Kathi Beier

Selbsttäuschung, Selbstbestimmung und Authentizität

According to Jean-Paul Sartre, authenticity is the opposite of self-deception (“mauvaise foi”). Yet he failed to give an account of what it means to be authentic or to live authentically. If authenticity can be reached by avoiding self-deception, it seems possible to get a grip of it by analysing the concept of self-deception given by Sartre. The first part of the presentation aims to highlight the advantages of Sartre’s approach to the phenomenon of self-deception in his Being and Nothingness. Sartre sees clearly that self-deception is poorly understood when being described in psychological terms only and that it must be considered ontologically, i.e. with respect to our way of being, as well as epistemically, i.e. with respect to our way of being aware of something. Additionally, he rightly emphasizes that we deceive ourselves primarily about ourselves or at least about things important for us. However, in focusing on these issues Sartre explains self-deception in a way that is not fully convincing since for him all self-deception is self-reification, which means that it consists in regarding oneself as a thing rather than as a (radically) free human being. The second part of the presentation tries to overcome the shortcomings of Sartre’s account of self-deception, essentially by involving an ethical perspective. Self-deception then can be explained as an incorrect self-determination motivated by realizing that we are, act or live not as we think it would be good. Within this ethical or evaluative perspective it will be easier to grasp what it means to be authentic or to live authentically. Authenticity, so it will be argued, can be conceived as a certain perfection of human self-determination.