2017 Abstracts Stage 2

What can Louise Bourgeois tell us about art criticism?’: a meta-critique of philosophico-psychoanalytic readings of the artist.

Object: The art criticism of works in Louise Bourgeois’ Cells series
Territory: Contemporary art criticism
Concepts: Subjectivity, intention, Freudian psychoanalysis, the artist and their relation to works of art, authority of criticism
Philosophy: Nietzsche, Foucault, Wimsatt and Beardsley, Bal.

In my project, the work of Louise Bourgeois in her Cells series is utilised as a case study to explore wider issues in art criticism and how works of art are interpreted in relation to the artist. An examination of the reception of Louise Bourgeois’ work shows largely the same approach in psychoanalysing Louise Bourgeois and relating this back to her work and perceived intended meaning. Conversely, the position in the project argues that such a reading of her work, as well as that of other artists and authors, carries problems related to the importance of artistic intention, the public sphere of a work of art compared to the private sphere of the artist, as well as to what extent such readings are not only valid, but in the case of Louise Bourgeois count as genuine criticism rather than uncritically accepting her own statements.

Philosophy from the course included use of material from modules PHI2002 and PHI2006.

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

The Cost of Creativity

Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization- the concept of madness and how it has developed over time. Foucault argues there was a specific moment in history when madness was labelled as a mental illness.

Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy- life is subject to extreme bouts of suffering. Artistic production can contribute towards overcoming the pain we encounter in life. What implications does this have on the link between madness and creativity?

Are creative spirits more likely to be mentally ill? Ultimately the aim of this project is to reflect upon the complex relationship between insanity and creativity, to decide whether there is a correlation between individuals who suffer from psychological disorders, such as schizophrenia, and those who are highly artistic. It is arguable that there is a link, as mental illness and creativity often co-occur. However, this project will also reflect upon the idea that a correlation is simply a romanticised outlook with dangerous implications, and that mental illness does not need to be present for creativity to exist.

The subject matter will be considered via the philosophical thoughts of Foucault, Nietzsche and Schopenhauer, but also with reference to the psychoanalysis work of Freud drawing upon examples such as Daniel Paul Schreber, a famous German judge who was a diagnosed schizophrenic, whom Freud interpreted. The evident Freudian influence expressed by Andre Breton within his novel Nadja will also be addressed. Breton believed insane people were simply victims of their imagination.

‘Madness need not be all breakdown. It may also be break through. It is potential liberation and renewal’

2014 Abstracts Stage 2

Stanley Kubrick: Rapture and the Ubermensch

2001: A Space Odyssey is a film many find hard to properly understand. I aim to present an account of 2001 that enables easier comprehension of this cinematic feature through philosophical themes.

In 2001: A Space Odyssey Stanley Kubrick exhibits on rapture and the Ubermensch. I will, in my project, present how Kubrick uses colour, sound and cinematography to evoke feelings of rapture.

Focusing on the character Dave Bowman, I reveal how rapture and the overcoming of computers enable humans to delve into the next stage of Ubermensch.

The project contains breakdowns of the most important scenes of the film in relation to the works of Nietzsche. Including mans overcoming of computers, and the transcendence of humanity.

2014 Abstracts Stage 2

Is Dadaism Anti-Art?

The internationally revolutionary art movement Dadaism changed what we constitute as art to this day. Fundamentally a form of protest art, it has deep philosophical roots. In my project I will investigate Dadaism and what the artists stood for.

Albert Camus famously wrote about the concept of the absurd; Dada was a chaotic mix of nonsense, humour and nihilism – just how important is art in our ill-fated world?

Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Aesthetic Judgement pens what should constitute fine art – does this notion apply to the unrestrained world of the Dadaists?

Finally, I will use Nietzsche’s early and middle period writings to analyse the importance of art and culture in our society – is culture an illusion, and what is the importance of art in our lives?

2014 Abstracts Stage 2

The Wolf of Wall Street

Project Aims:
•To distinguish the moral issues within the life story of Jordan Belfort and explore whether the initial presumption that he is solely to blame for such actions is completely accurate.
•Can philosophers such as Nietzsche explain such actions through their own reasoning and logic about how people operate?
•Can a true objective answer be found for such moral dilemmas or is it too subjective to conclude with one judgement?
•Assessing the overlooked factors that aren’t so apparent when first understanding Belfort’s past.

