Saturday, 27 February 2010

New Philosophy MA: Starting Sept 2010

See below for info about the new MA in Philosophy starting in Sept 2010. Applications are now being accepted for this course.

It would be great if we could see one or two of the third years again next year!

Information for Marketing of MA in Philosophy
Course Title: MA in Philosophy

• The MA in Philosophy offers considerable flexibility and choice.
• You will study a broad range of issues and themes in contemporary philosophy.
• You will receive a complete grounding in the central intellectual traditions which underpin 20th and 21st Century Philosophy.
• You will also take a research practice module which will allow you to gain a number of key skills for future employment.
• This module will be especially useful for graduate philosophers wishing to develop a successful PhD proposal as well as to first year doctoral students wanting a general philosophical background to assist them in giving their doctoral project a sharper definition.

• The MA in Philosophy is designed to offer graduate students, those intent on pursuing doctoral research in other disciplinary areas, a thorough grounding in the key intellectual traditions that have defined contemporary philosophy.
• It also aims to provide MA Students with an in-depth knowledge of the historical and applied scope of philosophy.
• The MA in Philosophy addresses the following topics and disciplinary themes: ‘The Linguistic Turn: Analytic Philosophy and its Critics’; ‘Philosophy and Globalisation’; “Radical Philosophy: Hegel, Marx and Critical Theory’; ‘Media Philosophy’; ‘Phenomenology and Post-structuralism’ and ‘Philosophies of Life.’
• Within a collaborative and interdisciplinary context, the overall aim of the programme is to show how all forms of post-graduate enquiry are founded on important philosophical questions and can only proceed by addressing such questions.
• The research practice module will interrogate issues at the interface of philosophy and research methodology. It is ideally suited for expansion into professional and academic research.

• When you have successfully completed all of the course requirements you will have a Master of Arts in Philosophy.

• How to apply: contact the college of school graduate school office on the second floor of the George Eliot building, Clifton Main site.
• English language requirements: A competent grasp of written and oral English is required for this course.
• Funding opportunities include international link/info: It will be possible to apply for Vice Chancellorship stipends.
• Course length/start date: The Course Runs for one year from September to September.
• Course costs (where appropriate) include international fee
• Contact details; Questions? Just ask NTU (link to content ID 74108)

The course:

In order to complete this course you will have to achieve 180 credits. These 120 Credits are split into to two taught modules a school-wide taught module worth 40 credits and core module in Philosophy worth 80 credits. The remaining 60 credits will be based on the completion of a supervised dissertation of 15-20000 words.

The research practice module involves demonstrating how important philosophical questions about the nature of thought, being, categorisation, measurement, experience are founded on important philosophical questions. It also provides you with specific skills and qualities in research methodology and practice.

The taught module will introduce you to the key problems and thinkers who have set the tone of contemporary philosophy. Specific emphasis will be given to problems and issues in the philosophy of language, aesthetics, metaphysics, and phenomenology, post-structuralism and social and political philosophy. You will study the work of Wittgenstein, Husserl, Heidegger, Foucault, Deleuze and Derrida. The overall aim of the module is to provide a cutting edge philosophical background for graduate philosophers and to enhance the level of understanding of the ideas, contexts and techniques required to philosophise in both academic and non-academic contexts.

The dissertation module will offer you the opportunity to pursue a sustained piece of self-devised research under the auspices of a supervisor.


Neil Turnbull (Subject Leader in Philosophy) (BA, MSc, PhD) Neil is the subject leader of the Philosophy team. He has published widely on a number of philosophical issues and themes, from essays Wittgenstein, Nietzsche, Heidegger and Deleuze, to essays that explore the intersections of Philosophy and everyday life. His current research addresses the question of the relationship between philosophy and culture. He is currently writing two books – on ‘the metaphysics of science’ and ‘secularism’ (respectively).
Ruth Griffin (BA, MA, Ph. D) Ruth is the Philosophy subject advisor. Her research revolves around film-philosophy and literary existentialism, and she is particularly interested in interdisciplinary approaches to the teaching of philosophy. Her most recent publication is a monograph, The Eternal Outsider: The Western Hero as Existential Archetype’ (December, 2008). She is currently writing an article on Foucault and power; ‘The Silent Scream: Prisons, Power and Panopticism’, and researching for an article on media ethics and heroism.
Patrick O’Connor Patrick O’Connor received his PhD. from the NUI Galway in 2005. His research interests are mainly European Philosophy, with special reference to 20th Century Phenomenology and French Philosophy. He has spent time as a Visiting Fellow and Associate Lecturer at the Department of Philosophy and Politics at Manchester Metropolitan University. He has published articles in the Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, Journal of Cultural Research, Southern Journal of Philosophy and Irish Studies Review. His book Derrida: Profanations is forthcoming with Continuum Press.

The Trent Philosophy Team

What is life?

I have just lifted this comment from our companion discussion board 'Trent Philosophy'

The anonymous contributor makes a bold claim. In response to the question what makes something alive he/she claims:

'Being alive is a biological phenomenon. If it has living cells then it is alive, if not then it is not'

Two thoughts here.

1. What about viruses that don't have living cells?

2. Don't we need to, after Aristotle, recognise that what makes something alive is its ability to move under its own powers or energies. There are still, after all, lots of 'living cells' in the things that are dead!

Life is surely something that 'animates' matter in a particular way. The whole philsophical question of the nature life turns on how this is possible. Is it simply a question of how matter is organised, or it a question of the presence of some distinctive force or presence?

Neil Turnbull

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Philosophy and Witchcraft

Should a philosopher be opposed to the varieties of new age movements that have recnetly cornered the marketplace for spiritual ideas? Should we take seriously ideas like 'psychic attack and defence' and the idea of cosmic energies that can be harnessed by means of appopriate esoteric techniques?

Of course this should lead us to ask 'what is exactly is new age in philosophical terms?' According to one influential account, new agers essentially believe that

all life, in all its interconnected forms and states, is interconnected energy - and this includes our deeds, feelings, thoughts. We, therefore, work with Spirit and these energies in co-creating our reality. Although held in the dynamic of cosmic love, we are jointly responsible for the state of ourselves, of our environment and of all life' (see Heelas 1996, 33)

The enemy of all New Age movements is the rational ego. For New Agers, the ego, contra Freud, is not the part of the human psyche responsible for reality monitoring, but rather is the cause of the most profound illusion of western civilisation; that the individual is ultimately responsible/in control of him/herself. The true self, the natural/higher self, is to be found beyond the ego and can only be reached by the ego’s dissolution.

However, can there be rational thought, and thus philosophy, without an ego of some kind?

Neil Turnbull

Monday, 22 February 2010

Tolkein and Foucault

Odd as it may sound to some, I think that there is a very important connection between the ideas of Tolkein and Foucault. Tolkein's 'eye of Sauron' and Foucault's panopticon seem to me to be different expressions of the same fundamental idea. More specifically, both these thinkers seem to be suggesting that with the advent of modernity a new form of power has emerged; a form of power that is connected to war, technology and visibility.

However, I think that whereas Tolkein viewed this power as a very ancient form of power returning to haunt us, for Foucault this form of power was in philosophical terms an innovation. Also, they both differed quite markedly on how they conceived of who or what is best equipped to resist this form of power. For Tolkein, it was the little people of the shires; whereas for Foucault it was socially 'the marginalised' and the hedonistic libertines of the bohemian counter-cultures.

I wonder who was right?

Neil Turnbull