Authenticity/Individuality

A place for more formal debate. Be a spectator, vote on the winner, or start one of your own. Read about how the forum works.

Moderator: Carleas

Authenticity/Individuality

Postby Tab » Sat Nov 13, 2010 10:45 pm

Hi kids.

This will be a 2 on 1 extravaganza between myself, Fuse, and Debaitor, concerning the possibility of living an authentic life, and being an individual in general.

They will match each of my three posts with one apiece of theirs, and finally the debate will be put to a vote amongst the membership of ILP to decide the winner or winners.

MOD EDIT: Click here to see the votes.
Last edited by Tab on Sat Nov 27, 2010 5:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Image
Click Logo For Blog
User avatar
Tab
Deeply Shallow
 
Posts: 8237
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 2:49 pm

Re: Authenticity/Individuality - Yes/No/Other..?

Postby Tab » Sun Nov 14, 2010 2:03 am

In my book, Sartre's got a lot to answer for. His existentialist novels espousing the seed-crystals of every goddamn Disney-film plot in creation "Be true to yourself... Follow your heart Littlefoot... Just be yourself..." make me want to puke, for they have condemned a legion of tweedy-pipe-smokers to an unfulfilled existence of endless soul-searching for their 'authentic self' and guilt when they come up short and realise on their death beds that, despite their constant striving for something 'real' something 'different', they ended up pretty much like any other Joe Schmoe on the planet, or worse still, become convinced they simply strait-jacketed themselves into a life-long affectation, and lived only as a hollow antonym of Joe Schmoeism.

Anyway - before we get down to business, let's kick off with something I kinda forgot to do on the debate with Pav a while ago - and was taken to task for - defining terms.

Individual:
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/individual
in·di·vid·u·al
1.a single human being, as distinguished from a group.

3.a distinct, indivisible entity; a single thing, being, instance, or item.


Authentic/Authenticity:
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/authentic
au·then·tic
1.not false or copied; genuine; real: an authentic antique.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authenticity_%28philosophy%29
Authenticity (philosophy)
"In philosophy, the conscious self is seen as coming to terms with being in a material world and with encountering external forces, pressures and influences which are very different from, and other than, itself. Authenticity is the degree to which one is true to one's own personality, spirit, or character, despite these pressures."


As we see, both definitions stress the need for a state of being distinguishable from the group, of being distinct, of not being a copy, and the philosophic slant on authenticity requires a certain purity, inviolate of outside influence.

Put very simply, in my view, true individualism is not something achievable by humanity, nor was it ever meant to be. And as for 'living authentically', well that particular crusade is absolutely doomed from the start, so pervasive are the external drivers of groupthink, and so numerous are the internal fifth-columnists that have infiltrated our bodies and brains over the millenia.

Before I move onto the more specific 'how', I'd like first to sketch out the 'why' of it all.

The Why.

Having become, however grudgingly, a certified member of the old bastard demographic I take some certain measure of solace in my new-found freedom to gently take the piss out of the more youthful sectors of society as they scramble about for some from of identity separate from the previous generations. It is a classic old-git story - the situation of the uniformed or otherwise conventually-dressed mid-lifer bumping into a bunch of spotty youths and having some form of the following conversation:

"Hey kids - whassup..?"
"Fuck-off Grandad."
"Aww -c'mon - Why so serious..?"
"You iz like a faceless slave to the establishment."
"Really, how can you tell..?"
"You iz like wearing the uniform of the drone dog-soldier of the oppressed."
"Really..? Damn, I quite liked this sweater too. So - not into uniformity huh..?"
"Shah - as if."
"Is that why you're all wearing black, like the same music and spout the exact same half-assed socio-politic rhetoric..?"
"Yea - it's like an expression of our individuality innit."

Young people. Priceless.

But why, since we seem to put such stock into being something unique, someone special, do we seem doomed never to achieve anything near it..? Simple, because true individuality is fatal. Or at least, fatal enough.

Imagine a colony of ants. Or a hive full of bees. But not the normal kind, these bees are all individuals, so are the ants. None of them act as the others do. They dance to different beats, sniff to different scents, build to different plans. can you imagine what a completely fucked-up mess they'd be in..?

"Oi - where's that honey..?"
"Hey - don't stress man, Jamiroquai's on sabbatical in the South of France trying his feeler's at abstract pollenization."

etc.

Seriously though, humanity is based along the lines of a distributed super-organism - many acting as one - in much the same way as the eusocialities of Bees, Ants and Termites. Except bigger of course, and wearing jeans. It makes sense, as evolutionary gambits go, to go for two basic options: (A) Big, solitary and (usually) fucking dangerous, aka - T-Rexes, sharks, bears, tigers - or, (B) Smaller, communal, and comparitively weedy. The two gambits tend to become exclusive over time - because if you try to combine them either way they tend to either fail outright, or become hugely inefficient. ie. A lone but weedy and totally undangerous predator will keep getting his ass handed to him by every Wildebeast he tries to take down, until he dies of starvation, and the communal but massively dangerous/agressive/deadly shark-rabbit will tend to kill itself off every season.

We of course, are examples of B. So why did we end up dominating the world..? Us and not the Sharkbears..?

Because we co-operate. We become of one mind, one purpose. Some huge and many-armed Kali, a sword in each hand, raining down death and destruction all around, for as long as we can keep it all together and not run away in different directions. Evolution may have spent a long time making us intelligent, making us inventive and selfish and quarrelsome and curious and stubborn, but it's spent an equally long time keeping that intelligence and that self-centredness in check, ensuring that when push comes to shove, especially if the pushing and shoving is being done by a sharkbear, we pull together and work as one to kick our enemy's furry behind.

As much as an apparant individuality has been fostered during our meandering path from the trees into the city, it has also been supressed by our need to act, and think, as one.

I think that's probably enough 'Why' for starters.

The How.

Some people collect butterfies. Some people collect the numbers of trains they've stood on rainswept and dreary platforms especially to see. Some still sadder people, like me for instance, collect web-pages of cog-sci and sociology articles on human synchonicity mechanisms.

That's just the way I roll.

Anyway - remember the philosophic definition of 'authenticity'..?

encountering external forces, pressures and influences which are very different from, and other than, itself


Here is a quick round-up of the forces external and internal, operating upon us.

Perceptual.

How our body is feeling effects how we act. http://www.jdnews.com/articles/span-79872-affects-study.html. Basically Over a series of studies, scientists found that they could easily manipulate people's feelings and perceptions based on nothing more than what the subjects were touching. Holding heavier objects, for instance, made men think more seriously about things, which in turn made them more likely to donate money to charity if asked. Men holding lighter objects were less likely to donate to charitable causes. People handling rough objects were more likely to see neutral social situations in a bad light, saying that other people were obviously in a bad mood. Perhaps the most shocking find was that your hands didn't have to be the things doing the touching. People who sat in hard chairs were more likely to maintain a hard line in negotiations and were less receptive to their partner's way of thinking. [cracked.com].

ie. People in similar physical locations, carrying similar objects, wearing clothes cut of a similar cloth... Would tend to exhibit similar perspectives.

Our own facial expressions, and those of others around us, directly effect our emotions and our ability to feel them. Courtesy of our mirror-cells, we internally 'copy' the emotions of those around us. See someone smile brightly, or laugh, and suddenly you feel a little smilier and laughier yourself, despite however much of a gloomy bastard you may believe yourself to be. But you know this. You're yawning, oops - damn , now so am I - those infectious expressions again. Anyway, more surprising still http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37861005 scientists found that those with faces more or less rendered imobile via botox couldn't experience the same degree of emotional response as others with 'normal' facial motility. Do people scowl all the time beacuse they are 'authentically' dour, or are they dour because they scowl all the time..? How would you know..?

ie. People in proximity would tend to gravitate toward an averaged emotional state.

Cultural:

Too many to list here really.

Ancestory: In Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell he talks about how the general professions of your ancestral groups cause knock-on effects many generations later. The two main groups are those who stem from herders and farmers. Those with herder backgrounds, even if the modern cultural standards denigrate casual agression, are far more agressive and far more quick to anger than those with farmer backgrounds.

Situational: "The Lucifer Effect" by the guy who conducted the Stanford Prison experiment pretty much demonstrates beyond doubt that stereotyped stressful situations impose behavioural norms - massively altering people's apparant personas very quickly. He managed to turn a bunch of student libertarian hippies into authority-mad sadists within days. He was further vindicated during an investigation into the abuses in Abu Ghraib POW prison.

ie: People in similar situations, especially if the roles usually played out within them are known (and socially approved) will act (usually) as is expected, whatever pre-existing personal characteristics they may have professed to prior.

Status: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35836844/ http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2010/04/27/power-breed-hypocrisy-%E2%80%93-the-powerful-judge-others-more-harshly-but-cheat-more-themselves/ http://www.psychologicalscience.org/media/releases/2008/vankleef.cfm http://scienceblogs.com/observations/2010/04/does_money_lessen_pain.php

It would seem that increased social status lends a whole plethora of characteristic traits, everything from a reduced abilty to feel pain, to hypocrisy, a talent for lying, and a reduction in your ability to feel compassion.

ie. Social status to some extent synchonizes personality type.

Language: http://www.cracked.com/article_18823_5-insane-ways-words-can-control-your-mind.html The language you speak would seem to impose certain perspectives and traits upon you, whether you like it or not.