•Apollonian vs. Dionysian: Nietzsche’s division between the two realms of approaching the world. A good combination of both will help you lead a sustained lifestyle, whereas if you fall too deep into either you risk becoming ‘too boring’ or ‘out of control’. Throughout the study of Belfort’s life this concept is very applicable because he certainly experiences the description of both realms and consequentially allows the Dionysian to be the downfall of his reign.

•Cultural Relativism and how it can help people to understand the differences between certain environments and how such external influences play a vital role when making such moral judgements.

•Immanuel Kant’s absolute laws on ethics. On principles such as: “Do not use people as a means to an end” he would not condone Belfort’s actions.

•Friedrich Nietzsche’s study into Epistemology and how the process of receiving and using knowledge infringes our own free will.

2013 Abstracts Stage 2

An Exploration into Freemasonry (as Considered in S. Knight’s The Brotherhood) and its Influence on Power Dynamics within Social and Political Philosophies

Stephen Knights’ ‘The Brotherhood” (1985) claims that Freemasonry exists throughout most power dynamic systems and structures we recognize in modern day Britain.

Through an exploration of these claims and an analysis of them it seeks to discover how they would fit through various social and political philosophies such as those of Habermas, Plato, Hobbes, Locke and Nietzsche

It will look at how the alleged power and influence of Freemasonry fits with:
• Habermas’s Theory of Communicative Action.
• Plato’s Republic
• Hobbes’ Leviathan
• Locke’s Two Treatise of Government
• Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra

The Project looks at how Habermas’s theory of communicative action suggests that as their influence on society exists in their ability to control and coerce general population consensus. We must re-engage in a new civil autonomy so as to assert our own un-influenced general opinion. As such in a Democracy we may consider that in accordance with this, Freemasonry has no legitimacy in its power.

It then looked to Plato’s Republic, Hobbes’ Leviathan and Locke’s Two Treatise of Government to establish whether it could find a more accredited position outside democracy. However the secrecy and abstract assumptions regarding the movement brought about new issues with its validity.

Finally the project considered that, in light the lack of action taken against Freemasonry we could be led to assert a form of Existential angst present. If we are to consider that the movement finds no admissible or appropriate place in so many social and political philosophies then why does it still exist. The conclusion is the existential angst the majority face as proposed by Nietzsche in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. If Freemasonry is as influential as Knight’s ‘The Brotherhood’ suggests then maybe Freemasonry has infiltrated our social structures too far throughout the course of history and its control become too engrained in all we know for anything to be done about it. Or have we just no interest in what has become an old novelty tradition.

2013 Abstracts Stage 2

A Critique of the “Cult” of Willpower and Positive Thinking

Have the terms willpower and positive thinking become arbitrary labels which are used to explain success, failure or motivation when no other logical explanation presents itself?

Is Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace testament to this?

What do we mean when we describe acts of bravery, like those of soldiers at the Battle of the Somme, as extreme measures of willpower?

Smile or Die: has the self-help culture of the late 20th and early 21st century developed an attitude that positive thinking can overcome any problem, whether it be loosing weight, finding love, or beating cancer?

What light does Friedrich Nietzsche’s “will to power” shed on contemporary ideas of motivation and success?

Is humanity a struggle for dominance where the strongest willed individuals exploit the weak and the foreign through appropriation, injury, and overpowering?

If “life simply is the will to power” do we actually have any way of controlling, training or improving our will?

Does the answer to this question explain whether willpower and positive thinking have become arbitrary terms which have no tangible or practical meaning?

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

That Which Does Not Kill Us Makes Us Stronger – Nietzsche. How Valid is This Statement with Reference to the Topic of Euthanasia?

