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2023 Abstracts Stage 3

Authenticity in the Music Industry: A Sartrean Case Study of Taylor Swift

My project explores the question of authentic existence as part of the music industry. I have chosen to examine the figure of Taylor Swift under the lens of Sartrean existentialism. I will situate Swift’s existence within a framework of Sartre’s existential thought which regards the meaning of the human condition as that which lies in its freedoms. Examining Swift’s own productions, such as her lyrics and her documentaries, will allow me to assess the extent to which she can be said to live authentically through the Sartrean belief that we create our own existence. The nature of the music industry can be thought of as paradoxical – the creativity of music in opposition to the regulations of industry. However, my project will demonstrate how this reflects Sartre’s own understanding of the human condition as existing in a state of nothingness between its facticity and its transcendence. By establishing my understanding of Sartre’s existentialism, through the three principles of being, the Other and bad faith I will be able to apply the figure of Taylor Swift to assess to what extent one can live an authentic existence as part of the music industry.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 3

Fractured Unions: The Historicization of the Trade Union Movement and the Fight to Incite the Tolerant

The fragmentation of the modern workforce means that trade unions now face the challenge of making themselves appear both relevant and useful to people’s working lives. Increasingly precarious and service based jobs mean that people no longer identify with their work as strongly as they once did, and increasingly isolated jobs make it hard to connect with other workers both mentally and physically.

Industrial action is only possible through mass organisation and, the aged concept of what the unions represent, who and what they are fighting for is an increasing problem for the unions and the people they claim to defend. Engaging workers in their defensive aims against unfair working practices and low wages whilst funding this action through membership maintenance is a constant battle for the Trade unions.

This project seeks to address the issue of inciting action amongst an increasingly tolerant workforce resigned to mistreatment as a standard, due to the problems of late stage capitalism. It will make use of Gramsci’s Marxism in exploring the historicization of the trade union movement, and to provide a springboard for potential actions which could reinstate the trade unions into every workers mind as their first line of defence for fair and fulfilling working practices.

The stage of the modern workforce will be set by Virno’s postmodern neomarxist thought, in describing the fragmentary nature of our industries and working identities. To fight for a cause, a person must first identify with it, and be given sufficient evidence that the fight is worth their increasingly diminished time and effort.

The current wave of strike action along with the governments minimum service levels bill has brought the trade unions back into the national consciousness providing an opportune period to reinstate themselves in workers minds as the defensive institutions they claim to be. The minimum service levels bill will be used as an object to orientate the discussion, in its blatant attack on the right to strike for all of the UK workforce while using the fragmented nature of work to its advantage.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 3

Reconceptualising Pathological Demand Avoidance as a neurodivergent phenomena using the Philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari.

Reconceptualising Pathological Demand Avoidance as a neurodivergent phenomena using the Philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 3

SCREW MEN? A CRITICAL STUDY INTO THE OVERTURNING OF ROE V. WADE AND THE RESULTING EFFECT IT HAS HAD ON AMERICAN FEMINIST ACTION

On the 22nd of January, 1973, the United States Supreme Court passed a landmark ruling in the form of Roe v. Wade. Roe v. Wade has correctly been characterised as a fundamental decision, particularly in regards to the ‘right to privacy’ and, on a larger scale, women’s rights as a whole. Brought to the Supreme Court by Norma McCorvery (‘Jane Roe’) and her lawyers in protest against Texas’ abortion laws, Roe v. Wade argued that the current Texan abortion laws were unconstitutional; Texan law, at that time, stated that all abortion was illegal with an exception for actions deemed necessary to save a potential mother’s life. Described by legal journalists such as Linda Greenhouse as a form of judicial activism, the 1973 ruling resulted in not only a new configuration for abortion in the States’ legal field but within its social and political spheres, too. Post Roe v. Wade, these laws alongside many others throughout the country were struck down and replaced with newer and more progressive federal rulings; the ruling given in the 2022 court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organisation was a complete systematic undoing of this earlier progression towards women’s rights. The decision overturned Roe v. Wade and began a political and cultural deconstruction of respect for women and their autonomy within the United States, upon which many women have begun opting out of heterosexual relationships as a form of self-preservation. This project will seek to examine the effects of overturning such a monumental legal decision, particularly in its applications within the modern feminist movement and the more radical forms of feminism that preceded it. Have the reactions of women in the face of this supposed ‘backwards’ ruling been justified? Is the decision to withdraw compliance and activity within heterosexual relationships personal, political, or a form of more active protest? Drawing on a range of feminist viewpoints and historically relevant events, this project will use the 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade as a basis for its examination of female reaction and, more ultimately, its examination of women’s duty to heterosexuality.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 3

