From Absurdity to Authenticity

A full draft of chapter 9 is now available to download.

It analyses the eudaimonist arguments for the virtue of authenticity found in Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks and Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. It argues that, because these are psychoanalytic arguments aimed at diagnosing and treating the sources of anxiety and distress, they cannot establish the moral conclusion that we all ought to adopt the project of authenticity irrespective of our other commitments.

In the absence of an argument for that conclusion, it looks as though existentialism entails the absurdist view that although we are each committed to our values, none of us actually have any justification for our values or for rejecting those we find abhorrent.

The chapter concludes by suggesting that Sartre’s Kantian comments on the moral requirement of authenticity in Existentialism Is a Humanism might best be read as summarising the argument Beauvoir gives in Pyrrhus and Cineas. The next chapter is devoted to that argument.

Please do let me know what you think of the chapter, either by posting in the Comments thread to this news item or sending me an email.

Draft chapters are available from the Book page.