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.

2023 Abstracts Stage 2

To what extent is authenticity present, simulated or not present in Reality Television programmes?

This project is intended to investigate the existence of authenticity in Reality Television programmes. It will look into three main Reality Television shows: The Only way is Essex, Made in Chelsea and Keeping up with the Kardashians.

Whether or not Authenticity is present within these three shows will be investigated by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger and Charles Taylor

It will then be discussed what is meant by simulated authenticity with a reference to a case study conducted by Randall L. Rose and Stacy L. Wood who interviewed 15 Reality Television viewers and evaluated their perceptions of authenticity through the participants journals and interviews.
This project will ask and answer the questions: Is what we see on our screens authentic? Has it all been constructed for entertainment? How do we become our true authentic selves? Is authenticity present, simulated or simply does not exist within the genre of Reality Television?

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

What are the implications of actors playing roles with a different sexual orientation to their own?

This research paper seeks to answer the research question of “what are the implications of actors playing roles with a different sexual orientation to their own?”. To do this the objects of Armie Hammer’s performance as Oliver in Call Me By Your Name, and Rupert Everett’s Performance as Sir Arthur Goring in An Ideal Husband are applied to Sartre’s notion of authenticity and Butler theory of performativity. Sartre’s notion of authenticity is used to assess the implications to the authenticity of an actor’s performance when playing a character with a different sexual orientation to their own. Butler’s theory of performativity is used to assess the implications that performativity has on performances, specifically performances where actors play roles where their sexual orientation is different from the character they play.

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

“I said it with my chest and I don’t care who I offend” Thinking of offence as a progressive voice.

This project explores the role offence plays in the creation of authentic and progressive discourses. It will be exploring this by looking at misogynistic rap lyrics, investigating the offence these lyrics cause. It will begin by discussing John Stuart Mill and Joel Feinberg in order to demonstrate how offensive rap lyrics offend rather than harm. Then it will discuss the work of Catherine Mackinnon, looking at how a minority of rap lyrics could be defined as pornography and therefore harmful. However, it will then demonstrate how misogynistic rap lyrics should be understood as responding to the world building of pornography. This project will then discuss how rap music also has the potential to challenge the belief system created by pornography. Through discussing Martin Heidegger, we see how misogynistic rap lyrics defy our everyday idle talk, creating a new authentic discourse. This discourse is created through the shock caused by offensive lyrics. We will see how shock has a liberating potential, as demonstrated by Walter Benjamin. Ultimately this project will investigate how rap’s offensive misogynistic lyrics shock us, forcing us to engage with them. This creates a new authentic discourse that allows the rise of progressive voices.

2021 Abstracts Stage 3

‘Virtual Identities Vs. Authentic Selves: A Philosophical Investigation into Whether the Level of Value Society holds for Hyperreal Identities Relates to Baudrillard’s Notion of ‘The Death of the Real’

Virtual Identities Vs. Authentic Selves: A Philosophical Investigation into Whether the Level of Value Society Offers to Hyperreal Identities Relates to Baudrillard’s Notion of ‘The Death of the Real’

This project aims to explore society’s immersion in technology or simulations of reality such as social media, with the idea this hyperreality is used to claim a second identity. This territory will be looked at more closely, by interpreting the value society places on virtual identity offered by the implosion of the new stimulating realm of technological experience such as social media and whether this contributes to losing a sense of authenticity and external reality which will point toward Baudrillard’s notion regarding the death of the real.

-Look at Taylor’s concept of webs of interlocution in ‘sources of the Self’ to show how society is able to learn identity, from being affected by others, in social spaces such as social media.
-Research the extent social media can affect society’s identities supported by a description of ‘Snapchat Dysmorphia’.

-Demonstrate how social media increases communities individuals are able to become a part of in granting a sense of identity.
-Look at Bauman’s concept of liquid modernity emphasising how the task of identity formation is incoherent and difficult in a world of flux.
Use Bauman’s concept cloakroom communities to describe how social media allows swapping of identity comes ease alluding to inauthenticity of virtual identity.

