Sunday, 24 February 2013

Scientific Perspectives on the Individual

Dear All,

Some of the findings and theories of modern science, in particular quantum mechanics, question dramatically the traditional western view of the individual - as well as of reality.

Please watch first either the full version of the movie What the Bleep Do We Know

or the slightly expanded What the Bleep - Down the Rabbit Hole

and then familiarize yourself a bit further with Quantum Physics/ Quantum Mechanics and its implications by watching one of the following documentaries:

Brian Green - Quantum Mechanics Explained

Michio Kaku on Quantum Mechanics

HD The Universe Season 7 - Quantum Mechanics

Michael Talbot - in Thinking Allowed  - "Synchronicity and the Holographic Universe"

Please also read the following two articles:

"The Universe as Hologram":

"Cosmology and the 21st Century Culture":

Then think about the implications of these new scientific theories and ideas for your own life :)

Thank you!


Sunday, 17 February 2013

Psychological Perspectives on the Individual - Part 2: Manipulating the Masses - the Story of Consumerism

Dear All,

Please watch the following two videos:

* The Happiness Machine

* The Story of Stuff

* The Story of Change

Feel free to think about your own habit of "buying stuff" and try to analyze it critically.

Please also ask yourself the following questions:

  • What makes you buy something and decide which of many similar products you decide on? 
  • How long are you, on average happy about a particular product? 
  • Do you follow what is "in" or fashionable? If so, why - if not, why not? 
  • How does following fashion take away from your individuality?
  • What does following fashion take away from your own natural beauty (as opposed to some abstract beauty ideal that someone has decided on)?
  • What role do the mass media play in controlling the behavior of the masses?

Another side of consumerism is, as Annie Leonard pointed out in her video, the destruction of the environment. Please think a bit more about how consumerism ultimately creates the following:

  • piles of garbage (including dangerous plastic and nuclear and chemical waste), 
  • pollution of water, earth, and air, 
  • shortage of drinkable water, 
  • problems with crops and thus a shortage of food
  • global warming - and consequent changes in weather patterns and activities that will lead to a destruction of large area of current habitat,
  • the destruction of many species (some of which are crucial to the survival of humans), 
  • the destruction of the whole ecosystem - including us.
Please also watch the following:

* Severn Suzuki's speech at the UN

* The Destruction of our Planet

* Article in National Georgraphic (2004):

* The End of Consumerism

* Some Facts about the Current Situation:

* If you think that a healthy environment should be a basic human right (just as "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" are basic human rights according to the American constitution), please check out David Suzuki's petition - and sign: 

Thank you,


Psychological Perspectives on the Individual - Part 1: Freud and his Time

Freud is on of the most famous Psychologist and has shaped the Western view of the Self substantially. However, he, too, is a product of his culture and time - and his way of thinking makes only sense in that context.

If you are not familiar with that context, please click on the following link:

Some of Freud's main ideas can be found in his Civilization and Its Discontent. Please read this famous essay collection carefully and feel free to comment on it.

Please also have a look at the following videos about Freud:

! Introduction to Freud's Theory of Human Nature  (in Comparison to Marx's Theory):

! Illustrated  Introduction to Freud's Theory about the Id, Ego, and Superego

! Introduction to Freud's Theory of Dreams: 4 parts

Short Introduction to Freud and his Theories about Sexual Development:

Open Yale University Introduction to Freud:

Extremely interesting also: Freud's contemporary, Carl Jung. You can get a basic idea of some of Jung's main ideas by watching the following videos:

Short into to his main ideas:

! Documentary about his theories and work:

Short Clips about Jung's Ideas about Anima, Animus, and Archetypes:

Talk by Jung:

About the Hero's Journey (based on Jung):'s-Journey.html

Feel free to post your thoughts about Freud and Jung below!

Thank you,


Literary Perspectives on the Individual - Part 1: Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale

Dear All,

What happens when individuals when they are put into a totalitarian political system in which ideology (in this case, the christian religion) is used to reduce women to their wombs? Please explore this question and other issues further in Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale.

Some material you might find useful in this context:

* Definition of Dystopia (from: Read * Write * Think):

* Handmaid's Tale - movie version: 

* Selected Interviews with Margaret Atwood:

* Selected Video Projects about the Handmaid's Tale

Please also read Margaret Atwood's short literary essay, "The Female Body" in this context:

... as well as her poem "Spelling":

I hope you find the novel as well as the additional material interesting!


Saturday, 16 February 2013

Historical Perspectives on the Individual - Part 2: Comparisons

Not only the rights of the individual change over time but the very concept of individuality depends on the historical, social, economical, political, and cultural context.

Please choose two texts from different times and try to read them as a comment on the concept of the individual. You can either choose fictional or non-fictional texts. Please focus both on differences and on similarities of the two historical perspectives.

Then find two more texts that are from the same two periods and cultures. Do they have exactly the same view on the individual as your first two texts? How would you interpret your discoveries?

Please post your results as comment if you wish - and let us know which texts you have compared.

Thank you,


Cultural Perspectives on the Individual - Part 1: Reflections on Culture and Identity

Hi All,

What is culture and what role does it play in shaping individual identity? Please reflect on this topic first on your own and then have a look at the following clips:






Comments welcome :)

Thank you,