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2023 Abstracts Stage 2

The Death of Death in Representation: A Heideggerian investigation into representations of death in mainstream media during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the media found itself burdened with the responsibility of informing members of the public of the deaths occurring around the world and the immanent potential of their own deaths from this disease. Studies have shown that consumption of this media coverage is associated with negative mental impacts, such as increased levels of anxiety and depression (Niel et al., 2021). This, therefore, indicates an important topic of investigation and a key opportunity to investigate media representations of death. In this project, the effect of media representations of death on our self understanding will be investigated through the philosophical framework provided in Martin Heidegger’s ‘Being and Time’. Through a close reading of this text and a historical account of the representation of death in UK mainstream media during the ‘lockdown period’ of 2020, it will be shown that even in this case, where death is represented as an immanent possibility of the reader, media representations cannot provide an understanding of death that will enable an authentic mode of ‘Being-towards-death’. This project will also provide an understanding of complex concepts found in ‘Being and Time’ through their application to recent world events.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 3

Divergent Critiques of Cryonics – An investigation into the preservation and revival of human life through a philosophical analysis of death.

This project centres around critiquing the preservation and revival of human life through cryonic procedures. Through looking at the object of cryonics within the territory of death and technological revival, this project explores ethical, transhumanist, existentialist and religious issues within cryonics. As a contemporary topic that may become more prevalent in life as science progresses, this project does not aim to dissuade individuals away from a subjective choice of life, rather, offers divergent critiques of cryonics. Through looking at the work of Martin Heidegger, this project discusses how death is an essential predicate of life that ultimately characterises the way that humans live. His existentialism is used to accuse cryonic procedures of diminishing an authentic life. This project then turns to the theologically centred work of John Hick to highlight the importance of life beyond death. Through investigating the conception of a resurrection alongside soul-making, one uses Hick’s theology to deem cryonics as unethical procedure that ultimately dismisses faith. This project offers plausible critiques of cryonics to discuss the limitations of modern science. Although critiques can be interpreted in different ways depending on religious outlook or scientific optimism, this project discusses critiques that are detrimental to the desirability of cryonics.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 3

The Theatre of Dasein: A Heideggerian Analysis of Beckett’s Happy Days

Samuel Beckett’s Nineteen-Sixty-One play Happy Days is best understood as a parody of the human condition. Beckett seeks to reflect the experience of what it means to be human in stage directions, set design, and language. His methods of confinement and parody also allow for a vivid portrayal of existence. A philosopher who also wrote on the human condition was Martin Heidegger. For Heidegger, this experience is regulated entirely by his concept of “Dasein”. My essay centres around seeking to attribute an overlap between Heidegger’s and Beckett’s human condition through its possible representation on the stage of Happy Days. Although Beckett is notoriously difficult to analyse and attribute a specific philosophical framework, I have uncovered evidence of possible Heideggerian influence and inherent similarities. The themes of Heidegger analysed include: world disclosure, anxiety, death, and authenticity. I have also highlighted Beckett’s use of optimism in the play as a potential counterpoint to the outwardly pessimistic philosophy of Heidegger. My aim is to show how the performance medium of theatre can be an effective tool in communicating philosophical ideas, as opposed to text on a page.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 3

Towards a Cartography of Heideggerian & Deleuzian Ecologies in Modern Architecture & Urban Re-Development

This essay looks at philosophical principles that re-conceive spatial orientation. This is done in response to urban spaces and architecture in modern capitalist society, and the many ways in which these spaces are conceived negatively and have been appropriated without respect for natural surroundings and the effect these spaces have on our self-identity. This essay will look at the works of Martin Heidegger and Gilles Deleuze. These philosophers were chosen as they offer differing alternative views of our relationship to our environment. Both philosophers, however, are similarly critical of modern capitalist societies and the effects these societies have had on our relationship to space. Specific interest is shown to the concepts of ‘dwelling’ and ‘nomadism’, and actual examples of each concept, and their effect on their environment, are presented and explained.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 2

Can Phenomenology Provide a Valid Account of the Runner’s High?

This project will explore the object of the runner’s high within the territory of Phenomenology, in particular, the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty in The Phenomenology of perception and the work of Martin Heidegger in Being and Time. The runner’s high is generally understood as acute and positive mood changes that occur with running and jogging over long distances, that can be explained by the scientific endorphin hypothesis. However, this project aims to show that this is limited as it does not provide an account of our actual human experience of the runner’s high. It draws on literature and blogs that describe the author’s personal experience of the runners high in order to analyse this phenomenon as it actually appears to us. The application of phenomenology is significant in proving an account of this as it includes the way things are experienced by humans and treats this phenomenon as real and significant. To an extent, this project argues that Phenomenology can provide a valid account of the runner’s high as the application of Heidegger’s work partially provides an explanation of key factors in our experiences of the runner’s high. However, the application of Merleau-Ponty’s work provides a more sufficient account.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

It’s Getting a Bit Warm in Here!: How Modern Cremation Practices Take the Human Touch From Death, And Why We Should Be Worried About It

We are, every one of us, mortal beings. Throughout the course of our lives we will deal with that knowledge and its consequences. We will suffer bereavement and loss. It is a universal condition, unavoidable and inevitable. Our mortality is what makes us human. We surround ourselves with habits and rituals to deal with that fact, and have since history began.

