2012 Abstracts Stage 3

The Age of Aquarius: The Mayan Calendar and Evolution of Consciousness





AIMS: The Mayan Calendar is a meter of the evolution of consciousness. The Mayan Calendar has taken us into the new Age of Aquarius. I intend to discuss what changes this actually means for our civilisation and assess predictions of our future that we are now moving into a more spiritual ‘Golden Age.’

INTENTIONS: Analyse the future via Diana Cooper who predicts that we are moving from living in the third spiritual dimension into the fifth. Discuss the concept that our lives might be predetermined using Calvin. Look at our past with Karl Marx and see whether through ‘Alienation’ we have lost our sense of togetherness. Look at Lyotard and the concept that science relies upon a kind of faith. Is science better than faith? Use Weber to find where we have lost our sense of ‘spirit.’ Look at how we have become fragmented with Nature through technology and networks. I also look at Lungold’s concept of ‘hypnosis by repetition’ and use Foucault to assess whether we are stuck in a rut with capitalism and need to change our lifestyles.

METHODOLOGY: I have used hermeneutic interpretive and the genealogical approach to help me find meaning in texts and look at how concepts have changed over time.

2012 Abstracts Stage 2

Where’s the Sense in Surgery? An investigation into the use of cosmetic surgery in relation to the Feminist thought of Simone de Beauvoir

The aim of my project is to examine how impossible standards of beauty are being promoted as the ideal within society.

As a result, thousands of women are resorting to the use of cosmetic surgery to try and emulate this ideal.

Women have been banished to the sphere of Otherness, destined to achieve nothing and receive only that which men have been willing to grant.

Simone de Beauvoir argues that women should be liberated from abstract, restrictive essences, like ‘femininity’, which continue to cement women in their subordinate place.

2012 Abstracts Stage 2

Excessive Expenditure. An investigation into ‘the student experience’. Is university an opportunity for rebellion or another cultural norm?

Using Hegel’s Philosophy of Right and Philosophy of Mind, I have established the theory of Sittlichkeit and the State. The Sittlichkeit is the moral fabric of a society, founded on the historical development of social norms. Within a state, it is the basis of personal and societal morality. If we look at the student experience, it could be seen as part of modern society’s Sittlichkeit, a social norm in itself based around mutual interests and community.

The student experience: excessive drinking, late nights, unhealthy food, promiscuity.

We have urges for sacrifice and ritual not supported by society. Bataille says we must release these need through non-productive expenditure, concerned only with destruction and sacrifice. Bataille’s general economy is this cycle of production and destruction: both equally necessary. Applied to the student lifestyle, excessive behaviours are nothing more than a release of these urges through action for its own sake: non-productive.

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

The Seven Sins: Deadly or Necessary? Are We Born Mad or Are We Damaged Goods?

DAMAGED GOODS. A Journey Through Hell makes for a Moral Sinner.

“The misguided acts of my past have brought me here to the virtues of my present and will hopefully lead me to the grace of my future.

Sin is mistakes in the face of youthful abandon. I found my moral limit because I crossed my own line and did not feel good about it.” Corey Taylor, Seven Deadly Sins.

Sin isn’t a transgression but a natural human characteristic that allows for moral development.

BORN BAD. The Apple doesn’t fall far from the Tree.

“That repulsive spectacle of fraud…his face was the face of any honest man, it shone with such a look of benediction; and all the rest of him was serpentine.” Dante, Inferno.
The idea of Original Sin, with Eve and the snake.

Evil exists because we have free will. How can we avoid it? “Complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation.” Augustine, Confessions.

“Sin is a matter of opinion, and in my opinion sins are only sins if you are hurting other people. So if you’re not hurting anyone else, where’s the damn sin?” Corey Taylor, Seven Deadly Sins.

“The only absolute either/or there is, is the choice between good and evil.” Kierkegaard, Either/Or.

We must moderate sin, so that we do not live in a life of repression or chaos.
We must make the sins relevant to modernity, to find the right balance between what really is deadly, and what is just a natural part of life.

