Thoughts on fairness and morality.

I recently submitted this essay as part of my Uni coursework, so I thought I’d share it 🙂

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In this paper, my main argument that I will justify will be that Utilitarian ethics leads to more fairness than Deontology will. I will also assess Kant’s ‘Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals’ and Rawls’s teachings to support my conclusion. I will begin by briefly explaining the philosophy of utilitarianism for the sake of clarity. I will then offer a justification as to why utilitarianism leads to fairness and will then progress by revising my thesis by taking some objections of it and other philosophies into consideration. This essay will focus mainly on explaining why deontology and Rawls’s theory fail as a substitute for utilitarianism.

One assumption I will be making in this essay is that morality and fairness are the same thing. Fairness is doing what you consider moral, however relative that may be. My definition of morality will be explored in this essay. So in summary: I use fairness to be a part of the fundamental criterion for morality, for the same reasons as Fredrik Bendz does in this article here.

My view is that an action is deemed moral if it is for the greater good of the greatest number of people. This is a core principle of utilitarianism. My belief is that following the utilitarian doctrine will lead to a fairer society. An example would be that, in the case of having to give away one hundred pounds and either choosing between splitting the money between five people or just giving to one. Utilitarianism dictates splitting the money because it leads to more happiness from the greater number of people. Another more extreme case would be where a psychopathic axe murderer knocked on your door with the intention of murdering the innocent child in your care. In this case, you are morally obligated to protect that child because doing otherwise would lead to greater pain and suffering. I find these examples are convincing enough to support the conclusion that utilitarianism is a fair system, particularly considering the deontological[1] response to the problems. In response to the first problem, it is difficult to apply deontological philosophy to it. In recognition of the second example, deontologists would argue that you are morally obligated to reveal the location of the innocent child in your care to the psychopathic axe murderer, and thus to put her in harm’s way.

It also seems to be a rather counter intuitive and unfair action. You could argue that if it seems unfair, then it probably is. I can justify this because the action itself does not lead the greater good of anything or anyone, and an action for the benefit of someone is what is widely considered to be fair. In this case, the deontological response of surrendering to the axe murderer does not fit the criteria of leading to the greater good of anything, and is, therefore, unfair.

Briefly, I will convey the argument that makes deontologists reach this conclusion before explaining how utilitarianism earns the title of fairness. How Deontologists like Kant define morality and fairness is doing your duty for the sake of duty. This means that you should abide by the Laws if they are universally binding[2]. A more analytical reading of this philosophy highlights many of its flaws. One fault is that it cannot be a legitimate system because of Hegel’s non-contradiction theory[3], meaning that statements cannot be simultaneously true and false at one given moment. Hegel bases this on Kant’s argument that it is contradictory to universalise acts that are considered ‘perfect duties’[4]. Acts including murder and lying should be considered wrong because they cannot be universalised without it being a contradiction. For example, if I were to kill someone else, then it would be justifiable (by this logic) for someone to kill me, and this progresses until there is no one left to kill, meaning everyone would be dead. Whilst I agree with the premise that murder and lying should be considered immoral and unfair, I am persuaded by Hegel’s point that there is nothing contradictory about absence. In this case where everyone might be dead if murder were universalised, then the act of murder would no longer exist. To summarise my point, Kant’s point that murder and lying is wrong is justifiable, but his means of achieving that conclusion is faulty.

Utilitarianism fits the concept that what is done for the greater good of the majority and for the benefit of the people is fair. I am in favour of utilitarianism because it avoids the problems deontology raises.

Another Kantian perspective on ethics is Rawls’s ‘Veil of Ignorance’ theory. I will outline this argument in detail and then I will give reasons as to why this theory is not as strong as a utilitarian one. What the ‘Veil of Ignorance’ essentially does is strip people of identity and then allowing them to hypothetically form their ideal version of society. This runs on the presumption that people will create a just society that is fair for all. There is a lot of emphasis on the use of justice here because Rawls’s theory relies on the idea that ethics should be based on justice, which is Kantian in its essence.

The first issue I take with it is that you cannot practically apply this to the real world. What I mean by this is that it is impossible to achieve the complete ignorance, as Rawls describes, to foster the best environment to create a just society. There is no possible method of enforcing a system where everyone is completely ignorant of identity. One counterargument to this is the idea that the situation could be entirely hypothetical, but this also fails how to rule out implicit bias. It is impossible to determine whether a person truly is ignorant in this situation.

But even if could, how do you know that people would not take risks? One example would be a case where three-quarters of the population could be “the masters” and the rest had to be “the slaves”, and had no freedom whatsoever. It is undeniable that at least a small percentage of people would take that risk based on the likelihood that they’ll be one of the lucky 75%. My point here is that Rawls fails to consider human nature, and therefore this leaves a flaw in his theory. Based on these two problems, I reject Rawls’s theory as a substitute for utilitarianism as a means of achieving fairness and equality.

Following a review of the counter-arguments of Kant and Rawls, as well as measuring Utilitarianism, I can conclude that a fair and moral act should always be done for the greater good of the larger number of people. I, therefore, add that Utilitarianism does not lead to unfairness.

 

 

[1] Deontologists tend to agree that obedience to objective law is what should be regarded as moral.

[2] What I mean by this is that they work in favour of humanity.

[3] Boer K. ‘Hegel’s Account Of Contradiction In The Science Of Logic Reconsidered’. 1st ed. Gronigen; 2017:347. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/3686796/Hegels_Account_of_Contradiction_in_the_Science_of_Logic_Reconsidered?auto=download. Accessed May 8, 2017.

[4] This is defined as any act that is blameworthy if they are not met. Honesty may be considered as an example. This is opposed to ‘perfect duties’, where this encourages you to cultivate a particular talent or skill you have, such as painting.

Further reading on the subject:

  • Boer K. ‘Hegel’s Account Of Contradiction In The Science Of Logic Reconsidered’. 1st ed. Gronigen; 2017: 347.
  • Kant I, Paton H. ‘Groundwork Of The Metaphysic Of Morals’. 1st ed. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Thought; 2009.
  • Pyle A. Utilitarianism. London: Routledge/Thoemmes Press; 1998.

The Interactionist labelling theory/Y damcaniaeth labelu Rhyngweithiol (En/Cy)

English version/fersiwn Saesneg:

The labelling theory belongs to the Interactionists. They believe that nobody is naturally deviant (an idea that conflicts with the New Right), but become deviant when labelled as such, and whatever label this may be has a profound influence on the individual’s actions. Interactionists focus on the individual’s response to their label(s); this is what distinguishes them from other social theorists, such as the Functionalists, who tend to focus their attention on what leads the individual to deviance in the first place.

Lemert developed the labelling theory. The argued that deviance could be split into two separate groups – primary and secondary. The former is referenced to deviance which does not gain the attention of the public, and therefore does not receive a label. The latter, on the other hand, means actions which does receive a label from society, similarly, Howard Becker puts forth the notion that the term deviance does not actually exist, “Deviant behaviour is behaviour that people so label”, and, “an act only becomes deviant when people define it as such”. He therefore implies that an action has to be labelled as deviant for it to actually become one, because the term itself is socially constructed.

