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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Men Have Pumpkins for Heads … or Are Made of Glass. Autism: How Does It Fit into Our Society?

Objective/ territory: To analyse how autism fits into our society and deconstruct our self- constructed ‘social norms.’ People have wrong conceptions based in historical comprehension.

Sources: Michael Foucault (Madness and Civilisation), Jacques Derrida (Writing and Difference), Descartes (The First Meditations).

Project outline: I aim to provide an understanding that autism does not necessarily fit into either category of reason or non- reason. Through analysing the philosophers named above, I will investigate the truth or validity behind our self-constructed ‘social norms’, and whether or not we hold a true account of what is considered to be reason and non-reason. Questions will be addressed such as where do we draw the line of separation between reason and non- reason? Is there such a thing as reason and non-reason? Where has our idea of normality been derived from? And who has the right to decide what is normal?

Through a method of deconstruction, I aim to scrap the system and prove that society should be constructed in such a way that rejects any notion of social hierarchies.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2010 Abstracts Stage 3

The Crisis of the Modern Subject

How has the pursuit of human knowledge brought about identity crises in the modern world? What is at stake when chasing ‘Space and Time’ eclipses the integrity of ‘Place’, for ‘where’ do we find ourselves? Does ‘architectural’ modification of our human environment respond to a need to cohere fragmented ‘place’? Will we never stop trying to pick up the ‘pieces’? Or are we beginning to appreciate that the fragmentation of experience characteristic of the contemporary, is something to which we always already belong. And to belong to an identity and a place, will not be found in ‘coherence’, but in our throwing ourselves headlong into the experience of fragmentation, as an affirmation of the accidental and random unfolding consequences that narrate each person into an unrepeatable individual existent. Is that affirmation, not ‘Place’…

Cavarero – Arendt – Harvey – Casey – Heidegger

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2010 Abstracts Stage 3

Credit to Capitalism: a Philosophical Examination of the Most Enduring System of Our Time

The aims of this project are:

-To gain a greater depth of knowledge regarding the origins and definition of capitalism.
-To offer descriptions of the vast differences between Chinese and American capitalism.
-To give in depth analyses of the economies of both the United States and China.
-To open up capitalism as an economic concept to philosophical debate.
-To assess whether notions such as freedom and human potential are relevant in a discussion of capitalism.
-To make philosophical assertions about capitalism in advancing the worth of the human being and encouraging humanity’s ‘flourishing’.

Capitalism is the most enduring economic system of our time, there has to be a reason communism and Marxism have failed and why democratic led reform and capitalism have become the most successful political and economic systems. Capitalism is widely regarded as being able to give every single individual the opportunity to achieve wealth and the opportunity to involve themselves within the business of profit.

Max Weber’s account of the origins of capitalism in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism explains that religious protestant doctrine emphasises the moral goods of hard work, investment and discipline. During modernity, these ideals paved the way for the beginnings of unrestrained and individualist capitalism that is now the norm in the US. Weber identifies that an individual endeavours to involve himself in moral economic activity because of a ‘calling’ which can be seen as an obligation to God. Moreover, economic achievements were seen as the true measure of one’s moral standing.

I shall then focus on John Rawls’ most famous work, Political Liberalism; I believe that it is only in a liberal political system that true capitalism as we know it can be achieved. Liberal politics allows free trade and the opening up of an economy. The philosophical tradition of liberalism is widely regarded as enabling capitalism and engineering the free market that exists within some nations today.

My project will be a hermeneutical explanation of what capitalism essentially is, followed by an empirical investigation into the different strains of capitalism found in the USA and China and assess whether China can really be called a capitalist nation at all.

Sources used- Max Weber –The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and John Rawls – Political Liberalism.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

The Rise of the Posthuman: the Redefinition of the Human

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

Here is basic outline of my investigation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Entertainment and Education. Audrey Hepburn and Friedrich Schiller: Artists and Teachers

Audrey Hepburn is synonymous with the glamour, style and beauty of a bygone age. Her films have a lasting appeal and are as popular today as they were when they were released in the late 1950s and early 1960s. They gave hope to a world which was recovering from the Second World War and offered an escape to a generation.

Escapism into art, be it music, fine art or cinema is something which is done by all at certain times in life. There is something about the arts, in particular films, which invites us to lose ourselves in the moment and forget our reality.

The concept of the betterment of man from art is not new, dating back to the writings of Romantic poet and thinker Friedrich Schiller, who believed that society’s ills could be remedied through the arts.

Through the writings of Schiller, I intend to study the ways in which these films, as an example of art, can help and improve man. The films which I employ are amongst my favourite and are studied in terms of their plots, script, costume and locations to highlight the notion of aesthetic education.

The personal connection these films have with individuals is key and so my recollections and those of others will be studied in order to show that these films, and indeed art in general, have a greater purpose than mere entertainment.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

From Viral Advertising to Corporate Personhood: Does the Corporation Walk Among Us?

The object upon which my project will be based is the corporation.

