Authenticity as an Ethical Ideal
By Somogy Varga
Routledge – 2012 – 186 pages
Authenticity has become a widespread ethical ideal that represents a way of dealing with normative gaps in contemporary life. This ideal suggests that one should be true to oneself and lead a life expressive of what one takes oneself to be. However, many contemporary thinkers have pointed out that the ideal of authenticity has increasingly turned into a kind of aestheticism and egoistic self-indulgence. In his book, Varga systematically constructs a critical concept of authenticity that takes into account the reciprocal shaping of capitalism and the ideal of authenticity. Drawing on different traditions in critical social theory, moral philosophy and phenomenology, Varga builds a concept of authenticity that can make intelligible various problematic and potentially exhausting practices of the self.
"Authenticity as an Ethical Ideal is [Somogy Varga's] first full-length monograph, and it presents us with a scholar who has an extensive knowledge of many areas of moral psychology as well as a solid grasp of the methods of ideology critique. The book engages important issues, addresses them in an intelligent way, and argues effectively for some innovative views." – Charles Guignon, University of South Florida, USA in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
I. Authenticity: Historical Sources and Theoretical Underpinnings 1. The Sources of Authenticity 2. Authenticity, Social Philosophy and Social Pathologies 3. The Inevitability Thesis II. Towards a Formal Concept of Authenticity 4. Models of Authenticity 5. Authenticity as Authentication and Responsiveness III. The Paradox of Authenticity 6. The Paradox of Authenticity
Somogy Varga is a Visiting Researcher at the University of Copenhagen. He is also a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Cognitive Science, University of Osnabruck, Germany.