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Authenticity and the Limits of Philosophy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 January 2014

LAUREN BIALYSTOK*
Affiliation:
University of Toronto

Abstract

Almost everyone has had an intuitive experience of authenticity that seems to reveal a glimmer of one’s true identity. Yet by positing the existence of a ‘true self,’ authenticity introduces metaphysical challenges that resist systematic solutions. I argue that authenticity properly analyzed demands an essentialist structure that strains to be applied to personal identity. I then assess the three most influential types of accounts in modern philosophical discussions against this framework: Romanticism and autonomy; late existentialism; and virtue conceptions of authenticity. This analysis casts doubt on the possibility of generating a complete philosophical account of authenticity.

À peu près tout le monde a déjà fait l’expérience intuitive de l’authenticité, d’un moment qui semble révéler une lueur de sa véritable identité. Pourtant, en posant l’existence d’un «vrai moi», l’idée d’authenticité pose des défis métaphysiques qui mettent en lumière les complexités de l’individualité. J’avance que pour être bien examinée, l’authenticité exige une structure essentialiste qui tend à s’appliquer à l’identité personnelle. J’examine ensuite les trois types d’approches les plus influents dans les discussions philosophiques modernes contre cette position : le romantisme et ses héritiers contemporains, l’existentialisme tardif et les conceptions de la vertu. Cette analyse met en doute la possibilité de générer une conception philosophique complète de l’authenticité.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Canadian Philosophical Association 2013 

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