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2005 Abstracts Stage 2

Defining our Existence through Suffering

The Aim of this project is to explore suffering in society. My project initially centred on answering the following questions 1 What is suffering? 2 Does suffering help define our existence? 3 If so, why do we use suffering to define ourselves? 4 Does suffering help us understand the problems we face, or create more? 5 Why do we use suffering more than other emotions, such as happiness, to examine and define our lives? After answering these questions I then applied the answers I found plus the theses of the two philosophers above to the crisis of depression in the modern rich western society.

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2005 Abstracts Stage 3

Neoconservatism

Fear has always been with us. Fear has always been used in politics, as a means to control, both for the good and for the bad. Hobbes: The fear of the state of nature, led the people to accept a sovereign. Montesquieu: The fear of the tyrannical despot means people are bound to democracy. Tocqueville: Fears of the consequences of being ostracised by society mean people have conformed to the tyrannical majority. 9/11 has brought about a new kind of fear in the people of the U.S.A. It caused paranoia about a devastating attack from an anonymous face to spread through society. The people in their abject fear have turned to the government to protect them. The style of government they have chosen that they feel will protect them best is a new brand of conservatism, one that is even further right on the political spectrum; this government is Neoconservatism. What of this regime that is here to save us? It again marks a change in society. For centuries in western societies we have moved towards progressively freer societies. The implementation of a Neoconservative government, has changed this, we are seeing the abolition of civil liberties, no trial by jury, the detainees of suspects in prison for years without charge. This is not peculiar to the U.S buts its influence as the one true super power is immense, and it has sparked similar policy changes elsewhere. The political thinker Leo Strauss has heavily influenced neoconservatives. In particular his doctrine on natural right. We must try and understand the work of Leo Strauss, if we are to understand what the people find so attractive about this style of government. The Neoconservatives are particularly influential in the areas of defence and foreign policy, the two key areas for the protection of the U.S.A from the “axis of evil”. Again we must turn to Strauss to understand how his philosophy has influenced the policies that affect us all today.

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2005 Abstracts Stage 3

Fundraising: Meta-Design and Mediated Experience

OBJECTIVES: • to consider the different fundraising methods • find out how these are linked to meta-design and mediated experience • decide whether meta-design and mediated experience are beneficial to fundraising and life in general META DESIGN Meta-Design characterizes activities, processes, and objectives to create new media and environments that allow users to act as designers and be creative An important aspect of meta-design is to design not just an artifact, but a life-cycle that anticipates changes that may occur over a long period of time. MEDIATED EXPERIENCE Mediated Experience refers to the idea that there are systems and networks between a person and their natural experience. Something is put into a system, changed, and we then see the output that has been altered in the system.

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2005 Abstracts Stage 3

Globalizing Human Rights

The past few decades have witnessed the rise of the application of international human rights law as well as the extension of a wider public discourse on human rights to the extent that they could be regarded as being one of the most globalized political values of our time. Following the death of grand political narratives, it could be said that in the postmodern era, human rights represent the last remaining utopian ideal; the last remain shard of enlightenment emancipatory values. However, if the twentieth century is said to be the epoch of universal human rights then its triumph is paradoxical since this period has witnessed so many violations. Furthermore, civilians have been killed by those purporting to defend human rights as illustrated by the Kosovo ‘humanitarian’ bombings. Thus whilst the discourse of human rights purports the intrinsic rights of all people based on nothing more than an appeal to humanity, there appears to be a great deal of dissonance between self-satisfied rhetoric and social reality. As we step into the globalized era, rights are transported all over the world and transmitted straight into the homes of people, the problematic nature of universalising rights becomes apparent. Is there such a thing as rights? Can they and should they be universalised? Can rights be squared with the deconstruction of subjectivity? If not, can a non-essentialist theory of rights be developed? These are the questions I intend to answer.

