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2009 Abstracts Stage 3

The End of an Era? Modern Culture in an Age of Apathy

Project Aims: To investigate the evolution of apathy  and the changing attitudes toward it over time –  from the Stoics to modern culture. Has an era  ended? Was the era of positivity towards apathy  correct, or modernity’s negative opinion?  What  does it mean to be individual today? 

Object: Apathy 

Concepts: Politics, Social development, the Culture  Industry, the Last Man, the Other. 
 
Change/contrast:  historical contrast between  the Stoics, the Christian  theologians and modern society  

Thinkers: Adorno, Nietzsche, Levinas 
Adorno – the Culture Industry as a cause 
Nietzsche – overcoming the Last Man 
Levinas – Do we need to focus upon something ‘Other’ than  ourselves to overcome our apathetic age?  

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2009 Abstracts Stage 2

Buying the Time: a Philosophical Study into the Ethics of Increased Longevity

Territory: I chose to consider the use of nanotechnology and drugs when applied to living organisms, more specifically humans, to increase the average life time and explore the ethical implications that may be associated with it. Aim: I intend to explore the socio‐economic effects of a society in which all individuals or a select group have an extended life span, from anything between an additional 50 years of life up to, theoretically, several hundred or even thousands! At the end of my study I intend to consider if such technology can be applied, if it should be applied and in what capacity. Concepts: I shall be considering the philosophical dilemmas presented by specialist scholars in the field of my study as well as deliberating issues I have considered myself. To help me consider these issues I shall apply the philosophies of Mill’s Utilitarianism and Nietzschean thought to see if either, both or neither can agree on specific aspects of the study.

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2008 Abstracts Stage 2

Black Sabbath and Surrealism? Does their Music Display Ressentiment with Respect to Nietzsche?

Territory: Black Sabbath, their music shaped a new movement and style, the term ‘heavy metal’ came about to embody their music. Often overlooked and discarded Sabbath’s music would go on to be the forerunner and influence of many other great rock and metal artists. Concepts: My project aims to explore the territory of Black Sabbath and its relation, or non-relation, to the ideals and principles of Surrealism. I shall also be using the secondary concept of ressentiment in music using Nietzsche’s works on The Birth of Tragedy and use other musical styles to support my ideas. These shall be my two main concepts but I will also be using other philosophers that have interested me and have specific relevance to my project, for example Schopenhauer’s World as Will and Idea in which he discusses the role of music in society. My interest is to see if I can apply philosophies intended for their own times to a modern era of music.

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2008 Abstracts Stage 2

The Transforming Role of Dance

Having danced for 15 years before coming to University I wanted to grasp the opportunity to study dance in a different light with both hands. In this project I got the chance to explore dance in its different forms at different points throughout history. Tribal and ritual dance, dance in ancient Greece, Folk dance, Ballet dance, Ballroom, Modern and Contemporary Dance. Each dance form has played a different social role and has contributed to individuals’ lives: ritual dance attempted to bring about results when there was nothing else a community had the power to do, Folk dance brought the community together. Dance also has a role as an art form and as a means of expression, it can also provide structure and discipline through tuition or become a means of channelling emotion or aggression or even be an escape from the world. I wanted to explore this changing role of dance throughout time and within varying cultures and societies. Why is there no fixed role for dance? I wanted to look at how dance’s role alters depending on the historical or social context. Do we take from dance what we need from it at that particular time and place in history? Did we turn to dance rituals because we had no other answers? Did we use freer more provocative dance as an outward expression of women’s liberation? Is the discipline in dance tuition useful now to focus our young generation that seems to have gone off the rails? Is it necessary now as a creative outlet in a society obsessed with standardisation? It seems that we cannot escape dance, it has existed in varying forms throughout most of history and I believe it always will do. Dance can transform to suit whatever our culture or society needs from it and it can also transform us. This is part of the beauty of dance; it is a tool for us as individuals and as a society. Philosophical Sources: Nietzsche on Art; Helen Thomas’s Sociology of Dance; Peter Brinson’s Dance as Education, Towards a National Dance Culture; Susan Leigh Foster; Francis Sparshott.

