Comprehension of the Self: Avocado and Artichoke View

Who Am I?

The avocado/essentialist idea of the self differs and is similar in various ways with the artichoke/protean view of the self. The avocado view is based on the avocado seed which carries all the information that defines an avocado. On the other hand, an artichoke’s essential information is contained in its outer layers, not at its heart. Mitchell (2014) Says “If an artichoke is peeled, there is nothing left inside.” In relation to self, the layers of an artichoke are compared to the genetic instructions and environmental factors that make up a person, while the seed of an avocado represent the essential human nature. In this regard, the Avocado view suggests that there is an essential human nature in us, while the artichoke view contends that we are nothing but our layers – and this is healthy and reasonable.

One of the major differences of these views is that Artichoke supports the changing nature of human beings while avocado view supports the unchanging human nature. According to the artichoke view, Proteus suggests that self is able to adapt to the changing nature of the world and its lack of continuity. Therefore, self is like an artichoke with various layers that are functional only in certain circumstances or at given periods in time (Paley & Liberty Fund, 2002). On the contrary, the Judaic traditions which reflect the Avocado’s view suggest that human beings are like avocados, with a fleshy outside appearance just like other animals, and a unique inner core that shares the divine nature of God. When the avocado seed is planted, an avocado seed emerges (Mitchell, 2014). Therefore, unlike the artichoke view, the avocado view suggests that human beings do not change – what is in the inner human nature remains, and is reflected through time and in all circumstances (Mitchell, 2014). This is opposed to the artichoke’s view that human beings constantly change based on circumstances and time.

Another difference is seen in terms of reasoning. Avocado view suggests that reasoning capacity differentiates humans from other creatures (Mitchell, 2014). This uniqueness is like the seed of an avocado, which determines the nature of the avocado. On the other hand, artichoke’s view asserts that reasoning is unnecessary to living because it just makes us to desire and resist change, which according to the Buddha causes suffering – these are the first and the second noble truths of the Buddha. Buddhists also suggest that we are empty and lack souls, as opposed to the avocado’s Judaism which suggests that we have a divine nature which is our soul made in the image and likeness of God.

The similarity between avocado and artichoke views is that they both believe in reality. Avocado sees reality from the inner core while the artichoke view sees reality from the outer layers (Mitchell, 2014). Artichoke view indicates that reality is seen in the changing world, and the body adapts to it (Philoponus et al, 2006). On the other hand, avocado view sees reality in a divine way, where reasoning and essential human natures are important ingredients.

Feminist and non-western critiques of avocado’s view is that women are considered emotional and men as rational. Aristotle also said that men dominate women because women have elements of irrationality (Philoponus et al, 2006). Therefore, the concept of rationality is opposed by the existence of irrational and emotional women. Another problem with rationality is that human beings are selfish, greedy, hateful and murderous – these emotions overrule rationality.

Desire plays the role of making human beings achieve their goals. Desire is separate from reason as suggested by modernism and Christianity because reasoning may deny the body its desires. It can be controlled by using reasoning which subdues all desires (Philoponus et al, 2006). Desire plays the role of making human beings achieve their goals. It enables human beings to know something because it drives them to want to know (Mitchell, 2014). Desire also causes suffering if humans fail to get what they want. Desire is separate from reason as suggested by modernism and Christianity because reasoning may deny the body its desires. It can be controlled through reasoning, which subdues all desires (Philoponus et al, 2006). Aristotle also said that desires should be ruled by reason as men rule women. Desires should be controlled in order to avoid the suffering that it causes.

Reference List

Mitchell, H. B. (2014). Roots of Wisdom: A Tapestry of Philosophical Traditions, 7e, 7th Edition. [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved from

Paley, W., & Liberty Fund. (2002). The principles of moral and political philosophy. Indianapolis, Ind: Liberty Fund.

Philoponus, J., Eijk, P. J., & Aristotle. (2006). On Aristotle “On the soul 1.3-5” London: Bloomsbury.

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