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.

2013 Abstracts Stage 2

Jean Francois Lyotard’s The Differend and the UK Publishing Industry

A critical consideration of what conditions are necessary for the UK Publishing Industry to resist homogenization whilst operating under a capitalist system.

To what extent are these conditions already being met?

With reference to John Thompson’s ‘Merchants of Culture’

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

The Age of Aquarius: The Mayan Calendar and Evolution of Consciousness





AIMS: The Mayan Calendar is a meter of the evolution of consciousness. The Mayan Calendar has taken us into the new Age of Aquarius. I intend to discuss what changes this actually means for our civilisation and assess predictions of our future that we are now moving into a more spiritual ‘Golden Age.’

INTENTIONS: Analyse the future via Diana Cooper who predicts that we are moving from living in the third spiritual dimension into the fifth. Discuss the concept that our lives might be predetermined using Calvin. Look at our past with Karl Marx and see whether through ‘Alienation’ we have lost our sense of togetherness. Look at Lyotard and the concept that science relies upon a kind of faith. Is science better than faith? Use Weber to find where we have lost our sense of ‘spirit.’ Look at how we have become fragmented with Nature through technology and networks. I also look at Lungold’s concept of ‘hypnosis by repetition’ and use Foucault to assess whether we are stuck in a rut with capitalism and need to change our lifestyles.

METHODOLOGY: I have used hermeneutic interpretive and the genealogical approach to help me find meaning in texts and look at how concepts have changed over time.

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

“We’re All Born Mad. Some Remain So.”- Interpreting the Psychiatric Standards of Mental Disorder

“ About a fifth of the population of the United states are seen as suffering from a mental disorder each year and about half from at least one disorder at some point in their lives.” (Horwitz, 2002,3)

•What is the reality of what psychiatrists define as mental disorder, inside and outside the standards of the psychiatric context, in relation to convention and nature?

“The question of truth will never be posed between madness and me for the very simple reason that I, psychiatry, am already a science.”(Foucault, 2006,134)

•there are genetic and biochemical grounds for supposing that both schizophrenia and depressive disorders have a physical basis. (Gelder, Mayou, Cowen, 2001,88)

“What does man actually know about himself? Does nature not conceal most things from him – even concerning his own body?”(Nietzsche, Ansell-Pearson, Large, 2006,115)

•“A postmodern scientist does not discover ‘truth’, he simply tells stories – though he has a duty to verify them within the terms of the relevant language game.” (Rojek, Turner, Lyotard, 1998,68)

“A schizophrenic out for a walk is a better model than a neurotic lying on the analyst’s couch.” (Deleuze, Guattari, 2004,2)

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

Philosophy of Fantasy Literature

I have always enjoyed reading fantasy literature and been extremely interested in the ideas and philosophy behind this genre and the opinions that the authors manifest in their books. It was for this reason that I chose to start my project this year around fantasy literature. I chose “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis and “His Dark Materials” by Philip Pullman for two main reasons. Firstly they are both extremely successful book series that I have enjoyed and engaged with from an early age. And secondly because the two authors and their works of literature show two very different opinions to philosophical problems of existence, and human value in this existence we find ourselves in. With a firm understanding of both these sets of books as a foundation for my project I then tried to relate these books to my chosen concept of human value both on earth after death. This concept of existence and questions that relate to existence and the possibility of a kind of reality or existence after death have always deeply fascinated me, and indeed, to be able to think about these kind of issues and problems was my main reason and motivation to study for an Master of Arts degree in Philosophy. As a philosophical framework for my chosen concept, I decided to study the ancient metaphysics of Plato in comparison Friedrich Nietzsche and his philosophy of human value. I found this comparison thoroughly interesting in terms of the main difference of opinion of human value. Was it that ideas of value was grounded in the physicality and materialism of this earth, and the will self preserve this life and to seek as much power on it as possible? Or was it that value should be placed on striving to gain an understanding of a reality beyond this life to a reality that is realized after death, and living one’s life in preparation to what will happen after life on this earth? It is certainly true that my project, and specifically the conclusions that I reached were influenced by all that I have learnt on the three year course. I have been able to see how philosophy has changed through history from the ancient world of metaphysics through the middle ages theology, the enlightenment, modernity, and finally the impact of postmodernity and poststructuralism. I and my project conclusions have been most influenced through the study of postmodernity and thinkers such as Lyotard and Vattimo. The idea of pluralism I found very interesting and I have discovered that its implications to society to be extremely significant in what one places the value of existence on.