“Human decency is not derived from religion, it precedes it”- Christopher Hitchens

“Because to take away a man’s freedom of choice, even his freedom to make the wrong choice, is to manipulate him as though he were a puppet and not a person”. – Madeleine L’Engle

In this project I have decided to explore the extremely controversial topic of Euthanasia with reference to one of the most polemic figures concerning Human Rights and Religion, Christopher Hitchens. I hope to uncover a fresh and modern perspective concerning whether Euthanasia is morally permissible as well as exploring the thoughts of those who argue for and against this topic. I hope to uncover whether what doesn’t kill you does in fact make you stronger or whether accepting a persons wish to end their life prematurely is in fact what makes them stronger…

“It is always consoling to think of suicide: in that way one gets through many a bad night”-Nietzsche

2011 Abstracts Stage 3

Identity on a Razor’s Edge: the Dialectic of Self-Hood in “Blade Runner”

A study in the dialectic existing between the master and the slave within the post-modern situation of Ridley Scott’s 1982 movie ‘Blade Runner’, in discussing the theories found within Hegel and Nietzsche.

In the fictional early 21st Century, mankind has developed technology to such an extent that artificial beings, replicants can now be produced; these are not to be employed for the emancipation and enlightenment of man, but as slaves. They are granted no freedom and are subject to death at the end of their service or upon their return to the birth place. They are the ultimate slave, and mankind has become the ultimate master.

Their very servitude grants these replicants an identity, which forms an aspect to the dialectic which constitutes mankind’s self-hood. Hegel informs us of the need for recognition in the formation of self-hood; the master requires the slave in order to be recognised as an individual, but relationship is unequal. The slave has a greater access to the needs to man and as a result grows in humaneness leading to the eventual overthrowing of the master. This process culminates in a replicant saving the life of the police ‘Blade Runner’ who has slaughtered his friends; the civilised slave has overcome the barbaric master.

The replicants and their motivation to overthrow the shackles of their servitude and forced deaths, act as an example of Nietzsche’s ‘will to power’, by which an individual affirms their existence by overcoming the obstacles which stand between him and autonomy. This occurs as throughout the movie, the replicants, the artificial human beings, show a greater degree of humaneness than the human masters.

2011 Abstracts Stage 3

Nietzsche made me do it!!!!

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, a German philosopher, notorious for his blistering eruptions on Christianity, moral conventions and contemporary modern society. Estranged from the outside world and in deep mental breakdown, Nietzsche left the world with an astounding legacy that would carry on to question and criticize traditional customs and morality long after his death. Nietzsche writings would have ramifications for more than a hundred years for how certain psychopathic criminals would distinguish and rationalize their crimes, and attribute their atrocities to the influence Nietzsche’s writing would have on them. However in every writers fan base there may be a misguided group of readers, this does not make the writer responsible for the misinterpretation and even less guilty of the perpetrators crimes. Nietzsche seems more than most writers to come under a lot of criticism and suspicion, this is partly to do with the content of his writing but also he seems to be attacked from another more biased angle, these are the people who want the mud to stick because Nietzsche seems to be threatening their value or belief system. One such writer who seems determined to tarnish the philosophers name is Katherine Ramsland, Ph. D. Graduate of the private, exclusive, Catholic DeSales University, established by the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, who’s foundation for teaching are on the theology of the believed saint.

Ramslands writes an article which seems to be leaning in the direction of this bias view the title of her article was; “Existential Murder: The Nietzsche Syndrome” and within this article she claims that “Nietzsche inspired Hitler and other killers.” Within this project I will be investigating what Ramsland coined the “Nietzsche Syndrome” and looking at the killers which she suggests were influenced by Nietzsche’s philosophy. I hope to prove that not only is Nietzsche misunderstood in many of his concepts but that he can actually be looked at from a positive angle, I also hope to show how Nietzsche’s work has been used for good. In my research I have also noticed that Ramsland has handpicked the murderers she uses, but in no way compares them to killers who have not used Nietzsche as an inspiration, failing to draw any comparisons and pinning down any common traits held by killers seems as though she is trying to strengthen the blame on Nietzsche without any real investigation, I hope to provide these comparisons and links, and hopefully vindicate the work of Nietzsche.

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Is Reincarnation Real and Has Christianity Stopped us from Believing?

