Categories
2009 Abstracts Stage 2

Art Incorporated: Exploring the Growing Relationship between Capitalism and Art

Whether or not the realm of freedom apparent in the plurality of styles used by contemporary artists is actually a way of concealing its true function, as a slave to business? In contemporary art’s exploration of the human psyche, it appears to hold out no consolation; conventional styles are broken and indiscretions of morals all define the basic contemporary art world orthodoxy. However although contemporary art has reinvented itself this also means that art’s existence now comes in relation to world politics, commerce, consumerism and the worlds of business and finance. In this project I will discuss how art has changed and been shaped by the demands that these external pressure points have put upon it, and what that means for the way we ‘read’ art and treat artists in contemporary culture. I will centre my argument on how the mass consumer culture of our society has lead to the commodification of art. I will focus on the artists Tracy Emin and Damien Hirst, and how both artists have embraced commercial success and celebrity status, buying into the values that art originally transcends, suggesting that they themselves have become a brand name out of which their art is made. The key philosopher that I will be using is Karl Marx and his theory of capitalism. He believed that the continual modernization in industry means that old structures, traditions and attachments begin to dissolve, so that in his famous phrase “all that is solid melts into air.” This can be applied to art’s status which is conventionally and ideally aligned with truth, beauty and ethics but with capitalisms involvement there is a shift from ethics to aesthetics. Contemporary art has become about creating pieces that are morally ambiguous, that promote corporations and entertain the mass culture. I will also be using Guy Debord and his Society of the Spectacle to elaborate on Marx’s theory and explain how he felt art had become commodified and the consequences of this, such as alienation and the loss of art’s function.

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2009 Abstracts Stage 2

To Whom are we Responsible?

Who can possibly be responsible for the two extreme eating disorders? The state, family, media and culture all have their parts to play. How do we know what is best for us?… If the state, family and individual all disagree? Parentalism – should an individual with an eating disorder be considered not fully rational and is this justification for some of that person’s right to freedom to be taken away, on the grounds that they would be ‘better off’. Hegel asserts that the individual’s highest freedom consists in membership in the state. BUT: Does society protect us?

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2009 Abstracts Stage 3

Leaders or Victims, a Fickle World of Fashion

Karl Marx: Here, fashion is nothing but ideological apparatus utilised by the capitalist system in order to manipulate the working class. I have linked these ideas with the collapse of the designer brand ‘Thomas Burberry’ whereby the infamous pattern was adopted by the lower class ‘chav’ and a decline in stature equated with a decline in sales. Deleuze and Guattari: I have drawn on the notion of ‘minor politics’ and art as a ‘becoming’. In a more positive sense, the punk sensation of designer Vivienne Westwood has, as an art form, generated a revolutionary community culture. There exists an issue that fashion is a trivial subject. I intend to challenge this misconception and show how this phenomenon can directly affect our society. I have further deconstructed the ideas of these thinkers and introduced the work of Hans-georg Gadamer, as offering an alternative approach and a distinction between fashion and taste.

Categories
2009 Abstracts Stage 2

Is Art a Result of the Effects of Culture or is it Entirely Free Expression?

Do events in society affect artists in such a way that it is clearly reflected in their work, or is their work completely individual? In my project I look at the Abstract Expressionist movement, in particular Jackson Pollock. My main focus is the effect WW2 had on Artists in America and how Abstract Expressionism emerged as a result of it. I look into the government funding behind the movement and the postwar mood of society. Jackson Pollock is an interesting focus point because not only was he an alcoholic who suffered from depression but his art works, particularly his drip‐paintings, were extremely emotional and well documented. I centre my attention on the drip‐painting era because they demonstrate his connection with his art, his technique was controversial and the result seemed thoughtless and chaotic to some critics. To establish what is to be considered aesthetically pleasing, I will be looking at Kant, this covers how we perceive things as human beings and how our desires and preferences affect what we consider to be beautiful. To explore this idea I am going to focus on Kant’s concept of beauty, where he believes what we perceive as beauty, can be nothing other than subjective because it is the individual’s taste. In essence my project analyses art aesthetically, from both the artist and the people’s point of view. The influences surrounding artists at the time shows how art can be an inevitable result of mass emotion and therefore its popularity does not relate to how aesthetically pleasing it is.