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2005 Abstracts Stage 2

The Comparison of Individual Fashion Ideals from the Eighteenth and Twentieth Centuries

Fashion has changed dramatically between the Eighteenth and Twentieth centuries, however it is not simply the changes that the inventors of fashion have made to the clothes, but all the social and political aspects that have occurred between these times. The changes have altered how we see ourselves, our self-identity, and how we see others. Modernity “ thinks of society as in a state of constant flux, innovation and development as changes in knowledge and technology alter the identities and experiences of individuals and communities” Lyotard, Kant and Freud are the main philosophers explored, looking closely at the ideas of modernity and postmodernity, with particular interest in the sublime: “With The sublime, the response is more complex. One is simultaneously attracted and repelled by the object, enthralled by it and also horrified.” Sources: Questionnaires, Internet, Book – ‘Jean-Francois Lyotard’ By Simon Malapas

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2005 Abstracts Stage 3

A Philosophical Re-evaluation of Terrorism and Modernity

There is currently a spectre haunting the modern world, whose presence demands the attention of socioeconomic, political and intellectual institutions to which it is opposed. It has claimed thousands of lives, initiated wars, undermined international law and called into question modernity’s ideological foundations; and yet, discourse on terror has failed to confront its true origins. Knee-jerk condemnation and bureaucratic rationality continue to dominate responses, manufacturing consent while excluding any form of self-reflexivity or discussion. In situating terrorism in the dialectic of modernity, this project aims to assert the absolute necessity of such a re-evaluation in finding a solution. Key themes • Problems of the inherited language: Towards redefinition of ‘Terrorism’ • The legacy of the Enlightenment and the task of Philosophy. • Power bases and the assertion of legitimacy. Fundamentalism vs. Liberty. • Towards a resolution: forums of discussion and devolution and hospitality

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2005 Abstracts Stage 2

This is our House

Part 1 Using literature by Terry Eagleton, David Harvey and Hal Foster I explore the idea of postmodernism, including its evolution from modernism and its contradictions and definitions. Concluding with an in depth look at works by Jean Baudrillard and Fredric Jameson in preparation for the main body of my argument. Part 2 Looks at house music culture, its origins from Chicago and influences from the rest of Europe. Using knowledge from part one, I explain how through sampling and recycling, house music is a perfect example of a postmodern aesthetic. I also present neo-conservative postmodern arguments written by Steven Redhead, Hillegonda Rietveld and Simon Reynolds that house music is culture of abandonment, disengagement and disappearance. Part 3 Focuses on the growth of raves in the eighties Britain, and legislation introduced by the government to prevent free parties taking place. Researching into the idea of Techno-shamanism and the tribal nature of house culture, I argue against the arguments presented in part two, and with my own argument, contend that house music can be used to escape postmodern society.

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2005 Abstracts Stage 2

Postmodernism and the British Press

Outline of Investigation. – History of British Newspapers – Statistics of readership – Front Page propaganda – The Sun – Ideology and structuralism – Jean Baudrillard. Special Points of Interest: – Changing language in newspapers – Images in newspapers – Relationship between information media and the masses – The real and the “more than eral”, hyper-realities – Desire and seduction – Passivity versus activity – Obscenity, transparency, pornography – Death of the author and death of the reader. Assertion: The overexposure to media messages, along with the immediacy and quantity of this information has and continues to pacify the individual so that the style and content of British newspapers has to become increasingly simple, accessible and transparent to accommodate for the death of the reader. New Media and Language. What effect has the emergence of media technologies such as radio, the internet and more specifically the television had on the style and content of British Newspapers? Information and communication have never more visible and accessible than in the postmodern era. Media information is everywhere apparent so that it is difficult to imagine life without it and is impossible to avoid. How has this affected the tangible print of newspapers?

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2005 Abstracts Stage 2

Childhood to Adulthood – A Philosophical exploration of being change, development and education

My Territory – 2 students from different backgrounds. Their opinions, beliefs and desires from work and diaries in their youth to their opinions now. My aims to explore the philosophy of childhood. What is it to be a child are they merely developing organisms as Aristotle may say -”underdeveloped human organisms”. The philosophers I am using: Aristotle change and causation, Plato education is relearning, Descartes and Locke on the development of cognitive thought, Sarte on Being

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2005 Abstracts Stage 3

Is Postmodernity Hyperreal?

