Being Authentic: Two Problems with the Idea of a True Self
Merriënboer, J. van
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Authenticity has often been interpreted as ‘being true to oneself,’ which implies that there is some true self within that we ought to be guided by. I propose two influences to be the main reasons for why this understanding of authenticity has come to be: the unconscious, which gives us reason to suspect that our actions spring from a deep lying self; and the public sphere, which has been disenchanted and given merely instrumental importance, resulting in a search for meaning within oneself. I consider two problems with the idea of a true self: the first is that it reduces Will to Necessity which ends up reducing our sense of freedom by assuming our actions to necessarily follow from a causal chain instead of our Will planning for a future that is yet entirely uncertain. The second problem is that the true self, if it were to exist, could not act as a guide on how to live one’s life; it could only give us knowledge which cannot motivate action, and is meaningless since truth cannot result from the thinking activity which meaning springs from.