2008 Abstracts Stage 3

The Narrative and Injustice of the Working Class in Britain

In this project I examine the working class in Britain and compare the conditions that they have to work in the time of Marx and now. My main objective here is to show that the working class exist as a class and a narrative, and to disprove Lyotard’s famous claim that we no longer through narratives. I intend also to show that capitalism is unfair and that it is not a system that the working classes can benefit from. I provide a solution and conclude that through Vattimo’s philosophy of pluralism, and Lyotard’s theory of language games, capitalism can be destabilised, which would therefore help the working class. Habermas is briefly explored with reference to his claim that ‘modernity is dominant but dead’. In this sense modernity can be compared to the values of the working classes today, as research shows their values to be dormant in the postmodern society. Research for this project involved concentrating on the ‘White Season’ this spring which the BBC2 produced. The ‘White Season’ aired programmes about the working class today, and how times have changed. There is also an array of class reports and books that I focus on as well, and to explore my territory of class conditions in Marx’s era, I looked at in depth The Conditions of the Working Class in England (1993) by Engels. To apply philosophical concepts to my project in order to prove influence, I looked at Vattimo’s The Transparent Society (1992), and Nihilism and Emancipation (2004), Lyotard’s The Postmodern Condition (2005), and The Communist Manifesto (1973) by Marx and Engels, amongst others. I feel that my project is of wider importance because I am exploring the effects that the capitalist system has on the class system, and this is a factor that can affect everyone. On completion of this project, my knowledge of the working class and the philosophical concepts I applied to it is greater, and more accurate than before.

2007 Abstracts Stage 3

Presenting the Unpresentable: from modern art to postmodern art

Modern art is generally understood to be any art created between the late 19th century and the 1970s. Following the emergence of photography, art was no longer needed as direct representation so artists turned to abstraction and experimentation. Modern art is a blanket term for all artistic movements in this period, as well as the avant-garde. Postmodern art is generally believed to be in some way opposed to an aspect of modern art, experimenting with genres, cultures and mediums not previously considered. It is art following modern art, and some areas of contemporary art. It accepts past styles and traditions, unlike modern art, as well as embracing new media. Lyotard did not distinguish modern art and postmodern art in the traditional way described above, he believed that postmodern art was always at work within modern art; it is the avant-garde in all its forms, it is whatever is new and progressive about modern art, forcing it into new territory. He therefore said that something must be postmodern (new and disruptive) before it can become modern (acceptable). Although the postmodern eventually becomes the modern, it never entirely loses its ability to shock and disturb. He believed that modern art showed us that the unpresentable exists, while postmodern art attempted to present it. This paradoxical task leaves in the viewer a mixture of pleasure and pain, known as Kantian sublime. Lyotard thought the ultimate task of art to be presenting the unpresentable, which is fulfilled by the avant-garde, in which matters of taste and public opinion simply aren’t important. The sublime is the feeling when the imagination is pushed to the limit, causing pain as the individual is faced with something beyond them, which they have no control over and are faced with their true position in the world. Pleasure follows this as our reason reasserts itself and we become aware of the superiority of human reason over perception. The mathematical sublime is when we are confronted with an object unbelievably large, so we cannot see and comprehend it as a whole. The dynamical sublime refers to our confrontation with something far more powerful than us, in which case we are aware of our own mortality and insignificance. Having looked at Lyotard’s postmodernism and postmodern art in detail, with both Lyotard’s examples and my own, I will conclude with a brief examination of the works of Anderson and Jameson, as they provide arguments both for and against Lyotard’s work, taking their own examples to illustrate points made.

