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International Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 43, Issue 4, December 2003

Rick Anthony Furtak
Pages 423-438
DOI: 10.5840/ipq200343436

The Virtues of Authenticity
A Kierkegaardian Essay in Moral Psychology

Discussions of the concept of authenticity often fail to define the conditions of an appropriate emotional orientation toward the world. With a more solid philosophical understanding of emotion, it should be possible to define more precisely the necessary conditions of emotional authenticity. Against this background, I interpret Kierkegaard’s Either/Or as a narrative text that suggests a moral psychology of emotion that points toward the development of a better way of thinking about the ethics of authenticity. In the process, I also engage with the positions of other philosophers, both “existential” and “analytic.” The upshot of my argument is that a cognitive phenomenology of emotion can flesh out the ideal of truthfulness as a virtue of character, while forcing moral philosophers to question whether authenticity should be understood as an achievement of the will rather than as a matter of affective receptivity.

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