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2005 Abstracts Stage 2

Modernism and Postmodernism in the Robinson Library: an investigation into the way these contrasting social movements effect a centre of knowledge

Outline: In this project I will be using the Robinson Library as my territory as I feel it is a good example of Modern building which is now essentially a Post Modern centre of knowledge. Aims: o To provide an exposition of Modern and Postmodern architectural styles and why they were introduced. o I will provide additional material about other libraries e.g. some from the baroque period to explore whether Modern architectural styles are detrimental or complementary to a centre of knowledge. o To explore the Postmodern idea of communications leading to a networked society. o To show that the rise of information technologies has led to the dilution of information and knowledge. o To show that computerised communication systems are creating an increasing alienated society. Sources: The key critical thinker I will be examining will be David Harvey and his book ‘The Condition of Postmodernity’. Other sources will include: Lyotard, Jean – Francois: The Postmodern Condition Castells, Manuel: The Rise of the Network Society Jacobs, Jane: The death and life of great American cities McGuigan, Jim: Modernity and Postmodern culture I will be using books from the Robinson Library, internet resources, information from magazines/newspapers and photographs taken in the Robinson Library and around Newcastle city centre to illustrate my project report.

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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

Lordship, Bondage and the Italian Mafia

OBJECTIVES – To look at what is thought to be the Italian Mafia in Twenty First Century Southern Italy in the light of philosophical theories. – Take specific aspects of the Mafia thought such as the attitudes towards death, silence and their own identity in an attempt to understanding the conditions that must be upheld by a Mafioso. SOURCES -G.W.F Hegel’s Lordship and Bondage that features in The Phenomenology of Spirit. -Karl Marx and Frederick Engel’s Communist Manifesto -Thoughts presented in these texts in reference to the Mafia through the eyes of Bataille, Deleuze and Nietzsche. -Secondary reading in both Marx and Hegel. -Contemporary Italian and British Newspaper articles. -Contemporary BBC Internet Website news articles. -True Life Crime books written on the Mafia. TERRITORY -Exploration into the Sicilian Mafia; Cosa Nostra, through the means of contemporary documentation of the events involving the Cosa Nostra as a whole and more specifically particular Mafiosi . TRANSITION OF CHANGE Section 1- How the birth of the Cosa Nostra in Sicily which was born out to a class struggle to which the theories of Marxism can be applied has, over the years moved towards being an organisation which incorporates notions that can be more aptly applied to Hegelian thought. Section 2 – The transition of change of the self consciousness of a Mafioso who desires to become a Capomafia in reference to Hegel’s Lordship and Bondage.

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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?

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2005 Abstracts Stage 2

An Investigation into Deleuzian Cinema Theory Entailing Analysis of Lost in Translation as a Paradigm of Modern Cinema

TERRITORY: Lost In Translation. Sofia Coppola’s beautifully written and emotively shot film Lost in Translation contains many themes that are very pertinent to philosophical discussion. The isolation of the leads Charlotte and Bob (Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray) is palpable, enhanced to moments of hystericization in the mise-en-scene. The film follows the tentative growth of the protagonist Charlotte and the unhappily married film star Bob. CONCEPTS: Deleuzian film theory Sartrean theory of the imagination Deleuze’s analysis of film views it as a consciousness. I aim to attempt to analyse my territory in such a way. I will also attempt to analyse Acts of Faith a film for the Short Film Society in this manner. I hope that this will lead to a more profound understanding of the philosophy of film. A new way of broaching the territory without recourse to classical analysis. PRIMARY SOURCES: Deleuze, Gilles, Cinema One, 1986; Deleuze, Gilles, Cinema Two, 1989; Sartre, Jean-Paul, The Psychology of Imagination, 1972