2007 Abstracts Stage 2

The Changing Nature of Education

Key concepts: University education system, changes in teaching methods, the idea behind university, vocational elements to further education, course structure and the general university institution set up/structure. Object and territory: The object-Is represented by the student; the student represents the consumer of the territory and is essentially the most affected and involved aspect of the movements occurring within the university education system. Within my project I have looked to the student with regards to how they are affected by changing teaching methods, different forms of institution, funding issues, course structure changes, employability aspects and government incentives etc. The territory- Is Newcastle University; this institution gives me an example of a 19th century university which offers various types of degree. In order to use this university within my project I researched into the history and future of the institution in terms of the significant changes that were either planned or has already occurred. The university was essentially used as a representative for universities nationally, because my project homes in more generally to university systems as a whole rather than one specific university. This is possible because the issues and transformations that have occurred for Newcastle are typically apparent within all universities nationally. Research methods: In order to research my topic I used a variation of methods, most of my research coming from newspaper articles, radio broadcasts, books and experience of my course itself. I also looked to the ‘Idea of a university’ put forward by John Newman in order to gain some perspective on what originally made a university; this allowed me to compare the postmodern ideas of education to a previous account of what a university institution originally represented. Essentially I wanted my research to focus on the major changes that were occurring within university education and I wanted to highlight these for individuals in order for them to note the possible future that may exist within the university system. The change: Within my project in terms of research into the university I am looking to its origins in comparison with today’s situation. This is a broad time spectrum hence obviously within this time scale I will be focussing more on the modern and contrasting it back to make the changes apparent. I also want to bring in the postmodern and consider the future of university education which will tie in specifically with Lyotard and my considerations over the possibility of computerised learning. Philosophical concepts: Within my project I want to tie in 3 key thinkers with regards to the focus of my project. Initially I will bring in the more general thinkers, Kant and Mill. Kant who will emphasise the importance of learning essentially because we are rational beings and it can be seen as a benefit to educate because it allows man to become ‘man.’ We have a duty to be educated within the world and to use this to continue to act rationally and essentially make good actions to display goodness in society. Hence my ideas on Kant will tie in with the more traditional methods of teaching which emphasis moral training. Then I will bring in Mill that will focus on the utility principle and claim education is always correct and beneficial regardless of its methods, if it benefits society and this is clearly apparent when we consider the needs of the labour market and the emphasis on low unemployment. Finally I will bring Lyotard and his ideas on the inhuman and tie them in closely with the changing teaching methods of education specifically to computer learning or Open University degrees where everything is done via a computer. Personal change/ development: I feel I have through my project developed a wide variation of skills especially my organisation and research skills; this project has ensured that I work to deadlines and collect sufficient information to ensure I produce a good end product. I have been allowed to investigate something interesting to me that I otherwise would not have had the time to look to in depth. It has taught me about the institution of which I am part of and has given me insight into something particularly relevant to myself. I can use my findings in the future to explain myself and my degree in greater detail than before undergoing this project.

2006 Abstracts Stage 3

View from the Bridge

In this project I hope to explore our contemporary urban experience and the postmodern condition, with regards to its arguably revolutionary potential. Is ours truly a time when ‘other worlds’ and ‘other voices’ are able to find expression within society? Has postmodernity witnessed the end of meta-narratives as Lyotard would have us believe, making way for a multiplicity of truths, or is postmodernity the grandest narrative of all? I will be tackling such questions by reflecting upon the Tate Modern Art Gallery, which I believe in many respects is representative of postmodernity and by striking up some kind of dialogue between itself and those world views which have lead to its arrival. I have named it ‘A View from the Bridge’ after the Arthur Miller play, for I appreciate that what I will be attempting to argue is merely expressive of one perspective. There are various ways in which one could understand postmodernity and its consequences and mine is merely one, although I will at intervals offer other options for perception, other ‘views’ so to speak. My thesis will thus unfold as though it were literally my journey to the Tate Modern. For I begin at St. Paul’s Cathedral, which is arguably representative of the Christian world view of the Middle Ages, I then proceed to the Millennium Bridge which functions as the Enlightenment did, ‘bridging the divide’ so to speak between antiquity and Modernity, or Postmodernity even, and then I reach the gallery, which is the embodiment of our contemporary social experience.

