Authenticity—the view from within

Bijdragen 71 (2):197-217 (2010)
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In this contribution I wish to attempt a radical phenomenological elucidation of the notion of authenticity. In order to elaborate on this highly problematic philosophical idea of authenticity, I make use of the philosophy of the French philosopher Michel Henry. Although Henry does not make use of the term as such, it is his understanding of the Self as self-affection that makes a real philosophy of authenticity not only possible, but also inevitable. Following this line of thought, I will maintain that Michel Henry’s philosophy is a philosophy of authenticity. Since there is, as we shall see, the original experience of the Self, an original experience of life as self-affection, this primal experience appeals us not to renounce our origin. The authentic sphere as described in Henry’s works is called Life. I will discuss first Henry’s phenomenology as a radicalization of classical phenomenology, in which the appeal for authenticity is explicit. Then I will focus on Henry’s idea of the notion of the Self and how this notion escapes the problem of everlasting self-reference. In the last paragraph I will focus on a possible Henrian comprehension of the authentic life. I will also question the role of Christianity in his later works. Is the Christian life the authentic Life? And if so, what does that imply?



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Ruud Welten
Erasmus University Rotterdam

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