Does Fidelity in a Monogamous Relationship Limit an Individual’s Freedom?

This project aims to illuminate how monogamy creates a romantic ideal in which individuals involved rely on one partner to fulfil endless needs. In order to satisfy these demands, a partner has responsibilities such as; being the greatest lover, the best parent, the trusted confidant, the emotional companion and the intellectual equal. Such expectations from a partner facilitates a restriction on their freedom. Hence, this romantic ideal creates a paradox where we have never been more reliant on our partner’s loyalty but have also never been more prone to stray since we live in a time where we feel entitled to pursue our desire because this is the culture where we deserve to be happy and utilise our freedom to the fullest. An act of infidelity is rooted in a need for an emotional connection, freedom, autonomy and a wish to reclaim lost aspects of oneself. Whereas, in polyamorous relationships “lovers guard their own and their partner’s autonomy, which is understood as the freedom to feel differently tomorrow” (Grahle 2002, 24).

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2023 Abstracts Stage 3

Subverting Expectation: Analysing, evaluating and applying Nietzsche’s concept of the as Übermensch as Challenge to Morality  

The question of how to live is an area of great contestation for humanity. Nietzsche, in disavowing morality of the Christian world, saw the higher kind of human, the Übermensch, as the only way to affirm ourselves, following the disbelief in God. Applying the concept of the Übermensch to other literary figures like Achebe’s Okonkwo and Camus’ Meursault, as well as looking at Han’s diagnosis of the contemporary times, I assess how well a guide Nietzsche’s Übermensch serves, both now and then.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 3

Assessing the Ethical Justification of Cryptocurrencies: A Multilevel Economic Analysis Spanning Micro and Macro Perspectives

Cryptocurrencies have experienced rapid growth in terms of their usage and adoption, showing that they have the potential to change how th economic world functions. Through the use of various ethical theories, these being utilitarianism with reference to Bentham and Singer, Deontology and Kantian ethics and Social Contract Theory looking at the ideas of Locke and Rawls. This paper intends to evaluate whether cryptocurrencies can be justified through an examination of their effect on micro and macroeconomics, by applying the ethical theories and reaching a conclusion through them.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 3

Patriotism and Whether It is Beneficial to British Society

This project explores patriotism and nationalism and whether it is beneficial to a society, with a specific interest in Britain. The object I use to begin to talk about patriotism is the novel Journey to the End of the Night by French author Louis-Ferdinand Céline which is based on his experiences during the First World War. He is very anti-patriotic, viewing patriotism as meaningless and not something worth supporting. I look at the similarities and differences between patriotism and nationalism, then explore both concepts philosophically mainly using the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Simon Keller, and Stephen Nathanson. I then look at the history of patriotism in Britain from during the World Wars and after, understanding the role of the right-wing, mass media, and the effects it has had on the left and working classes. Following this I turn to the modern day, reviewing data collected on support of patriotism in Britain, how it less common amongst the youth, and how a growing dissatisfaction for the government shapes this. I come to the conclusion that people would want the ability to be patriotic, to be proud of the country to which they belong, but how patriots act needs change.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 3

Diversifying the Intellectual Philosophical Tradition: An Althusserian and hooksian analysis into the role of essay questions in University Education.