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

MI5: Applicability in a Democratic Society

My project is based on an examination into the role and appropriateness of MI5 in light of the perceived democratic value of an individual’s right to privacy, which MI5 necessarily violate for the sake of national security.

My question is whether MI5 is justified in its approach to violate an individual‘s right to privacy, thereby determining its applicability within a democratic society.

I intend to investigate this applicability with respect to the concepts of secrecy, security, and privacy rights. From this, I will establish the condition that we implicitly agree to neglect the transparency of MI5’s operation for the preservation of national security, that through accountability provided by the government will uphold one’s rights to privacy as far as possible. However, we can never guarantee that MI5 do not unlawfully violate one’s rights to privacy. Therefore, through a philosophical investigation of:

1) Kant’s public and private reason, universal principle of Right, external freedom, and the necessity of coercion from authority;
2) Hegel’s conception of the ethical life, citizens disposition to trust the state, freedom between the suffusion of the objective and subjective wills;
3) Marx’s ideological critique, commodification of intelligence, and questioning to what extent individual rights exist; I will deduce to what extent such a condition can be affirmed, thereby determining the applicability of MI5 within a democratic society.

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

The Power of Dance: what are We Engaged in When We Dance and What Does This Mean When the Autistic Child Dances Both Individually and Alongside Others?

CONCEPT: How dance can affect the autistic child’s sense of self, and whether this is more beneficial in a segregated or integrated setting

PHILOSOPHY: Sparshott’s A Measured Pace: Toward a Philosophical Understanding of the Arts of Dance, supported by such thinkers as Havelock Ellis and criticised by Graham McFee

SOURCES: interviews with teachers, factual research on Autism, case studies on dance for Autistic children, secondary texts on dance such as Thomas’ Dance, Modernity and Culture, and secondary texts on special needs children and the arts such as Roberts’ Encouraging Expression: The Arts in the Primary Curriculum.

Thesis: As an individual experience, dance can be the most direct way for the autistic child to access the self; giving way to more stable connections with the world and others.

The most central emotion for an autistic child is fear. The autistic child’s communication difficulties and confused concept of self means fear is associated with situations where the child has to apply the self to the world and to others.

Sparshott’s philosophy of dance argues when dance is done for its own sake, the individual is ‘self-transformed’ into the dancing body.

The most powerful and significant outcome of dance as an individual experience for the autistic child, above all the other arts, seems to be the potential it has to unlock something within their mind. As Sparshott says, it is in the immediacy of dance that engages the individual in a self-transforming experience where the self is in absolute connection with the body.

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

Capitalism in Modern Britain: a Corrupt System that Needs Improvement?

An investigation into the workings of the economic system of capitalism in modern Britain. Is there an alternative to the system which is causing the economic crisis?

In this project I will be exploring the idea of the effect of the capitalist economy on the workplace of modern Britain. Is it a corrupt system? What are the alternatives?

I will examine the recent unpopularity capitalism is receiving (anti-capitalist movements in the press etc.) and look at the reasons why.

I have chosen to look specifically at the work of Karl Marx and his critique of capitalism. I will address the way in which capitalism has created a divide and imbalance within the workplace and look at how Marx explicates these using key themes.

I have chosen to examine the business structure of the John Lewis Partnership as an alternative to conventional models. In doing so, I will demonstrate how analysing the key points of Marx’s critique can also highlight the way in which a successful alternative can develop. I will conclude by answering the question posed: Is capitalism a corrupt system that needs improvement?

2012 Abstracts Stage 2

Mummy’s little monster … Can a child be born evil, or are they only made so by adults?

My aim is to explore the question of whether a child can be born purely evil, or whether they can only be made so by adults. I first compared philosopher’s views on the concept of evil whilst also exploring the issue of the age of criminal responsibility in respect to ethics. My territory was the ethical debates behind the treatment of child offenders and debating whether the age of criminal responsibility is correct.