Priming: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priming_%28psychology%29

Priming is thought to play a large part in the systems of stereotyping[30]. This is because attention to a response increases the frequency of that response, even if the attended response is undesired[30][31]. The attention given to these response or behaviours primes them for later activation[30].

This can occur even if the subject is not conscious of the priming stimulus[30]. An example of this was done by Bargh et al. in 1996. Subjects were implicitly primed with words related to the stereotype of elderly people (example: Florida, forgetful, wrinkle). While the words did not explicitly mention speed or slowness, those who were primed with these words walked more slowly upon exiting the testing booth than those who were primed with neutral stimuli[30]. Similar effects were found with rude and polite stimuli: those primed with rude words were more likely to interrupt an investigator than those primed with neutral words, and those primed with polite words were the least likely to interrupt[30]. A Harvard study showed that something as simple as holding a hot or cold beverage before an interview could result in pleasant or negative opinion of the interviewer[32].


We move almost entirely within a world of understood information. Adverts, billboards, overheard conversations, editorials, TV programs - there is almost no avoiding it. We are constantly bathed in an all-pervading sea of suggestion. You don't notice really, unless you suddenly remove yourself from it. As I did.

One of my most clear memories of my early days in Turkey is of walking down the mainstreet for the first time. People walking, talking. Music blaring, billboards emblazoned with legends of every shape and size. And I could understand absolutely nothing of it. An immensely peaceful experience. Like walking in silence, alone. Even the facial expressions of the crowd were altered subtley, the framework of bone beneath ever-so-slightly alien.

The second is of coming home, after a year of meditative non-understanding, to travel across London on the Tube. Surrounded by people talking English on their phones, surfaces plastered in stickers, newspaper headlines and book-titles on every side. I felt literally brain-raped.

There is no neutral state of being anymore. Our information-rich society no longer allows it.

Again, enough of the 'how' for now. It's late.

In summary - In my opinion, it is impossible to be 'authentic' beacuse we as a species were never geared to form a true individuality of character (upon which to build authenticity) in the first place, as individual interests conflict with group survival during direct confrontations with other groups/predators. Doublely so now in our modern world it becomes impossible to form/maintain individuality due to the twin norms of high population density in urban areas - leading to high levels of active/passive informational exchange between people, and the general and pervasive background informational overload courtesy of modern media and the net.
Image
Click Logo For Blog
User avatar
Tab
Deeply Shallow
 
Posts: 8237
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 2:49 pm

Re: Authenticity/Individuality - Yes/No/Other..?

Postby fuse » Mon Nov 15, 2010 11:32 pm

First, when we talk about authenticity we have to be clear on what kind of thing it is we are talking about. We have to be clear about more than just a few definitions. Living authentically refers to a process, not a result. Tab describes the experience of a person who feels that he has "end[ed] up like any other Joe Schmoe on the planet" and who concludes that his “endless soul-searching” and “constant striving for something ‘real’” has all been in vain. I say this is probably the wrong conclusion to come to. Authenticity is rooted in choice. Living an authentic life has little to do with how a person "ended up" but the process by which they arrived at that end. And there is no reason why it must be easy to live an authentic life. In fact, I grant that it is probably very difficult for a number of the same reasons Tab has already supplied. Yet even if one fails to achieve something ‘real’ or succumbs to the pressures of culture, tradition, etc., the struggle need not be in vain.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/authentic
au•then•tic
1.not false or copied; genuine; real: an authentic antique.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authentici ... losophy%29
Authenticity (philosophy)
"Authenticity is the degree to which one is true to one's own personality, spirit, or character, despite these pressures"
Tab wrote:As we see, both definitions stress the need for a state of being distinguishable from the group, of being distinct, of not being a copy, and the philosophic slant on authenticity requires a certain purity, inviolate of outside influence.

Authenticity is not a state; it is born out of action. It is not necessarily easy to determine whether a person is living authentically or not; however, a good place to start would be to learn the why and how of a person’s choices, i.e. why did she choose ‘x’ and how did she choose to go about ‘x’. Moreover, authenticity exists in degrees. It is not a zero-sum concept. This is precisely why it is still possible to live an authentic life amidst a world of powerful determining forces. Your ideology is kind of like your fate. It shapes your character. I think it's uncommon for people to actively shape their own ideology--to be aware of how they see the world and go through a process of molding a new view. We do have a certain amount of control over what influences us. If you take some control of your ideology, if you actively determine some of what does and does not influence you, then you control, to a certain degree, who you are.

Tab wrote:"Hey kids - whassup..?"
"Fuck-off Grandad."
"Aww -c'mon - Why so serious..?"
"You iz like a faceless slave to the establishment."
"Really, how can you tell..?"
"You iz like wearing the uniform of the drone dog-soldier of the oppressed."
"Really..? Damn, I quite liked this sweater too. So - not into uniformity huh..?"
"Shah - as if."
"Is that why you're all wearing black, like the same music and spout the exact same half-assed socio-politic rhetoric..?"
"Yea - it's like an expression of our individuality innit."

Young people. Priceless.


This dialogue gives no evidence one way or the other whether authenticity is possible or not. "Is that why you're all wearing black, like the same music and spout the exact same half-assed socio-politic rhetoric..?" It’s true that those who oppose conformity are often merely conforming to another less popular counter-culture, and are no more individually authentic than what they oppose. Inauthenticity and, likewise, conformity, are not characterized by any style of dress, speech, etc. but by the thought/intent/motive behind the actions and the particular way in which the acts are performed.

Tab wrote:But why, since we seem to put such stock into being something unique, someone special, do we seem doomed never to achieve anything near it..? Simple, because true individuality is fatal. Or at least, fatal enough.


Many people value authenticity, but in most cases people value a certain range or degree of authenticity. I don't think Sartre or other advocates for authenticity desire that one should differ from the rest of humanity in as many ways as possible. That would be pointless and one would ultimately realize he/she was more similar than different from other people. There are many things, for example what type of clothes a person wears, that simply do not matter much as a function of authenticity. I think people realize as they mature that they do not have to dress in all black and purposely avoid things which are popular just be live authentically. What matters is the how and why of big decisions and especially moral decisions.

Tab wrote:Seriously though, humanity is based along the lines of a distributed super-organism - many acting as one - in much the same way as the eusocialities of Bees, Ants and Termites. Except bigger of course, and wearing jeans. It makes sense, as evolutionary gambits go, to go for two basic options: (A) Big, solitary and (usually) fucking dangerous, aka - T-Rexes, sharks, bears, tigers - or, (B) Smaller, communal, and comparitively weedy. The two gambits tend to become exclusive over time - because if you try to combine them either way they tend to either fail outright, or become hugely inefficient. ie. A lone but weedy and totally undangerous predator will keep getting his ass handed to him by every Wildebeast he tries to take down, until he dies of starvation, and the communal but massively dangerous/agressive/deadly shark-rabbit will tend to kill itself off every season.

We of course, are examples of B. So why did we end up dominating the world..? Us and not the Sharkbears..?


This is a false dichotomy. These are not the only two social structures of organisms and, as a matter of fact, human beings do not fall into either category. "We become of one mind, one purpose....we pull together and work as one to kick our enemy's furry behind." This is false. Some organisms literally are of "one mind;” human beings are not. But we are intelligent enough to realize that we are not individually strong enough or capable enough to dominate and live on our own, so we cooperate. We do not have one mind or one purpose. We simply have common purposes.

Tab is right, though, that there are tons of perceptual and cultural factors which impede authenticity. Yet authenticity exists and it is not impossible to live an authentic life. It is especially difficult this day in age to break away from being just a cog in this civilized machine. There are so many rules and expectations we are born into and that we are never encouraged to question (only to accept); we are expected to perform our social function in society, which is often how the value of our personhood is determined. So if we follow precedent without thinking because we're so used to conforming then we're not exactly exercising our own freedom. A large part of thinking for yourself includes realizing how your life is controlled or laid out for you. Once you're aware of all the little things you do like wear a suit because that is the only acceptable style of dress at work, or eat meat because you've always eaten it, or go to church because you've always gone, then you can start to consider whether any of these things is acceptable to you. Hence, it is a struggle to live authentically. Living authentically means acting not out of fear or conformity, but acknowledging the essential freedom to choose.

"Man no longer dares to appear what he is. What he is is nothing, what he appears is everything for him." (Rousseau) Some have learned to think that who they are is nothing more than their outward appearance. They value only how they appear to other people. They can't feel worth unless they are selling themselves in some way or another. They have no sense of intrinsic worth; worth for them is a function of how well they've approximated an idea in someone else's mind. "Man has acquired an artificial self and become alienated from his inner being. The general effect of this concealment and distortion of human nature is to deprive people of individuality." (book about Rousseau) For those who are concerned with how they really are, authenticity matters.

Tab wrote:There is no neutral state of being anymore. Our information-rich society no longer allows it.


I don't understand what you mean by "neural state of being" and why it no longer exists.
User avatar
fuse
Philosopher
 
Posts: 4358
Joined: Thu Jul 20, 2006 5:13 pm

Re: Authenticity/Individuality - Yes/No/Other..?