As it is socially constructed, the environment surrounding the situation, including where, when and for which reasons it has occurred, decide if the action is deviant. Often times, the proses of stigmatisation will occur if something is considered deviant, and the action itself will be thereby associated with a bad label. Sometimes the label works like the ‘master status’, which takes over every other label. Examples of this include thieves, prostitutes and homosexuals (this is considered deviant in many cultures).  All the negative connotations of that label are usually thrusted onto the individual. The Interactionist Jock Young supports Becker’s work through his research into Hippy culture. Smoking weed was not considered to be a priority for these groups, until the negative attention from the public and the police.

According to Cooley and his “looking glass self” theory, people tend to see themselves how other people perceive and react to them. The label works as a self-fulfilling prophecy to control people; often, they will start to act to live up to the label, and thus starting a ‘deviant career’, meaning that certain individuals will start to revolve their lives around deviance and/or crime. The activity, therefore, will turn into a social role.

The Sociologist Stan Cohen pointed out in his ‘moral panic’ thesis on the subject of the labelling theory, that subcultures are the most exposed to this process. To start, Cohen suggested that the public would take notice of an activity taking place. An example would be, according to his study, the Mods and Rockers of 1960’s England. As a result of this, agencies of formal and informal control would react to it. The media often amplifies deviance and exaggerates a particular event to make the story more newsworthy, and thus selling more newspapers and generating more profit, although this has negative effects on society. Members of society would start to be wary of specific symbols and icons, and view them as troublemakers. Then, they would overstate the situation by expecting more trouble, and thereby redefining the issue by creating moral panic as a reaction to deviance. Additionally, this may necessitate police officers to target specific groups, meaning that the labelling theory would rotate once again.

To reiterate, the labelling theory plays a significant role within society if we take into account its effect on individuals. Labels may have a positive and negative effect on individuals, and is completely dependent on the situation, or even if the action is labelled by society in the first place.

Welsh version/fersiwn Cymraeg:

Mae’r theori labelu yn perthyn i’r Rhyngweithwyr. Credon nhw fod neb yn wyrdroëdig yn naturiol, ond yn wydredig o dan label, a’r label sy’n ddylanwad mawr ar ymddygiad unigolyn (mae hyn yn gwrthddweud credoau’r Dde Newydd). Mae’r Rhyngweithwyr yn ffocysu ar ymateb yr unigolyn i’r label, ac i’r gwrthwyneb, lle mae’r Swyddogaethwyr yn ffocysu ar beth sy’n arwain at yr unigolyn i fod yn wydredig yn y lle cyntaf.

Datblygwyd y syniad o label gan Lemert. Mae gwyredd yn rhannu i ddau grŵp gwahanol, sef gwyredd cynradd ac eilradd. Mae gwyredd cynradd yn cyfeirio at wyredd nad sy’n derbyn sylw’r cyhoedd ac felly nid oes ganddo label. Mae gwyredd eilradd, ar y llaw arall, yn golygu gweithred sy’n derbyn label gan y gymdeithas. Yn debyg, soniodd Howard Becker nad yw’r term gwyredd yn bodoli, “Deviant behaviour is behaviour that people so label”, ac, “an act only becomes deviant when people define it as such”. Awgrymir felly, rhaid i weithred cael ei enwi’n gwyredd er mwyn iddo fod yn wyredd, gan fod y term ei hun yn enghraifft o luniad cymdeithasol.

Gan ei fod yn lluniad cymdeithasol, mae’r amgylchiadau o gwmpas y sefyllfa, megis ble, pryd, ac am ba resymau, yn penderfynu os yw gweithred yn gwyredig. Yn aml bydd y proses o stigmateiddio yn digwydd os caiff rhywbeth ei labelu’n gwyredig, a chysylltwyd y weithred â label gwael. Weithiau bydd y label yn gweithio fel “Statws Meistr” ac yn cymryd dros bob label arall, megis lleidr, person hoyw, person ag iselder a llofruddwr. Cysylltwyd yr holl dermau negyddol sy’n perthyn i’r label i’r unigolyn. Mae’r Rhyngweithwyr Jock Young yn atgyfnerthu gwaith Becker trwy eu astudiaeth o ‘Hippies’ pwy oedd yn ysmygu cyffuriau. Nid oedd y gweithgaredd hyn yn arwyddocâd iddynt nes i’r cyfryngau a’r heddlu targedu nhw.

Yn ôl Cooley, yn ei ddamcaniaeth “through the looking-glass self”, mae pobl yn gweld eu hunain yn y ffordd mae pobl eraill yn ymateb iddynt. Mae’r label yn gweithio fel proffwydoliaeth hunan gyflawni i reoli’r unigolyn – byddent yn ddechrau ymddwyn fel y label, fel arfer, a dechrau gyrfa gwyredig, sy’n golygu bydd pobl yn ddechrau byw eu bywydau yn uniongyrchol i droseddu. Bydd y gweithgaredd, felly, yn troi i mewn i rôl gymdeithasol.

Sonnir Stanley Cohen yn ei damcaniaeth o banig moesol ynglŷn â’r theori label, yn bennaf ymysg isddiwylliannau. I ddechrau, bu’r cyhoedd yn cymryd sylw o’r gweithgaredd, ac esiampl o hyn yw’r Mods a Rockers y chwedegau. Fel canlyniad o hyn, bydder asiantaethau yn ymateb i’r gweithgaredd, megis y cyfryngau. Bydd y cyhoedd yn aml yn helaethu gwyredd i werthu papurau, sydd yn creu ganlyniadau gwael ar y gymdeithas. Bydd y gymdeithas yn gweld symbolau penodol fel eiconau o achoswyr trwbl. Yna, byddent yn gorliwio’r sefyllfa ac yn rhagweld mwy o drwbl, a chrëwyd panig moesol fel ymateb i’r gwyredd, sy’n ailddiffinio’r broblem. Hefyd, efallai bydd hyn yn achosi i’r heddlu i orymateb a thargedu grwpiau penodol o bobl, a bydd y theori label yn cylchdroi eto.

I grynhoi, mae’r theori labelu yn chwarae rôl hanfodol o fewn y gymdeithas, gan ystyried ei ddylanwad ar yr unigolyn. Gall y label effeithio person yn negyddol ac mewn ffordd cadarnhaol, sy’n hollol ddibynnol ar y sefyllfa, neu hyd yn oed os yw’r gweithred yn cael ei labelu gan y gymdeithas yn y lle cyntaf.

Gwerthusiad ar y safbwynt bod pob anghydraddoldeb yn anghydraddoldeb dosbarth

Mae nifer o anghydraddoldebau yn bodoli yn y gymdeithas. Mae’r Marcswyr yn cefnogi’r syniad bod gwraidd pob anghydraddoldeb yw anghydraddoldeb dosbarth. Mae hyn yn seiliedig ar y theori gwrthdaro, a chredon nhw fod y ‘Bourgeoisie’ (sef y dosbarth rheoli) yn defnyddio’r system gyfalafol i ecsploetio’r ‘Proletariat’ (y dosbarth gweithiol). Mae’r dosbarth rheoli yn mwynhau eu safle economaidd pwerus a’r rheolaeth sydd ganddynt dros y gweithwyr, felly maent yn eu gormesu nhw er mwyn sicrhau bod y sefyllfa yn parhau. Mae ganddynt ddylanwad ar ddiwylliant ac ar fywyd pob dydd oherwydd mae rheolaeth y dosbarth llywodraethol ar yr isadeiledd yw sail ei rheolaeth ar yr aradeiledd, megis y cyfryngau, ysgolion a gwasanaethau cyhoeddus. Yr aradeiledd sy’n gyfrifol dros atgyfnerthu’r anghydraddoldebau trwy gymdeithasoli cynradd ac eilradd, yn ôl y Marcswyr.