The object I used is the novel and 2011 film We need to talk about Kevin. It is a novel about the relationship between a successful business woman named Eva and her son Kevin, a 16 year old boy who kills seven fellow students at school. The novel tackles the issue of nature vs nurture, asking whether a child can be predisposed to being ‘evil’ and with the intent to kill, or whether a parent’s shortcomings can shape their child and potentially lead them to evil actions.

I looked at the idea of responsibility, both moral and legal, and whether the age of responsibility is ethically sound or not. The fact that the defence of infancy age differs widely from country to country, from as high as 18 in Columbia, to no defence of age at all in Saudi Arabia. suggests that the law is highly debatable.

I looked primarily at the ethics concepts of Kant and Hobbes, comparing Hobbesian ethics laid down in his Leviathan, and Kant’s deontological ethical views with the Groundwork of the metaphysic of morals. I chose to look at Kantian ethics because of his strong claim that one is only responsible for what is under one’s control. Additionally, Hobbes has strong ethical views on authority, which can be linked with the idea of a parental control and also with the age of legal responsibility. Hobbes and Kant both also hold strong different views on why we obey laws in the first place, along with views on freewill and determinism, which ties in with the nature vs. nurture debate.

2012 Abstracts Stage 2

Is it Edifying to Reject the Moral Boundaries Implicit in Everyday Life in Order to Place Oneself in an Environment where Excess, Ecstasy and Self-Expression are Accessible?


Notion of festival: general and restricted economy, non-productive expenditure, taboo and transgression, sacrifice, the sacred and profane, and joy before death…

The Burning Man…

Smith and Kelley’s artistic interpretation of carnivalism…

Apollonian and Dionysian: Greek Attic tragedy and Wagner…

2012 Abstracts Stage 2

Capital Punishment: Killing, Doing Right, Feeling Guilty, Taking Responsibility ….. The Philosophical psychology of the Executioner

Objective/Territory – In relation to the experience on an executioner, I wish to map our conventional views of human responsibility and the sanctity of life, and question whether they can exist rationally in our contemporary world. From this, I shall be assessing the role of an executioner and exploring the state of mind required to perform such a difficult and controversial job. In doing so, I shall be questioning how anyone, even in 21st century society, can so willingly take the life of another human being. What are the consequences of such a job?

Sources – To achieve this, I shall be looking at Kant’s Moral Theory, and looking at the concepts of duty and universalisation and asking whether they can be achieved through the experience of an executioner. Moreover, I shall be using Hegel’s philosophy, particularly to his concern with human intention and responsibility and questioning whether an executioner should be solely responsible for the killing of life. Additionally, I shall be exploring the Utilitarian position, which Mill shall be representing, to consider if welfare is achieved in society through the performance of an executioner.

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

The Morality of Violent Video Games

Links between violent video games and highly publicised violent crimes have resulted in society continuously questioning the morality behind violent games such as Grand Theft Auto III. From a philosophical perspective can violent video games be deemed moral?

Mill: An action is moral if its consequences result in more good than harm for the majority. Mill therefore would not have condemned violent video games as there is not enough evidence to suggest a link between violence in games and violence in reality. However, video games are classed as a lower pleasure and so must be played in moderation.

Kant: Kant was concerned with activities that result in an increased propensity for one’s duties to be violated. As with Mill, Kant would not condemn video games as not enough evidence exists to suggest one is more likely to violate their duties as a result of violent game play. In multiplayer gaming one can use other players as means to an end, which goes against Kant’s categorical imperative. However, Kant would view this purely as bad gamesmanship.

Aristotle: Aristotle’s main concern with violent video games would have been the effect they have on one’s character. He proposed that overexposure to violent acts damages one’s personality. Therefore Aristotle would have condemned violent video games purely for the effect extreme violence has on one’s character

The current world of violent video gaming with its age limits may fall successfully into the category of moral but what future technology has in store will bring with it a whole new set of issues.

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

Wittgenstein: A Journalist’s Ally? How Accurately Can One Portray an ‘Objective Reality’ through the Use of Language? Using Examples in Journalism, How Does Wittgenstein’s Thought Justify Their Bias?