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2009 Abstracts Stage 2

The Pursuit of Happiness

Territory – Happiness Object – The search, relativity and morality of the emotion Concepts – ethics, relativity, utilitarianism and materialism Thinkers – Montaigne, Plato and Schopenhauer

The search for happiness seems to be a part of the human condition. It is a sometimes selfish, ambition that the human race, and western world culture specifically, feels is owed to them.

-What are the pre-requisites of happiness?
-Is it natural?
-Is happiness relative, i.e.: can the poor be as happy as the rich? Can the unintelligent be as happy and the intelligent?
– Is Schopenhauer’s pessimistic view of the possibility of happiness understandable?
– Does money and material gain lead to happiness or is it merely a superficial façade?
-Is it essential?

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2009 Abstracts Stage 3

How Far do we have to Travel before we ‘Find Ourselves’?

When discussing travelling, it is very common for people to say they are going to ‘find themselves’, this idea has inspired me to philosophically explore the extent to which we discover more about ourselves when we go travelling. To supplement my discussion I have drawn upon my own experiences of travelling, especially my recent University Exchange trip to the University of Vermont, America.

One of the books I have studied is “The Art of Travel” by Alain de Botton, he explains several aspects of travelling such as the curiosity and expectations we have of somewhere and the feeling of surprise or disappointment we get when we arrive. He also finds interest in the ways we travel, such as the mystery of aeroplanes flying, or the “poetry” of a service station on the M25. He suggests that the reason we travel and have a desire to wander the earth without reference to a particular destination, is because we want to escape the confinement of the ordinary, rooted world.

To accompany Alain De Botton’s theory, I’ve also had a look at Sartre’s phenomenology, as he argues that our consciousness constructs our ego. He explains that our experiences are transparent and are shaped by the state we are in and our disposition at the time. The ego is the last factor in our consciousness, and we only really acknowledge it when we reflect on things.

This means that essentially our consciousness is really free, and I think this is the key to understanding how and why our experiences change us. New experiences challenge our preconceptions about things, and therefore affect our ego. Sartre explains that a conception of something is given as a whole idea, where as when we perceive something it is given in profiles, it is broken down into individual aspects. If you apply this to travelling, we can have a conception of a place, and a general idea of what it might be like, but when we arrive we are often surprised by the many different things we observe. As our understanding of a place changes, our perception of ourselves changes too.

Categories
2009 Abstracts Stage 3

International Development in a Global, Post-Modern World

My time volunteering in development projects in Tanzania inspired me to delve further into the logic and processes of international aid and development. The barriers which development initiatives come up against struck me to be as a result of the postmodern world we live in: globalization, technological advances, a disposable, fast changing society, a multiplicity of sources from which to develop an identity, and of which we need to have a knowledge. So do the changes in our world mean aid and development is pointless? Are developing countries ever going to catch up with the superpowers? Can a poverty stricken individual get on in this fast-paced world? Will they ever have all the tools they need to survive? Giles Bolton’s inside account of why globalization and good intentions have failed the world’s poor has been a useful insight. I wanted to explore Zygmunt Bauman’s account of the consequences of globalization and a postmodern world for the individual and David Harvey’s ideas about the loss of the particular in the universal in the world we live in. Can international development be fruitful then? Are we simply going about things the wrong way? Do we need a new approach to development accounting for the shift from our Kantian disinterested subject to the complex nature of the subject in today’s society? These are the key themes for exploration in my project. KEY SOURCES: Giles Bolton: ‘Poor Story’, David Harvey: ‘Spaces of Hope’, Zygmunt Bauman: ‘Globalization,’ ‘Liquid Life,’ ‘Wasted Lives.’

Categories
2009 Abstracts Stage 2

Fakebook: is Technology Mediating Human Interaction?