The context in which I will explore the corporation is viewing corporations with the framing of an individual.

Although corporations are what the name implies, a group of individuals working together towards the production of profit; corporations share many attributes that an individual holds, including corporations being seen as ‘legal persons’ in legislation.

Therefore, to what extent is an individual human and a corporation the same as one another or different?

To explore this idea, I will use topics such as;
• Aristotelian virtue ethics – can corporations have traits and characteristics which deem them to be virtuous?
• Hegelian social ethics – how can corporations function ethically within a social whole and guarantee ‘recognition’ to stakeholders and employees?
• Social contact theories – taking Hobbesian social contact theory and applying it to the corporation
• Prevailing thoughts in the newly developing field of business ethics

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2010 Abstracts Stage 3

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

Territory- Gang culture

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

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

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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Falling Asleep Consciously – a Quest for the Truth

The subconscious mind stores vast amounts of information on what we have experienced in our lives. When in a lucid state, a dreamer becomes aware that he is dreaming. In this state he has greater access to his subconscious. Is it possible to understand our waking reality more clearly, by harnessing our subconscious memories?

To explore this idea, I am, primarily, going to be focusing my discussion around the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, namely his works on knowledge and reality, with the psychology of Stephan La Berge, including his work on lucid dreaming.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Sex for Sale: an Investigation into the Ethics of Prostitution

Known as the world’s oldest profession, prostitution has always been present in society. However, the moral viewpoint regarding prostitution is not so consistent, the act being legal and regularised within some countries and punishable by death in others.

The aim of my project is to therefore attempt to find an answer to the ambiguity which surrounds the morality of prostitution. Looking only at a case of prostitution between two consensual agents – as any other example would clearly involve an inherently wrong violation of freedom – I will examine prostitution in the light of three prominent moral philosophical theories:

• Utilitarianism
• Kantian Ethics
• Hegelian Ethics

The choice of these particular theories is not only because they are notable moral arguments but also because they are very diverse theories.

This diversity consequently allows a balanced and thorough investigation into the morality of prostitution.
With regards to Utilitarianism, I will study Bentham’s ‘hedonistic calculus’ and Mill’s ‘greatest happiness’ and ‘harm principle’.

The application of Kant’s ethics means a study of prostitution under the categorical imperative.

Finally, prostitution in relation to Hegelian ethics involves an exploration into freedom and the societal values which can uphold this freedom.

Ultimately, I hope to reach a credible conclusion as to the morality of prostitution answering pertinent questions such as, does sex have an inherent special quality which should disallow it to be used as a commodity? And can the legalisation of prostitution ever be considered worthwhile for society?

‘Prostitution testifies to the amoral power struggle of sex…. Prostitutes, pornographers, and their patrons are marauders in the forest of archaic night.’ – Camille Paglia.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

The Strange Case of Dr Ego and Mr Shadow

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

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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Depression on the Increase in Britain! Is “Affluenza” a Contributor?

We are truly in a bad way emotionally …Selfish Capitalism is not a good way to run things, if you care about people’s emotional well-being. [Affluenza, 2007]

These are the words spoken by Oliver James in his book Affluenza. In his book James suggests that the virus he names Affluenzais a set of standards which boost our defencelessness against psychological distress: we are now placing a high value on needing money and possessions, we want to look good in front of our fellow man and are coveting fame. James suggests that the studies he has made in his book show not only is the epidemic at pandemic proportions but is also on the increase.

My aim within this project is too show that depression has risen in Britain since the 1970’s. My hypothesis’ will be that because of the “Affluenza”, we are ignoring our natural instincts and desires, we are constantly feeding our ‘Id’ and because we cannot always feed our ‘Id’ we become dissatisfied and depressed.

In 1905 Freud published three essays on the theory of sexuality; these essays were where Freud developed his sexuality theories and also where he put forth his psychosexual development theory. It is important that we understand these theories as we will have a clearer view of how when we are not allowed to develop as Freud said was necessary, that we lose ourpersonal identity and also our social evolution as individuals.If this is correct then the problem is greater than just a rise in depression since the 70’s it also shows us that the future will be very bleak for our future generations as if we now are wrapped up in ‘selfish capitalism’and susceptible to Affluenza, how will we help our future generations to develop?, when we ourselves have been stunted

When James talks of people in his book we notice that these people have many of the above habits which can eventually lead to depression, but the correlation between Freud and Olive’s Affluenzais that by wanting to satisfy our ‘id’constantly because of such things as consumerism we are indeed destroying our personalities and our mental health. We are not meant to constantly satisfy our ‘id’ the ‘id’ works in conjuncture with the ‘ego’ and ‘super id’ according to Freud.

I will Be using Freud, and looking at his psychosexual development theory, to show how when we can become warped as humans if we do not satisfy our needs and are well rounded. I will be using Freud in conjunction with the writer Oliver James and will be referring to the problem named in his book as “Affluenza”. In my Project I will include statistical data to show that depression has risen in Britain. I will also be talking about the impact that “Affluenza” will have on our future generations. We must satisfy our needs and self-reflect, replacing our intrinsic needs with possessions will ultimately lead to our downfall!