Nid yw’r dosbarth gweithiol yn ymateb i hyn oherwydd maent yn rhan o “ymwybyddiaeth ffug”. Hynny yw, maent yn ymwybodol o’r sefyllfa wirioneddol wrth feddwl bod y gymdeithas yn feritocrataidd. Dywedodd Althusser bod ysgolion yw “y peiriannau mawr sy’n creu mythau”, ac un o rheiny yw bod y gymdeithas yn feritocrataidd. Yr “offer ideolegol y wladwriaeth”, felly’r aradeiledd sy’n rheoli syniadau, er enghraifft y cyfryngau, yw’r peth sy’n creu’r gred hon.

Un maes lle mae yna dystiolaeth o anghydraddoldeb ar sail dosbarth yw ym maes addysg. Yn ôl yr Adran Addysg a Sgiliau, mae yna gysylltiad rhwng dosbarth cymdeithasol a chyrhaeddiad addysgol. Yn 2005, er enghraifft, llwyddodd 76% o blant o gefndiroedd proffesiynol uwch i gael 5 neu ragor TGAU A* i C, o’i gymharu â dim ond 32% o gefndiroedd gweithwyr cyffredin. Er gwaethaf y ffaith bod cyraeddiadau pob plentyn wedi gwella mae’r bwlch yn parhau i dyfu ac mae’r anghydraddoldebau dosbarth cymdeithasol hyn o ran cyrhaeddiad addysgol yn fwy amlwg nag erioed. Mae’r ystadegau hyn yn atgyfnerthu’r cysylltiad clir rhwng cyfalaf diwylliannol a chyrhaeddiad academaidd.

Yn ôl Bowles a Gintis, mae plant, yn bennaf y rhai o gefndiroedd tlawd, yn dysgu sut i ufuddhau i’r system annheg ac i dderbyn y ffaith eu bod yn ddi-rym. Honnir y mae ysgolion yn atgyfnerthu anghydraddoldeb trwy annog plant i aros yn eu dosbarthiadau cymdeithasol, megis annog plant dosbarth gweithiol i gael swydd gyffredin, ac yn yr un modd, annog plant o ddosbarth canol i gael swydd broffesiynol, megis ym musnes. Astudiodd Paul Willis yn ei astudiaeth “Lads ac Ear’oles” agweddau a chyfleoedd gwahanol ymysg dosbarthiadau cymdeithasol. Edrychodd Willis ar fechgyn ysgol uwchradd yn y 70au, gan gymryd sylw’n benodol ar fechgyn o ddosbarth gweithiol. Daeth i’r casgliad mae plant o gefndiroedd llai cyfoethog yn fwy tueddol o gael agweddau gwael am addysg ac yn fwy tebygol o chwarae cwmpas yn yr ystafell dosbarth. Yn y pendraw, bydd ganddynt llai o lwyddiannau addysgol ac yn fwy tueddol o dderbyn swyddi o statws isel. Maes arall lle mae tystiolaeth o anghydraddoldeb ar sail dosbarth yw ym maes iechyd. Yn ôl y ‘World Health Organisation’, mae dynion yn yr ardaloedd mwyaf difreintiedig yn dueddol o fyw tua naw blwyddyn yn llai na dynion yn yr ardaloedd mwyaf gyfoethog. Yn yr un modd, mae gan fenywod yn yr ardaloedd tlotaf disgwyliad oes o tua 7 mlynedd yn llai na menywod yn yr ardaloedd mwyaf cyfoethog.

Mae’r dosbarth gweithiol yn fwy tebygol o gael ymborth gwael, a gall hyn arwain at ordewdra, neu unrhyw anhwylderau bwyta eraill. Mewn rhai sefyllfaoedd, gall hyn arwain at fwlio yn yr ysgol, ac felly byddent yn cymryd llai o sylw tuag at eu pynciau academaidd. Problemau iechyd hefyd yn gallu gwaethygu iselder, ac mae hyn yn arwain at yr un casgliadau. Mae Wilkinson yn cefnogi’r cysylltiad hyn trwy honni bod perthynas sy’n gallu cael ei mesur rhwng iechyd gwael ac incwm. Yn ôl yr Arolwg Cartrefi Cyffredinol 1999, mae 32% o aelodau’r cartrefi heb waith yn dweud bod afiechydon cronig arnyn nhw, gan gymharu â 12.5% o’r rhai mewn cartrefi â gwaith. Mae pobl dosbarth gweithiol efallai’n methu fforddio presgripsiynau i sicrhau iechyd da. Y rwyf yn ystyried y ffaith bod hon yn berthnasol i Loegr yn unig. Mae gan Gymru, Iwerddon ac yr Alban cyfreithiau gwahanol. Mae rhai o’r farn mai iechyd preifat yn cynnig triniaeth well, ac os yr ydym yn ystyried hyn, mae hyn yn rhoi pobl dosbarth gweithiol anfantais oherwydd nid oes ganddynt yr un mynediad at iechyd fel y dosbarthiadau cymdeithasol mwy cyfoethog.

Yn ôl adroddiad gan ‘King’s Fund ThinkTank’, mae’r rhai sydd heb/llai o gymwysterau (sy’n fwy tueddol o ddod o’r dosbarth gweithiol) yn fwy tebygol o ysmygu, yfed a chael problemau iechyd. Mae modd dadlau bod hyn oherwydd mae gan y dosbarth gweithiol llai o arian i fedru fforddio prynu bwydydd iachus, ac yn lle yn gorfod prynu bwydydd sy’n llawn siwgr. Yn ogystal mae ganddynt llai o fynediad at wybodaeth a dealltwriaeth am fwydydd afiachus, felly mae diffyg ymwybyddiaeth yn gallu chwarae rhan enfawr ynddo fe.

Gall anghydraddoldebau dosbarth esbonio diffyg cyrhaeddiad nifer o leiafrifoedd ethnig o fewn y system addysg a’r gymdeithas ehangach. Mae canran anghyfartal o garcharwyr o grwpiau lleiafrifoedd ethnig ac mae nifer ohonynt hefyd yn dioddef o amddifadedd materol a diwylliannol. Mae tua 49% o’r holl garcharwyr gydag ethnigrwydd croenddu (yn ôl ‘Prison Reform Trust’), ac mae 57% o deuluoedd Affro-Caribi yn un rhiant, gan gymharu gyda 23% o bobl wen. Yn gyffredinol, mae plant o grwpiau lleiafrifol ethnig yn dueddol o wneud yn waeth yn yr ysgol, ac mae nifer fawr ohonynt yn derbyn prydau ysgol am ddim (PYADd). Mae 38% o blant Pacistani yn derbyn PYADd, a 58% o blant Bangladeshi, 26% o fyfyrwyr Affro-Caribi, a 41% o ddisgyblion Affricanaidd ddu. Yn y byd gwaith, gwelir mai y pobl Affro-Carribi sy’n profi’r cyn lleied o symudiad cymdeithasol ac sydd fel arfer yn ddi-waith. Gall hyn esbonio’r lefelau trosedd (yn ôl y theori straen Merton, lle mae pobl yn troseddu oherwydd rhwystredigaeth statws), a hefyd maent yn cael eu gorfodi i droi at drosedd er mwyn goroesi. Felly, mae lleiafrifoedd ethnig yn gwneud yn waeth yn yr ysgol oherwydd eu bod yn fwy tebygol o ddod o’r dosbarth gweithiol. Hefyd maent yn fwy tebygol o droi at drosedd am yr un rhesymau.

