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Relationship between the Self and Reality, Art and Truth

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Philosophy
Wordcount: 2470 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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The Self

Who are we? This question has been debated for centuries by scholars and novices alike, but no official resolution has been confirmed due to the subjectivity of the matter. Value systems, morals, upbringings and backgrounds play a vital role in forming the people we will eventually become and who we aspire to be. But where do these values originate and how do they correspond with the artichoke and the avocado?

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Our text describes human beings as avocados and artichokes. An avocado is a pear-shaped fruit with yellowish skin and a large seed at the center. If the avocado seed is planted another avocado plant will grow, which then produces another avocado, which will lead to a continuous growth of avocados. The artichoke on the other hand is a flower head of a plant. It is made of layers and after the last layer is peeled off, nothing is left. The artichoke is nothing but its layers. Since there is no center, there is no seed that can be used to produce another artichoke or let alone another generation of artichokes (Mitchell, 122).

The avocado point of view is best described in the Christianity and Judaism religions. Both holy books, The Bible and The Torah, believe that we as humans are not perfect, but we were made to love and serve our respective Gods. Like the avocado, we have a fleshy outward appearance, which makes us appear similar to other animals, but at our core we share the divine nature and that makes us unique, but the essence is located in the seed and not the flesh. If you plant the avocado seed, it will reproduce another tree that will produce more avocados. This bears a striking similarity to the human reproductive system.

The artichoke view perceives human beings as a structure which does not have any core. This demonstrates that human are changing in nature and their reaction are influenced joy different experiences at a certain moment. Many people in the world believe that we are just here as a simple waste of space. They’re mental views are simply no conduct of what is right or wrong. there are no actual rules, but making decision can sometimes become difficult. Because there is no guidance or source as center core in their lifestyle. All they know is that, we have the right to choose, we must always take responsibility for our choices – either its good or bad. Every person has the opportunity to determine their own fate. For better or worse. However, due to the power given to human, one can get hold of the situation and develop a character that does not change despite of the life challenges. This is what gives artichoke at least one similarity with avocado (L. 2013).

When it comes to self-ideas, the artichoke takes on a new meaning. Just like the artichoke, human beings have many layers. These layers vary depending on one’s personality, but the one constant that remains is that once all the layers are peeled off nothing else exists. Existentialism is a philosophy concerned with finding self and the meaning of life through free will, choice, and personal responsibility. The belief is that people are searching to find out who and what they are throughout life as they make choices based on their experiences, beliefs, and outlook. And personal choices become unique without the necessity of an objective form of truth. An existentialist believes that a person should be forced to choose and be responsible without the help of laws, ethnic rules, or traditions (“Existentialism”, 2002). Some of the concepts existentialism takes into consideration include: free will, decisions are not without stress and consequences, there are things that are not rational, personal responsibility and discipline is crucial to survival, worldly desire is futile and the belief that society is unnatural and its traditional religious and secular rules are arbitrary.

Due to the variety of concepts supported by existentialist, there can be no one answer as to what it is only what it is not. Existentialists do not support any of the following concepts: the idea that wealth, pleasure, or honor make the good life, social values and structure control the individual, the notion that “it is what it is”, science can and will make everything better, or the “I want my way, now!” or “It is not my fault!” mentality. Due to its wide array of philosophical, religious and political beliefs, existentialists have no universal agreement as what its central beliefs consist of. Existentialism was first identified post the Great Depression and World War II. It was believed that World War I destroyed the optimism of the country which led to philosophers believing well into the 1970s and beyond that people have the freedom to choose one’s preferred moral belief system and lifestyle. An existentialist may appear in many forms. They could be a student majoring in religion or an atheist manifesting their beliefs to others. Each basically agrees that human life is in no way complete and fully satisfying because of suffering and losses that occur when considering the lack of perfection, power, and control one has over their life (“Existentialism”, 2002). Existentialism is the search and journey for true self and true personal meaning in life.

Throughout history, women have constantly been identified as opposite of men, or as lesser versions of men. These ideas have been motivated by the male centric cultures throughout time. Since women have been characterized as the lesser forms of the masculine, there has been a paradigm shift that has gained the self-ascendancy in the popular culture and in the western philosophy (Nye, 2013). This shift was derived from the beliefs of heterosexual and predominantly white male experiences. These privileged, socially and economically powerful men, the fields of literature, arts and the media. Due to this, feminists have not been able to perceive their self as an issue of metaphysical but have drawn attention to its social, ethical, and political imperfections. In avocado view, human nature is an enduring and stable self while in the artichoke view, nature is understood as a protean who has no enduring core.

Besides Western views of the protean self and existentialism, there are three non-Western examples of the artichoke view of human nature to consider. Buddhism, beginning at the time of the Milesian, or pre-Socratic, philosophers, proclaimed that there is no need to think of a solid, separate self. To proclaim a permanent self is to live in a world of illusion. From ancient Chinese medicine, we find a conception of self with five elements—found in both the self and nature. Like nature, the self is in flux, and in a healthy person or ecosystem, the elements take their places at appropriate times. One African view of a fully realized human person describes the creative, complementary relationship between men and women as a model for healthy living, as well as an indication of what divinity might be like (Michell, 2015).