Postby Debaitor » Tue Nov 16, 2010 1:03 am

Authenticity

What is Authenticity? Tab and Fuse already have given their definitions, and included the textbook (common) definitions as well. So I will give my definition to complete the circle. Authenticity is ‘Realness’, ‘Honesty’, ‘Integrity’, and ‘Truthfulness’. Its root morpheme is ‘Author’ and means ‘Father’. As you should notice, the term “Authenticity” strictly applies to human characteristics. Thus the term becomes Anthropomorphized. People apply the concept (Authenticity) to other people/things as subjects/objects. For example, you may ask: "Is the new guy you met authentic; is he trustworthy?" or "Is this rock an authentic fossil?" In both cases, what actually is meant is, does the authenticity, the implied Authority, convince me of truth?

What is an authentic fact?

What is an authentic object?

What is an authentic person?

If Authenticity is as I say it is then there are no such things as “authentic facts” or “authentic objects”. But there are “authentic people” as the definitions subsume. In fact, there only can exist authentic people and nothing otherwise. There are no such things as “authentic” facts or “authentic” objects. What people actually mean by these phrases is that a Scientist, somewhere, is presumed to be the "leader" or "master" of these purported facts. For example, if we recall the question: "Is this rock an authentic fossil?" then who can say for sure, or any degree of certainty? My esteemed colleague, Fuse, already-pointed this observation out. There are degrees of authenticity. And what makes one 'fact', 'object', or 'rock' anymore authentic than another is, the (conscious) ability of any individual to judge authenticity of another. How is this done? I guess this is done by first measuring one's own authenticity and then comparing that concept, as a standard, against another.

"I am a truthful person; I am honest."

Therefore I judge others based upon this premise. If I am dishonest, and am capable of dishonesty, then so are you insofar as we are similar or the same. Likewise, if I am honest, and capable of honesty, then so are you insofar as we are similar or the same. Similarity is the key here. How do people begin to judge honesty or truthfulness?

I will say this:

People judge honesty and truthfulness based-upon the ability to match statements with actions and match actions with actions. People learn through imitation, both in thinking and acting. Ever see a good fist-fight, dance, or competition of any kind? Ever see children play, after mimicking what they had seen/heard from their parents (or from television)? People reenact what they have learned from others (fathers). A martial arts student learns from his Master. People reenact Authorities. From such reenactments, arises such (social) phenomena: Authenticity.


If anybody wants to find the source of such Authenticity, as the concept goes, then you would need to look for the source of causes laden within each mimicry. That is no easy or simple task. People are different and unique from one to another. Even genetic, identical twins harbor differences away from one-another. Yes, nobody is perfect within convention, conviction, honesty, or truthfulness. People make mistakes and contradict themselves from time to time. But perhaps, people are perfect within their ability to choose to become Authentic or not. How does one not mimic others? How does one "break off" from societal norms and "go his own way"? How does one "lead"? These are the questions which lead to any possibility of Authenticity.

If you want to become “Authentic” then you must go your own way and blaze your own path.

You cannot conform with (or mimic) others. This is much more difficult than anyone may realize, but not 'impossible' at all.


Now, Tab, my opponent, claims:

Tab wrote:I've been thinking a lot about individuality and 'authenticity' recently, and come to the conclusion it's damn near impossible, if not totally impossible, to be authentic in any real meaning of the word.

Three posts, with a reasonablely short response time 24-48 hours perhaps...

Any takers..?

Therefore I will translate his meaning, infused with mine.

What Tab claims, to me, is that it is impossible to be ‘Real’, ‘Honest’, or ‘Truthful’.

It is impossible to be an ‘Author’??

It is impossible to become a ‘Father’???


Of course, this is not true. What is his point, then???

I claim the exact-opposite. Not only is it possible to become "truthful" but it is very, very probable.

For me. For you. For Fuse. For Tab.


My first case against Tab is this:

If neither him, myself, or Fuse are "Authentic" and this debate is "all in good fun, nothing serious"…

Then all matters of Conviction and Value are also impossible!

(Because Conviction and Value are derived from Authenticity.)


The 'trick' will be such that if Tab argues against me with any Conviction, or Value, then I immediately can claim his own point: he is being Inauthentic while I am not. He will then become forced into not only labeling me as inauthentic, but everybody else as well. That means that YOU are inauthentic and never can become anything else. All of us, everybody, every person, is 'inauthentic'. I wholeheartedly disagree!

Tab is being (by his own admission) unreal, dishonest, deceitful… not serious!
    One must have a right: until one acquires that {right}, one makes no use of [sophistry]. The Nietzscheans were dialecticians for that reason[.]
    [Antinietzsche, Dawn of the Idols, "The Problem of Sauwelios", section 1.]

    Religion is opiate of the Mass? Then Jews are pure Morphine! Let us now inject ourselves with that old, familiar sting.
    [Derailed Locomotive, "Re: Role of Private Intellect", 10-31-04 22:03.]
User avatar
Debaitor
The Antinietzsche
 
Posts: 544
Joined: Wed Nov 10, 2010 2:49 am
Location: American Empire

Re: Authenticity/Individuality - Yes/No/Other..?

Postby Tab » Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:28 am

:D Seems I have my work cut out for me. Back soon.
Image
Click Logo For Blog
User avatar
Tab
Deeply Shallow
 
Posts: 8237
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 2:49 pm

Re: Authenticity/Individuality - Yes/No/Other..?

Postby Tab » Wed Nov 17, 2010 1:13 am

Hokay. Got some time now hopefully.

Before I start quoting and shooting, a quick anecdote. Once upon a time, when I wasn't so old and wrinkley, I used to frequent a nightclub called the Cookie-Club in Nottingham. It was small, and had a great Goth-night on Wednesdays. One of my favourite songs of the time was The Cult's She Sells Sanctury. Anyway, to get the DJ to play it, among other things, I'd locate the most beautiful woman in the club, rush up to her and shout (it was a loud club): "S'cuse me, I need your help." What would follow would be a quick sob story about trying to get a song played - but that I'd told the DJ it was for her birthday - having pointed her out (at random) to him as my girlfriend, and that I needed her to go over there with me, and tell him it was true.

Okay, lame factor high. But it worked as an opening event, more often or not. Better than "do you come here often" anyway. The general aura of rush was key, plus the requisite arm-flapping, and boyish smiling.

What's that got to do with anything..? Aha.

In my opening post I proposed that true individuality was impossible, because of the constant barrage of outside influences worming their wicked ways into our forebrains. However that isn't really the death-knell for individuality per-se. We could think of ourselves, as 'individuals', as being metaphysic DJ's. Okay, so we don't create the music we play, but maybe that doesn't matter - we've all been to clubs, and know that a good DJ puts his own spin on the records he plays - the sequencing, the fades in and out, the quicks, the slows, the DJ can make a good night a great one, or equally, really fuck everything up. ie, he manages to express his individuality, musically, despite not actually composing any.

That would be all well and good, and I'd obviously now lose the debate, were it not for people like 80's-Goth me, constantly pissing the metaphysic DJ off with stupid requests for a fictional (but perhaps not for long) girlfriend. :D To the point where the poor bastard DJ is so swamped with people clamouring for "I did it my way" and "Ra-Ra-Rasputin" that whatever record he eventually plays, he's no longer sure whether he chose it himself, or some other son of a bitch just shouted it in his ear a moment ago.

Anyway. To my esteemed combatants' posts. In a vaguely chronologic order.

fuse wrote:First, when we talk about authenticity we have to be clear on what kind of thing it is we are talking about. ...Living authentically refers to a process, not a result. ... Living an authentic life has little to do with how a person "ended up" but the process by which they arrived at that end. And there is no reason why it must be easy to live an authentic life. In fact, I grant that it is probably very difficult for a number of the same reasons Tab has already supplied. Yet even if one fails to achieve something ‘real’ or succumbs to the pressures of culture, tradition, etc., the struggle need not be in vain.


Hey Fuse, thanks for posting such a well thought out reply. Your idea of struggling to live an authentic life as being noble, despite its ultimate folly, is a good one. "What are you doing these days..?" Says the interviewer to the between-album rockstar. "You know, just kicking back, trying to live as authentically as possible...Trying to be, well..." And here he pauses, and puts on a deeply earnest look, "...Me."

Applause. Smiles all round. And why not, it's a damn good sound byte. Better than saying "Er. well, raising pigeons and fucking groupies, you know how it is." It's right up there with "trying to express my individuality", though, whenever I hear that one, I'm always wondering out of which orifice exactly they are attempting to express it.

"Trying to live authentically" only sounds good because it's nebulous enough to not ring our collective bullshit bells. Basically - as Fuse says:

even if one fails to achieve something ‘real’... the struggle need not be in vain.


It still sounds cool. But what if we substituted something else instead of 'authenticity' in there. Some other unobtainable object of desire. Like I dunno - being a chicken.

"You know, just kicking back, trying to live as chicken-like as possible..."

The guy ain't a chicken. However much he struggles, however many holes he pokes in the ends of his fingers with the needles and thread he uses to construct the perfect chicken costume, however many eggs he shoves up his ass... He'll never be a chicken. Because to struggle, is not actually to be.

To struggle in vain is simple vainity.

Authenticity is not a state; it is born out of action.