Mae’r Ffeministiaid Marcsaidd, gall anghydraddoldeb dosbarth hefyd bod yn gysylltiedig ag anghydraddoldebau rhywedd. Credon nhw fod menywod yn israddol o fewn y system gyfalafol, ac yn ôl  Margaret Benston, rôl menywod o fewn y system gyfalafol yw gwneud gwaith llafur domestig am ddim a magu’r gweithwyr y dyfodol. I fynd ymhellach, mae nifer yn credu bod rôl menywod yn y byd gwaith yw bod y “gweithwyr llafur wrth gefn”. Roedd yr Ail Ryfel Byd (rhwng 1939-1945) yn dystiolaeth dda o hyn oherwydd cymerodd menywod swyddi’r dynion tra eu bod nhw’n brwydro yn y rhyfel. Ond er hyn, gellir dadlau bod y gymdeithas wedi datblygu a moderneiddio ers y pryd hynny, ac felly mae’n anodd iawn i gymharu’r ddwy sefyllfa. Yn ogystal, yn ôl Ffeministiaid Marcsaidd, mae menywod yn wynebu’r “nenfwd gwydr”, sydd yn eu hatal rhag cyrraedd y swyddi top, ac mewn cyfnodau economaidd gwael, mae’n haws cael gwared ar fenywod na ddynion. Felly mae modd gweld y cysylltiad clir rhwng anghydraddoldeb rhywedd ac anghydraddoldeb dosbarth.

Mae syniadau Weberaidd (sef credoau sy’n seiliedig ar ymchwil Max Weber) yn cytuno i raddau gyda syniadau Marcsaidd, ond yn anghytuno yn gyffredinol. Credon nhw fod pedwar dosbarth cymdeithasol: ‘y Breintiedig’ – y rhai ar dop y gymdeithas, ‘y Peti Bourgeoisie’ – y rheolwyr a gweithwyr hunangyflogedig, ‘y gweithwyr Coler Wen’ – y dosbarth canol is ac  ‘y gweithwyr Llaw” – y dosbarth gweithiol. Rhoddon nhw ystyriaeth ar ddosbarth cymdeithasol, ond hefyd maent yn pwysleisio statws a phlaid hefyd. I Weber, mae pob ffactor yn ar wahân, ac i Marx, gyfystyr yw dosbarth cymdeithasol, statws a phlaid. Mae statws yn cyfeirio at safle a pharch sydd gan unigolyn yn y gymdeithas, ac mae plaid yn golygu aelodaeth yr unigolyn at y gymdeithas ffurfiol ac anffurfiol.

Mae syniadau Weberaidd yn galluogi ni i ddeall mwy am yr anghydraddoldebau ethnig a rhywedd sydd o fewn y gymdeithas a bod y rhain yn bodoli am resymau nad sy’n gysylltiedig ag anghydraddoldebau dosbarth yn unig, ond yn lle maent yn enghreifftiau o anghydraddoldebau statws.

Mae damcaniaethau Weberaidd yn esbonio bod pŵer a statws yn nwylo’r grŵp ethnig mwyaf, ac felly’, mae’n anodd i bobl o grwpiau lleiafrifoedd ethnig i gystadlu. Dyma’r rheswm pam mae’r mwyafrif o grwpiau lleiafrifoedd ethnig yn cael eu cysylltu â chyflog isel, amodau byw isel ac ardaloedd difreintiedig. Mae 70% o blant ag ethnigrwydd Bangladeshi yn dlawd yn swyddogol (‘Poverty.org’), 60% i bobl o Bacistan, 50% i Affricanwyr Du, 30% o bobl o India ac Affro-Caribi a 20% o bobl wen. Hyd yn oed pan mae pobl o grwpiau lleiafrifoedd ethnig yn gwneud yr un swyddi â phobl wen, nid ydynt yn derbyn yr un statws â hwy. Mae hyn oherwydd eu bod yn wynebu rhagfarn a gwahaniaethu gan weithwyr gwyn am eu bod yn gweld lleiafrifoedd ethnig fel bygythiad i’w swyddi. Yn sgil hyn, mae lleiafrifoedd ethnig yn dioddef o anghydraddoldeb statws yn ogystal ag anghydraddoldeb dosbarth.

Mae’r ‘theori Farchnad Llafur Deuol’  (syniad Weberaidd gan Barron a Norris) yn rhannu i ddwy sect wahanol: y Farchnad Llafur Cynradd ac Eilradd. Y naill yn cynnwys swyddi sefydlog a broffesiynol, megis cyfreithwyr a doctoriaid. Mae angen i chi cael y sgiliau a phrofion cywir er mwyn derbyn y swyddi yma a gwelir mai mwyafrif o weithwyr y Farchnad Llafur Cynradd yw dynion wen. Y llall, ar y llaw arall, yn wrthwyneb i Gynradd. Mae’n cynnwys swyddi lle nad oes angen sgiliau penodol ac mae’r gwaith yn fwy galwedigaethol. Esiamplau o hyn yw gweithwyr siop neu weithwyr y ffatri. Nid oes llawer o symudoledd cymdeithasol o fewn y swyddi yma ac mae canran anghyfartal o weithwyr yn naill ai benywaidd, neu’n dod o grwpiau lleiafrifoedd ethnig. Yn ôl Barron a Norris, er bod dynion yn cael eu cyflogi yn y ddau sector, mae mwyafrif ohonynt yn y Farchnad Llafur Cynradd, ac mae menywod yn y sector arall. Mae llawer o esboniadau am hyn sy’n cefnogi ei gilydd: mae menywod yn fwy tebygol o weithio’n fwy am lai o arian; menywod yn llai tebygol o ymrwymo eu hunain i swyddi, oherwydd er enghraifft maent yn magu plant neu wedi priodi; maent yn fwy tebygol o fod yn llai trefnus. Felly, dadleuir gan Barron a Norris bod anghydraddoldeb statws sydd ar fai.

Dynesiad arall Weberaidd yw Rex a Thompson, pwy sy’n dweud bod lleiafrifoedd ethnig yn dioddef o anghydraddoldebau dosbarth a statws a bod hyn yn arwain at dlodi sy’n cael ei gwaethygu gan hiliaeth. Yn Llundain yn unig, mae person croenddu yn 28 waith yn fwy tebygol o gael ei ‘stopio ac archwilio’ gan yr heddlu na phobl wen. Yn ogystal, mae’r heddlu yn targedu pobl du oherwydd “canteen culture” (term a chrëir gan Reiner i gyfeirio at gredoau a rhagfarnau hiliol a rhywiaethol yn bodoli yn y system heddlu). Mae hyn yn arwain at ymlediad pellach o ynysiaeth a rhwystredigaeth ymysg pobl du. Credon nhw fod yr is-ddosbarth du yn datblygu gan bobl sy’n dioddef ynysiaeth a rhwystredigaeth o fewn y gymdeithas.

