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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

The identity of the Student during the COVID-19 pandemic

This project aims to investigate the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the development of the identities of university students, looking at the impact that the removal of social influences has had on identity formation during such a critical time of personal growth. Using the philosophies of Charles Taylor and Friedrich Nietzsche to support my investigation, I will look at whether Taylor’s quote ‘one cannot be a self on one’s own’ (Taylor, 1989, pg.36) is shown to be true as a result of lockdowns and subsequent isolation, or whether COVID-19 provided students with a chance to embrace Nietzsche’s heroic individualism and create a stronger sense of self.

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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

An Exploration of Personal Identity in Contemporary (20th and 21st Century) Film and Television

What is it to be a Self?
• My objective is to explore personal identity by using film and television as thought experiments. I want to further my own understanding of my ‘self’, as well as that of others around me.
• Body theory: Our personal identity persists because we have the same body from birth until death. Challenged by ‘Star Trek’ Transporter thought experiment.
• Soul theory: The soul houses our identity, supported by Plato and René Descartes. Challenged by films such as ‘Still Allice’, how does Alzheimer’s damage the soul?
• Memory theory/ psychological continuity: John Locke’s Memory Theory. We have memory links to different stages in our lives, and they are all connected. Films such as ‘Total Recall’ and ‘Blade Runner’ call into question the role false memories can have in shaping our personal identities.
Society and the Self
• Zygmunt Bauman: Timeline of personal identity. We are in Liquid Modern Times, technology dictates personal identity. Explored in films such as ‘The Social Network’ and ‘Her’.
• Friedrich Nietzsche: Flux, we are in a constant state of becoming, so there is no fixed self that persists through time. Christian values of the past should be rejected, instead we should practise Amor Fati.
• Fixed identity: Exists in the Pre-modern Era and in Social Frameworks, i.e. institutions such as the Christian Church. Patrick Bateman in ‘American Psycho’ undergoes an identity crisis in response to the fixities in his life.
• Fluid identity: The transition from Walter White to Heisenberg in Breaking Bad is fluid identity in action. Supported by Bauman and Nietzsche, as it can make for a more tolerant society. However, lacking a solid sense of self can be dangerous.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 2

Prayer and the Attainment of Knowledge

This paper attempts to show how the object of prayer is linked to knowledge, as knowledge from a theological standpoint finds its root in God, and prayer from an Islamic perspective is seen as a direct communion with God. I will look at this from a cosmological aspect, with regard to the idea of man being created in the image of God and the Adamic potential of man. I will also look at the different levels of knowledge and what knowledge is for both Qadi Abu Bakr Ibn’ Arabi and Abu Hamid Al Ghazali. Ghazali emphasizes the concept of the heart being a vessel of knowledge and uses light as a metaphor for knowledge, I will try to outline how to attain a state where knowledge is possible by means of the heart, as well as showing from a cosmological perspective that the function of humans is to be in constant remembrance of God, thus constant prayer, through the idea of the divine names of God.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 3

A Philosophical Analysis on the Purpose of Higher Education- A Project Exploring the ‘Middle Ground’ Between the Demands of Employability on a Student and Their Ability to Flourish.

This project explores the purpose of education with specific regard to the demands of employability on a student and their ability to flourish in higher education. The project discusses the importance of employability within the current education system, providing examples of the skills taught in universities that aid students vocationally. Drawing from philosopher Jean- François Lyotard, it is explained how he suggested that the meaning of knowledge had shifted in postmodernism. Due to economic and social change, higher education became increasingly commodified and there was an emphasis on skills and performativity in universities. The project subsequently explores the importance of personal flourishment in higher education, focusing on John Dewey and Aristotle. Understanding higher education in terms of flourishment creates an environment that supports students in becoming happy, successful and well-rounded individuals at university and beyond. First hand research was conducted, in the form of interviews, to help distinguish a middle ground. It is concluded that the demands of employability and personal flourishment in higher education are essential for individuals to become sustainably employable. This middle ground suggests that a need for both employability and flourishment is crucial in a student’s life to help them, and consequently society, reach their full potential in the 21st century.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 2