A long time ago, there was a guy here, a psychologist with the username of Psyque. Mad as a hatter, apt to post in CAPITALS a lot. But one thing he said I took to heart, he said "do not listen to what people say, as much as watch carefully what they do." I break people up now, in general, into a 'narrative self' - this being the person they say they are, and a 'behavioural self' - the person they demonstrate themselves to be. Afterall, which would you trust..? :lol:

It is not necessarily easy to determine whether a person is living authentically or not; however, a good place to start would be to learn the why and how of a person’s choices, i.e. why did she choose ‘x’ and how did she choose to go about ‘x’.
...
Inauthenticity and, likewise, conformity, are not characterized by any style of dress, speech, etc. but by the thought/intent/motive behind the actions and the particular way in which the acts are performed.
...
What matters is the how and why of big decisions and especially moral decisions.


I don't want to turn this into a free-will/determinism debate. So I won't. But I will just point something out, something possibly quite fatal to the opposition's position. It is this assumption they are making, right off the bat: Logically, for a person to attempt to live an authentic life, they must have some fairly concrete idea of who they are. That old "know thyself" chestnut.

I don't think we do.

Of course, however - we all say we do.

"Hey mate - do you know who you are..?"
"Well, duh, of course I do - I'm blah, from blah, I'm a practicing blah, and believe blah, I work as a blah, I'm blah, blah and blah."

They say. But despite that, as Psyque implored us, let us look at what we do. Flop open any glossy magazine and you're almost certain to find a quiz along the lines of "How X are you..?" The X being sometimes 'honest' sometimes 'monogamous' and sometimes, I dunno, 'fun at parties'. Look at the net - how many IQ tests are there..? And don't tell me you've never done one. You do the quiz, you get points. An exact figure. You are Y clever, you are Z honest. Does my bum look big in this..? - you ask your friend.

Why don't you know..? It's your brain, and your bum. Why do we seem to need these tests..? These second opinions..?

Because we have no real fucking idea of who we are, in any concrete, exact sense.

And why..? Well that's simple, our perceptions do not work on exact figures, but on comparatives. I do not know instinctively that I am 1.81 metres tall, but I do know that I'm taller than Paul, and shorter than Bill. Likewise I know I'm smarter than Phil, but not as sharp as Audrey. This state of comparitive-based knowledge permeates everything. Can you imagine a world where everyone knew themselves, their capabilities, exactly...?

"And yes, the contestants are lining up for the men's Olympic 100m finals. Now they are each telling each other how fast they can run. And it's over, the Canadian runner says he can run a 100m in 9.56 seconds. An amazing victory for Canada."

:lol:

But we do not, so we run our races, take our tests, ask for the opinions of friends, write what we have done on our resumés, rather than what we say we are capable of, what we think we would do in situation X. Whenever we tell someone, including ourselves, what we are, we confabulate. We aren't sure.

Is Jack hardworking because he's ambitious, or has he become ambitious because finds his penchant for hard work allows him to be so..? And just how hard does he have to work anyway, to work 'authentically' hard..? Does he smoke because he likes to..? How many cigarettes in a day before he's smoking 'authentically'. Who knows..? Not me, and certainly not Jack either.

Hard to find yourself when you don't even have a map.

Some organisms literally are of "one mind;” human beings are not. But we are intelligent enough to realize that we are not individually strong enough or capable enough to dominate and live on our own, so we cooperate. We do not have one mind or one purpose. We simply have common purposes.


Yes, but we have had those common purposes for a very, very long time, so long in fact, these common purposes precede our being human. Do you not think that by now, evolution would have equipped a species such as ours, surviving by such a mechanism as commonality of purpose, with a few little guarrentees..? To ensure that co-operation a little..? Not like evolution to miss playing a few dirty tricks. :-k

Tab wrote:There is no neutral state of being anymore. Our information-rich society no longer allows it.


I don't understand what you mean by "neutral state of being" and why it no longer exists.


I mean one of being without outside influence.
________________________________________

Hey Debaitor, thankyou also, for your reply.

Debaitor wrote:What is Authenticity? ... what actually is meant is, does the authenticity, the implied Authority, convince me of truth?


Fair enough, a definition worthy of exploration.

There are degrees of authenticity. And what makes one 'fact', 'object', or 'rock' anymore authentic than another is, the (conscious) ability of any individual to judge authenticity of another. How is this done? I guess this is done by first measuring one's own authenticity and then comparing that concept, as a standard, against another.

"I am a truthful person; I am honest."

Therefore I judge others based upon this premise.


As I said above - this premise is a false one, we cannot know that we are 'truthful', only that we are more (or less) truthful than the next guy. If the next guy's a lying toad, or a politician, you'll feel a surge of virtue, but if that guy's Mother Terasa, then you'll twist in your seat and berate yourself for all the half-truths you told down the pub last night.

And the whole "degrees of authenticity" bit. I wouldn't buy a Van-Gogh that was only 20% authentic, not for very much money anyway.

People judge (honesty and truthfulness) based-upon the ability to match statements with actions


Yes, absolutely. We rarely accept the narrative self for long, without comparing it to the behavioural counterpart, because we have learnt that what people think they are, is not always actually what they are. Leading logically to the underlying, if perhaps unspoken, acceptance of the idea that people (except - :D - ourselves of course) simply are making most of it up on the spot.

I mean, after all, 60% of people will tell you they are above-average drivers.

If you want to become “Authentic” then you must go your own way and blaze your own path.

You cannot conform with (or mimic) others. This is much more difficult than anyone may realize, but not 'impossible' at all.


Hmm. That's one hell of a tall order to place upon the shoulders of a toddler. "Hey kid, you wanna be authentic yeah, an individual..? Okay, well, invent your own language for a start, and walking upright... That's just sooooo been done..."

What Tab claims, to me, is that it is impossible to be ‘Real’, ‘Honest’, or ‘Truthful’.

It is impossible to be an ‘Author’??

It is impossible to become a ‘Father’???

Of course, this is not true. What is his point, then???


I'm sorry Debaitor, I'm not really following the logic of that one. Care to elabourate..? Are you saying that if I can simply convince someone I'm being authentic, then I am..?

My first case against Tab is this:

If neither him, myself, or Fuse are "Authentic" and this debate is "all in good fun, nothing serious"…

Then all matters of Conviction and Value are also impossible!

(Because Conviction and Value are derived from Authenticity.)

The 'trick' will be such that if Tab argues against me with any Conviction, or Value, then I immediately can claim his own point: he is being Inauthentic while I am not. He will then become forced into not only labeling me as inauthentic, but everybody else as well. That means that YOU are inauthentic and never can become anything else. All of us, everybody, every person, is 'inauthentic'. I wholeheartedly disagree!

Tab is being (by his own admission) unreal, dishonest, deceitful… not serious!


I am inauthentic, so are you, and so is everyone. That's what I've been trying to say fro the last 1000 words or so. I would hope to convince you of this, 'valuably' I suppose. However, forming a convincing argument is something I have learnt to do over the years through the imitation of many of the posters here, and of the authors of whom I have read. Which would, by your own definitions above, being mimicry, be inauthentic. No..? Maybe I'm not following you.

And if you are equating conviction somehow with inauthenticity, then to prove your point, you will presumably have to argue without conviction..? Like - "Gee well, y'know, I think I read somewhere once that authenticity was possible, but damned if I know what book I read it in. I dunno, I might just be making this shit up, I was doin' a lotta drugs back then..."
Image
Click Logo For Blog
User avatar
Tab
Deeply Shallow
 
Posts: 8237
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 2:49 pm

Re: Authenticity/Individuality - Yes/No/Other..?

Postby fuse » Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:05 am

This will be brief. Thanks Debaitor and Tab - some good thoughts there.

Tab wrote:Hey Fuse, thanks for posting such a well thought out reply. Your idea of struggling to live an authentic life as being noble, despite its ultimate folly, is a good one. "What are you doing these days..?" Says the interviewer to the between-album rockstar. "You know, just kicking back, trying to live as authentically as possible...Trying to be, well..." And here he pauses, and puts on a deeply earnest look, "...Me."

Applause. Smiles all round. And why not, it's a damn good sound byte. Better than saying "Er. well, raising pigeons and fucking groupies, you know how it is." It's right up there with "trying to express my individuality", though, whenever I hear that one, I'm always wondering out of which orifice exactly they are attempting to express it.


Agreed. Staged authenticity is not authenticity.

Tab wrote:Because to struggle, is not actually to be.


On the contrary, sometimes it is. Authenticity is a struggle in our world since culture enforces conformity. Think of authenticity not just in the grand "I'm going to live an authentic life!" self-conscious way, but also in a young child who stares hard at a person in a wheelchair because he is genuinely curious. His mother might tell him not to stare, because it's "impolite," and perhaps the child will become conditioned not to pursue his curiosity here. Authenticity and culture butt heads quite often; this is not to say, however, that one cannot both be authentic and at the same time be culturally conditioned/an enforcer of culture. For example, most of us obey the traffic rules and regulations, we all help enforce these rules to a degree, and for good reason. Authenticity shows most clearly when it is at odds with culture, but it is not essentially at odds with culture.

Tab wrote:To struggle in vain is simple vainity.


Disagree. Authenticity is just the kind of thing that can exist as a struggle. There is no point at which one can say "Congratulations! You have achieved authenticity!" Authenticity exists as an ongoing process.

Tab wrote:I will just point something out, something possibly quite fatal to the opposition's position. It is this assumption they are making, right off the bat: Logically, for a person to attempt to live an authentic life, they must have some fairly concrete idea of who they are. That old "know thyself" chestnut.


