Ibn Sina, also known by his Latin name Avicenna was born in 1980 in Central Asia, (what is now Uzbekistan). He is many would argue the most known Islamic philosopher.

Avicenna, imagined a fully grown man who just came into existence, falling. The man was falling with his limbs spread apart, and he was wrapped with material which would prevent him from feeling air flowing against him whilst falling. Avicenna said that this example proved the existence of the soul. The man couldn’t possible be aware of his being, so Avicenna compared this example with the way people perceive the world around us.  ““Flying Man” centres on the human soul’s awareness of itself”  (http://individual.utoronto.ca/dlblack/articles/blackselfknrev.pdf)

If none of us had any previous memory and no recollection of any previous experience then surely we shouldn’t know and be aware of any senses around us – we wouldn’t know smell, hearing, taste and so on. (http://individual.utoronto.ca/dlblack/articles/blackselfknrev.pdf)

Avicenna also talked about the Primitive Self Awareness. He spoke about self awareness being art of the human soul. This is contrary to what Aristotle believed – Aristotle ideas about self awareness were that self awareness is based on the previous knowledge we had and acquired through situations we were exposed to in the past. I suppose one can see both sides of the argument, and the decision to agree with one or the other philosopher mentioned above is entirely left to an individual.

So, what is self perception, and how is it explained by scientist? Self perception seems to be the reflection of how we feel about ourselves. Whether we are happy with who we are, whether we feel intelligent enough, good looking enough, funny enough etc., these very personal perceptions of self certainly mirror in our behaviour. (http://www.authentic-self.com/self-perception.html)

Going back to Avicenna’s flying man, I wonder how the flying man would feel about himself? Would he be conscious of any emotions? Would he be scared? Happy? Sad? Clearly, based on what Avicenna was trying to show is that he wouldn’t feel any of those. One cannot help but wonder, though, as we are so used to feeling different emotions in different situations at all times. Is it only the previous experiences and the knowledge we acquired through experience? There is no definite answer as no one was ever in a  position where he/she just came into existence and was suddenly falling.

Our knowledge of physics clearly tells us that it is not possible for a man to be sitting/lying on top of a cloud, which is of course made of water evaporate in a mixed temperature. Yet when we see religious paintings, some people tend to believe it might be the case. So what would happen to our believe system if somehow it came to be possible to sit on a cloud? The point is, we see, we compare what we see with the knowledge we already have, but still sometimes we tend to believe.

So, is the reality what we think it is? I suppose it depends on everyone’s individual perceptions of reality. Certainly through my own personal experience I can say that my perceptions about the (what I though was) truth, changed many times. The more we learn and the more knowledge we gain, the more our perceptions change.

References:

http://www.authentic-self.com/self-perception.html

http://individual.utoronto.ca/dlblack/articles/blackselfknrev.pdf

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