Yn ôl credoau Weberaidd, mae modd cysylltu anghydraddoldebau gender ac anghydraddoldebau statws. O ran gwahaniaethau o ran tâl, ar gyfartaledd mae menywod yn ennill 40% llai na dynion. Gall hyn fod oherwydd mae menywod yn dueddol o weithio yn y Farchnad Llafur Eilradd. Yn ogystal mae menywod yn tueddu gweithio yn y sector cyhoeddus, megis fel athrawon, lle mae’r tâl yn sylweddol yn is na thâl yn y sector preifat, er enghraifft ym myd busnes. Yn ogystal mae gan fenywod statws gwahanol o fewn y byd gwaith. Yn ôl ‘Boundless’, mae menywod yn llawer mwy tebygol o brofi aflonyddiad rhywiol o fewn y gweithle. Trwy hyn, gwelwn nad gwraidd pob anghydraddoldeb yw anghydraddoldeb dosbarth yn ôl credoau Weberaidd, ond mae’n chwarae rhan ynddo fe.

Mae Ffeministiaid yn dueddol o anghytuno gyda syniadau Marcsaidd. Cred y Ffeministwyr Radical yw bod y gymdeithas yn batriarchaidd ac yn cael ei rhannu i ddau: rhwng dynion a menywod. Credon nhw bod trais domestig yn adlewyrchu pŵer dynion. Mae tua 1.4 miliwn o fenywod yn flynyddol yn dioddef o drais domestig (‘y Guardian’). Yn ogystal mae rhaniad gwaith llafur domestig yn hollol ddibynnol ar eich rhywedd. Mae menywod di-swydd yn dueddol o dreulio tua 57 awr ar dasgau domestig (Walker a Woods), ac mae astudiaethau mwy cyfoes wedi darganfod bod menywod sydd gan swyddi llawn amser yn gwneud tua’r unfaint hefyd. Mae’r mwyafrif o’r amser hynny yn cael eu treulio ar edrych ar ôl blant. Yn ôl Ann Oakley, ‘In only a small number of marriages is the husband notably domesticated… home and children are the woman’s primary responsibility.’ Felly ystyrir gwaith domestig ac edrych ar ôl plant fel rôl fenywaidd yn lle gwrywaidd. Felly, fel y mae cysyniadau Weberaidd yn ymdrin â, mae gwahaniaethu fertigol a llorweddol yn bodoli, yn ôl barn Ffeministaidd. Mae’r cyntaf yn cyfeirio at statws a thâl gwahanol rhwng dynion a menywod, ac mae’r llall yn golygu swyddi gwahanol sy’n cael eu sianeli yn ôl rhywedd, megis mae dynion yn cael eu hannog i weithio tuag at swyddi sy’n fwy cystadleuol a ble mae mwy o symudoledd cymdeithasol. Felly bydd Ffeministwyr yn anghytuno gyda syniadau Marcsaidd ynglŷn ag anghydraddoldebau dosbarth fel gwraidd pob anghydraddoldeb.

Mae’r Ôl-fodernwyr hefyd yn anghytuno gyda Marcswyr ynglŷn ag anghydraddoldebau. Mae Waters yn credu bod dosbarthiadau yn dirywio fel arwydd o hunaniaeth. Yn lle, mae sut yr ydym yn treulio ein hamser, arian ac ein credoau yn ganolig i ein hunaniaethau. Nid oes neb yn cael eu gorfodi bellach oherwydd y cynnydd mewn safonau byw. Mae gan bobl mwy o arian a mwy o amser rhydd er mwyn ymlacio. Mae’r cynnydd mewn gweithgareddau hamddenol yn dystiolaeth o hyn, lle ddatblygwyd y rheiny, megis pêl fas yn yr Unol Daliaethau America yn ystod y 20au. Felly mae pobl yn wynebu mwy o ddewis ynglŷn â’u ffordd o fyw yn hytrach na chael eu gorfodi i mewn i ddiwylliant penodol. Felly mae gan Farcswyr ac Ôl-fodernwyr credoau gwahanol am anghydraddoldebau cymdeithasol.

Mae credoau Swyddogaethol ynglŷn ag anghydraddoldeb yn wahanol o i Ôl-fodernwyr a Marcswyr gan eu bod yn dadlau bod haenau cymdeithasol yn bodoli ar bwrpas er mwyn bod yn fuddiol i gymdeithas sydd yn feritocrataidd. Mae haenau cymdeithasol yn system rancio sy’n seiliedig ar werthusiad moesol. Mae hyn yn ei sylfaenu ar: parch; fawreddogrwydd; anrhydedd cymdeithasol; cymeradwyaeth ac anghymeradwyaeth. Mae haenau cymdeithasegol modern yn gwrthrychu consensws normadol am beth mae’r gymdeithas yn gweld yn werthfawr, ac felly, yn ôl Davis a Moore, caiff pobl fwyaf galluog a doniog eu gosod yn y swyddi mwyaf pwysig oherwydd maent yn fwy o fudd i’r gymdeithas.

Ar y cyfan, mae llawer iawn o ddamcaniaethau am anghydraddoldebau cymdeithasol. Ar un llaw, mae gennych chi gysyniadau Marcsaidd, sydd o’r farn mae dosbarthiadau cymdeithasol yw’r gweithredwyr o’r holl anghydraddoldebau cymdeithasol, lle mae cysyniadau Weberaidd, Ffeministaidd, Swyddogaethol ac Ôl-fodernaidd yn gwrthddweud y Marcswyr.

A brief guide to ‘Arhats’ in Theravada Buddhism

“The true ideal of Theravada Buddhism is the Arhat, the being who… realised Nirvana”

– Merv Fowler.

To put it simply: an arhat is an enlightened being who has discharged the burden of karma. Peter Harvey explains that an arhat is someone who has distinguished the three poisons, which are “attachment, hatred, delusion”.

In the period before the existence of Buddhism, the term ‘arhat’ was reserved to describe certain Hindu gods, royals and priests. The Buddha himself, Siddartha Gautama, used this term to describe something completely different.

The meaning of this term is “the worthy one” who deserves respect. An arhat is someone who is “fully endowed with all factors of the path” (P. Harvey), and thus has reached the end of the Noble Eightfold Path and has come to fully comprehend the true nature of existence.

Gautama is widely considered to be the most well-known arhat.

Since they have achieved inner peace, they are no longer mentally or actively selfish, and since they have broken free from the circle of Samsara, they are completely exempt from rebirth. Yet despite them being no longer able to experience pain and suffering, this by no means says that they are apathetic and devoid of emotion. In contrast, they are full of compassion and mercy.

Harvey states that an arhat is a being who has perfected these seven traits:

  1. Mindfulness
  2. Study of the Dharma (S)/Dhamma (P)
  3. Vigour
  4. Joyfulness
  5. Concentration
  6. Evenness of the mind

Whereas Skilton, on the other hand, says that the definition of an arhat is someone who has broken free of the 10 Fetters, which are:

  1. The belief in the self
  2. Reservations
  3. Engagements to rituals
  4. Sexual desire
  5. Bad wills
  6. Desire to live in the world
  7. Desire to live in the formless world
  8. Conceit
  9. Restlessness
  10. Ignorance

As the individual progresses through these steps, it gradually becomes harder to regress.

Who gets to be an arhat and how long the progress is to become fully enlightened:

Only monks can achieve the arhat status because of their devotion to the process. However, the laity can work towards being reborn as a monk by leading a good and ethical life through focusing on the Dhamma. Even for monks, it takes many lifetimes to achieve the perfect state of enlightenment.