Education became commodified through the introduction of university fees in UK higher education. This commodification means that Newcastle University is implicitly entangled with the economic values of society. Under investigation within this project was the question of diversity in UK higher education institutions. The case study used to ground this investigation was data collected from core modules on Newcastle University’s Undergraduate Philosophy degree. The questions were categorised into five categories, ‘Understanding’, ‘Comparative’, ‘Contemporary/Applied’, ‘Diverse’, and ‘Other’. After analysing and evaluating this quantified data, Althusser’s concepts of reproduction and interpellation were analysed. This Althusserian framework provides an understanding of the role of essay questions in the reproduction of the current intellectual philosophical tradition. The Foucauldian notion of normalisation and historical examples were utilised to substantiate the claim. Whilst a good framework, Althusser’s theory is overwhelmingly unoptimistic. By engaging with bell hooks, the investigation was able to draw out some possible solutions. A framework for alteration was established based on hook’s focus on communication and work by Elbow. In an inverted hierarchical sense, change can start in the university institutions themselves. By implementing more inclusive attitudes in the academy, prejudice, and bias are deconstructed, this would lead to a critique and deconstruction of privilege and diversification of the philosophical intellectual tradition.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 3

Exploring the Evolution of Leadership: A Comparison of Homeric Poems and Royal Marines Commando Ethos Through Foucault

This essay explores the evolution of leadership through a comparison of Homeric poems and Royal Marines Commando Ethos. Applying Foucault’s theories, the analysis delves into the power dynamics, discipline, and techniques of governance employed in these two contexts. By examining the similarities and differences, the essay aims to reveal insights into how leadership has evolved over time and how it continues to shape our society today using Foucault’s analysis of language.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 3

Towards a New Understanding of Antiwork Politics

My project paper is a discussion of the theoretical framework of antiwork politics with a specific emphasis on antiwork’s conception of production and its relation to work. The object of the paper is the reddit forum group r/antiwork and the territory is work and production. I found antiwork’s theoretical framework through Kathi Weeks’ The Problem with Work. In this text, the concept of production as a central topic in the critique of work is discussed. From there, through an analysis of the Introduction to Marx’s Grundrisse, I established the traditional conceptualisation of production. Then, I looked at the problem of productivism, antiwork’s primary critical point, through Baudrillard’s critique in The Mirror of Production. Finally, I introduced Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of production, found in Anti-Oedipus, as an alternative way to conduct antiwork critique. This project was a chance for me to philosophically investigate an area of everyday life that is widely discussed but contains many inconspicuous elements.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 3

The Primordial Wanderers: An Antidote to Nihilism

The project explores how nihilism is an inevitability that emerges out of Schopenahuer’s pessimistic worldview and Nietzsche’s death of God. The project makes the case that by examining the night sky’s historical significance to humankind, we can affirm our lives through its wonder. More specifically, we can affirm our lives and all existence through the night sky’s primordial wonder, which corresponds to Nietzsche’s abandonment of Wagner’s tragic music drama in The Birth of Tragedy.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 3

Alienation and Identity within Kafka’s Works: A Psychological and Metaphysical Exploration of the Human Condition.

This essay explores the themes of alienation and identity within Kafka’s collected works. The study examines the suffering of his characters psychologically through R. D. Laing and Debord and metaphysically through Schopenhauer and Buddhism. The essay focuses on texts such as “Metamorphosis”, “The Castle” and shorter works such as “A Country Doctor” and “The Judgement”. Overall, it intends to use literary and philosophical analysis to interpret Kafka’s understanding of the human condition.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 3

A philosophical investigation into the effect of precarious work on identity construction and formation in post-modern capitalist society.