It is estimated that there are 150 million active Facebook users worldwide. • Once a website aimed solely at students at Harvard University as a means of keeping in contact with classmates, Facebook has grown exponentially since its inception in February 2004. • Recently it has excelled in the 35‐54 year age demographic with a reported 279% increase in users in this age bracket. The worry is that, in domino effect of sorts through the generations, it will soon be a reality that everyone who has regular access to a computer will be communicating through a website and human contact and interaction will be a seldom practiced pastime. With the arrival of the mobile telephone came a whirlwind of irreversible change. Advancements in Telecommunications opened the gateway to a so‐called ‘Thumb culture’ in which communication and media interaction are all dictated by some form of digital interface. It seems as though, with each technological step forward, we take an interpersonal step back. For example, first there were phone conversations to close friends and family, then came text messaging, a far less personal way of communicating but, nonetheless it was a progression, or perhaps digression, that was mutually embraced by contacts that once knew each other well enough to interact verbally. From this stemmed the birth of instant messaging as a cheaper but very similar alternative. The concept of social networking through sites such as Myspace and Facebook is a commendable one. They aim to maintain correspondence with people that would have otherwise slipped off one’s communication radar. But the reality is that our strong relationships become diluted by becoming ‘Facebook friends’ with people we would call mere acquaintances. With the addition of Facebook chat in April 2008, Facebook became a ‘one‐stop shop’ for all our communication needs. Engaging in duologues on Facebook meant that their monopolisation have become so conglomerate that face‐to‐face conversations end up actively referring to Facebook. With a limitless online friend capacity, people with thousands of friends either have to spread themselves very thinly across all these people, or spend hours and hours chained to a computer to maintain a valid friendship. In order to explore this territory, I will be looking at the work of J.G. Ballard and Guy Debord as well as looking into Communication Theory. My aim for this project is to investigate where we go from here. Will face to face, or even verbal communication exist in the future? Or will technology sever our personal relationships to such an extent that meeting with people will be simply a distant memory; something the future generations will dismiss as ’something their grandparents did’?

Categories
2009 Abstracts Stage 2

Can the Practical Application of Reason Generate a Utopia?

Inspired by the 1980’s setting of Alan Moore’s epic superhero tale, Watchmen, we consider reason and its practical application for the purposes of generating an ideal society. How ideal do we find such a setting? Has utopia been achieved? And if not, what hinders such progress? We centre on Kant’s philosophy which considers the realisation of Utopic conditions via applied rational thought, contrasted to Hobbes who considers the nature of man before rational application. Furthermore, if utopia is desirable, what would be the means to achieve such? To consider such we turn to the Utilitarian actions of Ozymandias!

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2009 Abstracts Stage 3

Dying in Denial: the Industrialisation of Death in Contemporary Society

For my stage three project I have decided to explore the industrialisation of death in our current society. My examination begins with a look at the gradual change in the perception of death, from the classical age to the modern day. By taking a genealogical approach to this historical change I am able to identify the specific reasons for these changes and reflect upon what significance these changes have on the perceived meaning of death. Beginning with the role in which death played in the Classical Age, I examined how death was once understood as a harsh reality of life to which everyone was made aware through events such as the bubonic plague and the limitations in medical knowledge. After which I explored the gradual development of anatomical pathology in the modern age and the effect that demography, pathology and sociology had and currently have on how death is now approached. In particular I looked at the importance that has been placed on defining death in terms of its physiological cause and the implication that this definition has on each of the specific areas of study I have mentioned. By understanding the changes that have occurred between these two points of history, I highlight the key issues that are involved in the industrialisation of death and what exactly this means in relation to our individual approach to death and our common understanding.

Following this I introduced the philosophical theory of Martin Heidegger and his explanation of death in relation to his phenomenological task to uncover true meaning in ‘Being and Time’. By setting out a brief explanation of how Heidegger attempts to understand the meaning of being in general through human experience, I examine the significance that death has in making possible the discovery of true meaning. From this I moved onto Heidegger’s later work, ‘The Question Concerning Technology’ and his thought on the role of technology in the pursuit of understanding being and the distinction he makes between authentic and inauthentic perception. It is at this point where I applied the issues I raised, in the study of my concept, to Heideggerian theory and translate what effect the industrialisation of death has had on the authenticity of understanding the true meaning of death in the modern day. In conclusion I offered a personal insight to my opinion on the impact that contemporary society has had on our perceived meaning of death and what significance this has to our eventual confrontation with death.