Shakespeare’s presentation of parent/child conflict in Hamlet, with reference to The Revenger’s Tragedy.

Conflict is defined as a state of mind in which a person experiences a clash of opposing ideas, feelings and needs, and it is an explicit theme in the play’s parent/child relationships in Hamlet and Middleton’s Revenger’s Tragedy. Many dynamics of it are presented from the two families, thus, it is interesting to draw out contrasts and comparisons between them.

Although some abnormalities may be seen in Polonius’s relationship with Laertes and Ophelia through the eyes of modern audience and critics, for instance, Polonius’s intrusive and controlling nature, this family in the play would have been considered to be a normal, typical upper-class family in the Elizabethan and Jacobean era, especially in comparison with Prince Hamlet’s unstable relationship with his parents. Many critics assume that in Act 1 Scene 3 when Laertes and then later Polonius advises Ophelia to not put too much trust in Hamlet, Where Laertes’s advice is more affectionate, Polonius’s is more of an interrogation and his character hands out more orders than advice.  He does not want Ophelia to jeopardise their high-ranking position within the Court by her being a vulnerable “woodcock” to Hamlet’s supposedly insincere “vows”. The theme of conflict is subdued within the two generations because her silence is generally considered to be respectful and dutiful, “I shall obey, my lord”. However, her silence could be interpreted as rebellious. This concept is reinforced with her encounter with her brother Laertes – “Do not, as some ungracious pastors do, show me the steep and thorny way to heaven, whiles like a puffed and reckless libertine, essentially she is telling him to practice what he preaches and to not be a hypocrite. This strongly implies that while she may be listening to his advice, she is being insincere with her replies.  On the other hand, this theory is not strengthened by Ophelia’s subsequent actions that result in her rejecting Hamlet and his advances.

Modern audiences tend to be much more critical of male dominance on Hamlet, yet Elizabethan and Jacobean audiences would be sympathetic to Polonius as Ophelia would be considered his possession. This sense of male ownership is reiterated when he says, “I’ll loose my daughter”, which is referencing loosing a cow for mating with a bull. This parallels with Hamlet’s “fishmonger” comment that was directed towards Polonius, yet the tone in which they are both said are entirely different, with the latter being presumably an insult. Polonius comes across as the stronger character in Act 1 Scene 3 compared to Ophelia and Laertes, which somewhat mirrors the Old King in Act 1 Scene 5. Hamlet’s relationship with his father, the Old King, is the source of his own inner conflict. He is unable to commit revenge even for his father’s sake. Old Hamlet is dominant in the meeting with Hamlet. This revenge is going against divine laws. The protestant audience would be aware of the Catholic themes, in context with this scene, the Ghost was in Purgatory, which was a concept that was widely rejected by Protestant Reformers of the 16th century. Essentially, the Old King Hamlet and Polonius are alike in many ways because they both have authority over their kin and their children are obedient and listen to him. However, with Hamlet, the Old King’s authority is challenged because Hamlet delays taking revenge for many possible reasons. One case would be that he is ultimately a coward, and thus, cannot take revenge because he does not have his father’s trait of courageousness. Another interpretation of this would be that he is merely being cautious. It is possible that the ghost is a devil, which was discussed in the play. In this case, this would change the way we see Hamlet. He would be a hero who took matters into his own hands to get justice, and that he was not foolish enough to immediately play into the hands of the Devil. Many other critics would interpret Hamlet’s actions as part of his plot to send Claudius to eternal damnation. We see this particularly in Act 3 Scene 3, he did not kill Claudius because he was praying. According to Catholic beliefs, if you confess your sins to God, you would go to heaven, and as Hamlet wanted Claudius to go to hell, he decided to wait longer in order for that to happen.

The somewhat turbulent relationship Hamlet has with his other parent, Gertrude, is fuelled by what many critics believe to be Gertrude’s “o’er hasty marriage” to Claudius. Audiences in Elizabethan and Jacobean society would have viewed this marriage as incestuous, so it would have been at the forefront of Shakespeare’s mind whilst presenting this theme. She’s perceived as false to him and uses his mother’s sexuality to explain the capricious women are, “a beast, that wants discourse of reason, / would have mourn’d longer”. This means that whereas she was once loyal to the Old King, this quickly changed following his death. Though another interpretation suggests that the source of their friction would be because of He compares her to “Niobe”. This simile refers to her sexuality, which suggests that Hamlet harboured incestuous feelings for his mother and that the real reason for his anger towards her is because her marriage to Claudius meant that those feelings were not reciprocated. Essentially, Hamlet sees her as an example of the weakness of women and constantly hurt in his reflections of how quickly she remarried. It is possible that Hamlet’s feeling of anger and disgust towards his mother is intensified by how lovingly his father treated her, “that he might not beteem the winds of heaven / visit her face too roughly”. This creates the idea that the Old King was very loving and protective towards the Queen, and yet she embraced the “hasty marriage” as if it meant nothing to her. The disgust in his words is also present in the sound they make. The hissing sibilants convey Hamlet’s revulsion to the idea of Gertrude and Claudius together.

If we consider Freud’s Oedipus complex, which means, in this case, the son being in love with the mother, it could explain Hamlet’s true feelings and intentions that involve his father, the Old King. If, for the sake of argument, Hamlet was romantically interested in his mother, this could suggest that jealousy and envy were the motives for wanting to kill Claudius, and not necessarily to seek vengeance for the murder of his father. After all, the King is doing what Hamlet always wanted to do, according to this theory: kill the king, marry Gertrude and claim the throne for himself. This adds a whole new dynamic to their relationship, and in this sense, the source of Hamlet and the Old King’s potential conflict is the female, which is Gertrude. Hamlet’s anger towards Gertrude is later amplified to include all women, “frailty, thy name is woman”. This suggests that he believes that all women are weak-willed and are easily morally corrupted. However, Gertrude’s real reason for marrying Claudius after the Old King Hamlet had been “but two months dead” remains ambiguous. Considering the patriarchal system that would have been in place during the time in which this play was set, which was purposely mirrored with Elizabethan society, the only way a woman could gain status, power and security was through men. So essentially it could be that Gertrude was only thinking ahead to secure her role in the Court. Then again, the Old King Hamlet’s level of anger towards Gertrude casts doubt on this theory. He calls Gertrude an “incestuous, that adulterate beast”, whose “seeming-virtuous”, yet had “shameful lust” that accepted “traitorous gifts”. Many critics would consider this line to be definite proof that Gertrude had been Claudius’s lover before her husband had died, and therefore would have had an inevitable part to play in the murder of the Old King Hamlet, but then again, the rest of the play makes no mention of this adultery, and Gertrude certainly does not at all appear to be guilty. What could have possibly been meant with this phrase is that Gertrude has been “contaminated” and “corrupted” by her marriage to Claudius. In this case, again, we see Hamlet’s belief that Gertrude married too quickly and was considered by both the Old King and Hamlet to be false in her actions. This was possibly triggered further for Hamlet by Ophelia’s abandonment of him by obedience to her father and brother.

