2021 Abstracts Stage 3

The Human’s Ethical Power to Kill

Richard Ramirez, otherwise known as the infamous “Night Stalker”, once stated in an interview that ‘we have all got the power to kill in our hands, but most of us are afraid to use it. Those who aren’t, control life itself’. The first person to conceptualise evil was St Augustine, who believed in the metaphysical concept that evil was a necessary part of the world, for one cannot have good without evil. They both must coexist to create a balanced structure, thus describing evil within humans. The existence of evil is something that most humans view as destruction and nothingness, hence why they dislike the thought that it could reside within them. However, without evil in the world, there would be no conception of reality. If anything, good can only be praised as something which is not evil. Good is not a concept that guarantees happiness or fulfilment, and it is a concept that guarantees a lack of destruction.
This project will focus on the different contemporary theories of evil action regarding the concept of evil to deduce whether Richard Ramirez was justified in his claims about humanity and murder. BBC News claims that ‘over three decades in the late 20th century, there was a rise in serial homicides in North America’, explicitly suggesting that ‘a rise in serial killings [started] in the late 1960s, peaking in the 80s – when there were at least 200 such murderers operating in the United States alone’. This lead several theorists to attempt to offer necessary and sufficient conditions for evil. Some, such as Marcus G. Singer (2002), have focussed on evil as a root of personhood, whilst others, such as Luke Russell (2014), consider evil to be action-based.
The first part of this project will focus on the concept of evil and harmful wrongdoing. This chapter assumes that actions can be evil in themselves or that actions can be considered as ‘wrong’ in themselves. This chapter will then lead to evil and harm where it will be argued that evil must ‘cause or allow significant harm to at least one victim’. This part of the project will be crucial in deciphering whether evil is necessary within a person to cause another individual harm otherwise understood as quasi-deontological ethics. Then will continue into the concept of evil and motivation, which will delve into desire as a motive within a human mind, whether evil is a desire or something innate within us, otherwise known as consequentialist ethics. Evil could belong either to souls or to acts; if the former, there need be no consequences, if the latter, then evil is necessarily consequential. The next part of this chapter will focus on evil and its effect; this chapter focuses on the emotions humans must provide to commit murder and whether emotions must be involved to create evil. This chapter will conclude that evil resides within the soul rather than within the consequences of human action.
Then most importantly, the project will end with a chapter on evil and responsibility, which will focus on how evil resides in the soul using the classic argument of nature versus nurture. This will argue on behalf of ignorance, when people do not understand that what they are doing is wrong or when humans do something wrong by mistake and without intention. Then it will argue on behalf of psychopathy, where humans struggle to feel remorse for their actions which therefore makes it harder for them to act in a way which is socially acceptable. It will argue on behalf of upbringing, as evil could be distilled in childhood and traumatic experiences from a young age. This will be the crucial part of the essay in tying together the conclusion as to whether it has been ‘universally accepted that to perform an evil action an agent must be morally responsible for what she does’ unless that is of a natural event; however, there are other responsibilities for evil actions.

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

Mitigating the Effects of Covid-19

My Object is Covid-19 mental health, as I believe that mental health has not had enough importance throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. I highlight this pressing issue using psychological studies that show the link between Lockdown and mental health.
Project Aim:
To use my philosophical concepts to offer solutions at mitigating the effects of Covid-19 mental health, I shall not be suggesting that the physical effects of the virus should be disregarded.

Within my project, I use two philosophical concepts – Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialism and Ayn Rand’s rational egoism.
Sartre’s existentialism focuses on our own individual freedom as he claims that we do not have a general human essence to conform to. Sartre also has insights into why we experience anxiety which include factors such as abandonment and responsibility, all feelings exaggerated within a lockdown.
Ayn Rand’s rational egoism denies selfishness as an evil motive, and instead, Rand promotes placing oneself first in order to gain a clear conscience to make rationally informed decisions. Our integrity and values will ensure that making selfish decisions will not lead to immoral acts, and therefore we should be making more selfish decisions.