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2005 Abstracts Stage 2

A Portrait of the Female Writer

Territory: Derrida’s theory of deconstruction provides us with a position of duplicity that operates within the language of reason. This allows us to escape from the condition of falleness. In relation to this I will explore Heidegger’s: ‘end of philosophy’. Derrida’s deconstructionist theory is a theory that is applied to feminine writing. Cixous argues that when we read deconstructively it invites us to recognise ourselves. For Cixous, the feminine is the embodiment of duality and as a result she is open to the other. Cixous argues that writing is woman’s because woman admits that there is another. As a writer of philosophy and fact as well as fiction she maintains that one must write in the present with an acceptance of inevitable death. Heidegger argued that to live authentically one must contemplate one’s inevitable death. To see death without dying allows us to live and frees us from all censors and judges in life. Themes: Derrida’s deconstructionist theory in relation to feminine writing and how femininity is open to the other due to an admittance of difference. Feminine writing and how it sketches an alternate possibility to self other relations in being/becoming. Heidegger and his notion of the ‘end of philosophy’ and that philosophy was nothing more than the ideology of the western ethos and true philosophical questions are based on ‘being’. Application: I intend to explore my territory and themes in relation to the feminist critique of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, focusing on her translation of Derrida’s work on deconstruction and how this deconstruction is a political safeguard.

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2005 Abstracts Stage 2

The Body

• Our bodies are our mind’s access to the outside world. This tool for spatial interaction is increasingly abused in our current times. Why has it become so apparently unimportant to us? Image, as opposed to our tactile relation to the outside world, has realised new status. In exploring this the image we ourselves create will be looked into. • The key subject to be discussed in this project is how our mentality towards clothes has changed through the ages. My territory will be the body but more specifically, the body’s interaction, as an image, with others in an attractive or repellent way. We use the body, now more than ever, in a fleeting and ephemeral way. • Lacan – recognition of our bodies as our own from birth to adulthood. Tangibility and testing of our own bodies in infancy. • Descartes – measure and quantify. Removal of reality and questioning and reasoning of the unknown. • Debord and Baudrillard – false images as expressions of the spectacle of society – a manifestation that resides and guides our society through mediation of images as part of a capitalist society. • Harvey – space-time compression. Reduction of our ability to live in normal realms of space and time. Recalling of the past and other cultures in post-modern design as a stability to the culture we are currently a part of. FASHION – a constant flux showing examples of the state of society. Acceleration and deceleration of trends with changing rate of living. DIVORCE OF THE BODY FROM THE MIND

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2005 Abstracts Stage 2

A Philosophical Enquiry into the Occupation of Tibet by China with Reference to Three Philosophical Concepts

Tibet is situated alongside the mountain range of the Himalayas and consequently it has an average land height of 10,000 ft above sea level. The large plateaux is largely uninhabitable, however for thousands of years the Tibetan people, who are partially nomadic have made Tibet their home. The climate and landscape make life hard, with a limited diet and primitive technology the Tibetans rely heavily on their Buddhist religion which permeates every part of life. Tibet has had a chequered history with other countries however it is widely agreed that in 1950 when Chinese forces invaded the northern region of Amdo, Tibet was a free, independent country. The Communist Chinese government believed that Tibet in fact was part of “The Motherland” and was in need of “liberation.” Over half a Century later, and 1.6 million Tibetans have been killed by starvation, imprisonment and torture, conflict, execution and forced abortions. The Chinese all but wiped out any evidence of the once integral Buddhist religion during the “Cultural Revolution” and imprisoned any Tibetans who were suspected of “holding on to the past.” The spiritual leader the Dalai Lama was forced to flee his country in 1959 fearing for his life at the hands of the Chinese and has lived in nearby Dharamsala in India ever since. During their occupation the Chinese have made very good use of the new territory they now occupy, the Tibetan people are now outnumbered by Chinese settlers, valuable mineral resources have been exploited to the Chinese benefit and nuclear weapons tests have been carried out on Tibetan soil. One of the most important factors in Buddhism is the belief in reincarnation, all our actions in this life go towards determining the kind of life we will have next and it is this reason that the Chinese were able to take over Tibet so easily. The Tibetan people believe that to obtain a favourable rebirth they must respect every other living creature, from a worm in the ground to a Chinese soldier. They are a peaceful people and even when looking in the face of their oppressors remain composed and dignified. In my project I will be referring to the ideas of religious fundamentalism, and what the implications have been for the Tibetans during the Chinese occupation. At what point do the losses of military conflict outweigh the gains of following a doctrine? Also has the Dalai Lama done enough for his people? I will also be looking at the power of testimony in my project, comparing that of Robert Antelm and a Tibetan monk Palden Gyatso. How did they relate to their tormentors and using Hegel’s master and slave dialectic, can we learn anything from them? Finally I will be looking at the invasion itself with reference to Max Weber’s “Theodicy of Domination.” Is there evidence to confirm his ideas and can Tibet use his findings to try to rectify their situation. I hope to give a detailed insight to the plight of the Tibetan people, how they came to be in this situation and how we might be able to help.