The modern funeral industry tries to hide that fact from us – we label funerals ‘celebrations of life’, insist that our loved one ‘passed on’, use deadly chemicals to preserve a body against signs of… well, death! The entire process seems stacked against allowing us any idea of what dying entails.

In this project I will use Martin Heidegger’s concept of the being-towards-death and Havi Carel’s ideas about ‘bodily doubt’ to explore how the crematorium as we know it today, of hidden steel ovens and pretty urns, contributes to the sanitisation of our understanding of death and mortality to the extent that we lose understanding of it, and fear it. In fearing it, we avoid it, and in avoiding it, we lose part of what it means to be authentically human.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

When We Have Shuffled Off This Mortal Coil: A philosophical exploration of posthumous existence in the form of legacy and how this prevails over the dread of death.

Heidegger understands death as the end to existence in the world. But with the presence and pursuit of posthumous legacy, is this accurately represented in modern secular society? This project explores the notion of legacy, investigating the way legacy can be understood as a continuation of existence after death, and establishing posthumous existence as a way of coming to terms with the fear of death. In opposition to Heidegger’s thought, this notion of legacy is explored by analysing the limitations of Heidegger’s notion of existence and the ‘being-towards-death’, and discussing the impact of Western religious beliefs regarding death and posthumous existence. The continuation of existence through posthumous legacy and the way this contradicts Heidegger’s thought by providing an alternative to the acceptance of mortality is supported by analysis of societal customs and traditions surrounding death in the world and the representation of death in literature.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 2

Is social media a threat to society?

In this essay i will be drawing a comparison between ‘The Question Concerning Technology’ by Martin Heidegger and the state of social media today. I will investigate a couple of examples and use them to assess whether or not social media is a threat.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Should Approaches Influenced by Transcendental and Existential Phenomenology be Utilised More in Children and Adolescent Psychotherapy?

For my project I am going to be conducting a meta-analysis in order to answer a question very close to my heart, of whether Transcendental and Existential Phenomenology should be utilised more in Children and Adolescent Psychotherapy, a career I plan to train towards post-university. Through the application of Husserl and Heidegger’s phenomenology to psychotherapy, I will be challenging whether or not children and adolescents have the capability to identify a self-responsibility while being wholly dependent on their families, or to consciously comprehend transcendentalism enough to help them cope with mental struggles.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 2

The construction of the ‘human’ in Marcus Tullius Cicero’s thought and its Heideggerian rejoinder

Progressively foregrounded precisely in its lack of coming to presence is the operation by which an individual’s human or non-human, inhuman, status is delineated. It is thus that the margin of delineation by which the propriety of a human being’s humanity is decided becomes questionable and prompts further reflection. Receiving its impetus from Martin Heidegger’s Letter on ‘Humanism’, the following essay shall take the ‘human’ as galvanized in the thought of Marcus Tullius Cicero as its object, foremost reflecting on the human is discursively constituted in the complementary texts De Republica and De Legibus. This essay thus contends that Cicero’s thought constitutes the exemplary object of the critique Heidegger’s letter poses, and as such provides an essential foil to Heidegger’s proposal as to how the notion of νόμος (nomos) should be uptaken in light of the truth of being.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

How does death in philosophy impact human significance?

The study of death has been looked into in both scientific and theological terms. Something I wish to delve into is the philosophical discussion regarding death as the reason for human significance.
By using the works of thinkers such as Martin Heidegger, Karl Löwith, and Karl Marx, I aim to discuss and compare the variety of ways in which death derives or disproves humanity’s ’innate’ purpose.
Death is presented to do this in Heidegger’s ahistorical argument through the death of nature– i.e. the death of our external world and the individual– in comparison to Löwith’s historical argument regarding secularised eschatology.
Marxist ideology and literature is considered throughout as this best relates to modernity.

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2017 Abstracts Stage 2

“Where Flash Becomes Word and Silents Selfloud”: the Language of Finnegans Wake

The obscure, polysemic, multi-lingual, syntactically nonstandard style of writing in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake has polarised critics even since before the time of the book’s full release. The ongoing debates surrounding the work raise philosophical questions about the limits of language and the nature of art and literature. This essay explores possible philosophical justifications for using such a style, and enquires whether it might offer unique artistic possibilities, unavailable to clearer, more conventional styles.

Beginning from Heidegger’s theory of art, the essay explores the distinction between the Heideggerian concepts of “world” and “earth”, arguing that the book inverts the standard function of language as embodying a socio-historical “world”, instead turning it into a force which represents the “ungraspable”, impenetrable, nature of “earth”.

The essay then examines the Wake with reference to Blanchot’s work on literature, finding that the techniques of emphasising the physicality of language, as well as fragmenting a work into pieces whose only relation is difference – which Blanchot claims constitute are essential for a literary work to represent things in their “free, silent existence” – are utilised in extreme ways and to unique ends in the Wake.