-Baudrillard’s concepts from his publication ‘Simulacra and Simulations’ used to describe simulations of reality and hyperreality of social media.
-Draw on how virtual identity is becoming further from the external reality and are the most real way we perceive people.
-Baudrillard’s Semiological theory will be used to explain why society values virtual identity of signs-value.

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

Examining the potential Aesthetic and Existential Authenticity of Fanworks

I have investigated the potential for authenticity in works of art and fiction created by fans of various media. I have examined whether or not fan artists themselves may be considered as living authentically when producing works of art which are inspired by and dependant on another source of art. I have looked at the concept of authenticity from both an aesthetic and existential perspective, examining the philosophies of Benjamin, Barthes, Sartre and Heidegger.

2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Can and how can an autistic subject live authentically in contemporary neoliberal, capitalist society?

This dissertation shall focus upon the vital topic of authenticity in the modern world and examine and question how and why Autistic individuals such as myself are inhibited from behaving in an authentic manner in a modern neoliberal, capitalist society and how subjects can transcend this in the western world holistically. To do this, one shall explore the associating factors of deemed developmental disorders, health the notion of neurodiversity and neoliberalism practically and philosophically, which has developed significantly in the modern age. The modern-day usage of the term neurodiversity, socially and philosophically, can be applied to supposed “high functioning autism” as not a lifelong, debilitating disability and thus illness, but as a neurological form of diversity in an endless spectrum of diversity within the subjective, multi-faceted human experience.

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

The Art of Online Dating: A Heideggerian Account of Online Dating as Poiesis

Online dating is a major social phenomenon which is radically changing the ways in which we interact with each other.
How does online dating affect the ability to reveal one’s self authentically, and to develop authentic relationships with others?
Might there be a way of understanding online dating as a route to truth, and thus as being an artistic phenomenon?

Main Concepts:

Online dating and modern technology

Authenticity and the internet

Authenticity and romantic relationships

Online dating, art, and truth

2015 Abstracts Stage 3

Authentic vs Inauthentic: “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire”; A recovery of the authentic meaning of learning

A study of Martin Heidegger’s philosophy of authenticity through the concept of care, in order to recover the idea of authenticity within education, and stamp out the institutionalised “they” understanding of education to produce non-conformist, original individuals.

John Dewey: providing an alternative philosophy of education, a pragmatic approach.

Ivan Illich, Noam Chomsky: contemporary philosophers of education, supporting the move away from institutionalised education.

2015 Abstracts Stage 3

Has the authenticity of Football been diluted due to the commodification of the game in our contemporary culture?

Fundamental claims:
The authenticity of Football has been diluted due to the commodification of the game in our contemporary culture. • The commodification of the game is a result of all imposing factors that serve to weaken the integrity of the game. • I have argued these imposing factors are: the effects of Mass Media, Fetishism of the game, and the reproducibility of the game.
Philosophers used to support my claims:
1. Marx 2. Adorno 3. Debord, Benjamin
Through exposing the make-up of our contemporary culture it is made possible to see how the game Football was never going to exist in the same nature as it did when it first originated. Our society has served to alter the existence of the game and how it functions. By integrating
Adorno and his theory of ‘Mass Media’ we will be able to see both the detrimental and beneficial effects that media has had on the game. I will also look at Debord’s ‘Society of the Spectacle’, which will allow us to refute whether or not the game is merely a representation of itself. I believe Marx’s theory of ‘Commodity Fetishism’ and Benjamin’s theory on the ‘Reproducibility of the Work of Art in the Mechanical Age’ will make apparent the form of attachment a fan has to their club.

2014 Abstracts Stage 2

Existential Authenticity: A Look at Authenticity in the Life and Work of Nick Drake

Despite Drake’s lack of commercial success during his lifetime, he produced music that today is recognised as some of the most influential in its genre.

By providing a look at his life, work and personality, I will try to show that Drake demonstrates qualities of Sartrean authenticity.

The essay will consist of a struggle in which I try to identify ‘positive’ characteristics of authenticity, e.g. “originality”, “disregard for external pressure” etc.

I will go on to adapt an existential approach in order to define authenticity “negatively”, or what authenticity is not.

