What Is Authenticity?

He who knows others is clever;
He who knows himself has discernment.
He who overcomes others has force;
He who overcomes himself is strong.

- Lao Tzu, Dao De Jing, 33

Podcast of the Day

Strangers, people from other countries immigrating to our territory, endangering our authentic culture, destroying what is valuable, good and familiar. But do they and does that idea make any sort of sense at all? And if we can’t talk about the authenticity of cultures, what about the authenticity of individual persons? This week, we investigate authenticity, the personal and the political.

Listen to The Philosopher's Zone episode on Authenticity

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Short Article of the Day

...The idea that we have an authentic self – a set of innate personality traits, desires, emotional and intellectual dispositions unique to us – emerged in the 18th century. Enlightenment thinkers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau tried to move away from religion as a means of making sense of the world. Instead, they claimed that the purpose of life was to be true to an essential nature that defined who we are.

In the 21st century, the notion of the authentic self has solidified into common sense, with the routine demands to ‘be yourself’ or to ‘be real’...

Continue reading Michael Lovelock's article: What's behind the urge to uncover an 'authentic self'?

Further Reading

The term ‘authentic’ is used either in the strong sense of being “of undisputed origin or authorship”, or in a weaker sense of being “faithful to an original” or a “reliable, accurate representation”. To say that something is authentic is to say that it is what it professes to be, or what it is reputed to be, in origin or authorship. But the distinction between authentic and derivative is more complicated when discussing authenticity as a characteristic attributed to human beings. For in this case, the question arises: What is it to be oneself, at one with oneself, or truly representing one's self? The multiplicity of puzzles that arise in conjunction with the conception of authenticity connects with metaphysical, epistemological, and moral issues. On the one hand, being oneself is inescapable, since whenever one makes a choice or acts, it is oneself who is doing these things. But on the other hand, we are sometimes inclined to say that some of the thoughts, decisions and actions that we undertake are not really one's own and are therefore not genuinely expressive of who one is...

Continue reading the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Authenticity by Varga & Guignon

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