Reality, Art, and Truth Project Instructions
This 6-8 page essay assignment will be completed in three parts and will draw upon the material from Weeks 1, 2, and 3.
I. The Self
Discuss the avocado idea of the self and explain at least one version of the idea that human beings have a shared essential nature. Contrast this account with the artichoke idea of the self (drawing upon phenomenology and existentialism to develop your account) and a discussion of how the modern/avocado and postmodern/artichoke ideas of the self differ. You may use your analysis from the Week 2 and 3 discussion assignments to develop your account in Part I.
II. Truth and Reality
Discuss how these ideas of the self are disclosed in art by choosing an example of a character/narrator/subject in a work of art (novel, poem, film, graphic novel, short story, television show, song, painting, etc.) who you think captures the avocado/modern idea that we have an essential, shared human nature and that the self and the world are distinct entities. Then, choose an example of a work of art that you think illustrates the artichoke/post-modern idea of the self. Consider the following ideas and questions in your analysis of these two examples:
Are the self and the material world distinct entities, as Descartes thinks? What are some examples of representative art that illustrate the idea that the subject/mind and the object/world/body are distinct? Alternatively, are the self and the world organic unities, as Schelling argues? How might artistic creation express this unity of subject and object?
Is art mimesis/representation (as in Platonism and Aristotelian aesthetics) or is it a means of transforming the self and reality? Might it be aspirational, allowing us to achieve catharsis, as Aristotle suggests? Consider, too, how the idea of art as representation is akin to the avocado view while the idea of art as transformative is more like the artichoke view.
III. Art and Philosophy
What is the relationship between art and philosophy? Do you agree with Descartes that logic and critical thinking are the best means of achieving certainty about reality and existence, or is your view more akin to the perspective of Keats, Schelling, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and/or Heidegger that art is the ultimate expression of truth? How are these views a rejection of the natural standpoint we see adopted by empiricism and rationalism and rejected by phenomenology? Do some kinds of art (music, for example) express the truth more fully than others? How so? How does the idea and purpose of art differ across cultures?
Reality, Art, and Truth Project – Sample Paper
The avocado and artichoke outlooks are two unique perspectives often explored in philosophy. They are vigorous attempts to succinctly explain human nature and the essence of every individual’s disposition. While the avocado is a subtle fruit that usually emerges from a viable planted seed, the artichoke represents a flower, which is a more prominent part of the plant. Furthermore, Greek rationalism views artichoke through the idea of various stratums functioning as protective layers during one’s entire lifetime. Thus, the artichoke is one of the most common examples used when seeking to gain a firm understanding of the self. Its layers represent the many functions that each part of the self serves in its mission to maintain optimum functionality (Mitchell, 2017). Additionally, it is worth noting that the artichoke is an unusual plant. The absence of seeds often complicates the normal duplication process, which makes reproduction demanding. Conversely, the avocado follows a relatively simple process of reproduction, usually with a planted seed. It is similar to other organisms and human beings concerning how reproduction occurs (Mitchell, 2017). For instance, human beings are noticeable by their exterior but also bear a divine nature that is at their core.
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The artichoke perspective is based on the self as a product of experience, ultimately transformed over time. Both the avocado and artichoke viewpoints allude to numerous representations for which they elucidate. Through the artichoke perspective, one gets the sense that individuals consist of several layers that have different functions at specific stages in life. These perspectives can be explained using Platonic and Aristotelian paradigms. Both aspects believe that a deep-seated reason for being is at the core of human life. Nevertheless, Aristotle was among the first philosophers to suggest that the soul was one with the body and eventually died with it. The Platonic and Aristotelian paradigms of defining human nature posit that there is a clear difference between temperaments in the sexes (Cazeaux, 2017, p. 34). While men were viewed as rational, their female counterparts were generally thought to be irrational. Even so, Plato still held the view that both could achieve unimaginable feats. It was this perspective that sparked heated debates in the Christian Church regarding whether women are a product of man or a mere reflection of God. Artichoke’s view is thus more narcissistic. Both philosophers believed that an immobile spirit was at the core of the human experience and should always be considered when endeavoring to explain the “self.”
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The avocado and artichoke perspectives differ considerably in views held. The avocado outlook stands out in its description of human beings by focusing on abstract qualities such as the soul. Perspectives similar to those expressed by the artichoke outlook are prevalent globally in many world cultures. Buddhism, Confucianism, and African thought all express elements of this view. For instance, the self is non-existent in the Buddhist tradition. Emotions, perceptions, aspects of the mind, and form are the most critical parts of a human being within individuals in this culture (Mitchell, 2015, p. 140). Buddhism refers to this as the skandhas of life. In this particular perspective, the core of each skandhas is devoid of souls, only emerging when individuals express their desires. It is for this very reason that Buddhists have a strong connection to the idea of enlightenment as it improves one’s understanding of happiness as a personal responsibility. Similarly, Confucian thought is based on a belief that five core components (earth, water, fire, wood and air) are at the center of every human being. They represent the many phases of life and the changes that are bound to during different seasons. These five components also share a deep relationship with the self and contribute to spiritual stability. On the other hand, Africans thought is based on the idea that human beings are a product of life (Mitchell, 2015, p. 147). The Asante culture, for example, strongly believes in developing and maintaining a strong personality. Both sexes play a complementary role and are expected to adhere to a set of principles that will make a stronger society. In this particular culture, males are known for their strength and grit, while females espouse life, creativity, and fertility (Mitchell, 2015, p. 148). This view essentially explains the importance of conforming to societal rules and regulations, which differs significantly from Western existentialism.