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2005 Abstracts Stage 2

Capitalism and Morality: The relationships between capitalist and moral decisions.

Foucault differentiates the forms of control over society in Discipline and Punish into two categories: sovereign and disciplinary. This study transposes these concepts of power to the dynamics of the capitalist economy. Sovereign power is exerted in the Post-War World by governments and international organisations. It seeks to make the world safe for the free flow of capital by removing any major obstacles which become apparent. Disciplinary power is exerted by the constant pressure to make all decisions according to the maximal advantage of profit; to the supremacy of the desire to be as efficient as possible in the service of thee capital. The basic structures of the economy are the hierarchical organisations of business. At every level of these orders there is constant pressure exerted from (1) above in the form of pressure to extract the maximum surplus value for the holders of the capital and from (2) below in the desire for promotion to a higher rank, so that one attains a closer proximity to the benefits of the capital (a share of the profits). When we see an apparently immoral decision being taken by an individual within this structure, it become hard to say that it has been committed by that person and he is wrong. This is because the structure of our society essential dictates that immoral decisions will be made in a world where the only absolute is the ubiquity of the profit motive.

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2005 Abstracts Stage 3

Commercialism in the Music Industry

Objectives • I want to look at how much of yourself you have to sacrifice in order to become what you want to be: how much you have to sacrifice your talents for the record company, the fans and even the other band members. • I want to explore how far commercialism has embedded itself in the music industry. • Is it possible to create and release music with any real amount of integrity? • What does it mean to ‘sell-out’? • How can a band keep ‘it’ about ‘the music’? • What does ‘the music’ entail? How Done • I will look at and compare the record contracts of a major label and an indie label. • I will look at Marx’s views on commercialism and capitalism and how they affect culture. • I will assess how much control bands have over their music and what they could do to keep it about ‘the music’ so that they do not ‘sell-out’. What Achieved • By doing this I will have more of an understanding of what kind of balance there needs to be with the band and the record company in order for the music to be heard by enough people without it loosing its integrity.

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2005 Abstracts Stage 3

Never Mind the Bollocks – is Punk Dead

An exploration into punk, its roots, its philosophy and where it is now.

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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 3

