2018 Abstracts Stage 2

‘Can a person be born truly evil?’ An analysis of the origin and concept of innate and acquired knowledge, morality and evil in human nature.

Project objectives and aims:
• To critically analyse the debate between rationalists and empiricists in accordance with the origin of knowledge, morality and evil, with reference to innate ideas and knowledge acquired through experience.
• Establish which arguments presented by the scholars prove most convincing as to whether a person is inherently evil or if this is learnt from experience of a person’s upbringing.
• Generate a deeper understanding into the concepts and notions that surround mankind’s nature.

What I hope to receive from the dissertation:
• I hope to develop my research and analysis skills by using a variety of sources from scholars that range from early Greek philosophy, to the enlightenment era and contemporary twenty- first century thinkers.

2013 Abstracts Stage 2

“Between Knowing and Being”

Part One; What is knowing and its limits Part Two; What are the limits of knowing the individual self. Part Three; The Social ‘I’ Throughout this project I aim to understand the subjective ‘self.’ I am ultimately investigating this area because in the UK, the Mental Health Foundation has claimed that “1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year.” In my opinion this figure is drastic, and therefore I believe that an understanding of the human mind is crucial in overcoming the problems we currently face in our society.  1. I commenced with an investigation into the development of knowledge throughout Western history, beginning with Kant and Newton. This will enable me to analyse how successfully we can attain an understanding of the self. I discover that the scientific method itself is proven to be limited and non-universal. The examples I looked at as a potential cause of this were Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, the discovery of Quantum Mechanics, and also the theories of Existentialist Philosophers. As demonstrated by Watts (1957), arguably any new Western theories turn out to be mere restatements of old positions. 2. I then looked into Western conceptions of the self from statements of neuroscience and theories proposed by phenomenologists and philosophers of mind. Naturally Western Science excludes any investigation of the self from its domain by requiring an identifiable object to which we can apply mathematics to. 3. The revelation of our limits in knowledge will consequently lead me to investigate an alternate conception of the human self and the ability to attain knowledge. This originates in the Eastern world, in both Taoism and Zen Buddhism. This focuses on an alternate type of knowledge such as the unconscious knowledge we have of moving our hands. Crucially the conscious thinking process is not the centre of the mind’s activity. As we directly experience reality, it is in the realm of the non-verbal. 4. This lead me to understand the nature of language, which I discovered is extremely limited in providing an explanation of the world. Language by nature is linear because it allows us to make rapid grasps of our thoughts, which we can think of only one at a time, however this causes a depiction of the world as static and fragmented. 5. Heidegger argues that we can have a liberation from these social conventions, by appealing to the notion of an original spontaneous being who exists priori to being influenced by social codes. However, I have argued that this notion that anything can remain constant is unlikely. 6. Furthermore, I believe that it is impossible to try to understand an isolated individual self in the Western sense, because through language the social aspect is fundamental to our nature. Mark Williams, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Oxford, John Teasdale and Jon Kabat-Zinn (2007) have promoted this form of Eastern understanding as being beneficial to those with mental health problems, and I believe this significantly demonstrates that Western scientific knowledge is certainly not a superior discipline. 

2010 Abstracts Stage 3

The Crisis of the Modern Subject

How has the pursuit of human knowledge brought about identity crises in the modern world? What is at stake when chasing ‘Space and Time’ eclipses the integrity of ‘Place’, for ‘where’ do we find ourselves? Does ‘architectural’ modification of our human environment respond to a need to cohere fragmented ‘place’? Will we never stop trying to pick up the ‘pieces’? Or are we beginning to appreciate that the fragmentation of experience characteristic of the contemporary, is something to which we always already belong. And to belong to an identity and a place, will not be found in ‘coherence’, but in our throwing ourselves headlong into the experience of fragmentation, as an affirmation of the accidental and random unfolding consequences that narrate each person into an unrepeatable individual existent. Is that affirmation, not ‘Place’…