Truth and Reality
The foremost philosophical idea accepted over time regarding mimesis is that reality always has a source of information. Ancient Greek philosophers generally took the idea that art was born out of an imitation of reality. However, Plato and Aristotle differed in their definition of this concept. In The Republic, Plato discusses his style of poetry and the use of heroes as protagonists. He goes on to remind the author that the self and distinctive traits displayed by the characters are based on an imitation of the actual demeanor of noble individuals in reality. Plato employs the use of outright falsities when using figures such as Homer and Aeschylus to inform his audience of integral fundamentals of the human psyche.
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Conversely, Aristotle is direct in his claim that art and poetry imitate realities that human beings are confronted with daily. Aristotle further describes art as an imitation of “actions of men” in The Poetics, allowing philosophers to deal with issues using a universal approach. Imitation eventually results in similar reproductions to express an inherent and inner reality. Truth and reality, therefore, denote intricate sections of philosophy. However, both perspectives are a common feature in Abrahamic traditions, and together with Platonic and Aristotelian ideas, reflect the avocado idea of the self. The Biblical account of creation adopts the avocado notion to explain the emergence of man and the development of human nature. According to scriptures, human beings are a reflection of God for they are made in his image and likeness (Mitchell, 2015, p.123). Jewish perspective is based on the idea that human beings are an expression of God and bear a divine nature. God is said to have molded man from mud and breathed life into him. Human beings are in a class of their own since they are a reflection of God while possessing a remarkable divine nature. Also, human beings possess an external representation similar to an avocado. The only difference is the divine nature possessed by every human being and its influence on their outlook in life. This is similar to the protean view of the self. In Greek myth, Proteus was known for his unusual abilities, which allowed him to change and transform into different life forms at any given moment. The view held in this particular perspective supported the reformation of human beings through an elaborate system focusing on the self (Mitchell, 2015, p.132). The transformative attributes of Proteus are similar to the avocado perspective since human beings are, mostly, structured.
Art and Philosophy
Art and philosophy share a close reciprocal relationship. The creation of art is born out of philosophical inspiration, which enables artists to produce. It is also possible to express philosophical wisdom using art as a medium. I agree with Descartes that logic and critical thinking are critical when seeking accuracy, explaining reality, and the origin of existence. Clear correlations are present between art and metaphysics regarding key aspects of their technicality. The search for truth is a long, arduous task when seeking to understand the many realities that currently exist in life. Philosophers are continually pursuing the truth using evidence to guide the entire decision-making process. The widely accepted idea is that aesthetics are capable of leading individuals to truth (Mitchell, 2015, p.306). Through art, a better understanding of the underlying reality can be arrived at which will eventually allow one to gain a better understanding of truth and reality.
Art is transformative and has been hailed for expressing the unity of subject and object. Keats, Schopenhauer, Schelling, and Heidegger all held unique opinions about art and reality and can reflect the artichoke idea of the self. Schelling’s view is similar to that held by Plato when explaining objects and subjects. The ideas expressed by subjects are the result of formulations developed from an original object. It is through art that reality can be explained, allowing individuals to peel through layers similar to those of artichoke and access the world (Mitchell, 2015, p. 325). Similarly, Schopenhauer arrives at a similar conclusion by first exploring Kant’s dilemma. He emphasizes that the will to live is the necessary foundation of existence. It also results in success and the main reason why individuals were advised to strive for art as a form of a higher expression. Nietzsche also had a firm understanding of art, its place in the world, and its influence on the self. Greek deities such as Dionysus and Apollo were characters of particular interest in classical tragedies (Mitchell, 2015, p.328). Through this form of expression, the audience members pick valuable lessons to avoid falling into similar circumstances. Although expressed as an illusion, both characters are an important element capturing the artichoke perspectives and the importance of one of self. Moreover, art and philosophy share a close relationship based on the popular aesthetics theory. The principle explored in this particular case is based on the idea the art has both a philosophical and ontological relevance. Art seemingly contributes to the quality of life lived by individuals and a vital tonic useful in alleviating arbitrariness. Philosophy strives to cover the inadequacies of art by introducing rational thought to explain concepts. It is based on intuition concerning a specific concept that can be expressed better through various aspects of conceptual thought. Art is an integral part of most cultures where it is regarded as a medium used in the expression of the divine (Mitchell, 2015, p.315). Additionally, art aids the interpretation of philosophy through the self, as is common in Oriental traditions. The Zen Calligraphy by Khing is an example of Zen’s philosophical expression through meditative art to depict the self.
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