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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.

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2008 Abstracts Stage 3

Shop until we Drop?

Territory: Four businesses operating in the UK retail sector of industry and their company websites. Areas of Investigation: • Company values and the role and functions of these in business. • The ‘relationship’ between business and its customers and how this is changing as a result of the internet. • Marketing and advertisement techniques and the possible effects they might have on consumers. • Crisis of legitimation and the poststructuralist interpretations of western society. Philosophical Thinkers Involved: Nietzsche’s ‘Will to Power’ exposes fundamental issues with values in retail business practises. As a result conceptions of power are considered in the forms expressed by Foucault and Thomas to see how this affects the position of the consumer. Baudrillard’s ideas of simulacra and simulation were then used to highlight possible reasons for company values in relation to how we perceive the real. Further exposition of the consumer relation to business was carried out through the work of Jean François Lyotard and Gianni Vattimo. Conclusions: Businesses values are not legitimate but instead the result of our interactions as consumers; our purchases can actually shape society making our relationship with business an active one instead of passive. The overall conception of business as a physical entity is misleading as it has no fixed point; businesses are sociological phenomenon that reflects the general will of society because they are governed by the pragmatics of economics and are fundamentally made from members of that society.

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2008 Abstracts Stage 2

Is there Still a Place for Religion in Today’s Society?

The dilemma of whether there is still a place in today’s society is one that still poses a lot of questions, and so I decided to look in more detail at the issue for the basis of my project. I used ‘The Da Vinci Code’ by Dan Brown in order to look at how literature has changed to reflect the decline of religion and faith in society. I realised that due to technological advances, such as developments in medicine, religion and faith have begun to take a backseat in terms of how much influence they still have in people’s lives. Alongside this was the discovery of the fact that religion itself could have changed in that Dan Brown claims that the church itself has been hiding a huge secret: that the Holy Grail is in fact not a chalice as Christians for millions of years have believed, rather it is a woman- Mary Magdalene – and there still exists today the bloodline of Jesus Christ, living descendants. Is it possible that after all this time the Christian faith has been based on a lie? And if that is the case, can it be said that the Christian faith is worth any less? After looking at how religion has changed I moved on to begin to introduce philosophical concepts into my project. I drew on ideas and notions put forward by philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Friedrich Nietzsche: o He did not believe in the divinity of religion, the idea that religion allowed us access to another dimension of reality. o He claimed that science cast doubt on the comfort of religion. o He believed it was fear, not faith that drove people to religion. o He argued that the Christian conception of God was one of the most corrupt images of God to exist. o God is dead. Fyodor Dostoyevsky: He suggested that people were in search of miracles as opposed to looking for a place for God in their lives. He thought that people believed in God because they desired to, not because they truly believed. He advocated a Christianity in which human redemption and resurrection could occur on earth. Every individual has the ability to choose whether or not to believe in God. Throughout my entire project I have attempted to link religion with society, or alternatively assess how society has changed so much that there now is no place in society for religion. The philosophical concepts I used seemed to suggest a change in faith and religion and this is something that I explored in my project. It is evident that religion has less significance in society, and by religion I am referring to the ‘motions’ of religion, such as going to church. However I discovered that many people still call themselves Christians, and so even though religion has declined there is still faith and belief in God, so this led me to conclude that religion might be declining within society, but there is still evidence of God today.

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2007 Abstracts Stage 2

Exploration of the Change in Christian Values and the Suppression of Desires

Aims: The main aim of this project is to explore the changes in the way in which religion has been viewed from the early 1800’s (from Nietzsche to Foucault) to the present day, and the way in which these ideas of Christianity have affected people’s perception of sexuality and the repercussions this has on society. Questions which need addressing: • Does religion affect your concept of understanding sexuality? • Are there boundaries as to what is acceptable when expressing sexuality? • Has the steady decline of Christianity among modern society affected our perceptions on sexual desires and sexuality in general? Key Sources: ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’ – F. Nietzsche