With the constant changes in society along with continuous upgrades in technology, it actually is amazing how rational humans are. In my opinion, what of the things that separates human from animals is their ability to assess, adapt and overcome situations when presented. A reasonable period of adjustment is to be expected with change, but through rational thought and processing a reasonable solution is typically the outcome.

Truth and Reality

There is a presumption that we know how to recognize the truth when we see it. Often times the truth is subjective, but it can be definitely verified. Depending on one’s self ideology, the truth can become difficult to ascertain. An example of an avocado point of view is the Christianity and Judaism traditions. The Bible and Torah claim that we are humans made as we are, not perfect. But, we are made to love and serve our God (L., 2013). An example of the artichoke point of view on life are visible in sayings such as “YOLO” “Carpe diem” and “We’re gonna die anyway”. Many people in the world believe that we are just here as a simple waste of space. They’re mental views are simply no conduct of what is right or wrong (L., 2013). These people are firm to the belief that they have the right to choose ad that they have to accept responsibility for their choices, good or bad. An excellent modern example of these two ideas of self takes place in the film “Belly”. “Belly” is a movie that takes place in Queens New York in 1999 featuring the two main characters “Buns” and “Sincere”. Both individuals are in their mid-twenties and have participated in illegal street activities since they were pre-teens. Buns devises a grand scheme to elevate the duo from lowly street “hustlers” to established well-paid “gangsters”. While Sincere is growing weary of the street life, mostly due to the birth of his daughter and engagement to his fiancé, he goes along with the plan in an effort to attempt to eventually sway Buns’ perception of how life is supposed to be lived. During one of the most pivotal scenes in the movie, Sincere tries to engage Buns into a conversation about the meaning of life. Not encouraged by Sincere’s new found religious awakening, Buns states: “Ain’t no God! We born to DIE! In the meantime, GET MONEY!”. It is at this point in the film that those who are knowledgeable of the avocado/artichoke theory realize who is who and what is what. Sincere would be representative of the avocado theory based on his core beliefs that Allah, he was in the beginning of the process of converting to Islam, had more in store for him than being a criminal. Buns was obviously the artichoke in this story based on the belief that underneath all of his superficial layers there was no core. His main goal is life was to live it to the fullest because we all are gonna die anyway. He had no moral compass as to what was right and what was wrong because there was no guidance or source as a center core in his lifestyle. Any consequences that come along, would be accepted.

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In my opinion, art is subjective to what one’s beliefs are. Art can be representational depending on what one’s motivation consists of, or it can be transformative. Representational art closely resembles objects and events presented in the real world, appealing to the basic core of one’s beliefs, similar to the avocado view. Transformative art takes what is easily identifiable and turns it into the artists’ own interpretation, corresponding more with the artichoke view of self. Art at its purest form, is about self-expression. Artists tend to reveal a lot about their personalities through their work, but leave it up to public perception to interpret a meaning. This practice usually leaves many forms of art up for debate as to what the true meaning of the work may be, with only the creator able to confirm or dispel other’s rationale.

Art and Philosophy

Philosophy and art differ according to their subject matter and how it is expressed. At times, art, like philosophy, reflects reality in its relation to man, and depicts man, his spiritual world, and the relations between individuals in their interaction with the world (“Philosophy and Art”, 2018). Our world has been transformed to reflect a human angle that stresses man’s wants, needs and attitudes and justification of existence. If this human element were to be removed from expression, then our whole existence would be dull and insignificant. An artist cannot act as if philosophy does not exist, if for no other reason that that it would impair their ability to reach different cultures. At the same time no thinking and emotionally stable person can ignore the importance of poetry, literature, music or paintings as it would seriously jeopardize the rationale of the beliefs they feel strongly about. Life is so structured that for a man to be fully conscious of it he needs all these forms of intellectual activity, which complement each other and build up an integral perception of the world and versatile orientation in it (“Philosophy and Art”, 2018). History has shown that some of the greatest minds, despite their dedication to research, were deeply engaged in the arts. Einstein played the violin, Darwin studied Shakespeare, Hegel was an art fanatic and Marx’s philosophical and scientific views was deeply influenced by literature. In short, some of the greatest minds of our time were able to maintain a balance between expression and belief.

Although art is an expression of the “truth” it is not necessarily an accurate truth. Expression of the truth through art is based on the “truth” that the artist is living and not necessarily the truth of their audience. An example of this could be the genre of rap music. While rap has is roots in reporting what is going on in the urban neighborhoods of this country and how minorities are being treated in the United States, some point to its violent, misogynistic lyrics as not being an accurate portrayal of events that actually occur in this country. To those living and or affected by these environments, the music is an accurate, if not sad, indication of how some are treated in this country. To those who never experience these types of environments, it is nothing more than a gross exaggeration, short of being a tall-tale such as Paul Bunyan. “Perception is more important than reality. If someone perceives something to be true, it is more important than if it is in fact true” (Trump, 2010).



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