An investigation into the effects of non-creative and creative precarious work on identity formation in post modern society, looking at these two kinds of work and how they can be seen to corrode or consolidate people’s views of themselves, through an analysis of the work of Bauman, Taylor, Sennett, Virno, and Marx.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 3

Why is Idolatry Wrong From an Islamic Perspective?

The territory of my project is theology and the object is idolatry. The purpose of my project is to research Islamic monotheism or tawhid and aspects of Islamic mysticism, namely notions such as the purification of the heart (tassawuf) and analyse its relationship with idolatry and polytheism. Monotheistic and polytheistic traditions differ in their interpretation and engagement of the multiplicity of relationships between the transcended and created. The idea of a transcendent God is prevalent in many polytheistic traditions exemplified in Hinduism, Neoplatonism, Egyptian and Babylonian traditions. Thus polytheistic traditions cannot be reduced to the opposite of the common monotheistic belief of “One God”. On the contrary, unity has always been an important notion in the traditions stated above, yet these religions do worship a plethora of gods, hence unity in this case does not mean the sole worship of one God. I will attempt to explore and answer two questions: If many polytheistic traditions have a belief in a transcendent God, why is it wrong to practice idolatry? And can a person be a monotheist, but also believe in many Gods? The position from which I will answer these questions is that of a Muslim, from which I will assume that polytheism is wrong and considered the worst sin one can perform in Islam. I will also assume that the Qur’anic narrative of idolatry is correct and will use it as the underlying foundation of my project.
I will attempt to answer the two questions stated above by means of a interpretative methodology, through the reading of Sufi mystic Abū ‘Abdillāh Muḥammad ibn ‘Alī ibn Muḥammad ibn `Arabī. Upon reading the former, I will highlight his cosmological system of wahdat-al wujud (The Unity of Being) to establish an understanding of the transcendent God and explore the concept of unity. For the second chapter, which concerns itself with notion of monotheistic idolatry, my primary reading will be Al-Raghib al-Isfahani ‘al-Dhar‘ia’ and his notion of the purification of the heart and its relation to idolatry.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 3

Mass Media of Repression within the Culture Industry

For my stage 3 dissertation, my object of study is mass media, specifically on the subject of repression within the culture industry. I will firstly mention philosopher, Theodor Adorno’s concept of the culture industry, explaining his belief that those who govern society have purposefully caused a standardisation of the media. This creates a domino effect of standardisation in both leisure and work time, that results in a submission to capitalist ideals. I will clarify, that this submission is apparent to Adorno, as during the reign of capitalism, creativity and pleasure have grounded to a halt, preventing new ideas or realisations, which consequently has led to a submission to the political regime.

In response to Adorno, I will discuss Astra Taylor’s concept of repressive technology in her book ‘The Peoples Platform’. Taylor, much like Adorno, argues that the culture industry has led to a growth of capitalist control and power, however, unlike Adorno, Taylor’s focus is on technology.

I will lastly explain Walter Benjamin’s concept of the aura. I will discuss how Benjamin believes that in order for a piece of art to have an aura, it must be authentic and original. Benjamin confesses that the aura of art has depleted as a result of technological advancements, as art can be reproduced easily, thus the original piece has lost its uniqueness. Benjamin, agreeing with Adorno, argues that this, in turn, causes a depletion of creativity. However, I will then reflect on his claim that, if used correctly, this new technology can be an opportunity for a political movement. He says this, as the reproduction of art allows it to be experienced by not just the bourgeoise class, but by all of society, as art has now become a form of mass media. As the opinions of those in power are now not the only ones being heard, the political regime can be challenged, and cultural homogenisation is prevented.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 3

Difficult Choices: A Philosophical Investigation into Trans Identity in Children through the Role of Language and Narrative in Fluid Times

Are transgender children too young to undergo a gender transition? In my project I aim to discuss the valuable use of our language in order to broaden our understanding on transgender issues in order to help these children in the best way possible.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 3