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2010 Abstracts Stage 3

Anxiety: Disorder or Not?

Is anxiety a disorder to be eradicated, or a mood beneficial to human life? The aim of this essay is to establish whether or not there is a correlation between Heidegger’s concept of anxiety in relation to the Nothing, and Gadamer’s concept of anxiety as a legitimate, and often misunderstood, mode of knowledge.

Heidegger claimed that anxiety was the gateway to the Nothing and therefore could be used as a path to the answer to the question of being.

Gadamer claimed that mental illness, including anxiety, whilst seemingly treated to the best of a particular period’s abilities, is cast aside as being irrational. In fact, Gadamer claims that the way in which the mentally ill think is to be taken seriously and one must therefore enter into it.

The territory for this essay will be mental illness in our own modern society, as shown by the York Retreat below. I will attempt to show which mental illnesses to do with anxiety are prevalent in our society compared to societies in the past. I will also attempt to show if there are, in general, more cases of anxiety based mental illness in modern society than ever before, for example in the U.S.A. 13.3% of the adult population suffer from one or several forms of anxiety disorders (www.healthyplace.com).

For Heidegger, anxiety is a crucial “original” mood which cannot be entered willingly. He called such experiences “erfahrung”, meaning an experience which is undergone, not chosen. Such experiences are extremely powerful and although not directly life changing, do have an effect on one’s attitude to one’s life.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 3

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

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

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

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

Philosophical Thinkers

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

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

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

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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Alienation. A Catalyst for Two Great Men

The picture that…….. …….changed a life

The Brechtian Theatre presents;
The Political Ideology of Karl Marx
Starring: Karl Marx and full supporting cast including Hegel & Kant, Engels, Sartre and Marcuse

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2010 Abstracts Stage 3

Do Social Interactions Demand the Abandonment of an Authentic Identity?

During encounters with the Other, one is prone to personality adaptations. Through this inquiry I will be looking at how one can be considered to have one identity as people adopt various personas, in addition to which, my non-philosophical territory will be exploring psychological insights into why these roles seem necessary.

In considering R.D. Laing, it seems that one creates a false self in order to survive in society, and it is distinct from an inner self. Lyotard and Taylor propose that discussions are essential in order to find a sense of self; something to distinguish the self from others, however if one creates a false self to engage with others, what is expressed may not always be a reflection of genuine personal beliefs, as such the authentic self is being ignored in the pursuit to ‘fit in’.

Sartre’s account offers an existentialist approach, and by simply being perceived by the Other one is being given an identity which will differ from person to person due to changes in roles. In which case we have further reason to believe that there is no one identity one can appeal to for an understanding of the self.

To solve this dilemma, I aim to explore Levinas’ notion of the Same as the economy of the Same may be adapted to include social adaptations necessary to relate to the world and others.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2010 Abstracts Stage 3

Ignoring the Other: an Enquiry into Levinasian Ethics and Child Abuse

For Levinas, the human being undergoes an ethical epiphany when it encounters the human Other. The subject, when faced by the Other, is commanded to respect it and care over it. A parent, when faced with the ethical presence of their newborn child, is called to rise to the responsibility and autonomy this human life demands…

16% of children experience serious maltreatment at the hands of their parents

The aim of this project is to explore ethical irresponsibility and the effects of abusive parenting. It shall argue that the experience of abuse distorts a child’s very structure of being. As such, the abuse victim’s understanding of themselves, their place in the world, and their relation to the Other is corrupted. This corruption can lead to difficulties in placing abuse within the construct of a coherent narrative identity. Similarly, it can effect a victim’s ability to appropriately relate to others as Other in later life.

It shall draw on texts from both Levinas’ philosophical discourse and cognitive research. To bring certain abstract concepts to life it shall introduce case studies of abuse victims.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 3

Art as Free Expression under Capitalism

My overall aim: To determine whether art can be free expression or whether it is always constrained by capitalism’s effects.

My objects: The works of; Antonin Artaud, Bertolt Brecht and the film Fight Club.

Philosophy: Heidegger, Vattimo and Adorno.

The concepts I wish to explore include…

Alienation – Does a film that can be bought and sold provoke, as a result, alienation from its message?

Truth – Can a work under a capitalist agenda still give us the semblance of truth? I will contrast Adorno with Heidegger and Vattimo in addressing this.

Is it necessary to adopt Artaud’s methods of enveloping an audience as described in The Theatre of Cruelty in order to freely express under capitalism? And is this compatible with Adorno’s critique of culture?

By the end of the work I will answer the question of the possibility of resistance of capitalism by art. I will have taken into account the postmodern views of Heidegger and Vattimo and contrasted them with the philosophy of Adorno. At the end I will have determined whether any of the artists mentioned have produced any works of originality or if, under capitalism, this is merely an illusion. I will also determine whether a film like Fight Club can be seen as original in its criticism of capitalism.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

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

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

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

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

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