Pros & Cons of Living Authentically (Bom bom bom insert Dramatic Music)

Oh the Pros and Cons of living authentically! As if everything can be divided up that Pro and Con way. Well, it’s a starting point. The argument here is not a binary woodchopper devouring a tree, the sawdust to press into fuel pellets of Self. It’s a pine tree to climb on, smell and absorb the scent, and occasionally taste the bark. Many parts are edible.

Rick Roderick’s eight 1993 lectures, The Self Under Siege: Philosophy in the Twentieth Century (available on YouTube) are a treat. His winning personality and West Texas illustrations make difficult topics easier to follow. The topical references feel antique, mostly, but I remember how pertinent they felt at the time. Roderick’s foil of “conformity” in this lecture also feels antique to me. I discuss this in my sidebar in red, below.

At ~38:00, the Pro: the authentic life is one in which you don’t flee from your destiny, but one in which you shape it–as much as you can given your historical and other limitations.

At ~39:50, the Con: We don’t want a narrative of our selves that’s based merely on authenticity because we know too many authentic swine.

The lecture frames authenticity as acting with intention versus acting with conformity. This doesn’t answer all the questions about authenticity. Not directly explored in this lecture: is there an authentic self at all? Maybe one could infer that there is none, that we are only thrown from nothingness into a life with context and framing to then resist as we judge proper, as authenticity-builders, but I think this needs further examination.

Sidebar: how the standards of conformity have changed since 1993! Most everyone seems in flux, most ways of life overturned and toppled and toppled again, it seems almost quaint at first. Then if I look a little deeper, it seems that the conformity now is not the treadmill of a Stairmaster, which Rick Roderick mocks repeatedly in this lecture, but the treadmill of trying to keep up with change. Imagine a cartoon animal here running, feet a-blur.

If our feet constantly slip and stumble over the ever-moving treadmill, and with arms out awkwardly we try (whoah, click, whoah!) to keep up and maintain dignity? The slip is inevitable, the dignity is not.

And given our fragility and inevitable series of micro-failures,  of course we humanly aspire to enjoy and thrive from the changes! But it takes time for our primate resistance to understand that every pro of change comes with a con (the easier the communication, the more shrill the silence). SO… what then does that mean for the quest of authenticity?

How sad for us that Rick Roderick died in 2002. I’d like to know what he thought about today.

See the notes section for The Partially Examined Life’s excellent outline that summarizes the lecture.

Here is a complete text outline of Rick Roderick’s Self Under Siege lectures. This, Masters of Suspicion, is the first YouTube lecture in the series.

Also see–

A learned review of the philosophical history of Authenticity.

Of course:

And hear a sweet, gloomy song that quotes from RR’s Heidegger lecture. (Ilija Ludvig – Another Day Full of Dread.) I like the mocking ghosts at the end.

Published in: on March 23, 2018 at 11:49 am  Leave a Comment  

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