Categories
2009 Abstracts Stage 2

In 2009: Can the Pen be Mightier than the Sword?

During the course of this project my main objectives are to explore the purpose of war throughout history, to assess what can make war morally justifiable, man’s natural tendencies towards violence and to explore the place of war within modern society with policing factions such as NATO and nuclear deterrents. The main question asked within this essay is: with man’s natural disposition for violence, can the pen EVER be mightier than the sword?

Categories
2009 Abstracts Stage 2

Acting-analysis: “Emotional Memory” as a Theatrical Interpretation of Psychoanalysis

In my project, I will examine the process of acting, and the emotional experience of becoming a character. Physically looking the part is very different to mentally becoming the part. Stanislavski’s ‘Emotional Memory’ encourages an actor to recall their own memories in order to create a realistic interpretation of a role. Therefore, one must remove themselves from their ‘true self’ in order to create a ‘new self’. From this, I believe an actor must consciously explore their subconscious. Therefore, this concept can be associated with Freud’s examination of the human psyche. Thus, I will compare Emotional Memory with Psychoanalysis. Like actors, Freud’s patients must explore their unconscious. I will examine Psychoanalysis, whereby the relationship between the patient and analyst is crucial for an effective treatment. From this, I will examine ‘free association’ and ‘unconscious formations’: both central features of this Freudian system, aiding the patient on a laborious journey of recovery. Whether in theatre or film, I believe there is a danger in acting. One must be extremely careful in adapting their mentality when becoming a character, in order to remain secure in their ‘true self’. Occasionally, an actor’s addiction to his role can become detrimental, as seen through Heath Ledger’s tragic death in 2008. It is argued that the extreme depth of his role of The Joker in The Dark Knight, combined with his perfect interpretation, led him towards self-destruction. Through acting, one must Psychoanalyse your ‘own self’, when creating a ‘new self’. However, one must be consciously aware of the complexity of the process, and thus intentionally maintain your own mentality.

Categories
2009 Abstracts Stage 2

The Morality of War: the War in Afghanistan and the UK Experience

Territory
The War in Afghanistan; which began on October 7, 2001 as the U.S. military operation, ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’, was launched by the United States with the United Kingdom, and Natoled, UN authorized ISAF in response to the September 11 attacks. This conflict will form the basis of my project. I will discuss the various ethical issues which have arisen from it and attempt to clarify the different arguments for and against such a war.

Object
There are many issues surrounding this conflict, for example the justification of the war itself, Increasing civilian casualties, lack of support for troops, both from the public and in terms of equipment. The detrimental effect on the population, especially farmers and industrial workers. The lack of sufficient troop numbers. The requirements of the Afghan population. There are many philosophical proponents of these theories and I intend to apply the theories of a number of philosophers to the problems we see in this conflict; Plato, Hobbes, Kant, Hegel Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Locke & Rousseau, are some of the philosophers I will use to discuss the moral issues which result from these problems, from the just war arguments to the opposing teleological and deontological notions of war. Change I am particularly interested in the attitude of the UK towards this conflict, I will investigate the extent to which our attitude to war has changed, from the first and second world wars to the present day conflict in Afghanistan, with reference to the Falkland’s conflict and the Northern Ireland troubles. I wish to understand how these conflicts have affected the way the UK views war. To what extent has our perception of it changed over the past one hundred years? And what can we learn from these past conflicts? This shall be the ultimate goal of my project.

Categories
2009 Abstracts Stage 2

The Transformation of Japan. A Philosophical Investigation of Japanese Cultural Change

Japan today is a nation synonymous with contemporary culture and ambitious technology that tries to transform the way in which we live. However, it is hard to imagine that just over a century ago; Japan was in the midst of a massive change which saw it go from a country of feudal military foundations to an industrious world power which would contribute to world history in a substantial way. This project aims to look at the History of Japan over the Meiji Restoration in the late 1800s and see how this event was the catalyst which caused a nation to turn its back on 800 years of uniform history and become a contending power on the world stage. The cultural principles of Japan at this time shall lead me to look at the post war writer Yukio Mishima, whose ideas on the culture of Japan after World War II provoked him to write some of the most defining Japanese literature of the 20th Century. Ultimately, his views in this area led to his highly publicised ritual suicide in 1970 prior to which he tried to start a coup against the new media based, industrial Japan. To link this project philosophically, I shall be referring the ideas of Mishima to those of Georges Bataille, who Mishima himself had a fascination with. Bataille’s theories brought forward notions related to sacrifice within a culture. This includes specifically the concept of Potlatch, wherein Native American tribal chiefs would appease opposing leaders by destroying resources and objects of value. With this in mind, I shall show how the Japanese transformation was a Potlatch on a grand scale, and how Mishima was a microcosm of this in the 20th Century. The conclusion of this project will come to the point where justification of Japan’s change will be shown.

