(Roughly) Daily

“The first duty in life is to be as artificial as possible. What the second duty is no one has as yet discovered.”*…

Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

Bo Winegard is not so sure that authenticity is a virtue…

That we should not lie is generally sound advice, though few of us are able to navigate life without uttering or affirming the occasional falsehood. However, some—generally those of a romantic temperament—also strive to apply this counsel to the self. They argue that authenticity is one of humankind’s chief virtues and that betraying it is immoral and tragic—immoral, because it requires a person to lie about their underlying being; tragic, because it smothers the unique self beneath a dull blanket of conformity.

I do not share this enthusiasm for authenticity because it is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of human nature. At best, authenticity can be undesirable; at worst, it is philosophically incoherent. The word “authenticity” is sometimes useful in ordinary discourse—we may say that a person is authentically a lover of the arts or authentically cheerful or authentically kindhearted, and it’s obvious what these claims mean. Nor will I deny that lying about one’s own traits and tendencies is often a bad idea and sometimes genuinely immoral. Nevertheless, authenticity, as understood by many of its modern champions, is not a noble or even attainable ideal…

Read on for his argument– the short form of which is that to be human is to be artificial: “Against Authenticity,” from @EPoe187 in @Quillette.

Apposite (albeit from an orthogonal perspective): “After Authenticity,” from @tobyshorin.

* Oscar Wilde


As we settle for sincerity (?), we might recall that on this date in 1787 George Washington hosted a farewell dinner for his officers (which doubled as a celebration of the signing of the Constitution and Washington’s election as the new nation’s first President) that resulted in an epic tab, largely for drinks. The bill, at the City Tavern in Philadelphia, totaled over 89 pounds– between $15,400 and $17,253 in today’s dollars.

A replica of the historic City Tavern, where Washington ran up his tab.
Smallbones/Wikimedia Commons

Written by (Roughly) Daily

September 15, 2022 at 1:00 am

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