Tuesday, 13 December 2011

HCJ - Year 2 - Semester 1 - Revision notes Part 4 - Orwell & Totalitarianism

Orwell - Newspeak:
. Set in 2050 - Big Brother party ruler enforces new language on 'Oceania' in London
. Main character is Winston Smith
. New language (newspeak) is set to control people, in that it bans any rebellious talk, to prevent political rebellion
. Makes 'thoughtcrime' the worst possible offence
. Bans things such as sex, free thought and individuality
. Smith is against the regime and logs thoughts in a diary
. Believes in a rebellious group called the Brotherhood, who feel the same as he does
. Lured into a trap, where the ever watching government make him believe he is being accepted in to the brotherhood
. Captured and tortured with rats until he is forced to accept Big Brother
. They break his spirit through fear and terror (totalitarian practice)

. Hannah Arendt - success of totalitarianism is the fault of the individual
. Totalitarian - 'everything is possible'
. Total power = destruction of human kind
. Terror & ideology - Nazism
. Terror - not mass murder, destroy individuality
. Genocide is key to totalitarianism
. Ideology - eliminate individual thought from reality and common sense
. Eichmann trial - Arendt - own mind and thoughts, crime was that he did not think
. Tries to claim Kant categorical imperative - Hitler had made it a universal law with no exceptions and Eichmann believed he was a law abiding citizen
. Arendt believes Not to obey
. Be your own jusge

*Stanley Milgram experiment*

Sunday, 11 December 2011

HCJ - Year 2 - Semester 1 - Revision notes Part 3 - Freud

Part 3 of my revision notes brings me to the latest lecture, and since there has been no previous blog from myself on the subject of existentialism, I will take a little longer to try my best to explain the subject.

Phenomenology is a branch of philosophy which deals with the subjective perception of things. So in easy language, phenomenology is things we can see, a table, a chair, a television. Husserl is a philosopher who believed that you have to 'want' to see things, and things are only there because we 'want' to see them:

The Duck-Rabbit - an image which can be seen as a duck or a rabbit, but you have to CHOOSE what you want to see, they are both not there at the same time, you choose one or the other. It is all about choice with Husserl.

Perception is something that is discussed highly amongst existentialist philosophers, and Kafka & Borges 'The Trial' optimises this. In the novel the main character wakes up as a cockroach, with all human feelings and senses, he feels normal, but to everyone else he is perceived as a cockroach. Pretty disgusting, but it is something I have kind of thought about for years. Are we all perceived differently by others, and are we different to what we think?

Heidegger is a philosopher that believed 'being is time', and that angst and fear is always looking forward in the future. We can link this back to Freud and his theory of ego/superego. The fear of 'next' is controlled by the superego, and the ego is the 'character armour' that protects us from this fear.

Time in Heidegger's mind - Past = Guilt/Shame Present = Dread Past = unknown


Husserl was a philosopher who observed and had theories about phenomena; what it was and how it was here. In the online lectures from the course site, it is explained about the link between Husserl and previous philosophers such as Hegel. Hegel believed in the phenomenology of spirit, and how God and his 'Geist' existed and how we perceived them. In a slightly different way, Husserl examined everything: emotions, objects etc. He believed that anything that was there, that you could think, feel, see, smell, hear was all phenomena, so for example, love and hate, fear, houses, trees, colours, these were all types of phenomena.

Husserl believed that there were two essential types of, there was type 'A', and type 'B'. A would be that of intention to use something, so if you had an intention to kick a ball, and then type B, which would be it actually being there. The example that is given in the online lecture is that of a clip from an episode of 'Only Fools and Horses', where Del Boy is in a pub, and he goes to lean up against the bar, not knowing that someone has lifted the hatch, meaning he falls straight through:

What we are seeing here is that Del Boy is expecting the bar to be there, and he is intending to use it to lean on, but the second it is not the we suddenly get the feeling that something is wrong in the universe, an that it isn't as it should be. We get the same feelings when we miss a step on the stairs, or something I usually do is not turn the light on at night when going down the stairs and thinking I still have a couple of stairs left, but really I am on the floor, expecting another step, all of a sudden you feel like something is wrong.

You can link this back to previous lectures with Freud, in that intention is key. Freud believed that we have thoughts in our mind at all time and that we may not even be aware of them at times, but a 'Freud Slip' would often expose these repressed thoughts. This then means that we have these thoughts in our head for a reason, they are definitely there, and it is these thoughts that give us the ability to perceive phenomena.