Categories
2009 Abstracts Stage 2

The “Punk” Trend by Vivienne Westwood and the Philosophy of Bataille

My key point is to look into the fashion trends of Vivienne Westwood, I shall concentrate on the era of ‘Punk’ where Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren played a vital role. I shall compare this with the Philosophy of Georges Bataille who had an obsession with obscene things such as Human Sacrifice. Concentrating mainly on his Base Materialism and his writing’s Eroticism and Story of the Eye. Punk……. • Punk first emerged in the mid 1970s in London as an anarchic and aggressive movement. About 200 young people defined themselves as an anti-fashion urban youth street culture. Vivienne Westwood is often cited as punk’s creator, but the complex genesis of punk is also found in England’s depressed economic and socio-political conditions of the mid-1970s. Punk was as much a youthful reaction against older generations, considered oppressive and outdated, as a product of the newly recognized and influential youth culture. Creative and entrepreneurial people, such as Westwood, often contribute to an aesthetic that brings a sub cultural style to the forefront of fashion. Bataille…. This image of a torture victim from Taiwan fascinated Georges Bataille. He thought that “the expression on the man’s face is the ecstasy of sexual pleasure”. Georges Bataille believed, as Hegel did, that ‘history is dead’ that we need to come up with new and exciting ways to take society forward to a new way of living because as it is now it is boring. He believed that the key to this was through art, shocking people into change.

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2009 Abstracts Stage 3

Hearing without Knowing: Music, Recording and Differance

This project began with Bill Drummond’s poster, Notice. For Drummond, the digitization and instant access to music through the internet has rendered recorded music a dead art form. To try and understand Drummond’s perception, I have chosen to examine three moments where technology had altered musical production and dissemination: – (1) The birth of notation. (2) The advent of file-sharing software such as Napster. (3) The rise of house music and ecstasy culture where DJs perform using recorded music. Throughout, I have used Deleuze and Guatarri’s A Thousand Plateaus as a conceptual tool-kit. Drawing on their notion of the rhizome, faciality, the refrain, becoming-imperceptible and micro-politics I have attempted to understand both these three movements and develop an approach to music itself. In order to cast some light on Drummond’s perception of recorded music as a single, irrelevant genre, I have turned to Adorno’s conception of the culture industry. Through Derrida’s Dissemination, I have attempted to show that the dichotomy between recording and performance cannot be sustained and that the musical experience returns the listener to the play of differance.

