BA & MA in Philosophy from Durham University, off to do a PhD in September! I write accessible Philosophy pieces for those who’ve never studied it.

An introduction to the philosophical concept of nothing

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Just yesterday, my partner left for work in the early morning. He brewed a coffee and drank it hastily, but I could still smell the dregs in the bottom of the cup. He spritzed Old Spice, and left. I sniffed the lingering scent mixing with the coffee on his crumpled pillow, and I remembered this quote by the Kapist artist Józef Czapski, when ‘asked why his work featured ‘lonely people, deserted café tables, faces half-concealed in the metro, minute daily events glimpsed in passing’:

‘Each time, it is almost nothing. But that “almost nothing” signifies everything’.

I first heard of Czapski when I was reading the extensive letters from Vladimir Nabokov to his wife. Nabokov mentions his younger brother Sergey, who has a love affair with Czapski (they remained life-long friends). I stumbled across a New Statesman article by John Gray, which talks of the terror Czapski experienced in a Soviet prison camp. …


Reading into the context

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Moral particularism is a controversial and radical contemporary theory in ethics. It’s somewhat hard to describe, and alike Virtue Ethics, it’s important to emphasize the debate before moral particularism came to the fore.

The IEP (The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy) has this to say on the theory:

Moral particularism is the view that the moral status of an action is not in any way determined by moral principles; rather, it depends on the configuration of the morally relevant features of the action in a particular context. …


Exploring stigma in the ED community

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For many eating disorder sufferers, being at their lowest weight constitutes the time they were most ill. But that’s not the case for me. I was diagnosed with an other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED) last year. OSFED is tricky to describe, but eating disorder charity BEAT have it down pretty well:

Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder are diagnosed using a list of expected behavioral, psychological, and physical symptoms. Sometimes a person’s symptoms don’t exactly fit the expected symptoms for any of these three specific eating disorders. …


How I’m tackling self-hatred

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I spent the vast majority of my university years navigating my mental health. After being sectioned under the Mental Health Act exactly halfway through my studies, I was diagnosed with PDD (Persistent Depressive Disorder), Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and an Eating Disorder (OSFED). Later, I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). The fallout of this has meant that sometimes I am gripped by a sense of absolute dread, a sense of dismay at myself that I lost so many years to mental and physical illness.

It sounds cliché, but I felt like I was watching a movie or a TV show, except the character on the screen was me. I was watching myself. I couldn’t connect with others and I didn’t feel alive. I didn’t feel in the moment. There’s a brilliant bit in Simon Amstell’s stand-up, Do Nothing, where he talks about that kind of paralyzing feeling. He describes being in Paris with a group of friends, one of whom suggested that they run up the Champs-Elysee, to the Arc de Triomphe, in the middle of the…


Exploring the content and normative impact of moral statements.

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It’s hardly contentious for me to declare that killing is bad. As moral statements go, it’s not revolutionary. Even those who agree with capital punishment tend to reserve such an infliction for the most heinous of crimes.

The general sentiment is that — by murdering or raping — someone has lost their “right” to life, and so killing the murderer is justified even if killing is wrong. We may, of course, adapt the motto. Say, ‘killing is bad except in cases of self-defense’ — the basic tenement is the same.

But what does ‘killing is bad’, really mean? This speaks to a wider issue: what kind of content do moral judgments contain? The statement seems to be something of a moral precept; it’s a kind of rule intending to regulate your behavior. My stating that something is immoral may have a direct consequence on your actions. Of course, just because I say something is immoral, doesn’t [for most philosophers] make it so. But it does, importantly, mean that I’m implying that you shouldn’t do it. …


Thinking differently about ethics

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Traditional moral theories have tended to focus on the moral act rather than the agent. Lying is bad, for the consequentialist, because it causes pain and suffering. For the deontologist, conversely, lying is immoral because it breaks a rule (like Natural Law, or the Ten Commandments).

But, for some, this is less than satisfactory. Forget what it is to perform a good act, what is it to be a good person? Being a stickler for rules doesn’t necessarily make someone kind, or honest. But it does, perhaps, make them law-abiding.

Virtue Ethics

Someone could spend their entire life abiding by some moral code — deciding that, for example, it’s wrong to lie — and yet not feel that they ever really engaged with the moral code they are following. …


Introducing the radical theory

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The environment is a concern for many of us. The ice caps are melting, the polar bears aren’t happy, and Greta Thunberg’s getting involved in large-scale climate activism despite being told to “chill” and “go to Anger Management” by Donald Trump. This concern for the environment has often been coupled with a feminist conception of the world.

In the early nineties, ecofeminism became the focus of scholarly work, including outside the remit of ethical philosophy. One aspect of ecofeminism challenged the idea that you could talk about the environment and consider yourself an environmentalist without addressing the fact that people were eating animals and dairy products and eggs. …


How I manage to dig myself out of a hole

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I have struggled with spiraling negative thought patterns for more than a decade now. I still remember becoming overwhelmed with anxious terror about forgetting to take a bin out in my first job. When I got back home, I sat on the floor of my shower and cried. It was full-blown ugly crying. A minor thing at a job I hated became something that was exhaustingly anxiety-inducing. I knew, rationally, that it was something tiny. So why had I become consumed by anxiety?

I realized that rationalization was not working. Belligerently berating myself for worrying about some stupid thing and did not make the anxiety magically disappear. Instead, I felt worse; I began feeling angry at myself for crying about something so stupid. I became anxious about being anxious. …


Revisiting Feminist Aesthetics

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A recent controversy has occurred over a statue here in the UK. The statue depicts Mary Wollstonecraft, the noted women’s rights advocate. It was created by Maggi Hambling, an often controversial sculptor. She likes to create work that is something of a talking point.

But some think that her depiction of Wollstonecraft is a step too far; she is completely naked, with pubic hair, and perfectly-plump breasts. The unveiling of said statue has prompted articles listing figurative pieces of women who “don’t have their fannies out”.

The treatment of Hambling’s statue is understandable when you think about the history of women’s depiction in art. There’s often been an element of objectification involved. Indeed, Laura Mulvey coined the term ‘the male gaze’ in her polemic on sexual objectification, titled ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’. …


That’s insidiously ableist

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Can you manifest your dream car? Or your dream job? Well, maybe. But I cannot manifest my chronic illness away. To claim that you can is frankly a little ableist. It smacks of “you’re only poor because you don’t try hard enough”, or “you’re not depressed. You’re not trying hard enough to be happy”.

You might think that this kind of thing isn’t said on the internet. But it is; an influencer has written an article claiming that you can manifest a car, and much more. She says you can manifest anything and everything:

‘The universe cannot provide you with what you want if you don’t know what you want. So, you want a new car? What model is it? What colour? How does it feel when you sit inside it? How does it smell? Visualise it all, because if it’s real inside your mind and heart, it will become real inside your life.’ …

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