Social Media and the Construction of Identity

This paper examines whether the exponential growth in the usage of social media is influencing the construction of our identity, with a specific focus on Facebook. The object of my project was to investigate whether there was a correlation between the exponential growth of social media and identity. The interest for this was stemmed through reading a variety of articles claiming the negative impacts social media obtains, because social media platforms exposes us to a variety of different cultures, opinions and perspectives, this ultimately must have some influence over identity composition. This project examines David Hume, ‘Treatise of Human Nature, specifically, book 1, part IV ‘Of Personal Identity’. Soren Kierkegaard’s ‘The Two ages: A literary review and lastly, Zygmunt Bauman’s book ‘Identity’. Engaging with these different texts concerning identity, provides a variety of different theories of how one forms identity. Analysing these philosophers works, highlighted that there are three main themes which contribute and can impact identity. The three main themes explored within this paper are: choice and experience, communities and collective identity and lastly, liquid modernity and capitalism. Investigating these main themes, enabled the conclusion to be reached that social media does influence the construction of identity.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 3

Exploring mathematics’ fundamental flaw: can analytical and moral philosophy be utilised to reform our understanding of Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem as an example of self-reference paradoxes within mathematics?

Piercing a hole through the foundation of mathematics, Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem resides outside the scope of consistency, provability, and solvability. A mathematical manifestation of self-referential paradoxes, the doctrine shattered the possibility of sustaining a complete system within mathematics, as Gödel utilised arithmetic itself to convey that there will always be axiomatic statements within mathematics that cannot be proved with certainty. However, in pursuit of clarity, can the philosophical attribution of morality and analytics be utilised to elevate an understanding of the paradoxical theorem? With both enterprises positing an abstract delineation of how truth and falsity are classified, the anomalous nature of the Incompleteness Theorem perhaps necessitates similar ascription. Whilst it is essential to note that the profundity of mathematical inquiry eradicates the possibility of the paradox being ‘solved’, the attribution of philosophy can perhaps offer avenues of illuminating novel aspects of the theorem. In doing so, the findings can be strung away from pessimism and towards mere curiosity. Mathematics may be defined by its incompleteness, but can philosophy offer an elevated insight that transcends an understanding beyond the mathematical enterprise?

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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 2

To What Extent Can you Change your Own Personality?

A Study into Human Nature: To What Extent Can you Change your Own Personality?

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2022 Abstracts Stage 3

The struggle to be oneself in relation to celebrities and fame

My project aims to understand the struggles that celebrities face when trying to be/know themselves. The aim is also to shine light on the fact that the struggle they face is more intense and harder than for a non-celebrity.
I want to breakdown the stigma that celebrities should not struggle with knowing themselves or the life they lead.
My object is the struggle to be oneself and my territory is the struggle to be oneself in relation to celebrities and fame. Discussing these both will bring up concepts such as: identity, real self, apparent self, consumerism, fluidity, culture industry and intensity.

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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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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Different uses of flags in the United Kingdom and the way in which they relate to identity and narrative.

o In this project I will be exploring the way in which people use flags today and whether the reason is down to their identity and narrative.
o I will be using the two main examples of: Flags being used to fulfil a political agenda, and flags being used at a football match.
o The philosophers I will use to form an idea around identity and narrative are Bauman, Lyotard and Fisher.
o These themes and examples are important to research as I feel they are very relevant in today’s news and surround stories such as Brexit and the Coronavirus pandemic.
o I will conclude that identity and narrative are extremely important when considering why people use flags, but that the reason they use the flag does not necessarily conform to a general stereotype.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Alternative ways of distributing competition in sport in light of the issues surrounding the acceptance of trans-athletes.

There are two main sides of the debate surrounding the issue of trans-gender athletes competing in sport – The first considers that everyone is entitled to participate in sport. The second deems it unfair and unsafe to allow trans-athletes to compete.

I offer to resolve this debate by proposing two methods that would change how competition is distributed. Moving away from the current system that sees competition based on sex, I will use Judith Butler to see if competition could be based on self-identification and John Rawls to see if competition could be based on what I will term as ‘micro-biology’.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Mahadevi’s Devotion to Siva: Does it End in Fusion for Lacan and Levinas?