Objectives: How much is our present day society increasingly reliant on simulations for its reality? What affect does this have with regards to the individual and society as a whole? Method: I will look at how far society is controlled by mediations with regard to the television for example, as our main source of gaining knowledge about the world, and how this leads to the notion of risk society and the current climate of obsessive individualisation. My main aims are to explore the outcomes of simulations in postmodernity with regard to the importance of the image and the increasing occurrence of territorialisation, particularly in everyday activities such as the foods that we eat and the goods which we consume. Sources: Ulrich Beck, Risk Society, Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulations, David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity, George Ritzer, The McDonaldization Thesis, Don Delillo, White Noise.

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2005 Abstracts Stage 3

The World in our Head

Can subjective experience ever be explained? There is an inner dimension to our lives, which constitutes our entire awareness of ourselves and our world. Whether one is a reductionist, functionalist or qualia freak, subjective experiences are unique experiences, which others can never know; proprioception is our own. How does the brain process the information it receives through the senses? Where are memories stored? How are they even created? Objects must exist in the world in order to be perceived, however, this world in which we perceive objects, is not the real world. We do not experience the world as such, merely; we process the effect it has on us. The objects in the outside world are signaling their qualities inwardly, which means the object must be a thing inside our head. Seeing produces the thing that is seen. The object is before our eyes, yet the image of this object is behind our eyes; a copy. We experience the qualities of an object, its representation is in our minds; the world is forever on the outside. To what conclusions did Thomas Nagel (1937- ) come with ‘What is it Like to be a Bat?’ Do animals and plants experience qualia? How do people with illnesses such as dementia, schizophrenia, nervous disorders, autism or colour blindness perceive the world? How is one affected if their sense of smell, or sight should fail? The brain serves as the organ of the mind; if it is affected in any way, the entire body is affected and can change dramatically. The mind is what the brain does. This is evident when people develop an illness of the brain; their entire self becomes altered because the brain is no longer in a state of normality, the body expressing this change. When certain areas of the brain become, even slightly, damaged, such as the any cortex, the hippocampus or the amygdala, the individual will cease to be able to recognize things, forget certain elements of speech or not be able to link certain features together in order to create a face, for example. Remaining senses are heightened and much more sensitive is one should be taken away, altering perception greatly. Henry Huxley (1825-1895) suggested animals are conscious automa, devoid of mental states. What makes us afraid? What shapes our mind to view things in a certain manner? What goes on in a new born baby’s mind? The way an individual is brought up, affects their perception of the world dramatically; depending on one’s parents’ beliefs, or religion, family customs et cetera one’s perception of the world will be very different to another individual’s with different upbringing. Despite a baby’s lack of communication skills, it is unlikely that one will be able to make a baby co-operate so that its brain activity can be measured. Babies do not have a sense of co-operation, or a sense of anything much, their minds are impressionable and ready to be moulded, this is an individual experience and chance to teach another being the correct morals of life. Why did the ‘Hard Problem’ bother John Locke (1632-1704) so extensively? Does it seem logical that a piece of live, visual cortex in a Petri dish might be producing the same experience as a brain producing a yellow perceptual experience? Are you the only rational person alive, whilst everyone else is a zombie? These hard questions are addressed in the hard problem, whether one is a believer or not, it stands in the laws of biology and the progress of modern medicine to determine the truth.

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2005 Abstracts Stage 3

Promiscuity as the Masculinization of Women: Masculinization as the Complexification of Nature

Place: The Suit, as an image, as an androgynous construct Aim: My intention is not to assess the concept of promiscuity from a moral standpoint but more to suggest that it has been illustrative of the move away from what is essentially feminine to a world where women themselves in terms of what is masculine and how this gendering is representative of our move away from nature towards into an age of complexification Masculine and feminine: towards an age of androgyny? What is masculine? What is feminine? Indoctrinated definitions of gender through the ages from Plato to present day, the implication of gender classification on social constructs Promiscuity I will initially focus on the idea of promiscuous behaviour, how and why there has been an increase in women partaking in this behaviour (if this is the case) and the social ramifications of this. The issue is the promise of sex totally free of reproductive consequences, a myth that has served men not women. Our sexual culture which promotes pleasure over responsibility has ignored the reproductive capability of women’s bodies. Pose the question do, and if so why do women replicate men, instances of masculine behaviour, women at work etc why is success viewed in male terms, i.e. mothering undervalued, all the traditional female roles considered irreverent in modern society Masculinization. From Greek thought there has been a separation of culture and nature into male and female categories. Since the mechanical age we have become first mechanized and then manufactured, our bodies are commodities Promiscuity could be predicted as the result of a complex system, a particular way of handling material objects, everything has to be consumable. Promiscuous behaviour ultimately an expression that has been mechanized and commodified until it has become transparent. It is because we have become separated from nature that women have become masculinized, progression away from nature.