The Ethics of Time Travel

Philosophical discourse surrounding time travel traditionally engages with concepts such as the Grandfather Paradox, the possibility of time travel, issues surrounding causation, and the effects such concepts have on the nature of the metaphysics of time and change. However in this project, time travel will be assessed by its ethical consequences through contemporary pieces of popular culture, namely Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. Philosophically, this project will engage with Jean Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness and his essay Existentialism is a Humanism in addition to Baron d’Holbach’s The System of Nature, as the two will be presented in direct opposition to one another as representatives of philosophies of free will and hard determinism. The objective of this project is to assess whether ethical judgements are justified or necessary in the depictions of time travel I will be referencing by evaluating whether characters are free to act responsibly or predetermined to act in ways in which they have no influence over. The object of this project will therefore be time travel, assessed through the philosophical concepts of Sartre and d’Holbach, in the context of ethics. The position this essay wishes to argue in favour for is that Sartre’s philosophy of freedom allows one to manifest one’s own moral character, and this moral character is the ultimate determinant in ethical dilemmas. There does however exist vast amounts of overlap in the two opposing philosophers’ theses however the difference lies in Sartre’s notion of bad faith which highlights d’Holbach’s refusal of his ability to choose as problematic. Therefore, the overarching argument of this project is that it is one’s own moral character that dictates their future decision making, and the formulation of such character is done through choice and freedom. Due to the philosophies of Sartre and d’Holbach hugely predating the idea of time travel, I will first give a brief description of the scientific underpinnings of the procedure of time travel, then discuss d’Holbach’s and Sartre’s philosophies, before finally applying the latter to the former.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 3

The Destruction of Urban Communities In L.A, and the Formation of Gang Culture

My project is about the U.S governments failure to uphold Lockean inspired natural rights in urban communities. The American government values the rights of: life, liberty, and property, but within their Los Angels based black communities they have frequently violated these natural rights in favour for a more Hobbesian approach to governing. This approach consists of having a strong centralized power in order to control the natural impulses of human nature in order to establish law. By doing this they have had a heavy presence in minority communities because of their racist belief that blacks are natural lawless. In practice this meant they over policed these communities, which only created disability and a further violation of the natural rights. This then culminated in the creation of gangs such as the Bloods and Crips, as a means to protect their neighbourhoods. These gangs then took the form of the governing bodies in these communities, with hopes of establishing these natural rights. However this also leads to gangs getting involved in deadly rivalries as they attempt to protect their areas. Although they spark violence, gangs do however, help inspire a pride in these communities so much so that members of these gangs often try to help their neighbourhoods by offering financial opportunities, protecting each others property, and making sure that everyone is safe and healthy. In conclusion because of the failure of the United States government to uphold their Lockean inspired natural rights of: life liberty and property, in favour for a more Hobbesian approach to governing urban communities in Los Angeles leads to gangs such as the Bloods and Crips. These gangs form as a way for the people of the neighbourhood to then uphold their natural rights. In doing so they re-establish a sense of community.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 3

Civil Disobedience in the Tik-Tok Generation

In this project, I focused on the overturning of Roe V. Wade, a law which made abortion a constitutional right in all of the American states, which occurred in June 2022 and the resulting reaction of ‘Gen Z’ which was displayed on TikTok. I applied Nietzsche’s understanding of the Master and Slave morality and providing a discussion on how the new TikTok generation can provide a reintroduction of the Master morality to society. Focusing on the Christian moral principles which prevail in US politics and how this allowed the overturning to take place, whilst discussing how those in power maintain a Slave morality. Furthermore, I used Rawls’ understanding of civil disobedience to analyse how TikTok has provided a new platform for ‘Gen Z’ to engage in their own forms of civil disobedience, in response to the Roe V. Wade overturning. I used examples of civil disobedience documented on TikTok in response to the ruling and provided an analysis of their engagement to understand how the impact of their civil disobedience has been amplified as a result of TikTok. Hence, determining that TikTok successfully demonstrates Rawls’ understanding of civil disobedience.