DPhil Seminar (Friday - Week 7, TT22)

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The ideal of authenticity has been dogged by the charge that it gives rise to a pernicious attitude of ‘aestheticism’. That aestheticism represents a threat, and that it is one to which authenticity might succumb, is agreed upon by both defenders and critics of authenticity alike. But there is less agreement on what is supposed to be ‘aesthetic’ about aestheticism, and how authenticity is supposed to give rise to this attitude. In this talk I first suggest that if giving rise to aestheticism is to be a serious and distinctive challenge, the notion of aestheticism must be cashed out in terms that are what I’ll call (I hope not question-beggingly) genuinely aesthetic. I then discuss some forms of aestheticism which might fit the bill. Being authentic, I’ll argue, doesn’t require adopting any of these forms of aestheticism. Through the discussion I draw attention to an interesting feature of authenticity – that the ideal of authenticity is a bad guide, and the more that agents attempt to pursue an ideal of authenticity, the further away they are drawn from instantiating it. In this respect there are interesting analogues between authenticity and what e.g. Williams & Mill have said about integrity and happiness.

The talk will be in person.

See the DPhil Seminar website for details.

DPhil Seminar Convenor: Mariona Miyata - Sturm