I will try to pin down what exactly we mean when we say, “this music is authentic” by taking a closer look at Drake’s musical technique. I will contrast his music, which is eloquent and understated, with music that one might consider manufactured or “inauthentic”, such as the Spice Girls’ discography.

It will be shown that, through the enigma of Drake’s lyrics, musical compositions and personality, that existentialism shaped his perspective and possibly lead to his untimely death.

I will conclude, with help from Peterson’s “Creating Country Music: Fabricating Authenticity”, that ‘authenticity’ is illusory; the Spice Girls and Nick Drake have the same authentic value because authenticity is not objective, rather it is a “socially agreed-upon construct”.

2013 Abstracts Stage 3

The Legacy of the Beat Generation in Contemporary Culture

The changing shape of the search for meaning in American Literature, what does it mean to be ‘human’ today?

Comparing Don Delillo’s vision of contemporary culture and humanity to Beat literature, to explore how technology and mass culture have changed the nature of Being.

Using Heidegger to compare the authentic Beat human to the inauthentic contemporary human.

Does the resurgence of interest in the Beat Generation imply the effort to reclaim authentic life?

2013 Abstracts Stage 3

The Magazine Industry: are We Truly Free to Live an Authentic Life?

I aim to look at the effects mass culture has on society, particularly the influence of the magazine industry, and assess whether we are able to live authentically in keeping with the ideas of Adorno and Heidegger.

The evolution of magazines and the explosion of mass media has influenced individuals greatly.
Magazines have played a part in producing a set of standardized ideals for society to obey. Are we able to live authentically in spite of this?

Theodor Adorno; The Culture Industry
Popular culture in capitalist society is nothing more than a factory of mass produced goods which manipulate society into passivity and obedience.

Martin Heidegger; Being and Time
As humans we are thrown into a culture and society which we have no control over.

If we are all stroked with the same brush of culture then how is it possible to live an authentic life?

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

The Philosophy of Facebook and its Use of Advertising

THE TWO DIMENSIONAL SELF: The way in which people use Facebook as a ‘second life’ is compromising our attempt to discover an authentic self-understanding. Facebook provides us with a ‘flattened’, ‘two-dimensional’ identity, where our account could be seen as a ‘living advert’ in which we only promote the positive aspects of our life and hide away the bad. When we fill in forms at the Doctor’s, we do not claim that is our whole self. However, our attributes, basic details and interests wholly define our ‘Facebook Identity’. This leads us to the question, how are we able to act freely and reasonably whilst retaining this false reality?

HOW DOES FACEBOOK MAKE A PROFIT?: Facebook is a free service that is accessible to all Internet users. Therefore, in order to maintain this service and to create a successful business, Facebook provides us with advertisements. It tempts us with products we didn’t even know we wanted. Facebook uses targeted advertising through the knowledge of our personal details and interests.

TARGETED PHILOSOPHY AND KANT: With a consideration for Kant’s position, one could argue that presenting the subject with targeted advertisements is not immoral as we are able to judge and act upon what we encounter in life, freely and through reason. Through a consideration for Kant’s moral philosophy, I will aim to deduce the extent to which we are manipulated to buy products placed upon us in Facebook.

SPONSORED STORY AND KANT: If I choose to ‘like’ a brand’s page, then I can be used in a sponsored story on one of my friend’s pages. This is a service that one cannot opt out of and brings into question the idea that the user is fundamentally exploited as a ‘human advert’. Facebook argue that when I like something, I am associating myself with that specific brand or service. However, in my project, I will be arguing whether it is ethically right to use others as a means to making a greater profit for the company.

DEATH OF ADVERTISING? AND LEVINAS: Levinas states that most art is fundamentally materialistic in that matter overpowers form. Through a consideration for his philosophy, I will provide a critical evaluation of the artistic nature of this type of advertising. Also, I will discuss whether Facebook has resulted in the death of advertising or instead it is simply part of the natural evolution of the revolutionary marketing strategies of the 21st century.

2012 Abstracts Stage 2

The Authenticity Blues. A Study in Heideggerian Authenticity in Blues Music

In this project I shall explore the idea of authenticity in the blues, using both the idiomatic definition of ‘authentic’, and martin Heidegger’s theory of authentic and inauthentic existence

As a case study I shall use the career of Huddie ‘lead belly’ Ledbetter and his working relationship with the folklorists John and Alan Lomax

Are the blues authentic?
Is the life of a bluesman?
Can we appreciate the blues in an authentic way today?

