Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Aesthetic Experience: Criticism of Self-Styling

By: Avery and Vincent

Image taken from upload.wikimedia.org and used under Creative Common License.


Aesthetics paints the world in a vastly different way than the clinical worldview of the sciences. Drawing on the subjective nature of humanity, art and beauty often ignore more objective viewpoints and assign their own meanings to nature and the environment. These two outlooks on life have massive differences; most important, subjective aesthetics may often find meaning when objectivity assures us there is none.

A Short Introduction to Self Styling

Self-styling introduces the idea that art “[creates] a front between the ‘nausea and suicide’ we realize due to honesty” (Azfal, Niezsche’s Self Styling). In other words, art serves as a shell between humans and the truth of the meaninglessness of human life. Art allows optimism, kindling subjective beliefs of meaning and purpose.

Drawing from the objective meaninglessness of everything, self-styling guides “artists” (read: self-stylers) towards a path of artistic perspective, and ultimately a level of self-deception. Involving deception, perspective, and forgetting, an artist crafts themselves to allay existential nausea. It allows “acceptance and appreciation of the self” despite the brutal honesty of the nature of the world.

Criticism of Self-Styling

Criticism of self-styling revolves around how the practice promotes self-deception. It guides artists towards “reveling [sic] in the delusions self-styling promotes”, encouraging one to shield oneself from honest nature and instead live in the world of dreams. This seems a step back for development and understanding, artists choosing to retreats into their safe bubbles instead of forging forwards to create new boundaries and face the challenge head on. While self-affirmation suggests that the nature of life should “be embraced without flinching”, self-styling “[makes] one’s character pleasing by falsifying it.” This approach to life appears apathetic of the quest to obtain real answers, instead content to cocoon itself a safe area and ignore the bigger issues at play.

Discussion Questions

How do the positives of self-styling compare to the negatives?

How does self-styling affect everyday life and perception of the world?

How does the self-deception involved in self-styling influence self-perception?


3 Responses to Aesthetic Experience: Criticism of Self-Styling

  1. jeff says:

    Hey Avery,
    I think I understand what you’re saying here, meaning that self-styling encourages self-deception because it makes one unable to come to terms with ‘reality’ and instead living in dreams, but have you considered that everything we experience is filtered through some sort of medium in our heads, whether that be a positive filter giving us a positive experience such as self-styling, or a negative filter? In that case, do you believe that there is really an ‘honest’ nature untainted by our own perceptions?

    • Avery C says:

      Hi Jeff,

      As we discussed earlier in philosophy, true objectivity may be impossible, or at least unobtainable by humans. The mind has a tendency to “taint” (for lack of a better word) the natural world into a form understandable by our minds.

      This criticism of self-styling does not argue that there is a true, “honest” nature untainted by our perceptions; instead, it simply highlights how self-deception leads us away from this perfect ideal instead of towards it. It can be likened to a technological step back, the regression from electricity back to living by candle-light. The criticism merely points out the backwardness of self-deception in the ultimate path to true understanding, whether true understanding exists or not.

  2. kelseyf says:

    Hi Avery,
    I really enjoyed reading your post. I thought it defined self-styling well, and also clearly stated the criticisms of self-styling. Do you personally believe that self-styling is effective? Or that we truly are just deceiving ourselves?


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