I made no such assumption. It is perfectly compatible with my position that one can be authentic without having a clear idea about they are. For instance, one can live authentically without really realizing it or reflecting on it. There really is much more to say on this point, but for the sake of this debate, the point that one can be authentic without realizing it is sufficient reason why complete/definite knowledge of oneself is not necessary for authenticity.

Tab wrote:
Some organisms literally are of "one mind;” human beings are not. But we are intelligent enough to realize that we are not individually strong enough or capable enough to dominate and live on our own, so we cooperate. We do not have one mind or one purpose. We simply have common purposes.


Yes, but we have had those common purposes for a very, very long time, so long in fact, these common purposes precede our being human. Do you not think that by now, evolution would have equipped a species such as ours, surviving by such a mechanism as commonality of purpose, with a few little guarrentees..? To ensure that co-operation a little..? Not like evolution to miss playing a few dirty tricks. :-k


Sure. But evolution does does not determine with certainty our particular choices or actions. We are not slaves to these common purposes; we can exercise, if we know how, the freedom to act against common purpose if we so choose.

Some things I want to point out in your reply to Debaitor:

Tab wrote:And the whole "degrees of authenticity" bit. I wouldn't buy a Van-Gogh that was only 20% authentic, not for very much money anyway.


But here you seem to be using "authenticity" differently. You're basically saying either a Van-Gogh work is really a Van- Gogh work or it is not. I agree. Yet this is not the sense in which we have been discussing authenticity and it is not the sense in which authenticity applies to human beings.

Debaitor wrote:If you want to become “Authentic” then you must go your own way and blaze your own path.

You cannot conform with (or mimic) others. This is much more difficult than anyone may realize, but not 'impossible' at all.


I would slightly modify Debaitor's point by clarifying that authentic is not synonymous with different. Authenticity is not rooted in difference but in truthfulness. Debaitor is onto something and I'm starting to get it. Hermann Hesse, as an introductory remark to his novel Demian, wrote I wanted only to try to live in accord with the promptings which came from my true self. Why was that so very difficult? Authenticity has everything to do with being yourself and it has everything to do with what's "real."

Tab, you brought up some interesting points about narrative and authenticity. Here is a good exploration of precisely that topic:
(You can skip the first 5 or 6 minutes as they are filled with introductory remarks.)
User avatar
fuse
Philosopher
 
Posts: 4358
Joined: Thu Jul 20, 2006 5:13 pm

Re: Authenticity/Individuality - Yes/No/Other..?

Postby Tab » Fri Nov 19, 2010 11:44 pm

Thanks for the reply Fuse, I'll wait till Debaitor's posted his contribution, then write up my final piece.
Image
Click Logo For Blog
User avatar
Tab
Deeply Shallow
 
Posts: 8237
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 2:49 pm

Re: Authenticity/Individuality - Yes/No/Other..?

Postby Debaitor » Fri Nov 19, 2010 11:47 pm

Tab wrote:Thanks for the reply Fuse, I'll wait till Debaitor's posted his contribution, then write up my final piece.

I'm getting to it, if not tonight then tomorrow morning.
    One must have a right: until one acquires that {right}, one makes no use of [sophistry]. The Nietzscheans were dialecticians for that reason[.]
    [Antinietzsche, Dawn of the Idols, "The Problem of Sauwelios", section 1.]

    Religion is opiate of the Mass? Then Jews are pure Morphine! Let us now inject ourselves with that old, familiar sting.
    [Derailed Locomotive, "Re: Role of Private Intellect", 10-31-04 22:03.]
User avatar
Debaitor
The Antinietzsche
 
Posts: 544
Joined: Wed Nov 10, 2010 2:49 am
Location: American Empire

Re: Authenticity/Individuality - Yes/No/Other..?

Postby Debaitor » Sat Nov 20, 2010 10:53 am

Tab wrote:
There are degrees of authenticity. And what makes one 'fact', 'object', or 'rock' anymore authentic than another is, the (conscious) ability of any individual to judge authenticity of another. How is this done? I guess this is done by first measuring one's own authenticity and then comparing that concept, as a standard, against another.

"I am a truthful person; I am honest."

Therefore I judge others based upon this premise.

As I said above - this premise is a false one, we cannot know that we are 'truthful', only that we are more (or less) truthful than the next guy. If the next guy's a lying toad, or a politician, you'll feel a surge of virtue, but if that guy's Mother Terasa, then you'll twist in your seat and berate yourself for all the half-truths you told down the pub last night.

Then how is the premise false, if you agree with it?

You admitted that: we know we are 'truthful' or not, through comparisons of other people and their reputation (as truthful saint or lying bastard).


Tab wrote:And the whole "degrees of authenticity" bit. I wouldn't buy a Van-Gogh that was only 20% authentic, not for very much money anyway.

There is an easy fix to this 'problem'.

Sometimes authenticity is measured in degree (based on a whole lifetime of lying or truth-telling) compared to the authenticity of an object.

I also would not agree that a dinosaur bone, fossil, rock is 20% authentic. It either is or it isn't.

But that qualification is not the same as it is for a person. We judge people with different standards. And the category of 'authenticity' can apply to either people, facts/statements, objects, etc. The meaning is far and wide; it can include many things. But all of the things included by the categorization 'Authentic' requires some notion of "Truth" or "Reality".

Is this person real or not??? I think that is the underlying question. And you posit that (reality) as an impossibility, since Authenticity is (near) impossible.


Tab wrote:
People judge (honesty and truthfulness) based-upon the ability to match statements with actions

Yes, absolutely. We rarely accept the narrative self for long, without comparing it to the behavioural counterpart, because we have learnt that what people think they are, is not always actually what they are. Leading logically to the underlying, if perhaps unspoken, acceptance of the idea that people (except - :D - ourselves of course) simply are making most of it up on the spot.

I mean, after all, 60% of people will tell you they are above-average drivers.

Then, authenticity is possible and probable because we use such a standard (measurement) to judge our actions, behaviors, and statements all together. We do this socially, as no standard exists without a comparison. For authenticity, this measurement is mostly applicable to people.

Most people think that a person is "authentic" before applying the concept to facts/statements/objects.

Why?

Because people trust their parents, as infants. This trust, automatically implies authenticity. It implies that our parents/guardians are 'authentic' in their care. They must have cared, to some degree, to feed us and give us water. Even that small amount implies authenticity of some kind, some degree of trust and truth, even if people become bogged down by the child abuse, neglect, all those other rotten things.


Tab wrote:
If you want to become “Authentic” then you must go your own way and blaze your own path.

You cannot conform with (or mimic) others. This is much more difficult than anyone may realize, but not 'impossible' at all.

Hmm. That's one hell of a tall order to place upon the shoulders of a toddler. "Hey kid, you wanna be authentic yeah, an individual..? Okay, well, invent your own language for a start, and walking upright... That's just sooooo been done..."

It develops over time, not just at infancy or early childhood.

I'm sure you can relate, wanting to "go your own name" or "making a name for yourself" perhaps.

It maybe true that people want to "be normal" or "fall in line". However, any instance of divergence (of opinion or thought even) signals proof for 'authenticity'.

We, everybody, rebels against each other in some slight way. Even identical twins rebel from each other, from time to time, despite the fact that they mimic each other's movements, dress, speech, almost everything. The key here is to recognize those differences. They are the indicators of authenticity: uniqueness. This falls on behalf of degree of authenticity. If a person is 25.5% authentic then maybe he rarely tells the truth, lies often, and usually does not deviate from "the norm". While the 99.9% authentic guy, well shit, he defies every expectation at every turn. He doesn't listen to anybody.

He is our trailblazer, cutting down tribe after tribe of Native American to get to his "Promised Land".

He does and says "what he wants, when he wants" kind of thing.

He cannot help but be honest with every expression, "ubermensch" kind of thing.


Tab wrote:
What Tab claims, to me, is that it is impossible to be ‘Real’, ‘Honest’, or ‘Truthful’.

It is impossible to be an ‘Author’??

It is impossible to become a ‘Father’???

Of course, this is not true. What is his point, then???

I'm sorry Debaitor, I'm not really following the logic of that one. Care to elabourate..? Are you saying that if I can simply convince someone I'm being authentic, then I am..?

My fundamental point here, is that when it comes down to any 'objective' standard, everybody is Authentic.

Even a liar is authentic in his lying……… :!:

That will be my main point of this debate.

As for my relation of terms. If the root morpheme is 'Author' then the world "Authenticity" refers to Fatherhood. I think that is a reasonable core meaning for the word. If you cannot trust your own Father, to be authentic, then who can you trust in this world? Children look up to their fathers. And when they don't have one, they usually make one up out of thin air, a fairy tale, and call him "God". So the need for this "Authenticity" is deeply, biologically rooted in everybody.

We want to believe that people are true, at the very least, in their actions.

Can actions lie??? If not, then authenticity CANNOT be deemed 'impossible'. :arrow: :arrow: :arrow: All actions are authentic.

It only is when we screw things up with words that this becomes disputed.


For example, I jump over a 5-foot ditch and brag to everybody around me "Did you see me jump over that wiiiiiiiiiiide chasm, man?! It was like the Grand Canyon! It was 25-feet wide; I know it!" I am embellishing the story, the fact. But does that dispute my "authenticity", how people know me?? I don't know. But, it doesn't matter. What does matter is that people (including me, and you) presume these "degrees of authenticity" anyway. We presume that truth, and trust, are both possible and probable!

