2022 Abstracts Stage 2

The Enlightenment: Can Progress be Achieved Through Reason?

This project aims to construct an impartial exploration into the historical era known as the Enlightenment. Also regarded as the ‘Age of Reason’ or ‘Age of Light’, the Enlightenment was an intellectual and philosophical movement which was largely based in Europe. Despite much speculation surrounding the commencement of such period in history; with some philosophers claiming it began in the seventeenth century and others in the eighteenth century, the project at hand considers the notion that humanity are in an epoch of postmodernity and that the Enlightenment is still ongoing. In spite of the uncertainty surrounding the origins of the Enlightenment, it is definite that there are conflicting opinions as to whether the movement was positive. Not merely regarded as a period in time, but also as a set of values, the Enlightenment encompasses a normative horizon whereby individuals were urged to question their morality.

Predominantly characterised with the overthrowing of religious dogma and tradition, the Enlightenment enabled individuals to come “face-to-face with the profound questions of man’s history and destiny” (Porter 2001, 14). Such questions were those that the Bible could not readily answer which allowed for the moral authority of the church to be thrown into dispute (ibid). The discredit of religious dogma and metaphysics was facilitated through the augmented importance and consequential reliance upon empirical science and reason. This major intellectual upheaval revealed a shift in how individuals perceived the everyday world due to the movement presenting a momentous challenge to old, traditional ideas so to expose them to the light of rationality in order to discover if they were valuable. Upon the discount of previously accepted authorities and wisdom, everything began to be viewed differently, permitting basic presumptions of ideas to be questioned. As a result of the re-examination of truth and tradition, religion and metaphysical explanations of the world and its happenings became disadvantaged in comparison to scientific procedure and the relevance of fact. The Enlightenment aimed to demystify the world from metaphysics with the use of science, reason and knowledge by removing sovereignty from ecclesiastic institutions, so to put it back into mankind.

In attempting to answer the overarching question of the project, ‘can progress be achieved through reason?’, the French philosophes proved crucial in demonstrating radical changes in political and social dynamics. Their goal to rely on human reason and rationalism in order to create a better society hints at a sense of progress. Concerned with how people of different social classes should relate to one another and what the relationship of ordinary people should be to their government, thinkers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Montesquieu recognised the importance of liberty and basic rights of life which prior to the Enlightenment were not considered proper outside of the Church. To understand the philosophes appropriately, the precursors to the Enlightenment, namely Isaac Newton and John Locke, retain great importance.

Advocating religious toleration as influenced by Locke and making clear the link between “the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century with its seventeenth century origins” (Cobban 1963, 119) Voltaire is arguably the foremost figure in answering the question of this project. Voltaire, as well as Frederick Nietzsche, seen the Enlightenment as the ‘Age of Criticism’ and utilised the movement to scrutinise Christian values and demonstrate that the sovereignty of the church and state is not as powerful as it once was. Providing individuals with an opportunity to question traditional thought with the interrogation of the Christian religion, both thinkers sought to mentally liberate man with approximations of the truth. This was employed with the hope to enable mankind to morally progress beyond the realms of Original Sin and the teachings in the B

2022 Abstracts Stage 3

Enlightenment and the Iranian Revolution

This project seeks to problematize European notions of Enlightenment and to discuss notions of a non-Western form of Enlightenment. I will begin by discussing the problem of Enlightenment that still haunts us to this day. Central to this will be Kant and Foucault’s work ‘What is Enlightenment’. This will lead me to utilize work from Adorno and Horkheimer and Said to demonstrate how colonial expansion was justified through Enlightenment and Orientalist ideology. This will explain how foreign interference across the globe has been justified. I shall highlight the issues of enforcing European, Enlightenment value frameworks on non-Western cultures in reference to the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

2005 Abstracts Stage 3

Religions Replacement in European Minds

A look into the shifted ideals of religion, human spirituality and the replacement of conventional religion with new spiritualities. Objectives To investigate what has happened to religious belief since the enlightenment. How conventional religion has slowly throughout the last two hundred years become fragmented and changed along with its effect on human spirituality. The damage that the enlightenment did to major religions. The effect lack and subsequent regaining of faith In new and different ways. Our attitude to religion has changed so far, that although we now believe ourselves to be free of its grasp, we are more under its thrall. Concepts: Replacement of Religion, shifting role of religion and human frailty of will. Territory: Religion throughout Europe since the Enlightenment

2003 Abstracts Stage 2

An Analysis of the Roots of Modern and Postmodern Architecture in Newcastle

KEY CONCEPTS/ WORDS Enlightenment, Modernity, Rationalizing, Technology, Efficiency, Town Planning, Functionalist. Post modernity, Inspiration, Progression, Shift in systems, Design, Fragmentation, Pastiche, Eclecticism, Existentialism. OBJECTIVES 1. To study the different styles and progressions of architecture in Newcastle. 2. To look at the political and economic forces that have affected the changing of the cities landscape. 3. To analyse social forces that have initiated the architectural changes. 4. To examine prominent architects and philosophers that have altered the direction of modern and postmodern thinking. SOURCES Books borrowed from Newcastle Upon Tyne University Library. Photos taken in the center of Newcastle, visual media gathered from books, internet sites, magazines, leaflets and newspaper articles. FIELD OF EXPLORATION I am going to look at how the fabric of Newcastle’s architecture has evolved over the past one hundred years. By using photographic data gathered in Newcastle I will be able to draw upon examples which can be analyzed with reference to famous architects of the era. The modern and postmodern architecture of Newcastle lends itself to philosophical and sociological interpretation. CHANGE My project will be looking at the progressions that have forced the architectural changes upon Newcastle. I am hoping to illustrate the shift from modern architecture to postmodern architecture and the philosophical themes that have brought them about. THE GAP BETWEEN HUMANS AND THINGS My aim here is to highlight how man has become disenchanted with the Enlightenment project and scientific progress. Disunity of knowledge in the postmodern era has led to a more confusing, pastiche and fragmented way of interpreting society. This incredulity has in some ways widened the gap between humans and things.

2002 Abstracts Stage 2

The Music of the Spheres

OBJECTIVES 1. To study the meanings and interpretations of myth, what it means to man 2. To look at the changing attitudes towards inherited truths and traditions from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment period where superstition and faith were seen as unreason due to the advancement in science. 3. To examine the effect that the Enlightenment had in initiating the existentialist movement and to discover why myth was rejected there also. 4. To study two men, famous for reinventing myth in the postmodern era, both realising that myth is needed to restore coherence in society in order to enhance the experience of mankind. These two men are Car Jung, the psychoanalyst and Richard Wagner the composer. SOURCES Books borrowed from the library of the university of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, various internet sites, newspaper articles, magazines and CD’s. FIELD OF EXPLORATION I am going to loo at the history of theatre and entertainment trough the ages, drawing on three examples. The first will be a look at Greek tragedy in the time of Euripides where going to watch one of these performances was essentially a ritualistic act. The second example will be Racine and his attempt to please the court of Louis XIV and finally, examples taken from Ionesco, a renowned figure of the theatre of the absurd, which forces the question of whether there is any meaning to existence. CHANGE Throughout the project there will be a strong element of change. I am hoping to illustrate the shift in the beliefs from the colourful myth embracing era of the Middle Ages, through the revolution in thought and discovery of the Enlightenment to the existentialists who believe that man must choose his own way without the aid of universal, objective standards. THE GAP BETWEEN HUMANS AND THINGS My aim here is to show how, through exploring my project territory, man was separated from myth initially and then actively dismissed it as fantasy, later being reunited with it through the fields of psychoanalysis, opera, literature and theatre.