A question I’ve been considering this semester is, can one be consciously authentic?

I’ve considered authors like Jean Jacques Rousseau, who in his Confessions states that he is going to talk about himself with all honesty possible. I find as I read that, I’m questioning if he is actually been honest.

My currect position is that to be authentic can not be an act of conscious will. To be authentic is an unconscious process.

Also, I’m incredibly unversed in Authenticity as a philosophical practice, so these are just my own raw ideas.

What do you all think?

Why do you think what you think?

  1. authenticity and honesty do not seem the same things to me. For example it can be authentic to lie. Certainly in extreme situations with a murderer in your home, but I think in many other much more everday situations. In fact it can be a lie to live up to an ideal of honesty when one does not feel like telling someone the truth. Many do not deserve the truth. Others would prefer not to hear it. Also one can be honest but not authentic. One can recount truths but not express onself authentically.

  2. I think one can consciously decide to be authentic and this can lead to more authenticism. But I agree that much of the ways we cut off our own authenticity are unconscious, so we may not succeed right off, or ever.

I think that being authentic means being genuine, i.e. being yourself. In that sense, ya, it’s hard to consciously be yourself. Insofar, at least, as being conscious of oneself equates with looking at oneself, which seems to imply being beside oneself, and that’s not being authentic. It would have to involve some sort of meditative trick. However, that isn’t to say that being authentic is to be unconscious of being oneself either. For, if I’m doing something unconsciously, there is little reason to give affirmative valuation to it, as it would seem to be mere habituation. This all also supposes there is a “true self” one is supposed to be, which I’m not clear about, at least in my own case. So, nevermind…

true authenticity is psychologically impossible. the best we can hope for is to try our best to have good intentions at being open and honest about ourselves and our motives, but even this will be only an approximation, at best.

to be truly authentic would mean man would have to strip away his ego and self-esteem completely, as well as elevate the entirety of his unconsciousness to conscious awareness. clearly, these things are impossible, and so the idea of true authenticity or open honesty about onesself (either TO onesself or to OTHERS about onesself) is, as i said, an approximation, at best, and a very limited one at that.

authenticity to an external standard in the view of a third person…

doesn’t get more genuine than that…


How true! Das man don’t take no plugged nickels y’know! And the real McCoy is named after someone else!!

I know little about the subject, but hey, that’s never stopped me before.

I’d say that the moment you try to be consciously authentic, then it dissolves into mere affectation - you pretending to be you.

Like pausing in a conversation or an action and asking the question - “Now, what would I say/do now if I were me…?”


Agreed. It cannot be such a self conscious, analytical change. One would have to stop bullshitting and contorting oneself. From my experience - meaning in moments where I felt like I shifted to more authentic communication or self expression - their is a feeling of stopping some process I am tired of maintaining. Sometimes the dam, that I have invested in spackling, bursts. Sometimes the release is more gentle. In all cases it is a ‘no longer doing something’ rather than sitting down with oneself like somesort of career counselor and planning the best move.