Why Authenticity precedes Autonomy


  • Nikos Erinakis National and Kapodistrian University of Athens; Athens School of Fine Arts




authenticity, autonomy, reflection, identificatiion, reasons, attitudes


Most thinkers either identify authenticity with autonomy or take the one to be a core condition for the other. In this paper, I discuss what I believe that authenticity is not. My aim is to distinguish the two notions in regard to their very essence, function and role in our everyday life, while I argue that the conditions of the prominent conceptions of authenticity that relate it to autonomy are unconvincing. I investigate the weaknesses of both the higher-order endorsement models and the externalist historical models by maintaining that none of activity, wholeheartedness, reflection, and rationality is either necessary or sufficient for authenticity. Since manipulation in regard to higher-order desires may take place, one can meet any of these conditions while at the same time being inauthentic. Given this, it has been argued that although these conditions are perhaps insufficient for authenticity, they are still necessary. However, I argue that they are also unnecessary — that is, authenticity comes before activity, wholeheartedness, reflection and rationality, and not vice versa.