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?



Self-Styling AKA: How to Look Good (but like, in a philosophical way)

The first thing you need to know about self-styling is that, while it does not mean using hair gel to do your hair, it can incorporate it.



(click the photos to see the notes Cassidy and I took)

Self-styling is the act of making yourself into a better person, whether that is through deeds, make-up, or simply a self-confidence boost. Nietzche was the one who said that art gives us distance from our lives, which helps us see our own selves from a distance. To me, this simply means that art helps us see ourselves as others see us.

For example, take the word ‘us’. Us. us. US. us us us us us us us us.

Does ‘us’ look weird to you now?

It’s the same with ourselves. We look in the mirror (and shop windows and car doors…) so often, and know our own faces so clearly that we’re almost too familiar. We need to take a step back.

take a step back, Justin

But, continuing on: Nietzsche also discusses how art—or artistic distancealso helps us think beyond our own selves. Nietzsche calls our usual state ‘artistic foreground’, while art gives us the ability to see beyond, into the background.

Self-styling also ties in with self-reflection, as one must reflect upon who they are before they begin self-styling. While various philosophers claim that self-styling requires concealing the parts of yourself that are unattractive, I believe that self-styling is to fall in love with yourself, whether it is through make-up, wikihow, or otherwise.

“Glittery hair gel is the best way to self-style yourself.” – Nietzsche

The trouble, of course, comes when/if someone constructs their self “too greatly” which, if we translate that into layman’s terms, means to not get too big an ego. This leads into Criticism, which is the next part of the booklet.

ps: A lot of this info is taken from the booklet, so consider this my source.