2006 Abstracts Stage 2

The Art of Shock: Overview and Death of the Avant-Garde

The aim of this project is to define such concepts as “art” and “the avant- garde”. Having outlined the rise of Liberalism and explained its position as having influenced the beginnings of avant- garde, I will look at key avant- garde movements, namely Abstract Expressionism, Dada and the Situationists, linking society in each time period to the reasons behind each movement, as well as the concepts and issues raised by key artists and philosophers. I will explain the meaning of “the avant- garde” in each case, as well as the impact each had on it’s culture. I will then investigate modern avant- garde art, including some of the new media used. I will briefly consider the controversial concept of the death of the avant- garde, issues raised by modern artists and whether the shock factor of art has gone. I will conclude by looking at what can actually be considered “art”, as all the movements studied have had doubts and criticisms thrust upon them due to supposed lack of context, meaning or skill. Key artists and philosophers I will be looking at include Immanuel Kant, Jean- Francois Lyotard, Jackson Pollock and Robert Motherwell among others. As well as visiting art galleries and travelling exhibitions, I have been volunteering at the Hatton Art Gallery in Newcastle, which is an excellent source for information, including public opinions on various different exhibitions.

2006 Abstracts Stage 3

The Desire to Play with Death: An investigation into the increase of man’s participation in extreme sports in relation to a postmodern society

● It has become apparent that a huge increase in those taking part in extreme sports has occurred over the last 40 years. There are currently, across the globe, 168 million participants in activities such as sky-diving, SCUBA diving and snowboarding. It is my contention that this growth is due to more than greater accessibility to facilities for such sports. ● Jean-François Lyotard: maintenance of the death of grand-narratives meaning that we lose our ability to create an identity for ourselves. New methods for self validation must be found in the postmodern society. Text: The Postmodern Condition [2005] ● Friedrich Nietzsche: we must go above and beyond ourselves if we are to escape this mentality. We must adhere to masterly behavior and act as we please. Text: Beyond Good and Evil [1998] ● GWF Hegel: only in pushing to the limits of death do we experience freedom. In risking life we affirm life. Text: The Phenomenology of Spirit [1977] ● By looking at the possible relationships between extreme sports and the three philosophers cited above it should become apparent that whilst the postmodern society encourages individuals to seek new methods of self-identification, of which extreme sports is one, partakers in extreme sports maintain a Hegelian notion of death, in seeking it to affirm life, whilst not going beyond it as Nietzsche would request. In this respect, extreme sports offer a positive method of self-validation in the postmodern climate which pushes but does not exceed boundaries.

2005 Abstracts Stage 2

The Comparison of Individual Fashion Ideals from the Eighteenth and Twentieth Centuries

Fashion has changed dramatically between the Eighteenth and Twentieth centuries, however it is not simply the changes that the inventors of fashion have made to the clothes, but all the social and political aspects that have occurred between these times. The changes have altered how we see ourselves, our self-identity, and how we see others. Modernity “ thinks of society as in a state of constant flux, innovation and development as changes in knowledge and technology alter the identities and experiences of individuals and communities” Lyotard, Kant and Freud are the main philosophers explored, looking closely at the ideas of modernity and postmodernity, with particular interest in the sublime: “With The sublime, the response is more complex. One is simultaneously attracted and repelled by the object, enthralled by it and also horrified.” Sources: Questionnaires, Internet, Book – ‘Jean-Francois Lyotard’ By Simon Malapas

2004 Abstracts Stage 2

Dreams, Sleeping and Paralogy: whose dream are we in?

Part One – Knowledge of the Unconscious In what way is the unconscious knowable, an object available to knowledge? A look at the analogies Freud uses to describe psychoanalysis as a method capable of producing knowledge, and analysis as cure through knowledge. In what ways does the notion of the unconscious make ideas about a monogamous knowledge of (and authority on) itself problematical? Do I know, or am I paranoid? (Sources: Freud, Kant) Part Two – Lyotard, Knowledge, and Paralogy Drawing on the work of Lyotard we can sketch out an account of the unconscious as an effect of phrases. The human as a node, or knot, in a complex of relations that pre-exist her – as embedded. What is the place of the affect in the work of Lyotard, and where does he place it? The move to psychoanalysis as flirtation – the promiscuous movement among beds. (Sources: The Postmodern Condition, The Differend, The Inhuman) Part Three – Practise in Paralogy, Paralogy in Practise Using the findings of part two we can offer an account of why Adam Phillips writes the way he writes that turns around the work of Lyotard. Is Phillips the last psychoanalytic writer (is he a psychoanalytic writer?)? Has promiscuity brought about the end of the psychoanalytic relationship? The replacement of psychoanalysis as epistemology by psychoanalysis as ethos. (Sources: Lyotard, Adam Phillips, Jacqueline Rose, D.W.Winnicott)