas of brain-dead docile populations hence, I will explain these.

My case study focuses on the rise of Tesco’s as a business; I will show how it exploits individuals through capitalism at its purest. Many of Adorno’s theories on domination and the way Tesco’s sucks us into a cycle of fetishizing commodities that we will never need or use.

Naomi Klein’s No Logo is seen as the Das Kapital of the anti-corporate movement. The basic perspective is that multinational corporations have become so big that they have superseded governments and have become the ruling political bodies of our era. Unlike governments, multinational corporations are accountable only to their shareholders and there are no mechanisms in place to make them “put people before profits”. Klein takes a modern perspective that Adorno is not here to see. I shall then contrast ideas from both Klein and Adorno to gain a modern perspective of the problems of capitalism and how it affects our society and the individual.

2010 Abstracts Stage 3

Manic Depression: an Illness Rooted in its Dark Past

An examination of the modern treatment and diagnosis of bipolar disorder in the light of Michel Foucault

Territory: Bipolar Disorder – This project looks at how the term bipolar has been constituted and how it came about, as well as identifying the stigma still attached to diagnosis.

Michel Foucault: – Foucault talks of madness and looks back over history to see how the mad were treated and viewed by society and doctors. The constitution of the term “madness‟ is historically negative so that today it is often viewed in conjunction with manic depression.

“What is called “mental illness‟ is simply alienated madness…”

Aims: To research the diagnosis and treatment of the disorder, historically linking it to Foucault’s thought.
Case study: America’s Medicated Kids – Louis Theroux, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Stephen Fry BBC Documentary.

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Commodification: Has It Tarnished the Beautiful Game?

• Historically, sports existed ‘to promote aretê or human excellence which could be applied to almost any endeavour in life’.
• Contemporarily, the market forces of Capitalism have taken over and money has become the primary objective – football is the greatest example of this transition from a character building activity to a mass-market business.
• What, though, does this process of Commodification involve? George Bataille and Guy Debord will be used to cast enlightenment on this within the context of the Surrealist and Situationist Parties.
• Furthermore, has the footballer become tarnished by this process of Commodification? In assessing the effects this has on the professional footballer’s character, I shall be drawing on Schiller’s Aesthetic Education and its arguments regarding modern society’s obsession with specialists.
• Alistaire MacIntyre’s views on how man’s virtues should be able to be summoned and used in all situations will also be made relevant

Schiller: ‘‘[contemporary society encourages the footballer to be] nothing more than the living impression of the craft to which he devotes himself’’

MacIntyre: ‘‘someone who genuinely possesses a virtue can be expected to manifest it in very different types of situation’’.