The problem that people like Husserl will come across is that of solipsism, the thought that is only you the single person exists in the world, and everyone else is a figment of our imagination. That we are living in a big dream, and nothing is real. This would reject the thought that anything actually exists as phenomena.

HCJ - Year 2 - Semester 1 - Revision notes Part 2 - Keynes

The next part of this semester's revision notes brings us to the World of economics and JM Keynes. I found this topic relatively enjoyable and, not easy, but easier to understand. For my full blog on the subject visit http://daelgornall.blogspot.com/2011/11/hcj-lecture-4-economics-money-is-all.html, or for a condensed version read on.

. Money = a bartering tool
. Humans have wants and desires in life which compete with their needs
. Link to Frege and his theories on sense and reference: the word 'need' has no reference point and can therefore not be seen as a correct term. 'I need a car' - does not make sense.
. Ricardo theory of value - biro vs piano, who decides worth? £5000 for piano as it takes 5000 times more effort to make a £1 biro.
. Malthus' iron law of population - we would drain the land as the population was growing at an uncontrollable rate. Wanted 2 children to take place of the 2 parents, but on average there were 4 children households. Theory did not materialise as unforeseeable circumstances such as contraception/technology (abortion) started to reduce the number of children in the household. Also, at the time the poor law stated the price of bread against the number of children in the household was the factor considered when relief was administered.
. Ricardo + Malthus = Marx law od wages - demand for a job = high means low wages, and low demand for a job = high wages.
. Price of an apple = £3, producers need £1 profit and £2 for productions costs. Worker can only afford £2 for apple, apple price lowered, means wages of the worker are reduced, now the worker can only afford £1.
. Bonds/IOU's - Public sector jobs paid via bonds not taxes. Government gets bond from the bank, pays the lecturer who then bus a sandwich from a cafe, the cafe worker is then paid, meaning they can produce more, open new branches, and hire new staff.
. Taxation pays for the interest on the bonds.
. Keynes formula - C + I + G = Y, C household spending, I private investment, G government spending, Y money needed to give everyone a wage. If one goes, the other factor will need to pick up slack!

HCJ - Year 2 - Semester 1 - Revision notes Part 1 - Freud

Welcome to the first part of my very own revision notes for this semester's HCJ examination. I am posting them to show my personal understanding of this semester's lectures and seminars, and also as a help tool to fellow students. I would also welcome comments from anyone else who feels I have missed anything important or who have any questions. I am sure there will be bits I am still struggling with, that some aren't and vice versa.

We begin with Freud and the theory of psychoanalysis:

The brain or the mind is separated into 3 parts according to Freud: the ID, EGO & SUPEREGO.

ID - Dominant part of our personalities, basic instinct and desires are found here. The ID is against the social world we live in and does not want to obey by the social and moral rules we have been placed with. It is more of an instinctual part of the brain, and is key to our basic drives. A new born baby is said to be 'ID-ridden' in that it has a mass of instinctive drives.

EGO - Conscious part of our mind, it is the least powerful in Freud's eye's and it provides us with common sense. It often weighs up the balance between good and bad, and takes into account the results of our actions.

SUPEREGO - We gain a moral standing via the superego, and this is from society as a whole. There is a perfection that we are striving for via the superego and when we can not reach this state of perfection, the superego causes guilt in our minds. So if in the past we have not done something socially correct (maybe when the ID has taken over), the superego will feel guilt for it's actions.

In a basic scenario, you may want to buy a car, the car costs £1000, but you only have £500. So do you go into debt? Or do you not buy the car? Or do you save until you have enough money to buy the car comfortably without going into debt? The ID would buy the car as it is a natural desire or a want. The Ego would act as the middle ground and save, as it would take in to consideration the results of putting yourself into debt, and also not having a car, so it will come up with a solution. Whereas, the superego would feel instant guilt and anxiety meaning it would try and force you not to buy at all.

Dreaming - when you asleep it is said that the Ego and Superego are also asleep. So it is now the ID's true desires are brought to the surface in the form of a dream. It puts across the basic instincts of the human mind.

These are just brief notes, but they could help! I also found this website which gives some quite amusing examples:


Thursday, 1 December 2011

HCJ - Seminar Paper

HCJ – Hannah Arendt – The Origins of Totalitarianism

Totalitarianism – An imposing government exercises absolute control over all aspects of life in a State, with an aim to eventually dominate the World. There will be zero opposition to a totalitarian ruler. (Hitler, Stalin etc.)