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2007 Abstracts Stage 2

Music Therapy

The aim of this project is to explore the belief that music can work as a healing or soothing mechanism for people suffering from cases of mental illness, bereavement, and any other personal problems. Music as a form of therapy • Although a relatively new form of practised therapy, music has been used as a way of helping people for hundreds of years; whether it be in calming physical disabilities, helping people to express repressed emotions, dealing with unconscious fears. • The British Society for Music Therapy was founded in 1958 by Juliette Alvin. It now treats a number of people, from adults to children, suffering from bereavement to illnesses such as cerebral palsy. Even though some illnesses are incurable, music is used as a way of providing joy and creating bonds between patient and client, and also between clients. Historical value • In Ancient Greece, it was commonly believed that music providing a form of communication with the gods. • The belief was still held in the Middle Ages, that music also symbolised a link with Satan, often being associated with the work of witches. Expressionism • Expressionism saw the emergence of pieces of music composed through unconscious emotions, rather than like previous decades of music which conformed to forms, strict melodies, rhythms and timbres. Aspects of Nietzsche’s theory of dualism emerged in many expressionist works. • Key figure was Schoenberg, who wished to see the elimination of the conscious will in expressionism. • Leads to exploring Freud and Hegel’s theories on consciousness and unconscious; overcoming problems which lie in the unconscious by realising and thus being able to treat them. The Enlightenment • The avant-garde movement had key figure Andre Breton, who developed his theory of automatism; this can be related to the way music is now used to help release emotions without the interference of thought processing. Foucault • Studies in madness; Foucault recognised the effects music could have on those suffering from forms of madness.

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2006 Abstracts Stage 2

Hendrix, Hippies and Humanism: an Analysis of the Realisation of Postmodern Aesthetic and Ethical Values within Western Culture during the 1960s

Territory: The Jimi Hendrix song Voodoo Chile (Slight Return). Aims and Objective: To analyse 1960’s culture and counterculture movements in terms of their aesthetical and ethical values with reference to Nietzsche’s philosophies. I intend to demonstrate that with the aid of music and the arts people at this time began to turn away from traditional pre-war values and began to experiment with more subjective, postmodern views of the world and humanity’s relation to it. Concepts: The underlying concept of my project is: ‘Ethical redemption through the means of aesthetical values’; this is closely related to Nietzsche’s conception of art as being ‘the highest dignity of mankind’. I am also investigating the concept of ‘slave and master moralities’ as theorised by Nietzsche to analyse the shift away from pre-war traditional values (for example, Christian doctrines) towards a more individual style of ethics, as can be witnessed in hippy communes and in relation to the civil rights movements and the sexual revolution. The ‘will to power’ in relation to these concepts will be the basis of my conclusion as to what extent this era can be said to be one of the defining periods of the shift of humanity towards post-modernism, especially within western culture and society. Sources: I will reference a wide variety of sources both on the structure of 1960’s culture and on Nietzsche’s philosophy as well as on post-modern philosophy. My main texts, however, will be: • Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy, • Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals, • David Henderson, ‘Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky: The Life of Jimi Hendrix, • John Morton Blum, Years of Discord. American Politics and Society, 1961-1974.

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2006 Abstracts Stage 2

Death in Venice or Death of Man?

What will be discussed is the elements of form and dissolution, the discrepancies between meaning and manner, between profits of decay and the state of man. However perhaps the most interesting aspect is that of the correlation between Venice’s decline and Ashenbach struggle. This conflict is the same as we see today between the destruction and confusion that Modernism has erupted. Our Postmodern society is frayed with ambiguity and fragmentation. The decline of our own morality and our own purpose is still concurrent with that of our city. The search for truth has become a notion tainted by its own paradoxical character. The question is where does man go from here? Or is it merely that like Ashenbach, we remain struggling within ourselves. Works cited will comprise the question of Lyotard’s Postmodern theory attributed to Nietzsche and the question of Nihilism. As well as Structuralism and Deconstructionalist activity with reference to Derrida Barthes and Foucault.