You claim it is impossible; I remain unconvinced. I think others will remain unconvinced as well, on your main point.

You should provide some more examples of how people are "inauthentic" (words don't match actions, actions don't match actions???).

Or provide how any instance of "authenticity" is inconceivable.


Tab wrote:I am inauthentic, so are you, and so is everyone. That's what I've been trying to say fro the last 1000 words or so. I would hope to convince you of this, 'valuably' I suppose. However, forming a convincing argument is something I have learnt to do over the years through the imitation of many of the posters here, and of the authors of whom I have read. Which would, by your own definitions above, being mimicry, be inauthentic. No..? Maybe I'm not following you.

You are what… 99% inauthentic? How do you measure? YOU need to explain this to everybody, as this is your challenge and point.

I still don't know what you mean. You mean to tell me that your words do not follow your actions, perhaps??

Even if that were true, is it ever possible that your actions do not match your actions??? I would say that actions are authentic, and words are what makes actions "inauthentic" to different degrees. I mean, all your thoughts have to be authentic in some rite. Can your thoughts "lie" to you? I don't think so. People have no choice but to trust themselves, in any action, otherwise they maybe bogged down, unable to move, paralyzed at the thought of their 'inauthenticity'.

I'm so inauthentic that I can't move anymore, help!!! :shock:


Tab wrote:And if you are equating conviction somehow with inauthenticity, then to prove your point, you will presumably have to argue without conviction..? Like - "Gee well, y'know, I think I read somewhere once that authenticity was possible, but damned if I know what book I read it in. I dunno, I might just be making this shit up, I was doin' a lotta drugs back then..."

Well, IF you are indeed "making this shit up" then you admit you are only trying to be inauthentic, but failing in that end.

Therefore, you actually are being authentic, and only trying to be inauthentic.

How can you, or anybody, truly be "inauthentic" unless somebody believes your lies?? :-k




______________________

All that said, I think there is another point worth mentioning.

Authenticity, to me, seems to become applied to 1. people, 2. facts/statements, and 3. scientific objects.

I mean, nobody seems to talk about "authentic unicorns" or "authentic gods" or "authentic alien beings", because these things are all without physical evidence. I mean, we do not have "authentic unicorns" lying around (except perhaps a knock-off cheap statuette in some gift store). But we do have authentic fossils lying around in museums!

Unless Tab can dispute this fact, that we do have "100% or perhaps 99.7% authentic" dinosaur fossils lying around in our museums, then I don't see how he makes his point that all fossils are 0% or 0.01% authentic.

They are authentic because this is how people (scientists) think of the world.


We trust in our best empirical facts. We trust in the authorities who dig them up, date them, and piece together the past for us to know.
    One must have a right: until one acquires that {right}, one makes no use of [sophistry]. The Nietzscheans were dialecticians for that reason[.]
    [Antinietzsche, Dawn of the Idols, "The Problem of Sauwelios", section 1.]

    Religion is opiate of the Mass? Then Jews are pure Morphine! Let us now inject ourselves with that old, familiar sting.
    [Derailed Locomotive, "Re: Role of Private Intellect", 10-31-04 22:03.]
User avatar
Debaitor
The Antinietzsche
 
Posts: 544
Joined: Wed Nov 10, 2010 2:49 am
Location: American Empire

Re: Authenticity/Individuality - Yes/No/Other..?

Postby Tab » Sun Nov 21, 2010 11:35 am

Okay, cooking something up.
Image
Click Logo For Blog
User avatar
Tab
Deeply Shallow
 
Posts: 8237
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 2:49 pm

Re: Authenticity/Individuality - Yes/No/Other..?

Postby Tab » Sun Nov 21, 2010 6:37 pm

Hey everyone,

Anyway, before I extend my argument one final time, a quick quote and answer session.

Fuse.

Okay, I read through your reply a couple of times and to be honest, it seems like you kinda just said, "Tab you're not right" a lot.

You gave two examples: the curious child - though curiousity is a genetically inbuilt characteristic, and therefore not 'chosen' in any true sense of the word, and traffic rules, which are fairly mechanistic, and might be considered as pertaining to the whole 'having a car' set of existence, rather than of being a true expression of individuality. You wouldn't base your persona around how you specifically used your mobile phone or the toast machine would you..?

Then this:

fuse wrote:It is perfectly compatible with my position that one can be authentic without having a clear idea about they are. For instance, one can live authentically without really realizing it or reflecting on it.


Which seemed to me like an oxymoron to be honest. So, you 've said one can struggle to be authentic, albeit without much hope or possibility, owing to all the influences that constantly undermine our individuality, and now you're still saying it's possible to be a specific 'something' - ie. yourself (and no other) - without actually knowing what that 'something' is..???

Okay, let's try:

Fuse - do an impression. Go on, right now.

...
...
...

No, that was the wrong one.

You see..? I was thinking of Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry. "Make my day". It's impossible to accurately portray something, when you've no clear idea of what it is you are trying to be.

Sure. But evolution does does not determine with certainty our particular choices or actions. We are not slaves to these common purposes; we can exercise, if we know how, the freedom to act against common purpose if we so choose.


Yes, but it does give us some pre-dispositional nudges. Natural racism in infants and toddlers for example, and possibly homosexuality - though the vote's not totally in on that one, depression, agression, attention span, alcoholism, smoking, all kinds of things. The Mathew effect will most times do the rest to send us down a pre-ordained path.

...you seem to be using "authenticity" differently. You're basically saying either a Van-Gogh work is really a Van- Gogh work or it is not. I agree. Yet this is not the sense in which we have been discussing authenticity and it is not the sense in which authenticity applies to human beings.


Then, why..? How..? Who..? Where..? Don't leave me in the dark here. <-E-x-p-a-n-d->.

Authenticity is not rooted in difference but in truthfulness. Debaitor is onto something and I'm starting to get it. Hermann Hesse, as an introductory remark to his novel Demian, wrote I wanted only to try to live in accord with the promptings which came from my true self. Why was that so very difficult? Authenticity has everything to do with being yourself and it has everything to do with what's "real."


Again - if you've already agreed with me that 'knowing thyself' is impossible (though apparently to you this doesn't matter), then how would you distinguish the voice of this mysterious 'true self' from the clamour of the 'false selves' projected into you from the outside world..?

"Hang on, I'm getting a message from my true self..!"
"E-A-T... A... B-I-G M-A-C™."
"Right, I'm now authentically going to MacDonalds. See you later. I'm being authentic."

As for the vid, sorry, but gosh-darn it, You tube is banned over here. Though I can't work out if that's good for my authenticity or not. I'm thinking maybe it is.

Debaitor.

Is this person real or not??? I think that is the underlying question. And you posit that (reality) as an impossibility, since Authenticity is (near) impossible.


No, I'm not debating reality here. Iron is real. Carbon is real. Steel, though an alloy, is also real. Realness is not the question I'm examining. You are real, don't worry. I'm examining whether or not you can exist 'unalloyed' metaphorically, as you go through life.

people trust their parents, as infants. This trust, automatically implies authenticity. It implies that our parents/guardians are 'authentic' in their care.


We're not examining 'conviction' or 'trust' either. Okay, their care is authentic - because demostratably it has produced a healthy infant. But again, what does that prove..? It does not answer the question of whether that 'caring' was an authentic part of those parents' individuality, or something thrust upon them by social expectations and/or genetic pre-dispositions, external to what they would suppose to be their essential selves. I hope you see the difference.

I'm sorry, but you've become so enwrapped in your associations with 'fatherhood' and 'authority' that you've straggled off the point.

Authenticity, to me, seems to become applied to 1. people, 2. facts/statements, and 3. scientific objects.


No. No no no. There's a huge difference between the existential version of authenticity and the meaning as applied to facts and science.

I mean okay, skeptically/Hume-wise, all facts are theories, and depend hugely on the recognized authority of those postulating and promoting them. I getcha. Unfortunately no-one's giving away degrees in Me. Nor professorships in Tabness, nor tenured positions in the faculty of Tab studies. There are no experts, no authorities to whom to appeal or trust for verification.

Except me of course, and we've already established that I cannot know very much about myself anyway, being as I am, unable to distinguish what is 'me' from the crowd.

Damn, sorry dear readers, that wasn't actually all that quick, was it. Arrgh.
__________________________________________________

Anyway. Last post, so now I'll summarize what's been before. This will be quick, because it's a pic.

Image

The above is a quick representation of the forces operating upon us both overtly and subliminally, as I mentioned in my first post, that undermine any individuality we may have.

In the second post I mentioned that it is hard to define yourself except in comparison to others, and that this shaky basis for self-knowledge would further render authenticity in life difficult, in the same way that doing an impression of someone you've never actually observed clearly, or simply learned about through hearsay, would be bordering on impossible.

So onto the finalé.

One question my esteemed counter-positioners have failed to raise is ironically the most simple: "Why, if we are not individuals, do we appear as such..?"

I mean, go outside, watch everyone. They all seem different - they talk differently, have different opinions, do different things, at different times, make different choices even though they are in the same sitiuations. To see all this and still say that people have no real individuality is either madness, or at the very least, unintuitive.

