Authenticity and Bohemian Culture
In philosophy authenticity is a technical term in existentialist philosophy. The term of authenticity is also used in the philosophy of art and psychology. From this perspective it is easy to connect to bohemian culture. Most people keep the bohemians as people with high level of authenticity. Why?
One answer can be presented by philosopher Charles Taylor, who argues in his book “The Ethics of Authenticity” that all humans have a natural feeling to tell the difference between right and wrong. Taylor discusses in his famous book about the big idea of getting in touch with your inner self to find your true self identity. In the life shape of human beings people try to keep touch with their inner true self identity. Inner virtues are crucial for the ethics of authenticity. Today modern psychology views authenticity as integral to well-being.
Charles Taylor states that trying to listen to the inner-self may be very difficult because of own social dependence on others. If we continue to depend on other people, the voice of our inner nature will be drowned out and we become oriented un-authentically. We can lose ourselves and lose bohemian attitude. Also social pressures of middle-class culture or average behavioral norms can lead people to inauthentic ways of living. Heidegger in his later life associated authenticity with non-technological modes of existence, seeing technology as distorting a more “authentic” relationship with the natural world.
In conventional philosophical thinking, the conscious self is seen as coming to terms being in a material world and with encountering external forces, pressures and influences which are very different from, and other than, unique itself. Thus, authenticity is the degree to which one is true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character, despite these external social and cultural pressures. In the art an authentic signature is telling to us about undisputed origin or genuine authorship. An authentic account is telling to us about accuracy in representation of the facts, about trustworthy work and about reliability. In bohemian culture authentic signatures and authentic accounts are issues of pride.
Being in touch with our inner voice is very important because it tells us what the right thing to do is. In bohemian culture this kind of attitude is very important, because in many biographies of bohemian persons the biggest struggles of them have often been internal struggles to be true to one´s own personality and character. Often a lack of authenticity is considered to be bad faith. Even an unpleasant truth is valued in bohemian culture.
One of the greatest problems facing such abstract approaches like authenticity is that the often culture bound. Objectivity of one´s inner voice cannot be evaluated easily. Maybe that is a reason why bohemian people are often seen as ultra-subjective and ambient persons seeking ultimate freedom. On the other hand bohemians are seen as real and original persons, not playing social role games. Inside bohemian culture, non-authenticity or un-authenticity are not appreciated.
1 Charles Taylor
3 Authentic personality
Wood, A. M., Linley, P. A., Maltby, J., Baliousis, M. & Joseph, S. (2008) The authentic personality: A theoretical and empirical conceptualization, and the development of the Authenticity Scale. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 55, pp. 385-399.
4 Martin Heidegger
Martin Heidegger (2010) Being and Time. Trans. by Joan Stambaugh; revised by Dennis J. Schmidt. Albany: State University of New York Press.