Arendt begins by explaining how she feels totalitarianism differs from other forms of political expression such as tyranny or dictatorship. However the totalitarian state rises to power it will immediately destroy all social, legal and political traditions. It will have its own ideology and it will use the means of terror to pursue this ideology. The way I can understand this is with the example of Hitler in Nazi Germany, with his ideology to get rid of all Jews and make the Germans a superior race, and by doing this he would kill the Jews and take away their citizenship, or even that Hitler’s ‘ideal’ German, would be a blonde haired, blue eyed strong male (much unlike himself).

Arendt goes on to question what totalitarianism is in comparison to these other form of political oppression. ‘We are tempted at once to interpret totalitarianism as some modern form of tyranny, that is a lawless government where power is wielded by one man’. She explains that ‘fear’ of the ruler by the people, is a sort of hallmark of tyranny throughout the years. Is then totalitarianism a legal form of political ruling, or is it an arbitrary power? A totalitarian rule doesn’t claim to be arbitrary, but it rather claims to be living in the laws of ‘nature’ – They will go back to how the World was originally supposed to be run, this is the only law they have to abide by, and by abiding by these laws it makes it impossible for the totalitarian state in question to become arbitrary, as they are going against what they describe as ‘petty legality’. So 2000 years ago, it would not have been illegal to kill another human, whereas in the present day it obviously is. In order to achieve it’s ideology, the totalitarian state will go back to the natural law, which therefore makes what they do legal. It is their state, and they can enforce which rules they choose.

Consensus iuris – A totalitarian state does not establish its own consensus iuris. So it promises to remove the ‘law’ itself from the will of any man, but rather make mankind the ‘embodiment of the law’ – What I believe this means is that Arendt thinks a totalitarian state wants away with any sort of international or common law, and instead bring the law into the beholder. This will force the ideology of a strong, competitive state, and eventually lead to national satisfaction, and ultimately World domination for the totalitarian state.

A totalitarian government will strive for excellence and will have their set ideology to destroy or eliminate everything that is weak or harmful. Arendt believes that if you take part in this ‘elimination’, then it is in fact destroying nature itself. During a class struggle the lower classes would ‘wither away’, meaning that the higher classes would then become subject to the legality of killing, ‘even if they succeeded in making all of humanity subject to their rule.’ I think this ties in with what certain philosophers believe about the weaker people in life. If someone is in a wheel-chair, or is disabled in some way, it is in the eyes of certain people, that in fact this person in question has in fact ‘tricked’ everyone in to caring for them, and that they are in fact ruling us for this reason. What these people then believe is that we should in fact leave the person to die without any help. If this is done however, nature will begin to die out, the weakest will die, the strongest of the weak will die, then the weakest of the strongest, and so on until there is nobody left for the totalitarian state to kill.

‘Terror becomes total when it becomes independent of all opposition; it rules supreme when nobody any longer stands in its way. If lawfulness is the essence of non-tyrannical government and lawlessness is the essence of tyranny, then terror is the essence of totalitarian domination.’ Here Ardent clearly expresses her feelings of what a totalitarian government is, and how they go about their ideologies. There are no questions asked, it is a straightforward statement, presenting how terror is nothing less than imperative.

Isolation is described as the breeding ground for terror, and that isolation of a man makes him powerless. Power always seems to come from men acting together as a force (‘acting in concert’ – Burke). Within a tyrannical government, their first aim is to bring this isolation about, so it then begs the question, is a tyrannical government the same as a totalitarian one, when it comes to terror, and how they achieve their goals? A totalitarian state thrives on terror, as a major weapon to achieve its ideologies, as does a tyrannical one, therefore you would have to say yes, they are very similar. This being said it is apparent that in a tyrannical government, the private life of men does not get isolated, and that although all public forms of uprising and human capacities are severed, the private sphere is left. In a totalitarian state, this is not the case. All walks of life and ALL forms of human capacity for action are destroyed. It can be said that this is then the true exertion of full terror, and is in this case more than what can be experienced under a tyrannical rule.

Throughout the book ‘the origins of totalitarianism’ Arendt expresses how she believes that the success of the movements are predominantly the cause of the individuals involvement. So she did not see it as Hitler, hypnotising people, but more that mass submission to the rulers, was the reason behind the rulers’ ‘success’. She believes that people should think before they obey, and that everyone has a mind of their own. This can be linked back to the original lecture and the Stanley Milgram experiment.