Hamlet accuses Ophelia (and subsequently expands to include all women in general) of being a “breeder of sinners” and orders Ophelia to a “nunnery”. The fact that he repeats this phrase increases his disgust towards her actions and loyalties. A “nunnery” could either be taken literally or could mean a brothel, which suggests that Ophelia is a whore who manipulated Hamlet and is controlled by another man: Polonius. This idea is reinforced when Hamlet calls Polonius a “fishmonger”, which is a deprecating term for a pimp, by how he controls Ophelia. This was Elizabethan slang for “brothel keeper”, and thus would have been considered a major insult by the original audience. However, many critics would interpret the famous “get thee to a nunnery” line to mean that she needs to get to a nunnery to avoid corruption, like his mother, Gertrude. It is hard to say exactly if he is saying this as a result of his antic-disposition, or whether he is in genuine disgust. Equivocal actions happen often in the play, which adds to the theme of deceit and deception. It is hard to definitively say what characters truly mean and what they do not. Misogynistic themes are also prevalent through Vindice’s opinion of his mother and sister, Gratiana and Castiza, “women are apt…To take false money…their sex is easy in belief”. He believes, like Hamlet, that all women are easily corruptible and gullible. Elizabethan audience would have been accepting of this, considering the fact that norms were different. Though in contrast with Hamlet, The Revenger’s Tragedy deals with the more superficial elements of a woman’s apparent deception. Vindice mentions women’s “Bought complexion”, meaning faces that are made up with makeup, to add an element of deceit and secrecy. Many would view this as hypocritical because of Piato: Vindice’s disguise. This highlights the lack of trust that Vindice as in his mother, yet it is unknown of these are a catalyst of personal issues that he has with her or with women in general. However, to say that Hamlet does not at all look at women’s physical appearance would be false because in Act 3 Scene 1, Hamlet directs “That if you could be honest and fair, your honesty should admit no discourse to your beauty” towards Ophelia. This means that beauty corrupts honesty. Then again, this makes no suggestions towards makeup and man-made deception, so in this perspective, it differs somewhat to the Revenger’s Tragedy. There are similar themes of using disguises as means of deception in Hamlet when he uses his “antic disposition” to prove Claudius and Gertrude’s guilt. He “feigns madness”, and is able to tell the difference “from a hawk to a handsaw”.

To an extent, Hamlet does use external methods of feigning madness, for instance, in Lyndsey Turner’s 2015 remake of the play, Hamlet dresses up as a toy soldier, where he then says his “to be or not to be” speech. This suggests that he is ready for battle, yet then again, toy soldiers are also are used by children when they’re playing games and could signify that Hamlet is playing a game of his own and he himself is a piece. However, Shakespeare is much more concerned with the internal signs of madness, and he demonstrates this mainly through Hamlet’s treatment of Polonius and Ophelia. Polonius is a loyal advisor to the King and is the main advocate for Hamlet’s genuine “madness”, which was caused by Ophelia’s rejection of him, in his judgment. It is relatively easy for Hamlet to control and influence Polonius because of his false politeness, “(Hamlet) Methinks it is like a weasel”, “(Polonius) It is backed like a weasel”, “(Hamlet) Or, like a whale?”, “(Polonius)  very like a whale”. What Hamlet is doing is proving a point to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern by showing how easy it is for him to control the actions of others, and thus stating that he is aware that they are both “playing upon (him) like a pipe” for Claudius’s sake. Hamlet uses Ophelia to get to Polonius and, to begin with, to test her loyalties. He used Ophelia because of her loyalties towards her father Polonius, who in turn used Ophelia as a tool to observe Hamlet’s actions in order to report back to Claudius. Yet we do not know to what extent this may be true because the layers of secrecy and deception completely blur the lines between what we know to be true and what is false. Hamlet is ultimately using his “antic disposition” in order to extract the truth from Claudius on whether he is guilty of the death of the Old King Hamlet.

The idea of using deceit and secrecy as a weapon is a common theme in the play. Gertrude and Claudius use Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on Hamlet for the same reasons they used Polonius: in order to find the cause of “Hamlet’s transformation” and what “hath put him / so much from th’understanding of himself”. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern subsequently fail to manipulate him, and Hamlet makes them very aware of this through his musical metaphor of the “recorder”. This is where we see Hamlet in control of the argument, “’Sblood, do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you fret me, you cannot play upon me”. He then proceeds to prove a point to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that influencing others is easy by using Polonius to make him say what he wants him to say “(Hamlet) that’s almost in shape of a camel”, and “(Polonius) like a camel indeed”. This shows his power of how to manipulate people. Furthermore to solidify the strength of this, Hamlet used the play to “catch the conscience of the King” and the Queen and the extent of their guilt in the murder of the Old King. During “the Mousetrap” play that was taking place before the Royal Court, “Here’s metal more attractive”, here he strongly implies that she, along with women in general, are “metal” that attract men, whether it is intended or not. This fits in with Elizabethan love genre, and Hamlet uses it as an excuse to get away in order to watch their reactions to the play.

It is highly believable that Gertrude’s betrayal takes precedence over Claudius’s murder. Hamlet is much more concerned with his mother in Act 3 Scene 4, “to live in the rank sweat of an enseamed bed, stew’d in corruption…honeying and making love over the nasty sty”. Hamlet describes their marriage as corrupt and dirty. Thus, we can say that this scene presents Hamlet and Gertrude’s conflict as the overriding source of conflict in the play. Deep misunderstanding is also noticeable between the two, which is underlined when only Hamlet can see the ghost, and that leads Gertrude to assume his madness, “alas, he is mad”. Regardless of this, Gertrude vows to let Claudius tempt her “again to bed”. The fact that it is seemingly easy to influence Gertrude thoughts shows her submission to men, which also explains why Gertrude later betrays Hamlet and confides in Claudius about what she’s learnt about him. She draws on the simile, “(Hamlet is) mad as the sea and wind when both contend”. The confrontation in this scene is, unsurprisingly, heavily dominated by Hamlet, and his anger with her fuels this immensely. This parallels with Laertes and Polonius’s treatment of Ophelia in Act 1 Scene 3 when they are instructing Ophelia to cut her contact with Hamlet in order to protect her and her family title. Gertrude and Ophelia are both seen as men’s weak-willed possessions. However, another interpretation of this shows that Gertrude has a powerful instinct for self-preservation, which leads her to rely too deeply on men, particularly on Hamlet and Claudius. This is why she appears to be a deceitful character. Her reason for showing insincerity towards Hamlet could have been because she was intimidated by him, and her loyalties lied in herself, and not her son. How Gertrude feels about her son, and likewise, remains debatable amongst critics. Yet it is possible to draw conflicting comparisons from other parent/child relationships in Hamlet in order to gain insight into what would be considered ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ within their relationships.

René Descartes and Methodological Scepticism (a very brief guide).

René Descartes was a 17th-century French philosopher and is widely considered to be the father of modern philosophy. He was also a Rationalist. This means that he was more inclined to depend on reason and logic as the best guide for belief and action.

Methodological Scepticism:

He dedicated a lot of his life to establish the fundamental knowledge about the universe: differentiating the truth from what isn’t. To do this, he disregarded anything he knew to be true until he could prove otherwise. He failed miserably at doing so.

It is impossible for us to know anything, and be able to prove it, because what we think we know is composed entirely of varying levels of belief. Essentially, we cannot prove that anything exists because we rely on our senses to tell us things. Our senses are unreliable because it distorts the truth. For instance, objects may appear different underwater, but in reality, we know it to be different.

Descartes did, however, manage to prove that without a shadow of a doubt that he existed.

This is where his famous “Cogito ergo sum” (“I think therefore I am”) argument comes in. What he means by this is that if for him to be asking questions about nature’s existence, then there must exist something to be asked about.