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

The Camera Never Lies: Exploring Interactions of the Real, the Human, and the Photographic

The cultural dominance and ubiquity of the photographic image invites an uncritical acceptance of its impact and our unconscious absorption of its information.

Knowing that it is literally a ‘trick of the light’ does little to dent our sense of its veracity – after all, our vision functions by a similar trick. The traditional problems of sense-belief apply doubly to photographs, reality is dimensionally translated and reduced, then extrapolated from the photograph by our visual and imaginative conception.

We read and imbue significance in an image, in order to make emotional and visual statements for it, without being quite aware of how we do so. Neither are we aware of what we do when we create images- selected representations of our world, isolated outside time and space – or of their violence upon us – capturing and reproducing a part of ourselves that acts as a whole, suspended in limbo; changing the way we react and perform, changing the world they are meant to mirror.

Vilém Flusser’s ‘Philosophy of Photography’, Susan Sontag’s ‘On Photography’, Roland Barthes’ ‘Camera Lucida’, and various works by Tagg, Elkins, Benjamin and others, explore the truth and utility of the semiotic and ontological interrelation, and the effect of its assumption, as well as the processes of communication of abstract meaning and emotion. By these processes, the apparatus of photography can become a social power without a master, which we feed and sacrifice for, forgetting that such systems, as with money, information, or legislation, are self-interested powers that ought to act for us.

2011 Abstracts Stage 3

[Facebook] Promoting Authenticity or Inauthenticity. What do you Think?

Heidegger: Facebook promotes authenticity by offering people the chance to assume responsibility over their identity and realise that they are in a ‘self-making-situation’.

Sartre: Facebook promotes authenticity by revealing that there is in fact a lack of identity when presenting a self due to the fact that one always has the freedom to choose to move beyond their current situation

Lyotard: Facebook promotes inauthenticity because individuals are no longer concerned with developing a sense of personal identity that is a true representation of them but only with developing an identity that will perform well within their social network in order to increase their social capital

Foucault: Facebook promotes inauthenticity because people are not concerned with developing an identity that is a true representation of them but only with conforming to a certain ideal of how a person ought to be in order to be accepted and not excluded by their social network

2011 Abstracts Stage 3

The Problem of Authenticity in Postmodern Society

The aim of my project is to look at the influence of postmodern society and postmodern culture on our experience as authentic, autonomous selves. I hope to unearth something about the true nature of authenticity, if it indeed exists at all, and through the course of this investigation I also hope to obtain a better understanding of my own self. The main question I wish to resolve is: In this postmodern society can anyone really become an authentic individual and consider their experiences to be authentic? The foreseeable problems are centred on the condition of the postmodern world, which promotes inauthenticity. I shall be considering the views of Adorno: The Culture Industry; Heidegger: Being and Time; Nietzsche: Thus Spoke Zarathustra, whilst also investigating The Truman show.

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.

2008 Abstracts Stage 3

A Discussion on the Subject of Arts, Politics and Authenticity

The nature of this discussion does not lend itself to a specific object on which to focus, the subject is simply too vast. However, the central topic of this discussion is the question concerning the possibility of existence or extinction of authenticity in a highly consumerist culture. The topic led me to discuss many subsequent questions: Heidegger’s temple, in which ‘world’ becomes manifest. Can this relate to contemporary song? Can life affirming, world reflecting, active truth be found in a contemporary song? Is it possible to be both a ‘mainstream’ and an authentic artist? Can art and artist ever really validate or justify their influence on social change and politics, does it exist at all or, does surrealism and artistic social/political/philosophical commentary fall inevitably back into consumerism? If we conclude that ‘symbolic authenticity’ (the representation in art of underlying popular, time and culture specific ‘feeling’ and opinion) is compromised by capitalism and consumerism, are the feelings and opinions themselves compromised? The main areas of focus as outlined above are discussed with reference to Martin Heidegger, Theodor Adorno, Sigmund Freud and Andre Breton.