Authentic or not
I decided to do a short review about The Ethics of Authenticity by Charles Taylor, this book surprisingly small, compact, and very easy to read. I was a little worried if I would understand this book because of the philosophy is behind it, but Taylor C did an excellent job. I think if you are interested in reading this book, you will find an easy lecture.
I quote him from the back cover to get an idea of what this book is about it.
“It says in the Malaise of modernity, Taylor focuses on the fundamental concept of self-fulfillment, the modern concept often attacked as the central support of what Christopher lash has called the culture of narcissism.“
“Taylor approaches the question more cautiously; he recognizes that the impulse towards self-fulfillment is often expressed in self-centered ways but argues that it is not simply a turning away from traditional values and social commitment. The impulse also reflects something
authentic and valuable in modern culture only by distinguishing what is good in this modern striving from what is socially and politically dangerous”.
Taylor says, “can our age be made to deliver its promise.”
In the first part of the book, Taylor wrote the three elements that lead the sense of Malaises according to Cambridge Dictionary malaise means:
1.Individualism and the loss of meaning
The individualism and the subsequent of meaning, he said on the one hand with the development of individualism, people seem free from the structure of the authority, which is felt to be good.
We thought that we were freed from the structure of the authority, for instance during the protestant reformation or during the enlightenment and what came after there was this rebellion against authority.
One price that we paid for the rebellion was the sense of disorientation afterwards. Society was freed from their old moral orders and were unsure how to act, which in many ways was good because it allowed people more freedom to develop themselves as individuals.
Cause we were freed from old moral orders from a sort of sense of cosmic order that came with it, and we have not been able to get back that sort of sense that everything is in place, everything is the way it should be in the world. Of course, some of that was false, some of it was misleading but we lost this sense. We haven’t been able to regain it, and modernity came with a certain disorienting, even nauseous feeling, and this is what Taylor calls the crisis of meaning. People no longer have a sense of higher purpose or something worth dying for.
We lost the old meaning and maybe in some way that was good, but we have not reached any consensus on what should provide human life meaning.
Tocqueville called this petits et vulgaires plaisirs
Kierkegaard called the Lack of passion
Nietzche called the Last men.
People lost the broader vision because they focused on their individual lives. Democratic Equality, says Tocqueville, draws the individual towards himself. The dark side of individualism is a centering on the self, which both flattens and narrows our lives, makes them poorer in meaning, and less concerned with others or society.
2.Instrumental reason and the eclipse of the ends
In the second Malaise, Taylor continues with the explanations once the old order (authority) disappeared, once the society seeps away from the old order, once society no longer has a sacred structure, once society arrangements and models of action are no longer grounded in the order of things or the will of God (once the church disappeared) or a particular type of authority disappeared, everything sense up for grabs.
One the effects of that, is that it allowed people to think more clearly about using anything and everything, including other human beings as an instrumental way to achieve certain purposes.
Taylor writes here, that once the creatures around us that include human beings lose the significance that accrued to their place in the chain of being, they are open to being treated as raw materials or instruments for our projects.
At this point is when we realize, we lose the old authority, but we created the ground for a new and maybe better and potentially worse authority in the process of the rebellion.
In instrumental rationality, everything gets run through a cost-benefit, and everything will be determined by this criteria, and this will guide our lives, the system will create what the workforce needs, so we will no longer have the freedom or independence to choose what it means for us, or to the animals in the example of the creation of concentrated animal feeding operations for cows, pork’s, chickens or whatever animal, where it is just production for our purpose.
For instance, we can justify all these actions because of the demands of the economy, or we can justify many things as the unequal distributions of wealth and income, or the same way demands make us insensitive to the needs of the environment even to the point of potential disaster.
So, we created a problem in the pursuit of great efficiency.
“The primacy of instrumental reason is also evident in the prestige and aura that surrounds technology and makes us believe that we should seek technological solutions, even when something different is called for.”
Taylor writes, but we don’t need to be like that, we have a choice, we can decide to act different, and here is where comes the third part.
3.The Problem of soft despotism and loss of freedom.
The third problem Taylor deals with soft despotism and the loss of freedom and he follows.
Tocqueville very closely here saying that we as atomistic individuals that we have become enclosed in our own hearts right feeling powerless to combat instrumental reason to submit and have to submit to this immense tutelary power right the immense totalitarian power, that he’s talking about or at least what Tocqueville was talking about was primarily the growth in government and also the growth in a type of economy that designs our behavior kind of dictates our behavior.
Taylor said, “We are in danger of losing political control over our destiny” to the authority of the expert, the bureaucrat is the expert in this case. Now we lose our power more and more, when we hear they did this and they did that when in the reality we don’t know who they are those experts, and why they do those actions, and they have more power what we have, and everything is justified by the system was created to control.
Taylor is asking us. What can we do about this? How do we want to deal with this stuff? What do we want it for? What can we use it for that will not lead to our destruction and the destruction of our environment?
Reading this book and thinking a lot about what Taylor said before, I ask myself many questions, we live in a society that is built by postmodernist norms of morality and ethics, a society where the system creates carrier opportunities according to the need of the workforce.
The illusion of free choice is the product of a system created for us, where every individual acts, and follows the same way of thinking. Where the education system is implementing certain types of doctrines that follow certain political thoughts, this education system was created so the students believe they own those ideas and the ideas are part of them, so it is part of their authenticity. It is common for Intelligent modern people can define their authenticity by the level of intelligence and knowledge they possess, and actually is quite right people do that, more you learn more you know, more you know the easier you can create your authenticity. In my opinion, it is cynical to teach young people, especially teenagers with certain political thoughts, and create in them a sense of authenticity.
I think we need to be aware of who is deciding the curriculum studies and what kind of political doctrines are inside of the studies. For example, I can say the 90% percent of the book list recommendation for this course were the postmodernist way of thinking, where the 90% of the philosophers, writers, are from neo-Marxism.
“People don’t have ideas. Ideas have people.”
I think some people use authenticity as an excuse to do bad things. In business, in education, in politics, and in life. Cause it is my life, because it is my choice, and it is my nature to do those things because all those components are part of me. It is my authenticity! Cause it is my right, and nobody can take my freedom. Where can we draw the line?
We can apply this on social media. I believe social media is a powerful tool to reach your message to millions of people. Social media is the platform where we can express our political, social, and religious ideas.
Something more common about social media is the cancelation of people just because they express one idea they have, and the rest of the people didn’t like that idea.
I think it is a very dangerous way of thinking because when people try to express how they see the world and when they express one idea that is not in the way of thinking at that time, people can cancel all the social media that person possesses.
Many people were canceled this year, and I think we need to fight against cancel culture because we are not just hurting people, we are also destroying their lives, the phenomenon of promoting the “canceling” of people, brands, and even shows and movies due to what some consider to be offensive or problematic remarks or ideologies. Cancel culture is an extension of or a contemporary evolution of a much bolder set of social processes that we can see in the form of banishment.
The Ethics of Authenticity is defined by your ideas and how to express them, but before we can express our ideas, we should be questioning ourselves or analyzing ourselves when we speak our ideas because many of those ideas are good, some are not, maybe some of them are weak and bad, and some are very powerful and novel. Maybe those ideas come from the indoctrination of the education system or the culture around us.