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2005 Abstracts Stage 3

The Rise and Fall of the ‘self’ in Society: the Modern Identity Crisis in a Post-Modern Society

Introduction: For over 2000 years, it would seem that man has developed and evolved without ever fully coming to grips with one of the most basic commands in Greek philosophy. Western culture today places a great emphasis on replacing religious belief with scientific knowledge, today we are surrounded by knowledge and technology, yet we know very little about ourselves. My dissertation will be focussed on the ‘self’. In my work, I will be drawing reference upon the work of Ulrich Beck and Anthony Giddens, two of the most prominent social theorists of the modern world, both of whom have dedicated much of their time to the concept of the self. I will be examining separately their theories on the narrative biography, modern reflexivity, the fragmented self and the effects of modern society on the individual. I will also be exploring how the concept of the self has developed over time, along with the status of the individual in society. I aim to discuss the ways in which Western society has changed dramatically over time, for example the way in which during the industrial ages science began to replace tradition and religion. I will be looking at the impact of industrialisation on the concepts of time, space and place in modernity and the influence of society itself on the individual. I will also be devoting some time to studying the effect of modern conditions such as globalisation on society and our current status as a ‘risk society’. I aim to determine the media’s influence in the creation of this risk society, and the resulting impact of the risk society on the development of the modern individual. I will also be exploring the role of the media in the formation of modern identity, and whether the media and other knowledge systems subconsciously feeds the human mind a set of values and ideals that they in turn begin to live by, whilst still believing that they maintain an independent, individual status. Finally, I aim to have some insight into the future of the ‘self’ in our society in the postmodern world.

Categories
2005 Abstracts Stage 2

Identical Chairs are Socially Destructive?

Mass produced items are everywhere. They perform cold hard lines on our imagination. How can we relate to objects, initially designed by people, but created by machine? As beings that came ‘out of’ nature, do we do ourselves (psychological and emotional) harm by surrounding ourselves with straight bricked walls and replicated items? What philosophical criteria are employed in the architectural decision-making process? Comparing and contrasting the position of Art Nouveau, with the position of Jean Baudrillard a century later, I argue we are alienated in our environment. This is due to industrialisation and the life doctrines capitalism preaches. To inject nature into our surroundings would increase happiness of the occupants. Art Nouveau epitomises an ideal synthesis of nature and machine. If Art Nouveau were to pervade our environment, we would be happier. It is no coincidence that environmentalism forms one of the two movements evidencing the powerful widespread surges of collective identity to have been found in the last quarter of the century.1 I have read the Communist Manifesto, and I have dealt with modern writers who provide Marxian critiques or developments in Marxian thought. In this essay I deal with globalization and capitalism and how they might have affected my environment. I look at an industry that deals with these issues day-to-day (landscape architecture). I look at the criteria that landscape architects might use when regarding chairs and connect human rights to furniture. The ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement should be incorporated more into our environment, as well as the sweeping curving nature-derived designs found in Art Nouveau. The Green Party’s plea is for “The need for a Reasonable Revolution” in the plight to prevent the Ghost Towns of Britain. Is Art Nouveau to some extent a priori?

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2005 Abstracts Stage 2

Buddhism in the Western World

Territory: Newcastle Buddhist Centre. My aim was to research Buddhism in the West using my territory, the NBC. My objectives included documenting the changes between traditional Eastern Buddhism and modern Western Buddhism, to understand why traditional thoughts of Buddhism have disappeared and to debate if religion is needed in a modern scientific rational society. It is clear that Buddhist beliefs have altered dramatically through time and movement from the East to the West. Western Buddhism appeals to modern day society because traditional Eastern religious views like rebirth are now only taken symbolically and unlike most religions, Buddhism has no belief in a supreme God. Buddhism can provide a society with guidelines on morality and ways of life, without conflicting with scientific thought.

