The purpose of this Independent Study thesis is to ask the question: what is it to be authentic? That is, what is meant when we describe a human being as one that is “authentic”? To answer this question, I will provide an argument and defense for a picture of authenticity with elements drawn from a Heideggerian way of thinking. To begin, I will be outlining and explicating the authenticity claims contained within Heidegger’s Being and Time (Chapter One, Sections One and Two). As a part of my defense, I will be contrasting this view by detailing other accounts of authenticity, namely by the following authors: Jean-Paul Sartre and Friedrich Nietzsche (Chapter Two, Section One) Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Johann Gottfried von Herder (Chapter Two, Section Two). Following this, I will critically inspect the more recent claims made about authenticity as given by Charles Taylor (Chapter Three, Section One). After the conclusion of this section, I will argue in the next that all of the views of authenticity I have taken into account fall short in their own ways and also miss one particularly crucial detail (Chapter Three, Section Two). Finally, I will show what I think to be a proper reconciliation of Heidegger’s authenticity by moving away from his strictly phenomenological account of Dasein to the human being as a self-conscious and reflective being that places value in a world shared with others (Chapter Four, Section One). I intend to argue that this “naturalized” picture of authenticity I will be working with is more relevant by showing that it stresses the crucial importance of death in the life of the human being (Chapter Four, Sections One & Two). Additionally, I would like to show how the prospect of being an authentic human being is: a) mustn’t be one that is fundamentally egoistic/individualistic, and consequently b) conceivable in a way such that being authentic is a characteristic of being human that one ought strive towards (Chapter Four). Finally, I will conclude by considering objections to my position and providing a defense against them (Chapter Five).


Thomson, Garrett




Continental Philosophy | Metaphysics


authenticity, ought, Dasein, Existentialism, Romantic, Contemporary, importance

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2015 Adam P. Seligson