What Does Self-Deception and Authenticity Mean?June 27, 2021
You falsely identify with many roles and then think you are not free to be something else.
For example, a security guard might try too hard to be a security guard, thus eliminating the possibility of anything else happening. Sartre, on the other hand, criticizes the example of the clumsy waiter who tries too hard to identify with his role as a waiter. In his own life, Sartre refused to identify with the public enterprise, which sought to lock himself in the identity of being a famous writer. In other words, the famous writer, philosopher and activist Jean-Paul Sartre refused to identify himself as free and spontaneous with the public’s attempt to imprison him in the identity of a famous writer. In response to an interview question, Sartre said:
“So much so that fame seems to go on in someone else’s life, as if it happened to someone else. There is me and there is another person. The other person has written books, is being read… He exists, I know, but it doesn’t bother me; I use it… But I don’t think of it as me.”
What Sartre means when he uses the term “self-deception” is that you attempt to deny your freedom, see yourself as a product of your “reality” constrained by your circumstances, or to identify yourself with your past choices while choosing all your future possibilities. You need to be a being “in itself” that is limited by nature, determined, but has an identity. When a young man came to Sartre and asked for moral advice—to go to war for his country or stay home to care for his sick mother—the only advice Sartre gave him was: “You are free, so choose; that is, invent, find, create.” Only when you take responsibility for the meaning of your past and future, and consciously choose your future, will you achieve authenticity, the only value Sartre espouses in an otherwise worthless universe.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook; “Understanding Philosophy in All Its Aspects” by Kennet Shouler