Sunday 5 September 2010

My Masters Dissertation - The Philosophical Nature of Human Relation to other Human Beings

After 2 months of solid work I have finally finished the Dissertation for my Masters.

It was one hell of a rush at the end, and during a difficult period of my life, but I'm proud of what I've done. After a month of reading, three weeks of note making and then 10 days of frantic writing, editing and referencing I have finally got 11,000 words, 4 sections and 111 references of Dissertation, all done and handed in.

That's my MA in Continental Philosophy finished. And now I only have to wait two weeks to see if I've passed. I'm hopeful, especially since I finally got some of my marks back and I got 71, 67 and 59 for the three essays I have got back so far. This is alright since a pass is 50, and I knew the 59 wasn't my best work. My dissertation is at least as good as that essay I reckon, so I should be fine.

My Dissertation is on the subject of the nature of Human Inter-Personal relation. This is the idea that the most important feature of human existence is not what we know, or what we earn, or what we think,but rather, it is the way we relate to other people, and also the rest of the world we encounter.

How and Why did Levinas consider Buber's Philosophy Insufficient as a Philosophy of Inter-Personal Encounter?

More precisely it is an investigation of the work of one Philosopher, Martin Buber, from the perspective of another, Emmanuel Levinas. Two of the great figures of 20th Century philosophy. Especially in the considering the nature of being human, and the choices in life that we all must make.

Buber and Levinas had a lot in common. They were both Jews who lived through the horrors of the middle of the 20th Century and the 2nd World War. They both held a fierce devotion to the Bible and the message of Judaism and saw their work as an attempt "to translate the Bible into Greek", meaning to express the ethical and spiritual message of Judaism, and especially the fierce call to justice of the Old Testament Prophets, in the language of Philosophy.

They share a deeply optimistic commitment to the worth and importance of the individual human being and the vital importance of considering the way we relate to other human beings for our morality and the priorities with which we structure our lives. They took the ideas of devotion and respect, of commitment with one's whole being, which the Bible described in relation to meetings with God, and daringly applied this language to meeting and interaction with God's images, human beings.

Levinas described a radical phenomenological approach to providing a philosophical justification for ethical duty while Buber concentrated on describing the two possible modes of human relation to other persons and also nature and Art. Their work is a genuinely enriching experience for anyone, challenging them to truly consider the manner in which they approach the world we all find ourselves placed in. I know I have learnt a lot from studying their ideas and the writing about them and the thinking that lays behind them.

Anyway, I can barely believe it's all over. Not just my Masters, but also my entire University career. It's been a long 4 years. I can barely say how long a time its felt. Or how different I feel than I did 4 years ago, when I first faced coming to University as an 18 year old kid, or how amazing an experience it has been thanks to many, many people. And now soon I'll be looking for a job. Scary.


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