Cavarero – Arendt – Harvey – Casey – Heidegger

2008 Abstracts Stage 3

The Role of Museums and Libraries in the Preservation and Building of Knowledge

-Are the ideas of institutions such as museums and libraries relevant any longer in postmodern society? – People are increasingly becoming very distanced from their past and their heritage. Within postmodernity, the past seems to have been separated from our everyday lives. It is frequently looked at as something that is no longer relevant. We sometimes seem so focused on progress that we ignore how we came to be where we are in the first place – Can development exist without any reference to the past? – In modernity we look at the past because we can see the ways in which it has affected and created the present, and will do also, for the future, therefore, we cannot fully separate the idea of development from a narrative of history. I am looking at the ways in which institutions such as museums and libraries contribute to growing knowledge and inventiveness, by enabling us to have access to the knowledge, discoveries and great works of the past.Table2[@Title]

2005 Abstracts Stage 2

Modernism and Postmodernism in the Robinson Library: an investigation into the way these contrasting social movements effect a centre of knowledge

Outline: In this project I will be using the Robinson Library as my territory as I feel it is a good example of Modern building which is now essentially a Post Modern centre of knowledge. Aims: o To provide an exposition of Modern and Postmodern architectural styles and why they were introduced. o I will provide additional material about other libraries e.g. some from the baroque period to explore whether Modern architectural styles are detrimental or complementary to a centre of knowledge. o To explore the Postmodern idea of communications leading to a networked society. o To show that the rise of information technologies has led to the dilution of information and knowledge. o To show that computerised communication systems are creating an increasing alienated society. Sources: The key critical thinker I will be examining will be David Harvey and his book ‘The Condition of Postmodernity’. Other sources will include: Lyotard, Jean – Francois: The Postmodern Condition Castells, Manuel: The Rise of the Network Society Jacobs, Jane: The death and life of great American cities McGuigan, Jim: Modernity and Postmodern culture I will be using books from the Robinson Library, internet resources, information from magazines/newspapers and photographs taken in the Robinson Library and around Newcastle city centre to illustrate my project report.

2002 Abstracts Stage 3

Human Knowledge and Power

‘Among all the mutations that have affected the knowledge of things and their order, the knowledge of identities, differences, characters, equivalences, words . . . only one, that which began a century and a half ago and is now perhaps drawing to a close, has made it possible to for the figure of man to appear . . . It was the effect of a change in the fundamental arrangements of knowledge. As the archaeology of our thought easily shows, man is an invention of recent date. And one perhaps nearing its end,’ (Foucault, 1966, p422). ‘Power and knowledge directly imply one another . . . there is no power relation without the correlative constitution of a field of knowledge, nor any knowledge that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time power relations,’ (Foucault, 1977, p27). Titles: 1) Is it possible for knowledge to exist independently from changes occurring throughout the history of humans? 2) Is it possible to have a shared system of knowledge, such as education, without the autonomy of the individual being destroyed? Concepts: By studying the ways of thought before and after the rise of science it is clear to see how much the ‘knowledge’ of the world has actually changed throughout time; ideas previously held to be true, and upon which many based their beliefs about reality, were disproved with new perspectives of gaining truth. If knowledge is continuously changing then how is it ever possible to say that anyone knows anything? If this is not possible then what is the aim of education, to bring autonomy or control? Objectives: · To show how theories about knowledge have changed throughout time, with particular reference to Foucault’s idea that knowledge is dependent upon the system of thought in a period of time. · To question whether knowledge exists merely as persisting human self-delusion; humans need to feel that they are able to understand the world otherwise there is no possibility of controlling it. · To apply these ideas to the educational system, questioning whether its aim is to encourage autonomous thinking within individuals, or whether it is merely a means of encouraging a stable society through control of what the individual is able to ‘know’ about the world. · To apply Foucault’s idea of ‘power/knowledge’ to ‘Life After George,’ a play illustrating the idea that humans, although enjoying the idea of being free, actually feel more autonomous in a society where their ideas and actions are placed under the control of others. Main Sources: Foucault, M, 1966, ‘The Order of Things – An Archaeology of the Human Sciences,’ Tavistock/Routledge, Guildford Foucault, M, 1977, ‘Discipline and Punish,’ Allen Lane, London Rayson, H, 2001, ‘Life After George,’ Nick Hern Books Limited, London