I am exploring the ways in which we use language: its functions, methods and how we can determine intention. I am using specific examples in contemporary journalism as case studies to support Wittgenstein’s arguments for meaning in language. Looking at issues of bias, the ‘spin’ of particular words used, and how we can pertain towards ‘objective truth’. As a solution to the problem I assess the possibility of a ‘perfect language’. However this is then refuted in terms of its lack of ability to be implemented. Essentially, all knowledge and truth is determined by one’s social context (language game) and within a given system, we can have a relatively objective view of a general consented to ‘shared reality’.

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

Advertising. An Insight into the Contemporary Complexity of Advertising, Examining it from Both a Marxian and Psychoanalytic Framework

I will explore Marx’s views of capitalism as a base for my further examination into advertising. This will not be a predictable attack, but an outline of the social structures of the world in which we live. I will focus my examination of Marx’s concepts of; the free market, power and need, commodity and alienation. These concepts are central to a study of advertising.

Edward Bernays revolutionised the world of advertising through his marriage of psychoanalysis and advertising. Through his studies into the human psyche he showed how advertising acts as the invisible governor which controls the masses. I will explore the incompatibility of Bernays psychoanalysis of advertising and Marx’s views on capitalism.

I will explore the anti-advertising of cigarettes and the Anti-Advertising Agency, to examine how they use Bernays’ discoveries, yet achieve opposite results. I will further my investigation to distinguish whether anti-advertising coheres to Marxist thought, and in doing so I will show how these two forms of anti-advertising are in fact very different.

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

As a Product of Free Market Capitalism Does Advertising Reinforce Inequality in the Current, British, Free-marketed, Democratic Society?

I resent others for having more!
Why can’t I have what I see on television!
Advertising constantly reminds me of what I don’t have.
I’m just a commodity
I cant escape advertising and my desires for money!
I’ll never get to the top of the ladder.
I want what my neighbours got!

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

“We’re All Born Mad. Some Remain So.”- Interpreting the Psychiatric Standards of Mental Disorder

“ About a fifth of the population of the United states are seen as suffering from a mental disorder each year and about half from at least one disorder at some point in their lives.” (Horwitz, 2002,3)

•What is the reality of what psychiatrists define as mental disorder, inside and outside the standards of the psychiatric context, in relation to convention and nature?

“The question of truth will never be posed between madness and me for the very simple reason that I, psychiatry, am already a science.”(Foucault, 2006,134)

•there are genetic and biochemical grounds for supposing that both schizophrenia and depressive disorders have a physical basis. (Gelder, Mayou, Cowen, 2001,88)

“What does man actually know about himself? Does nature not conceal most things from him – even concerning his own body?”(Nietzsche, Ansell-Pearson, Large, 2006,115)

•“A postmodern scientist does not discover ‘truth’, he simply tells stories – though he has a duty to verify them within the terms of the relevant language game.” (Rojek, Turner, Lyotard, 1998,68)

“A schizophrenic out for a walk is a better model than a neurotic lying on the analyst’s couch.” (Deleuze, Guattari, 2004,2)

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

A 21st Century Conception of the State

Just war criterion is often too strict and struggles to justify any war. World War II; arguably the most justified and necessary war in all of history would struggle to be justified using a modern doctrine of just war. In the 21st Century the most problematic requirement of a just war is that only a legitimate political authority can wage a war. My point is best illustrated by a comparison between the September 11th attacks in 2001 and the bombing of Pearl Harbour in 1941. I will discuss the attacks and demonstrate the problems that the distinction between the two highlights major flaws in the idea of legitimate political authority. I will then be able to discuss what can constitutes a legitimate political authority if a nation-state is no longer the reasonable definition. I will discuss Rawls’ political theory of an international overlapping consensus in his work The Law of Peoples allowing for a global conception of justice. My overall task is to define what should constitute a 21st Century legitimate political authority.

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

The Method behind the Madness. Does Society Inhibit the Recovery from Psychosis?

At first glance, the answer to the above question may seem straight forward. Some may argue that the recovery rate of psychosis has surged within the last century. The development of new drug treatments and behavioural therapies has meant that symptoms are now easier to live with than ever before. In addition, the ability to integrate sufferers back into the community is said to be at an all time high; many are able to live, what our civilisation would call, a ‘normal’ life.