:lol:

Sorry, but here I go back to the lowly bee. The same bee that I introduced in the very first post I made. Watch a hive. All the bees are buggering about in a seemingly random fashion, much as we do. Let's lower the temperature of the hive just a little bit. A degree or two. Brr.

Look, look there - Bee number 144,735 has begun to buzz its wing furiously. Damn him, he's trying to re-heat the hive back to its normal homeostatic temperature. Hah-ha - do not fuck with me bee, I will now lower the temperature a few degrees more. Hmm. Now more Bees are all beginning to buzz their wings. Arrgh - down with the resistance..!!! - I now lower the temperature even lower, to the point where it's bumping up against the lower limit of what bees can stand before dying. Boom - the whole hive is buzzing furiously - a million teeny-tiny muscles pumping furiously - converting movement into heat.

A minute ago however, they were all doing their own things. Apparently individually. And now they're all acting in concert, effortlessly. Naturally.

Hmm.

Why..? Why didn't they all start buzzing like crazy all at once when I first lowered the temperature by a degree or two..? That would have restored the correct temperature quicker afterall...

...Actually, no it wouldn't have. It would have overshot it by a mile, then the poor bastards would have had to clear out until the hive cooled down, or at least remain torpid for a while. Then the hive would have cooled, and damn, gotten too cool, then they'd all have started buzzing crazily again, and the whole overshoot-undershoot cycle would have begun again, never actually, to stop, and they'd never get anything done.

Giving each bee a different threshold of "Ooh, isn't it getting a bit chilly in here..?" makes evolutionary sense, because it ensures a stepped response to temperature, ensuring that a homeostatic level is maintained - a reaction of near equal strength to a given provocation.

Now, let's transpose that thought onto human behaviour. Say there is a fire. It's no more than a burning cigarette-butt thrown from a car. It lands, still smoldering, in front of a group of people. What happens..? Do they:

(a) All shout "FIRE!!!!" and climb over themselves to either run away, or to stamp it out - probably squashing each other in the process..?

Or does:

(b) Whoever's closest grind it out and go "Tut-tut, people today eh..?".

ie. the most efficient level of response given the magnitude of the event.

However, now, if that cigarette lands on a bunch of trash, and the trash catches fire... Then you get collective action - people trying to put it out - bucket chains for example, people phoning the fire department. People grabbing each other and saying "Oh look - there's a fire."

Same with agression and mob-behaviour. First, to produce a mob, you have to synchronize their mood. Do that with a good firey speech concerning a common grievance, then mirror-cells, collective body-language and facial expression will do the rest. Bingo, one synchronized, collectively angry mob. Now you take them on the warpath, and find someone to fight, or something to break.

Damn. Police line.

Now watch. Look - there's the first bee, oops, I mean person, throwing a rock. The police close in. Look again - a couple more people have been pushed over the "Goddamnit I'm so angry I could spit" threshold, and they are piling in. And boom - there goes the crowd. Everyone wailing in, fists, curses, and spittle flying.

It's all about thresholds. A coward isn't always a coward, it's just they have a very high tolerance for affront. Give that guy enough provocation though, and suddenly he's trying to bite through your leg along with the rest of them.

Acting individually doesn't mean you are an individual.

We can expand mob behaviour. Call it a "diffuse localized harmony of behaviour and perspective". ie, a wider society, with the mob's firey speech lessened into a general cultural background hum, specific to that area, tailored to the specific needs of surviving happily in that location along with the accompanying accent.

And that's the trouble these days, a new technological advance that's screwing up even that localized group individuality (sorry - now it's my turn to be oxymoronic :D ), the globalized media. For example.

Black rap culture - (massively stereotyped sorry) - as smack your bitch, get into gangs, sell drugs, baby-mothers and all that unjazz, does kinda work (for the males anyway). As long as you stay in the ghetto. Inherrent, and to some extent subliminal, racism in American white culture - for example simply having a black-sounding name results in a statistically lower chance of getting a job, even without a picture, or any other context - means blacks are sidelined into unemployment and crime. With normal avenues of social advancement cut - ie. employment, promotion or higher education - it begins to make sense to explore criminal avenues, a risk taken being better than just sitting on your hands and rotting. And with a significant portion of suitable males in prison or dead, the black women are sexually disempowered, competing as they are among themselves, for a smaller pool of males - forcing them to accept chauvanistic and self-seeking behaviour on the part of those males, even to the point of bearing their children without the normal contracts and pledges... etc. etc. etc.

My point however is that without the net, and instant world-wide communication, this culture would have stayed pretty much within its borders for a lot longer and worked there to some kind of end-point, good, or more probably bad, whatever. But now - because that culture is a 'first order' culture - ie. sex, violence and money - and as such is vastly and instinctively attractive to the young and impulsive - ie. pretty much all male teenagers worldwide - it has exceeded its natural bounds and gone viral - igniting the youth of the world - white, black, and all colours in between.

Trouble is though, you've got nice white rich kids with educations trying to out pimp each other and hook their equally nice, educated and emancipated female colleagues on drugs so they can prostitute them out on Youtube. :D :-? :cry:

In ending, I accept that obviously this is an extreme, and to some extent willfully exaggerated example, but it serves to illustrate my final point, that as the world becomes ever more interconnected, so, inversely, our chance of preserving an authentic identity at both an individual and a localized group level lessens, as our psyches become flooded not only with the influences of our native cultures, but also those of invading cultural memes, carried via the mediums of the TV and the net.

You still awake..? :D I've finished.
Image
Click Logo For Blog
User avatar
Tab
Deeply Shallow
 
Posts: 8237
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 2:49 pm

Re: Authenticity/Individuality - Yes/No/Other..?

Postby Tab » Tue Nov 23, 2010 7:48 pm

Just Fuse and Debaitor's last posts to go, then we can get down to the fun bit - the voting. :D
Image
Click Logo For Blog
User avatar
Tab
Deeply Shallow
 
Posts: 8237
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 2:49 pm

Re: Authenticity/Individuality - Yes/No/Other..?

Postby Debaitor » Tue Nov 23, 2010 10:11 pm

WAITING ON FUSE!!!!!!? :angry-tappingfoot:
    One must have a right: until one acquires that {right}, one makes no use of [sophistry]. The Nietzscheans were dialecticians for that reason[.]
    [Antinietzsche, Dawn of the Idols, "The Problem of Sauwelios", section 1.]

    Religion is opiate of the Mass? Then Jews are pure Morphine! Let us now inject ourselves with that old, familiar sting.
    [Derailed Locomotive, "Re: Role of Private Intellect", 10-31-04 22:03.]
User avatar
Debaitor
The Antinietzsche
 
Posts: 544
Joined: Wed Nov 10, 2010 2:49 am
Location: American Empire

Re: Authenticity/Individuality - Yes/No/Other..?

Postby fuse » Wed Nov 24, 2010 2:14 am

Hi everyone - this is my final post for the debate!

Tab,

Tab wrote:You gave two examples: the curious child - though curiousity is a genetically inbuilt characteristic, and therefore not 'chosen' in any true sense of the word, and traffic rules, which are fairly mechanistic, and might be considered as pertaining to the whole 'having a car' set of existence, rather than of being a true expression of individuality. You wouldn't base your persona around how you specifically used your mobile phone or the toast machine would you..?'

Genetic determinism has largely been discredited. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/article ... p00526.pdf) The more well-founded view is that all human characteristics and behaviors exist due to both genetic and environmental influences. Genetics alone do not determine with certainty our particular choices or actions. You and I did not choose to have the capacity for curiosity, no. But sometimes we do have the choice to exercise or not to exercise our curiosity.

I think you missed the point of the traffic rules example. Traffic rules and regulations are an example of mundane yet important laws that most people obey. You can obey traffic laws and conform to other cultural norms and still be an authentic person. Cultural conditioning (which you expounded on in the "Culture" section of your first post) and authenticity are not mutually exclusive. As I said, authenticity shows most clearly when it is at odds with culture, but it is not essentially at odds with culture.

Tab wrote:So, you 've said one can struggle to be authentic, albeit without much hope or possibility, owing to all the influences that constantly undermine our individuality

I've said over and over that one cannot rule out authenticity on the basis that there are influences which undermine individuality. You want to rule out the possibility. I've shown that the possibility exists and is meaningful.

So we've got genes, we've got the environment (incl. social, cultural, ideological conditioning), we've got chance (indeterministic processes), and despite the fact that these three influence to a large degree everything we do, there is a gap -- wiggle room, if you will. That there is only a small finite amount of room for authenticity to exist, I grant you. However, it does not follow that authenticity is therefore not valuable, not worth it, meaningless.


Next:
Tab wrote:I will just point something out, something possibly quite fatal to the opposition's position. It is this assumption they are making, right off the bat: Logically, for a person to attempt to live an authentic life, they must have some fairly concrete idea of who they are. That old "know thyself" chestnut.

fuse wrote:I made no such assumption. It is perfectly compatible with my position that one can be authentic without having a clear idea about [who] they are. For instance, one can live authentically without really realizing it or reflecting on it. There really is much more to say on this point, but for the sake of this debate, the point that one can be authentic without realizing it is sufficient reason why complete/definite knowledge of oneself is not necessary for authenticity.

Tab wrote:now you're still saying it's possible to be a specific 'something' - ie. yourself (and no other) - without actually knowing what that 'something' is..???