Territory: My aim is to look at modern day writers who focus their studies on the concept of past lives; mainly focusing on Dr Brian Weiss M. D., who claims to have aided over four thousand patients through their mental and physical pains through past life regression. I shall also be comparing the findings from Weiss’ work to beliefs which are rooted in Buddhism and trying to discover whether the work studied by Weiss allows people ‘a gateway to the spiritual peace’ which Buddhism claims we can develop through meditation. I have also looked at writers such as Shakti Gawain who describes the concept of ‘creative visualization’ to help me understand the power of positive thought and will.

Concepts: I shall focus on Nietzsche’s work in ‘The Antichrist,’ where Nietzsche’s negative attitude towards Christianity implies that the religion is stopping people from ‘truly living’ and where he argues that Christianity makes people ‘weak’ as we no longer are willed to do what is right but we merely obey forces with more power than ourselves.

Using Nietzsche and Weiss I shall compare Christianity and Buddhism and find the positives and negatives of each contrasting religion or belief.

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

“Madness. Death. Passion. Perfection.” A Philosophical Commentary of Black Swan and The Red Shoes

Is madness a symptom of a quest for perfection, or is madness a social failure? Is it passion that kills us, or does death consume us once our passion is achieved? These are the territories I will explore in response to my concept of Black Swan and The Red Shoes.

Black Swan and The Red Shoes are cinematic experiences of the ballet world, and of a passion that leads to madness and death. One protagonist is trapped by a perfection that makes her envy her lucid alter ego, and the other protagonist is torn between the love of her work and the love of her life. Both are alike in a tragic finale of death. But it must be asked – was it the ballet that led to their downfall, or were they in themselves a destructive force?

Apollonian + Dionysian ≠ A Beautiful Soul

Nietzsche’s Apollonian and Dionysian from The Birth of Tragedy, proved that the ballerinas were tormented. The Apollonian was the “ethical deity” of the innocent white swan, and the “self knowledge” of outstanding ballet ability. The “chaotic” Dionysian was the seducing black swan, and despairing romance. In being torn between two passions, and two perfections, the ballerinas became mad.

Schiller’s notion of the “Beautiful Soul” reveals why. There must be inner harmony between the formal and sense drives in order to have a beautiful soul. In always allowing the Dionysian to devour the Apollonian, the ballerinas could never have harmony. Real perfection was in the culmination of both passions.

A Tragic Finale

Nietzsche enforced that “the continuing development of art is tied to the duality of the Apollonian and the Dionysian” , whilst Freud warned that satisfying dreams could hide “painful ideas”. The ballerinas could not equate their two passions, and so their art could not continue. Death became inevitable. Their aspirations were not pleasurable, they were painful.

Foucault’s Madness and Civilisation discusses madness a symbol of passion verses madness a social fault. It allows the conclusion that the ballerinas cause their own downfall. And death became a necessity. Madness and torment was seeping into their art. It was slowly destroying their inability. And so they had to die, because it was the only way to preserve the legacy of their passion.

2011 Abstracts Stage 3

Are Holidays Part of Our Real Lives or an Escape into Unreality?






The Schopenhauerian man voluntarily takes upon himself the suffering involved in being truthful.’

The quote is bound up with Nietzsche’s view that most people don’t like seeing reality as it is, i.e. the one and only reality there is. People prefer all the illusions, which the apparent world gives us by way of hope that we will enter the real true world where everything will be alright; for example heaven or even on holidays.

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Anarchism: the Path to Freedom

Aims: 
To highlight the impotence, invalidity and ineffectiveness of our current economic and political systems. Whilst illustrating the detriment this causes to our social and personal lives.
To promote Anarchism as a means to securing greater freedom and liberty whilst overcoming the problems of our current system.

Kropotkin – A collection of Revolutionary writings.  
Nietzsche – Thus spoke Zarathustra  
Chomsky – On Anarchism

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Nietzsche & Models of Self-Help in Contemporary Britain

The aim: To develop a project that looked at why Britain’s happiness on the whole is in decline.

Methodology: To compare contemporary attitudes with those of the 1950’s. Is the definition of depression still the same? An examination of self-help guides. What do these manuals claim will make us happier?