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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:

Enframing:
Online dating and modern technology

Being-towards-death:
Authenticity and the internet

Being-with:
Authenticity and romantic relationships

Poiesis:
Online dating, art, and truth

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2017 Abstracts Stage 3

The Right to Privacy: A philosophical investigation in to the notion of a right to privacy in contemporary society; looking at the ways in which this right is upheld/struck down

“To be left alone is the most precious thing one can ask of the modern world”

Anthony Burgess

We live in a society today in which privacy concerns seem to be cropping up more and more frequently. This essay basis its’ notion of a right to privacy on Warren and Brandeis’s article for the Harvard Law Review titled The Right to Privacy, and investigates the ways in which the culture today strikes down this right.

My essay focuses on the primary ways in which the notion of privacy has been struck down in the post 9/11 society that we live in. In doing this, I was able to use the philosophy of Martin Heidegger and John Rawls, among many other philosophers, to formulate a response to this abolition of privacy in the society we live in. Their philosophies provide us with a thoughtful response to the factors affecting our right to privacy, and henceforth allows for a thorough investigation into the notion of privacy from a perspective not entirely common.

‘Perhaps the most striking thing about the right to privacy is that nobody seems to have any very clear idea what it is.’
– Judith Jarvis Thomson

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2017 Abstracts Stage 3

Song is Existence

The first part of my project was to prove that accepting a scientific and medical approach to mental illness was wrong. I used Jean-Paul Sartre’s account of bad faith, in which the human being freely gives up their freedom. I then applied this behaviour to the person who accepts the scientific explanation for the dark thoughts and emotions we experience when suffering from illnesses such as depression and anxiety.

In the second part, I introduced Heidegger’s lecture on the origin of the work of art, and how poetry uncovers truths about the world through its use of
language. Music is also a form of poetry so in contemporary times I believe that accepting the truths presented to us about mental illness by musicians is acting in good faith. I supported this argument with the examples of Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, and Kendrick Lamar. Additionally I analysed a select few examples of medical accounts of mental illness in order to prove that they were an insufficient approach to mental health.

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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

Aim/Territory:
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.

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2015 Abstracts Stage 3

The Origin of the Work of Art: An Investigation Into the Relevance of Heidegger’s Thought in the Context of Modern Music.

This project will examine will investigate the philosophical concepts as demonstrated in “The Origin of the Work of Art”. The objective will be to show evidence of Heidegger’s thought in the context of modern music. The essay will involve a philosophical enquiry into modern music-society, using Foucault, Lyotard, Kant and Taylor to compare and contrast Heidegger’s opinion with others.

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2015 Abstracts Stage 3

What can Film Tell Us About What it Means to Exist?

What can we truly know of what it means to exist? The contemporary mode of scientific rational thought says nothing of the way one exists. The thought of Heidegger and Deleuze, however, does. Heidegger’s thought suggests that one may find truth through an authentic experience of art and attunement to the mood of anxiety. (Heidegger, 1993) Deleuze claims that we may create concepts that enable a coherent understanding of phenomena, such as time and space, with an appreciation of film. (Deleuze, 1997) This Project suggests that these ideas may be extrapolated through the films of Steve McQueen. McQueen’s directional techniques and their subject matter provide the perfect representation for this philosophical thought, as this project explores.

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2014 Abstracts Stage 3

What is Technology?

I wish to claim that technology is not what man uses to master nature, but a philosophy of  history ­ a way of looking at the world or a way of life.      

The aim of my project was to trace the history of technology in order to establish a definition of its essence that is  consistent across time.  

Heidegger argued that technology is a means of exploiting nature, reducing it to “standing reserve” which we can draw upon as we desire it. Further, he argued that modern technology reduces man to standing reserve and that we  should be sceptical of it.  

In response to his argument I explored the thought of Marcuse and Feenberg who both suggest that technology is defined more by its social elements than by its function.  

Finally, I explored the future of technology, specifically artificial intelligence, and considered which, if any, definition of the essence of technology I explored remains applicable.     

Main Sources: 
The Questioning Concerning Technology by  Heidegger, One­ Dimensional Man by Marcuse, and Questioning  Technology by Feenberg. 

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2013 Abstracts Stage 3

An Enquiry into the Nature of Animal-Human Distinction and its Effects on the Ethical Treatment of Animals

• HYPOTHESIS- Theoretical explanations of the nature of animality through the use of distinctive measures and qualifications which serve to diminish ethical consideration of animals in modern scenarios. Improved ethical consideration of animals needs to take place and so these distinctions should be considered.

• AIMS OF ENQUIRY- Explain the nature of animal through the animal-human distinction from the perspective of Heidegger. Attempt to show that these theoretical accounts are unworthy of providing ethical formulations for the treatment of animals. Consider the idea of ethical reform in the works of Peter Singer.

• Use of primary data and analysis from Heidegger (The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics), Derrida (The Animal That Therefore I am) and Singer (Animal Liberation) as evidence for nature of human-animal distinction that leads to influence of ethical treatment of animals