Categories
2009 Abstracts Stage 3

Genealogy, Power and War: Death from Inside

That which mankind has called war throughout the ages has become a very different phenomenon to what it once was; in our day and age we find ourselves part of a world continuously in conflict, but the very fact that we know this is due to the scope and depth of the information which has been compiled and disseminated by the media. This project will focus on how war, and in particular the very nature of our understanding and views governing it, has been inexorably changed with the advent of advanced information technologies. Paying specific attention to the means of its dissemination and the techniques and methods involved in this process, I will discuss how information, the very stuff of which our truths and ideas are composed of, and its constant manipulation not only affect our views on war and the societies which it involves, but also those of the entirety of our working geopolitical structure. I will focus mainly on late-twentieth to early twenty-first century U.S. warfare, explaining certain practices and decisions implemented by Americans as a whole, keeping these in line with the aims and context of my inquiry. I have chosen to apply Foucault’s ideas on genealogy as the central methodology upon which this inquiry will be constructed as I believe it to be not only pertinent and applicable to the subject matter, but more rigorous and conducive to the production of truth necessary to its competent investigation than any traditional historical method. Although I deviate slightly from the “traditional” foucaultian understanding of genealogy, choosing to rely heavily on statistics gathered through the process of polling and information distributed through newspaper, journal, and magazine articles instead of using mainly primary accounts, I believe my adaptation to his methodology to both ground my study in the temporal contexts which I analyze and complement my work and its search for interruptions within the context of political history, war, and technology. I will also draw heavily upon other concepts previously explored by Foucault to better explain my own views, with specific attention paid to the natures of truth and power; I will then adapt these ideas in such a manner as to allow for further elaboration of certain ideas essential to the development of my thesis which I will address later on in this work. In order to achieve a more in-depth understanding of the subject, I will juxtapose the philosophy of power and right of Thomas Hobbes, the ideas of which I argue to be outdated and now completely at odds with the realities of modern global, and especially American, politics, against that of Paul Virilio; a large portion of this investigation will deal with some of the more prominent ideas ascribed to this contemporary thinker, as I will seek to explain parts of his analysis of the first Gulf War through an inquiry of the media’s effect on the American, and indeed global, populace within this context. I will then conclude by condensing different aspects of both Foucault’s and Virilio’s theories into a single, working thesis.

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2009 Abstracts Stage 3

A Philosophical Enquiry into the Class Differences of Social Deviance and its Links to Philosophy

Aim of project – form an enquiry into the idea of social deviance, focussing particularly on how it differs depending upon the social group and why it seems to be more prevalent in the working classes. I will look to give possible explanations of social deviance based upon the philosophical thought I am going to look at. • General idea of deviance – any act which goes against the social norms or laws of a particular society. • Common explanation found for the greater prevalence of deviance in lower working class groups – harder for the individuals in the lower classes to fulfil their potential in society. This leads to feelings of frustration, which can lead to social deviance • This links into the ideas of Marx, and his ideas on class struggle, and how the lower class, or proletariat are the powerless people in society, which leads to feelings of resentment and frustration and may lead to certain antisocial behaviours – this class struggle will ultimately lead to what would be considered deviance as he suggests that a social revolution will occur • Work done with Engels on the family – microcosm of larger society showing negative side of society • PHILOSOPHY – Sartre – ‘Red mist’ showing the connection between mans subconscious and violence and idea that man is completely free to be whatever he wants to be SO man is free to act in a totally socially deviant manner, however it is one’s own responsibility to act in this way • “Being and Nothingness” – conflict is central to all human relationships

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2009 Abstracts Stage 3

Marketing Ethics: a Critique of Capitalism

TERRITORY: The Marketing World. Ethical problems of marketing such as target marketing, standardization, stereotyping, exclusion and the removal of personal autonomy, all caused by forms of marketing. CONCEPTS: Capitalism – Economic structure that gives all power to the private owner. Thinkers – Karl Marx. Theory – Commodity fetishism – Attributing false value to commodities. Theodor Adorno. Theory – Culture industry – producing mass commodities, mass culture and popular culture, all of which fool the consumer into a state of happiness and Satisfaction with capitalism. COMPARISON: Marx and Adorno’s theories of capitalism highlight many of the ethical problems of marketing in capitalism that are clearly seen in the modern day, ultimately capitalist marketing creates commodities that have gained power over the individual and removed our autonomy.

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2009 Abstracts Stage 2

“Kill Me and Save Yourself!” How Friendship Affects Morality

Aims
In my project I will discuss how the relationship between friends affects our ability to make objective moral decisions. In doing so I hope to clarify some of the philosophical positions on friendship and assess my own views philosophically in order to attain whether moral theories should devote specific attention to this idea.

Object
The object for my project is the documentary film “Touching the Void”. This film tells the story of two friends who set out to climb the previously un-summited west face of “Siula Grande” in the Peruvian mountains. In doing so both friends were plunged into a life and death struggle and one was forced to make an arduous decision to end his friend’s life.

Territory
The philosophers I will use in my project are;
• Aristotle, who writes explicitly on the conditions of complete friendship in his book
“Nicomachean Ethics”
• Hegel, most importantly his concept of recognition and how that is affected by
friendship and how this in turn affects his moral theory
• Hobbes, the idea of rational egoism and how friendship is affected by this