Everything is Nothing … Nothing is Everything

TERRITORY: An arcade. An area of great energy, albeit, completely spiritually empty. A place of total objectivity, total simulacra, total inauthenticity. Repeating themes of both Heidegger and early Buddhist teachings, Nishitani claims that the central failure of philosophy in our time is that it has not provided an adequate response to nihilism. The alienation in human consciousness caused by modern science objectifying humans and denaturalizing nature, is the nihil that cuts through human existence. STANDPOINT OF EMPTINESS (Shunyata) & ABSOLUTE NOTHINGNESS (Zettai-Mu) For Nishitani, the key to overcoming the nihilism that continues to loom over humanity, is the ‘Standpoint of Emptiness’, or ‘Absolute Nothingness’. As epitomized in Western existentialism, nothingness as nihility is still seen as a reference point of subjectivity or as something to which existence relates; it functions as representational correlate of existence. By contrast, nothingness in the sense of sunyata means emptiness of a kind that empties itself even of the standpoint that represents it as some ‘thing’ that is emptiness, or to which existence merely relates. Fundamentally, Buddhist sunyata does not denote nihilism or nihility in the sense of a simple negation of, or antithesis to, being; instead, it intimates the nothingness of being or the emptiness harbored by being itself. “When we become a question to ourselves and when the problem of why we exist arises, this means that nihility has emerged from the ground of existence and that our very existence has turned into a question mark.” (Nishitani) This doubt becomes the Great Doubt, as one is led further into the core of one’s being, there to meet the Great Death. This Great Death is the dissolution of the small self, from which emerges a total openness and freedom, wherein the self is no longer separate from, but realizes its oneness with, all the myriad things of the universe. This is the arrival at the Standpoint of Emptiness, where everything is seen in its ‘suchness’. It is a standpoint that cuts through boundaries of space and time and yet is firmly rooted in the present…a recovery of the fullness of the present moment that is open to eternity.

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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 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

Paris: How Have Structural Changes Influenced the City to become Paris, the City of Love?

CHAPTER ONE: Introduction to Study, Background to Study CHAPTER TWO: Paris: A History, The Medieval History, Renaissance and Baroque, Enlightenment, Napoleon to the Revolution and Restoration, Romantic City and Haussmann, Republican Age, Paris and Art Nouveau with World War II Modernity, Modern Paris, Purism, Cubism, Industrialisation and High Tec CHAPTER THREE: Love and Romance CHAPTER FOUR: Specific Investigation of Individual Structures, Notre Dame, The Louvre, The Eiffel Tower CHAPTER FIVE: Conclusion Sources: Romantic Paris Thirza Vallois 2003, Napoleon III and the Rebuilding of Paris David Pinkney 1938, Paris Robert Cole 2002, The Emerging City Leon Bernard 1970, Architect’s Guide to Paris Salvadori Renzo 1990, Visits: Paris: The Louvre, Notre Dame, The Eiffel Tower, Trip down the River Seine

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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 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

Plato’s Academy to Schooling Today: a study into the lack of nurture in schools today and the effect this has on the influences of school life

Territory: Wycombe Abbey School. An all girls Boarding School founded in 1896 by Dame Frances Dove, whose aim for the school was “The development of each student’s talents and the fostering of an awareness of God and an understanding of the needs of others”. “A record 98% of the 250 A-Levels taken by 76 girls were graded A or B, 78% were graded A” 2004 A level results, Daily Telegraph Saturday August 28th 2004 Aims and Objectives: • To explore the concept of nurture within schools, arguing for Plato’s concept of a boarding environment to promote a learning community thus exploring more than just results, but also development of the soul. • To discuss the lack of social interaction between students and teachers, particularly within universities, in which interaction is minimal, and Internet and e-mail have become more predominant features of communication and learning. Plato’s Noble Puppies to Warrior Kings relationship has gone as now the focus for learners is upon results, not personality development. Possible Solutions to the Problem: Montessori Schools: The Montessori Method – developed in 1912 by Maria Montessori for, “Man is not only a biological but a social product, and the social environment of individuals in the process of education, is the home” ‘Free’ Schools: E.g. Summerhill, Brookwood, Standbridge Earls. Within these schools the freedom of the individual is the most important feature. o Lessons and exams are not compulsory o School Rules are made by Pupils and Teachers equally. “The most important part is the building and maintaining an environment where members of the community can co-exist in harmony and in personal freedom” Summerhill School Webpage. Mike Tomlinson’s Report: Focus on a diploma, rather than the AS and A2 system of today, meaning vocational studies can be regarded as more important to society, giving students more freedom to express their true interests, thus putting more into school and consequently getting more out of it. Philosophic Focus: • Plato’s views on Education found in The Republic focusing on nurture as the most important element of educating • Kant’s Categorical Imperative: It is evident that Free Schools will not amount in the Categorical Imperative as whilst individuals are happy, without qualifications society cannot move on.

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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.