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2005 Abstracts Stage 2

A Philosophical Investigation of Boredom

Field of Exploration: I have chosen to examine the experience of boredom in myself and my closest friends. I will look at the way our level of interest I will look at the way our level of interest has changed from our school days to the present day.
Aims and objectives: To discover what causes boredom at different stages of our lives from school years to adult life. To examine the philosophical implications on the life of an individual. To discover ways to prevent and overcome boredom in onself and others.
Abstract: Boredom is something that affects everybody at some point in their lives. For some it is a force that motivates them to change, for others it is a curse that drains them of their motivation.
Heidegger provides an in-dept analysis of boredom and he suggests using boredom to attune to Dasein.This investigation takes Heidegger’s work as a starting point and myself as its subject matter in an attempt to discover the true essence of boredom and perhaps find ways to combat it.

Sources: Heidegger – The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics, Nietzsche -Human, All too human: Beyond Good and Evil, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – Beyond Boredom and Anxiety, Blanchot – The Infinite Conversation, Kierkegaard – Either/Or

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2004 Abstracts Stage 3

The Struggle for Existence: viral infection, degeneration and entropy

When a human being contracts AIDS, their DNA is replaced, and their very existence becomes deficient. In a cold light, it is a murderous disease but the reality is that the negation of viral infection only delays evolution. Nietzsche argued with and against Darwin on the nature of natural selection, and made the will to power applicable to more than just the human being. Highlighting the development of AIDS since the 1980s, I will show how diseases are able to shape society and evolve beings in a network of complexity theory created by the “self-organised behaviours of complex genetic regulatory systems”.

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2004 Abstracts Stage 2

Affirmative and Negative Metaphysical Theories of Objects

Objectives: To investigate antithetical theories of objects and examine the ways in which human knowledge and experience are shaped and determined by the things it apprehends. Key concepts: Thing-hood; appearance and properties; contradiction and conceivability; concept; perspective; skepsis; the atom; arkhē; metaphor, grammar, and word. Achievement of the work: The subjection of Kantian metaphysics to the rigorous philosophical methods of Nietzsche, and a radical re-evaluation of both the ‘thing-in-itself’ and the scientist’s need for the fundamental material object, the atom, as the building block of reality.

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2004 Abstracts Stage 3

Becoming-‘self’

At the end of the nineteenth century Nietzsche was already pointing to dynamic becomings and complexity in the ontology of the human being. For him we are not entities with a transcendent being but an immanent field of forces that are always bound up in different processes. In the past century, advances in computing, mathematics and science have made it possible to study complex and dynamic systems that were dismissed as anomalies under linear models. Bodies are no longer studied in isolation but in dynamic systems that can alter their states, sometimes creating new and surprising features. We move away from singular objects to the study of quasi-objects and folds that can only be considered within their given system. The CApitalist system resembles this state of constant flux and change. There is a constant flow of abstract value and the persistence deterritorialization and reterritorialization of labour power. Within capitalism nothing exists outside of the system and decodings are brought back within a capitalist axiom. Philosophers such as Deleuze and Guattari, Serres, Simondon and DeLanda have taken theories of catastrophe, chaos and folds and reterritorialized them on to the social to explore human activity and phenomena. What emerges is biotechnics; the human is bound up in what DeLanda calls”nonorganic life”. I wish to examine Nietzsche’s process of becoming alongside recent theories of flux, chaos and complexity in the context of our state of “self” within capitalist structures to explore the processes that contribute to our stabilising of the “self” and to determine whether, on an ontological and immanent level, we are continually becoming a different self.

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2003 Abstracts Stage 3

Philosophy and the Real World

Contribution to the book of change: Aim To show there is a link between philosophical theory and popular American culture in an attempt to bridge the gap between humans and things around them Concepts/ Key words Existentialism and ideas from philosophers such as Sartre and Camus. Popular American culture namely The Simpson’s Objectives To illustrate that the following picture although stereotypically American with busy highways and mega capitalism does not represent popular American culture. To see if there is a link between the heroes of Sartre, Camus and Nieztsche and some of the Simpson’s characters To determine whether Homer is the authentic individual that Sartre and Camus dreamed of? Or is Bart the übermensch that Nietzsche depicted who could rise above Christian morality and create a new moral code? Project Territory The Simpson’s TV show Sources Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Friedrich Nieztsche, Mark Conrad……….