Here lies the problem. In our modern era, the recovery of those dealing with psychosis seems to be too easily structured around normality, therefore ignoring the basic structure of what it actually means to be ‘mad’. Secondarily, with this realisation also comes confusion about the definition itself – what exactly is madness?

In order to strengthen the debate I have chosen to use Darian Leader’s (2011) text What is Madness? Leader is able to provide knowledgeable focus on many topics of primary interest. For example, he uses comparative analysis to insist that old techniques regarding recuperation are often overlooked. Michael Foucault’s text Madness and Civilisation adjoins philosophical depth to the discussion. Foucault suggests that our view of madness is controlled by our culture and constructed by society. The treatment of those who have gone mad depends primarily upon how civilisation perceives them.

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

Avatar Selves: Ontological Implications of Fluid Identity in the Virtual Age

“We are becoming fluid and many-sided. Without quite realizing it, we have been evolving a sense of self appropriate to the restlessness and flux of our time.” – The Protean Self (R.J.Lifton)

What is the nature of Being in the burgeoning age of virtual networks?

How are modes of relating to one another, spaces, and information changing?

Our society is fast evolving from centering on hard modern technologies to soft postmodern technologies in tandem with a move to a postmodern identification with complexity and flexibility,

Our capacity to project our identity into an interactive cyberspace of other projected identities raises new questions about boundaries of intellect, collaboration, agency, authorship, self-knowledge, transhumanism, identity, shifts in neurological and social function…

Heidegger saw technology as enframing our way of being in the world. It can enable us to satisfy our desires, but there is always the danger of letting it obscure our essence as human beings. We must continually return to this always-already essence of being, and resist becoming functionaries for technology.

This is all the more applicable in an information-based society in which we present ourselves informatically through the medium of technological interfaces we have no understanding of.

The ontological, social and autobiographical implications for self-knowledge and agency in the novel complex networks of our virtualised society.

Philosophers and thinkers: Heidegger/Borgman/Nietzsche/Zizek/Harman/ Eagleman/Gorny/Self/Stirling/Lifton

2012 Abstracts Stage 2

The Moral Status of Animals

‘Animals obviously cannot have a right of free speech or a right to vote because they lack the relevant capacities. But their right to life and to be free of exploitation is no less fundamental than the corresponding right of humans.’ – Julian H. Franklin

In this project I have looked back through the history of animal rights and the way in which the consideration for them is evidently growing. Will this care for the animals ever grow until their rights become equal to ours? Descartes believed that animals were merely muscular machines, unable to feel pain due to the fact that they were lacking in mind and soul. Bentham began the fight for animal rights in the 1800’s. Today, vivisection continues…

‘Speciesism’ – The argument for putting the rights of humans over those of animals – Peter Singer.

‘How we ought to treat animals depends first of all on the relationship we have with them… There is our relation with pets, who are promoted to honorary membership of the moral community. They are an exception, in a sense a perversion, and a temptation too. There is our relation with animals that we keep for our uses, where we have a clear duty of care but we are not trying to establish quasi-personal relations. Then finally there is our relation with animals in the wild. My argument is that we have duties to animals in all these three areas but they are of a different kind depending on the structure of the relationship.’- Roger Scruton

2012 Abstracts Stage 2

Honda: the Power of Dreams

The Advertising of Honda – Popular and life-affirming, but is it just a capitalist front designed purely for selling and promoting the spectacle?

Popular and life-affirming, but is it just a capitalist front designed purely for selling and promoting the spectacle?
The Society of the Spectacle (Guy Debord) – claims our society is dominated by the spectacle (TV for e.g.) but is it too cynical?

‘The Power of Dreams’ or ‘the glitter of the spectacle’s distractions’? Through this project, I aim to examine the theory Guy Debord asserts in his The Society of the Spectacle in detail, in order to discuss the relevance of a Debordian analysis with relation to Honda’s advertising.