He simplified this explanation of the “ontological argument” by using axioms of geometry. For instance, it would be impossible to argue that a square does not have four sides because doing so would defy logic. Descartes argued that the definition of the square necessitates the existence of the square. In the same way, Descartes then went on to prove the existence of supernatural beings (i.e. God), because, using the same argument, the definition of god necessitates the existence of god.

Cartesian Dualism:

This means that there are two main foundations to existence: the mental and the body. His philosophy states that the mental cannot exist outside of the body, and the body cannot think.

***

Also interesting by Descartes:

(Method of doubts – people are often confused about the ‘big’ questions in life, for instance, “what’s the meaning of life?”, because they do not break the questions down to understandable amounts and go through each individual matter at a time. Thus, a philosopher’s job would, in theory, would be to sort through these “like separating good and bad apples”, which would ultimately lead to solving the question.)

René Descartes wrote a lot during his lifetime. Here are some that are recommended:

  • The Description of the Human Body
  • Dioptrique
  • Discourse on the Method
  • Meditations and other Metaphysical Writings
  • Passions of the Soul
  • Principles of Philosophy

Surveillance (English/Cymraeg)

bbeye

English translation:

The word “surveillance” is derived from French, meaning to observe something or someone to find and block crime. “Sur” means “from above” and “veiller” means “to watch”. Surveillance is a form of social control.

David Lyon defines it as “any collection of data and processing of personal data, whether identifiable or no, for the purpose of influencing or managing those whose data has been garnered”.

Examples include:

  • CCTV;
  • Tagging;
  • Tracking and
  • Storing of DNA.

In modern Britain, there are about forty thousand CCTV cameras, and in the last four years, the British Council spent roughly £515 million on them. This amount of money would be enough to employ an extra 4121 police officers.

The sociologist Gary Marx used this idea of a “surveillance state” to convey the idea that “the all-encompassing use of computer surveillance technology in modern society is for total social control”. It is possible to associate this idea with the Left Realists as they believe that surveillance is beneficial for society because it “hardens targets” – it makes it harder for people to commit crime.

Yet, despite the thousands of CCTV cameras that Britain has, crime rates aren’t comparably lower than countries who have less surveillance. Germany, for example.

The British philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) used this idea of surveillance to make a building called “the Panopticon”, which he used as a prison. The design of the “perfect prison” was structured in such a way that cells would be open to a central tower. Individuals in the cells would not be able to interact with each other and they are permanently facing a central panoptic tower. They cannot see whether or whether not there is a person in the tower and therefore must believe that they can be watched at any moment. Bentham noted that this is a model for how society should work in general.

The French postmodernist philosopher Michel Foulcault (1926-1984) also agreed that this is how society should work in order to maintain social order. He argued that the Panopticon was “a diagram of the mechanism of power reduced to its ideal form”, thus it was a positive objective because it shows that society has significantly moved forward from barbaric acts of so-called justice, such as the death penalty. Other postmodernists, like Stanley Cohen (1942-2013), supported this claim by stating that social control and detention used to be public and overt, but in modern society, it is considered to be more discrete and subtle.

Also, the Panopticon helped Foulcault explore the power-knowledge concept and the relationship between agencies of social control (like the police, for instance) and the public.  Because of this, surveillance is extremely useful, and to some extents, it helps to avoid the functionalist term of “anomie” (meaning: complete lack of social control/utter chaos).

However, many Marxists would disagree with Foulcault because they believe that surveillance is a weapon that is used by the Bourgeoisie (ruling class) to exploit and use the Proletariat (the working class).

Cyfieithiad Cymraeg:

Mae gwyliadwriaeth yn air Ffrangeg sy’n golygu gwylio rhywun neu rywbeth er mwyn darganfod a rhwystro trosedd. Mae “sur” yn golygu “o uwchben” ac mae “veiller” yn golygu “i wylio”, ac yn ffordd o sicrhau rheolaeth gymdeithasol. Mae David Lyon yn ei ddiffinio fel, “any collection of data and processing of personal data, whether identifiable or not, for the purpose of influencing or managing those whose data has been garnered”. Mae esiamplau’n cynnwys CCTV, tagio, tracio, a chadw cofnod o DNA. Bodola tua 40 mil o gamerâu monitro cymdeithasol (CCTV) ym Mhrydain, a gwariodd y Cyngor Prydeinig  tua £515 miliwn arnynt yn y pedwar blynedd ddiwethaf. Byddai math hyn o arian cyflogi 4121 heddwas.

Soniodd Gary Marx am y syniad o “cymdeithas gwyliadwriaeth”, sef, “defnydd holl-gynhwysfawr o wyliadwriaeth dechnolegol yn y gymdeithas gyfoes am reolaeth gymdeithasol gyflawn”. Mae modd cysylltu’r cysyniad gyda Realwyr y Dde oherwydd eu bod yn credu mai gwyliadwriaeth yn fuddiol i’r gymdeithas oherwydd mae’n enghraifft o galedu targedau. Mae’n caledu targedau, megis trwy “Neighbourhood Watch”, yn gwneud i drosedd fod yn fwy anodd i gyflawni.

Ond er hyn, er gwaethaf y miloedd o gamerâu monitro ym Mhrydain, nid yw cyfradd trosedd Prydain yn gymharol is na gwledydd sydd â llai o wyliadwriaeth, megis yr Almaen.

Defnyddiodd Jeremy Bentham y syniad o wyliadwriaeth i greu adeilad o’r enw “y Panoptican”. Defnyddiodd yr adeilad hwn fel carchar ac roedd yn caniatáu i warchodwyr i wylio carcharon heb iddynt allu gwybod os ydynt o dan sylw neu ddim. Roedd dim ond angen un gwarchodwr. Felly mae rhaid i’r carcharon wastad ymddwyn fel y petai eu bod yn cael eu gwylio i osgoi sancsiynau posib.

Mynegodd yr athronyddwyd ôl-fodern Michel Foulcalt yn defnyddio’r Panopticon fel trosiad i’r gymdeithas ehangach, ac mae’n “diagram of a mechanism of power reduced to its ideal form”, felly mae rhywbeth cadarnhaol yw hyn oherwydd mae’n ddangos bod y gymdeithas wedi symud ymlaen o weithredoedd barbaraidd o sancsiynu, megis yn lle’r gosb eithaf. Mae’r ôl-fodernwyr Stanley Cohen yn atgyfnerthu at y syniad hwn trwy ddweud bod rheolaeth gymdeithasol a chosbi yn arfer bod yn ddull cyhoeddus ac amlwg, ond bellach mae’n fwy arwahanol a chynnil trwy wyliadwriaeth, megis CCTV a thagio.

Hefyd, mae’r Panopticon yn helpu Foulcault i ddeall ac ystyried y cysylltiad rhwng asiantaethau rheolaeth gymdeithasol a’r cyhoedd a’r cysyniad pŵer-gwybodaeth. Oherwydd hyn, mae gwyliadwriaeth yn ddull pwerus iawn, ac i ryw raddau, mae’n osgoi’r term swyddogaethol o “anomi”.

Byddai Marcswyr yn anghytuno gyda Foulcault oherwydd maent yn dweud bod gwyliadwriaeth yn arf sy’n cael eu defnyddio gan y Bourgeoisie yn erbyn y Proletariat.