2013 Abstracts Stage 3

Existential Therapy: a Discussion of Heidegger’s Contribution to Psychoanalysis and the Relevance of his Ideas to Current Day Therapy

• Heidegger and a psychologist Medard Boss created a strand of psychoanalysis called Daseinsanalytic within ‘The Zollikon Seminars’
• Boss used Heidegger’s phenomenological method from ‘Being and Time’ to create a therapy based on the openness of Dasein to the world
• I will compare this therapy to modern-day Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
• CBT is the main therapy offered by the NHS
• Heidegger believes that technology removes our ability to understand Being
• It turns us into calculable resources
• I will discuss CBT as an obvious product to our current technological society

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

Advertising. An Insight into the Contemporary Complexity of Advertising, Examining it from Both a Marxian and Psychoanalytic Framework

I will explore Marx’s views of capitalism as a base for my further examination into advertising. This will not be a predictable attack, but an outline of the social structures of the world in which we live. I will focus my examination of Marx’s concepts of; the free market, power and need, commodity and alienation. These concepts are central to a study of advertising.

Edward Bernays revolutionised the world of advertising through his marriage of psychoanalysis and advertising. Through his studies into the human psyche he showed how advertising acts as the invisible governor which controls the masses. I will explore the incompatibility of Bernays psychoanalysis of advertising and Marx’s views on capitalism.

I will explore the anti-advertising of cigarettes and the Anti-Advertising Agency, to examine how they use Bernays’ discoveries, yet achieve opposite results. I will further my investigation to distinguish whether anti-advertising coheres to Marxist thought, and in doing so I will show how these two forms of anti-advertising are in fact very different.

2012 Abstracts Stage 2

A Discussion of Ronald David Laing as an Existential Psychoanalyst in the History of Madness

Laing was a psychoanalyst in the mid sixties who was a revolutionary and controversial character. Within my project I will discuss the impact Laing had on the liberation of the voice of madness in the 60’s. Even though his practices were not well renowned towards the end of his career, at his peak Laing was the ‘pop star’ of the psychological world. His medical practices were considered to be revolutionary in that he took madness out of the asylum and created a home within a city where the mentally insane were housed. His practices were controversial in that he condoned excessive drug use in order to access a ‘higher reality’ and due to the fact that he considered psychotic regression to be a necessary stage within the healing of madness. For example, he allowed one of his patients to smear her walls with her own faeces and to be fed out of a bottle like a baby.

Once I have explained Laing’s position within the history of madness I will focus the rest of my project on Laing’s first book: ‘The Divided Self’. Within, he explains the existential view of madness from the stages of the schizoid condition to schizophrenia and psychosis. I will relate Laing’s discussion of madness to Sartre’s views on Bad Faith and the Other, as expressed within ‘Being and Nothingness.’ This will allow me to have a detailed discussion of Laing’s existentialism of madness as expressed as the loss of the self to the point where the patient can be considered to be existentially dead.

“The self, being transcendent, empty, omnipotent, free in its own way, comes to be anybody in phantasy and nobody in reality.” – R. D. Laing

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.

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

How Deceived Are We by Our Own Mind?

The aim of my project is to explore the tricks (problems) the mind plays on us and how a technique can overcome that problem. I would use Freud to explain the problem of the mind and use a Derren Brown technique which could overcome that problem. I will also show how they both share some similar views in certain areas. So do you know how deceived you are by your own mind?

Here are a few areas I will explore.
• I will explain Freud’s theory on forgetting ‘Proper Names’. I will then suggest a technique by Derren Brown which could overcome this. In this case, a technique called ‘Remembering Names’.
• ‘Forgetting Names and Sequence of Words’ by Freud can be related to the ‘Linking System’ by Derren Brown. This technique allows you to move onto the next word without any worries.
• A view which Freud and Derren Brown share is on superstition and the supernatural. They both disapprove of it. Derren Brown’s controversial programme, the Séance showed his rejection of the supernatural through psychological experiments which shows the illusions of it.

I shall use Freud’s book Psychopathology of Everyday Life to explore the problems of the mind. For Derren Brown, I shall use his book, Tricks of the Mind, and include his programmes as well, such as Trick of the Mind, Trick or Treat, and the Séance.

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

The Strange Case of Dr Ego and Mr Shadow

For this project I’m investigating views on the unconscious. I think that it is important to learn as much as we can about ourselves in order to better ourselves and the society in which we live. Philosophers who I have looked at are Freud and Jung. I have used Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ to parallel with the idea of hidden aspects of our personality in our unconscious. The novel also reflects upon the notion of drugs unlocking these hidden, repressed aspects of self; a topic in which I am also interested.