Yes. It's fairly simple. Can you be autistic without knowing it? Can you be annoying and not realize it? Could you be authentic and not realize it?


Authenticity as it applies to Van-Gogh works VS authenticity as it applies to human beings - the expansion you requested:
>>Def: "Authenticity (in philosophy) is the degree to which one is true to one's own personality, spirit, or character, despite these pressures"
Authenticity as it applies to human beings is never without external pressures and conditioners. When one talks about an authentic work of art, on the other hand, one usually is talking about a work of art that is not fake. Authenticity as it applies to a Van-Gogh piece is an absolute term. The Van-Gogh work either is or isn't authentic. There are no degrees of authenticity there. That's why, as you pointed out, it is absurd to talk about a 20% authentic Van-Gogh work (unless you are taking into account restorative work, but that is not the common way of using authenticity). Therefore, your example was irrelevant.


Next:
fuse wrote:Authenticity is not rooted in difference but in truthfulness. Debaitor is onto something and I'm starting to get it. Hermann Hesse, as an introductory remark to his novel Demian, wrote I wanted only to try to live in accord with the promptings which came from my true self. Why was that so very difficult? Authenticity has everything to do with being yourself and it has everything to do with what's "real."

Tab wrote:Again - if you've already agreed with me that 'knowing thyself' is impossible (though apparently to you this doesn't matter), then how would you distinguish the voice of this mysterious 'true self' from the clamour of the 'false selves' projected into you from the outside world..?

In all honesty, I cannot give you a satisfying answer. If I could work it all out and give you a detailed formula for authenticity I would. The best answer I can give is contained in what I've already said:

Authenticity is not a state; it is born out of action. It is not necessarily easy to determine whether a person is living authentically or not; however, a good place to start would be to learn the why and how of a person’s choices, i.e. why did she choose ‘x’ and how did she choose to go about ‘x’. Moreover, authenticity exists in degrees. It is not a zero-sum concept. This is precisely why it is still possible to live an authentic life amidst a world of powerful determining forces. Your ideology is kind of like your fate. It shapes your character. I think it's uncommon for people to actively shape their own ideology--to be aware of how they see the world and go through a process of molding a new view. We do have a certain amount of control over what influences us. If you take some control of your ideology, if you actively determine some of what does and does not influence you, then you control, to a certain degree, who you are.

It’s true that those who oppose conformity are often merely conforming to another less popular counter-culture, and are no more individually authentic than what they oppose. Inauthenticity and, likewise, conformity, are not characterized by any style of dress, speech, etc. but by the thought/intent/motive behind the actions and the particular way in which the acts are performed.

Living authentically means acting not out of fear or conformity (or on reasons borrowed from peers or tradition), but acknowledging the essential freedom to choose.



Next:
Tab wrote:One question my esteemed counter-positioners have failed to raise is ironically the most simple: "Why, if we are not individuals, do we appear as such..?"

...and for good reason; appearances are deceiving.
Tab wrote:I mean, go outside, watch everyone. They all seem different - they talk differently, have different opinions, do different things, at different times, make different choices even though they are in the same sitiuations. To see all this and still say that people have no real individuality is either madness, or at the very least, unintuitive.

If authenticity is rooted in 'being true' I do not know why such 'truth' has to be radically different. As I said, authenticity shows most clearly when it is at odds with culture, but it is not essentially at odds with culture. 'Authenticity' is not synonymous with 'different'. One need not be different to be authentic.

Tab wrote:In ending, I accept that obviously this is an extreme, and to some extent willfully exaggerated example, but it serves to illustrate my final point, that as the world becomes ever more interconnected, so, inversely, our chance of preserving an authentic identity at both an individual and a localized group level lessens, as our psyches become flooded not only with the influences of our native cultures, but also those of invading cultural memes, carried via the mediums of the TV and the net.

If the possibility of being authentic is 'lessening', then you admit that it is presently possible to be authentic.



In general, I think I have responded to all your major points, Tab. Unfortunately, I am pressed for time -- so I acknowledge that I haven't responded to every specific example you presented.

END
User avatar
fuse
Philosopher
 
Posts: 4358
Joined: Thu Jul 20, 2006 5:13 pm

Re: Authenticity/Individuality - Yes/No/Other..?

Postby Debaitor » Thu Nov 25, 2010 8:21 am

Tab, I remain unconvinced. I believe Fuse remains unconvinced. I believe most others remain unconvinced. Why?

Because you have yet to really go in great detail concerning what it means to either be or not be authentic. What is authenticity? You have given the standard, textbook, dictionary definition. And what is your definition? After personal anecdote, after personal anecdote…after personal anecdote, I fail to see your point, your case, your meaning. What possible action can become described as "inauthentic"? What is our context? You have not provided a sufficient context to the debate or a coherent meaning/analysis.

My points are simple:

1. There are authentic people.
2. There are authentic facts.
3. There are authentic objects.

1. Somebody who usually tells the truth, and is honest, we judge as "an authentic person".
2. People believe in Gravity because (real) Physicists postulate theories about motion, mechanics, energy, and forces.
3. A fossil, or Van Gogh, painting are either 100% authentic/real or they are not. Concerning objects, authenticity is not a matter of degree.


We could have argued/discussed any one of these categories: people, facts, or objects. You did not acquiesce. Instead, you went into more personal anecdotes about random, quite bizarre tangents. You also expressed, throughout your cases, that you-yourself maybe an 'inauthentic' person. Regardless of if that were true, it would not change any (authentic) facts about reality and the world everybody lives in. People presume authenticity; we automatically imply it. We imply standards of truth, logic, and validity concerning basic experiences.

We presume experiences are authentic!!!

We really could not go into all of the subject-matter, given this short range of time, but perhaps another time, with another setting, we could. How can you, or anybody, possibly call experiences into doubt, and claim one or another as "inauthentic"? What is a claim towards "inauthenticity"? You implied, repeatedly, that somebody who is "dishonest" or "unoriginal" is inauthentic one way or another. You signaled that, perhaps, you even agreed with Fuse (and I) that authenticity (in people) is a matter of degree. It is. People sometimes try to lie. People sometimes tell the truth. Either way, actions are authentic.

What is an "inauthentic" action??? Inauthenticity is impossible, because, actions cannot become denied? How can one deny an action?


I want to go back to the Van Gogh painting. Here, I think your argument is most soundly defeated. As I recall, you admitted that, yes it's true, a Van Gogh painting either (100%) is or is not "authentic". What are the odds of yes/no? It is 50-50. It either is or is not. It is not 99% Van Gogh and 1% not. Either he painted it or he didn't. So the chance is 50-50.

Here is your challenge to this debate:

Tab wrote:I've been thinking a lot about individuality and 'authenticity' recently, and come to the conclusion it's damn near impossible, if not totally impossible, to be authentic in any real meaning of the word.

Three posts, with a reasonablely short response time 24-48 hours perhaps...

Any takers..?

Given your admission on the Van Gogh painting, on that point alone, you have defeated yourself. Your claim essentially includes that it is "damn near impossible" for the Van Gogh painting "to be authentic in any real meaning of the word". Now, maybe when you issued your challenge, you meant whether or not it was possible, or not, for people to be "authentic". But that context only is implied. It is not stated.

That is why I (and Fuse) really have not addressed Individuality, as that is another topic/context/debate. It is too much to cover. You issued a challenge about Authenticity, so that is what we have covered, albeit I believe, not completely. There is much more to be said.


Regardless, I want to convince YOU on this point. If a Van Gogh painting is "authentic", and it's true (which it is since Van Gogh paintings do exist and we accept them as real), then your argument/points are defeated. If you meant all along, "Am I authentic", then that is a different context, but not a different point! The point is the same.

If a Van Gogh painting can be real/authentic, then so can a Tab! Why not???

Just because a Tab may tell a lie here or there, act or be superficial/shallow, says nothing about Authenticity as a whole concept.


People —do— lie.
People —are— shallow.

That still does not defeat the concept of Authenticity. Is not a lie authentic? Is not a shallow person as authentic as he can become??

I daresay that a lie is, authentic in its conviction to deceive, and a shallow person is, authentic as his potential to know the world.


All that said, my point here, and in any debate is to convince YOU. If you remain unconvinced of my case here, my points, then any other conclusion to this debate is quite irrelevant. It matters not what other people think, believe, and judge regarding these points. It is about what YOU think and believe. If I cannot convince you, about authenticity, and you cannot convince me, about inauthenticity (impossibility of authenticity), then I have failed, or you have.

I do remain unconvinced; however I want you to become convinced by my main point.

If a Van Gogh painting can be real/authentic, then so can a Tab! Why not??? Contemplate this.
    One must have a right: until one acquires that {right}, one makes no use of [sophistry]. The Nietzscheans were dialecticians for that reason[.]
    [Antinietzsche, Dawn of the Idols, "The Problem of Sauwelios", section 1.]

    Religion is opiate of the Mass? Then Jews are pure Morphine! Let us now inject ourselves with that old, familiar sting.
    [Derailed Locomotive, "Re: Role of Private Intellect", 10-31-04 22:03.]
User avatar
Debaitor
The Antinietzsche
 
Posts: 544
Joined: Wed Nov 10, 2010 2:49 am
Location: American Empire


Return to Chamber of Debate



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users