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2005 Abstracts Stage 2

The Importance of Artificial and Virtual Environments within the Rise of Technology

Territory. I began by looking at computer games as my original territory, but this shifted as I progressed with my research to incorporate the wider realm of technology in more general terms. Concepts From my original territory I identified the concepts of Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence as my primary areas of research. I then furthered this to also explore the scientific rational project, with the growth of technology as a branch of this, and I further extended this to include the inhuman aspect of technology and a possible human disenchantment with this. Method. I began by exploring the nature of virtual environments and the interactions between the player controlled character and other intelligent aspects of the environment such as other characters or the surroundings themselves. This however led me to look at the fundamental concepts underlying the creation of virtual environments and artificial intelligence. I began to see the ‘rise in technology’ that was becoming prevalent within contemporary society and looked to find a philosophical background in which to interpret this theory. Philosophical Ideas. I looked at Heidegger who saw that technology was a means to achieve a certain purpose. However I also found the thoughts of Max Weber interesting, who saw technology as an area of disillusionment to people within modern society. He saw that very few people truly understand the world of technology around them and so we become disenchanted with our technological aspects of society. Also Lyotard saw the ‘Inhuman’ aspect of technology and the attitude of humanity towards it. Conclusions. I look to reconcile the modern world of computer generated virtual worlds with the different attitudes towards technology within general society.

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2005 Abstracts Stage 3

The Mass Media: Mass Manipulation

ADVERTISING. • Mass media intended to raise public political action. • Rise of capitalism lead to the increased importance of advertising revenue. • Mass-media serves market ends not public ends. This means public service programming suffers and entertainment increases. • Adorno and Horkheimer. The loss of public sphere and the rise of intellectualised entertainment. • Ideologies of consumerism define contemporary society. • Consumerism also defines and standardises values and morality. • Baudrillard. Advertising has altered the conditions of reality. • Advertising devalues the natural and exalts the consumption of commodity signs. NEWS AND PROPAGANDA. • Local newspapers eliminated in favour of national press. A national consciousness and fair representation. • Lack of alternative sources means that the news is a powerfully influential medium. • Controlled by government and commercial interests. • Causes biased reporting. Worthy and unworthy victims. • Knowledge is the greatest power in society. A manipulative tool. • BBC important for returning power to the masses. CHILDREN AND MORAL PANICS. • Children’s educational programming suffered due to lack of revenue like public service programming. • Children continually targeted. Programming reduced to merchandising. • Predominantly violent. How does this affect children’s developing morals? • Moral panics and scapegoats. Violence and James Bulger. • Exclusion of youth and Subcultures. • Can subcultures exist in such a powerfully regulated society. TECHNOLOGY. • Technology has altered understanding of human condition and reproduction. • Body is dematerialised. A sign of ideologies. • Life is advertised. Life is a commodity. • Beck. These fears develop in a risk society. • What does the advertising and purchasing of life mean for society and class segregation?

Categories
2005 Abstracts Stage 3

The Development of Alternative Heroes in Film and Graphic Novels

Aim: To discover why certain types of heroes are popular in films, animation and graphic novels, and why we are attracted to such qualities. Method: Analysing some of the more interesting and obscure characters to ascertain why people are attracted to more nihilistic, free-thinking traits. To do this I will look at ideas such as nihilism, escapism and boredom, and correlate them with research into transcendence, innocence, naivety, and rebelliousness. Characters explored will include Roman Dirge’s Lenore, Jhonen Vasquez’s Johnny The Homicidal Maniac (pictured above), the residents of Sobriety Straight in Dame Darcy’s Meat Cake, and the Norse God Loki who features in The Mask. Sources: The Modern Stranger – Lesley D. Harman, Comic Book Nation – Wright, Dame Darcy’s Meat Cake Compilation – Dame Darcy, JTHM – Jhonen Vasquez, Lenore: Noogies – Roman Dirge.