This essay explores the possibility of fusion, of becoming one with Siva, as it is expressed in the Vacanas (poems) of a 12th Century Siva devotee: Mahadevi. Considering the writings of Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Lacan we can ask what it means to be liberated and to fulfil one’s desires in this way. Critically, we begin this essay with Levinas and discuss his conception of the self; how this self comes to be in relation to the other, and how freedom is to be understood. Following Levinas we investigate the notion of desire for Lacan, which requires a look into the Oedipus complex and the object petit a. In the final section of this essay, we attempt to find the position of Siva in relation to the subject and question whether fusion is finally possible. This will respond to what has been so far discussed in the hope of showing that Siva is not a being but is representative of the subject of my subjectivity – Levinas’ infinitely other – which is only attainable by being a self for the Other.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Identity Politics within Multicultural Nations: Imposing Group Rights in Liberal Governments

This dissertation examines John Rawls’s procedural liberalist position with a specific regard to the possible imposition of group-differentiated rights. In light of Will Kymlicka’s communitarian defence of liberalism, I invoke the argument that there are sufficient grounds to implement self-governing rights particularly to the native population in Canada. Considering Canada was the first country in the world to legally recognise multiculturalism as a governmental policy, I use the ongoing debates between the democratic state and the indigenous population in Canada to comprehend the argument for protective group rights. I also incorporate the work of Charles Taylor to determine the importance of the modern identity with specific regard to the dependency one holds to their community.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

The Black Mirror: Influence of Social Media on Identity

Objectives: To establish the extent of influence Social Media has on people’s identity using the philosophical concepts of: Lacan, Goffman, Bauman and McLuhan. Furthermore, to investigate if the anxiety surrounding, what Farman described, as the ‘techxistential crisis’ of the 21st century is rational. And if Social Media can have a positive influence on one’s Identity.

Conclusions: The Black Mirror – Social Media has a pervasive influence over our identity as the ‘mirror stage’ does for Lacan. This is because we spend a lot of time staring into the “black mirror” of the screen in which we use for Social Media. The performance of our identity on Social Media and in real life converge. Social Media’s influence on our identity does not have to be a negative one. Our identity has always been performative and Social Media just offers a new medium in which to explore this. If we learn how to monitor our usage and utilise Social Media positively; social media can be a positive influence for exploring and performing identity

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2021 Abstracts Stage 2

The Functionality of Tattoo Artistry and its Discourse in the Attachment of Meaning, Expression and Identity

Tattoo artistry is a form of permanent body adornment, which functions to establish as a form of art which configures a permanent establishment of meaning, expression and identity. Tattooing is a unique and heterogenous form of art which works directly upon the body as a canvas, eliciting a relationship of pain and sensation. Examples of recorded tattoo experiences and tattoo culture have been provided, both traditionally and contemporarily to establish the diversity and adaptation of historical change, as the tools and customs have been found to radically progress. The functions by which are carried out by tattoos, such as meaning, expression and identity, are able to be assessed with respect to differing perspectives. Present in discourse surrounding tattoo artistry, is how and why distinct differences in tradition and custom development are able to occur.
The application of Susan Sontag, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Fredrich Nietzche to the heterogeneity of tattoo discourse allowed for the consideration of hermeneutic culture, metaphysical expression and the re-establishment of the self as reflective functions present in the application of tattoos. These noted functions act indivisibly throughout the consideration of tattooing and the practical tattooing process. Tattooing discourse reveals the underlying difference in the conception of tattoos and its customs, with the exploration of contemporary experimental tattoo environments, displaying the developing ideologies present in the tattooing sector.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Internet Surveillance, Panopticism, and Identity

An investigation into the relationship between internet surveillance and panopticism, and how this impacts the identities of internet users.

Case Study – The Golden Shield Project: An in-depth look into China’s strict surveillance system and how it’s panoptic nature impacts Chinese citizens.

Key Theorists

Michel Foucault: Foucault provides a theory of surveillance that explains panopticism and demonstrates how constant surveillance, such as that seen on the internet, can be used as a tool for political power and oppression.

Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1975)

Zygmunt Bauman: Bauman explains why identity has become such a large issue in late modernity and why an identity is difficult to cultivate in the digital age, relating to internet surveillance and censorship online.

Identity (2004)

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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.