Thinkers: Oliver James – A clinical psychologist and writer. His primary thoughts indicate that our relatively new ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ attitude is what is leading us to emotional distress. Nietzsche – Christianity only provides us with a sense of guilt; Buddhism is a better religion to follow.

Conclusion: Guides can provide us with a renewed sense of cheerfulness on the whole. Yet, it is important to be aware that although they have the ability to make us happy for a short period of time, they most certainly cannot cure us from anything more serious than an episode of the blues.

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Does the Revived Television Series “Doctor Who” (2005-Present) Provide a Positive Interpretation of Nietzsche’s Moral Philosophy?

“God is Dead”

Stephen Hawking stated in “The Grand Design” (2010) that “philosophy is dead”, and certainly as far as furthering our understanding of the physical nature of the Universe, that job seems much better suited to physicists than Priests and Theologians. However this increasingly empiricist attitude of society has lead to a crisis of values and an onset of nihilism.

It’s my opinion that of all the philosophers I’ve studied Friedrich Nietzsche, despite dying over a Century ago, grasps and provides the most convincing answer to the potentially valueless existence we face today. Nietzsche’s answer isn’t a normative one however but is in need of personal study and analysis by all who seek to learn something from it.

Go Beyond Good and Evil by journeying through time and Space

I’ve chosen to use “Doctor Who” (2005-present) as a way of interpreting and critiquing Nietzsche’s moral philosophy.

I feel I’m justified in this comparison given the immensely positive critical reception of this series which is often praised for being innovative and challenging, recently being described as a show that: “makes your mind work…” by the site

And Crucially the head producers Russell T Davies and Stephen Moffat have not only got a reputation for exploring deep philosophical issues with their dramas in a way that often borders on the unnerving, but both their runs of “Doctor Who” have been characterized by an undeniably existentialist and atheistic edge. Going so far as to pit the protagonist against the devil itself!

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Nietzsche – Aesthetic Jesus?

How far can we know ‘truth’ From artistic works? Comparing Nietzsche’s thought that we are living in delusion with Ayn Rand’s bitter Objectivism. Can we know and reflect an external reality through painting? Using Nietzsche’s ‘On Truth and Lies in a non-moral sense’ and Rand’s ‘The Romantic Manifesto’. In essence, we cannot attain rigid truth, but there are degrees of truth which we can have access to through our senses, even if delusional, these hold some consistencies. With Euclidean geometry, traditional versus modern art, Adorno, and quantum art…

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

From the Ship of Fools to Anti-Psychotic Medicine

I believe that society, and therefore madness, are based on the main system of thought of every era and that through this we can study why changes in the treatment of madness occur.

Heavily influential in this work are Michel Foucault and Friedrich Nietzsche.

2010 Abstracts Stage 3

An Analysis of Nietzsche’s Notions of Culture, Self-Formation and Exploring Whether Such Notions, When Compared with Foucault’s Philosophy, Are Relevant in Contemporary Society

– Nietzsche’s notions of culture

– Nietzsche’s formation of the self

– Foucault’s aesthetics of existence

– Foucault’s advancement and caring for the “self”

– Ethical advancement and transition

This project will determine whether the ideas of both Nietzsche and Foucault can be translated in to today’s contemporary 21st Century world. The lightning pace of technological and cultural advancement present in today’s society can be viewed as an ethical minefield, and therefore I question whether the two philosopher’s concepts of culture and ethical transition can help 21st Century society in any way shape or form.

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Though Hope Is a Virtue, Can It Also Be Considered a Vice?

Out of the ashes of despair came hope. Though the human race suffers so much hatred, famine, illness, war; through it all there has been hope, there always will be.

Through the works of Nietzsche and Marcel I intend to study the positive and negative effects of hope on the human condition.

“Hope need not mean expectancy. It suggests here rather the music that can come from the remaining chord” – George Watts

As long as there is man, there will be hope. Though it may prolong one’s torment, it is a necessary evil to overcome the despair and anguish in the world around us today.

“For hope, which is just the opposite of resignation, something more is required. There can be no hope that does not constitute itself through a we and for a we. I would be tempted to say that all is hope is at the bottom choral…. the only genuine hope is hope in what does not depend on ourselves, hope springing from humility and not from pride” Gabriel Marcel