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2005 Abstracts Stage 3

Philosophy, Art and Possibility: a study into Deleuze’s Bersonian Cinema Project

The transformation in our conception of art, time and identity has, according to Lyotard, represented a postmodern break from unity and identity; an opposition to totality. We now reject totalising theories, and seek localised theories that explain the difference of life. Grand theories uniting all disciplines are then impossible. Whereas modernism was concerned with what we could determine, Bergson and Deleuze are concerned with the indeterminacy, the contingency, of Life. To what extent do we trust our preconceived notions of the world? How might this obscure the true nature of time and space, and therefore life? If life does not run along a single line of time, but consists of durations that differ for every being, then how should we try to live life? How can the cinematic affect open our eyes to the true ‘multiplicity’ of the world? Gilles Deleuze questions the grand narratives and conventions of life more radically than many, calling perhaps for a ‘rethinking of philosophy’ in light of the most important artistic development of the century; the cinema. In Chapter 1, I wish to look at the main artistic movements in Cinema, from German expressionism and Soviet montage of the 20’s through to the New Wave in cinema following 1968. I will then explore the capabilities of the cinema to produce new and diverse styles of thought through the movement image that allow us to see time directly, not as we experience it through the ‘human eye’ that is interested and organises. In chapter 2, I wish to look at the writings of Bergson and his philosophy of dynamism and change based on the continuous experience of nature that is falsified with the imposed divisions we divide life with as a means of understanding some underlying reality. The image is instead a simulacra with no foundation in reality. Deleuze believes that, rather than reality being actuality, or based on an ideal model, it is a constant interaction between these two; the actual and the virtual, and this is how difference is created. The impossibility of founding knowledge on structures allows us ‘the opportunity to invent, create and experiment’ with life and its possibilities.

Categories
2005 Abstracts Stage 3

Suicide – a Question of Morality?

Traditional Objections to Suicide which I Intend to Challenge: 1. Human life is sanctified, therefore it is wrong to commit suicide. 2. Suicide is wrong because it is selfish. 3. Man is made in the image of God, therefore it is wrong to take your own life. 4. When we die is God’s decision, not ours, therefore suicide is wrong. 5. Suicide is wrong because it deprives society of an otherwise useful citizen. 6. Suicide is wrong because it is ‘unnatural’. 7. Suicide is wrong because it is a form of murder. 8. ‘Life is a gift from God’, therefore suicide is wrong. Why is Suicide Still Stigmatised? 1. The role of the media: Isn’t the media guilty of undermining the seriousness of suicide by expounding sensationalist story-lines, e.g. ‘Tony Blair committed political suicide today’? Isn’t the media also guilty of reinforcing our negative feelings towards suicide to dramatise a situation e.g. using the term ‘suicide bombers’, instead of ‘martyrs’? Doesn’t the media fail to clarify our own confusions about ‘who’ is to blame when a suicidal act occurs? 2. The semiotics of suicide: Doesn’t the language we use as regards to suicide prejudice our understanding of the term suicide, e.g. the verb ‘to commit’ reminds us of the notion of crime (reiterated by the fact that suicide was only made legal in 1961 in England) and the fact that someone who attempts suicide is considered to be a “victim” is a difficult notion to comprehend given that a victim is someone who usually has something wrongful done to them – not someone who inflicts a wrongful action onto themselves. 3. Is the solution more immoral than the problem?: Whilst we are forced to acknowledge that suicide is a problem that has to be dealt with, given our extensive research of the subject, the problem comes with trying to implement a solution. One commentator has suggested the notion of pre-emptive incarceration based upon statistical analysis of suicides? Yet, how problematic would this be? Are the statistics too broad? Or are they too specific? Is it ethical to incarcerate someone because they are a potential suicide? Does the notion of incarceration revert back to the idea that suicide is a crime? What about the financial aspects of such a scheme? Can such a scheme make any real difference given that the existing methods of dealing with suicides (e.g. telephone services) are largely ineffective? Does the solution lie in a re-structuring of society, as Durkheim suggests? What are the consequences of such a re-structuring? 4. “God is Dead” (Nietzsche), and “Life is Absurd” (Camus) but suicide remains stigmatised: When “God died”, we may have expected the traditional rejection of suicide based upon religious (in particular, Christian) arguments to die with him. Yet, this did not happen. This suggests that Christianity did not install within us a sense that “killing is wrong”; what it does suggest, however, is that this sense of repulsion towards murder (in this case, self-murder) is innate within us – Christianity merely provided the vehicle by which to expound this view. Thus, when “God dies”, our prohibitions remained.