“To reiterate a common theme, we are relational entities. We exist in relation to ourselves, in relation to others and to our surroundings, and for some of us, we believe or try to trust that we exist in relation to God. Given our relational nature, it is reasonable to think that there are true (authentic) and false (inauthentic) ways of connecting to ourselves and others, where true would imply open and honest and false would imply dissembling relationships.”

“Again, anxiety—and death anxiety in particular—individuates us, makes us homesick for that recliner and forgetfulness. Yet, according to Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Tolstoy, and other existentialists, the anxiety, the homesickness, affords an opportunity for us to enter into an authentic relation with others and ourselves.”

“Unconfronted, death is dreadful. It generates vague fears and anxieties that drive us away from authenticity and toward immersion in conventionality and everyday pleasures… . In fully acknowledging death we are pressured to unify our lives.”

“For Kierkegaard, the “how” was equally as important as the “what.” Etymologically speaking, both in the Latin and German, the idea of authenticity is intrinsically bound up with the notion of making something your own. Kierkegaard believed that we make our views our own not by hitting “like” on Facebook but by passionately relating ourselves to those ideas and expressing them in the medium of action.”

“The view of the virtues embedded in existentialism often returns to the requirement to be honest with oneself. And authenticity requires that we be candid with ourselves as to whether or not we have truly appropriated the opinions that we might be slapped on the back for espousing.”

“If authenticity is being true to ourselves, is recovering our own “sentiment de l’existence,” then perhaps we can only achieve it integrally if we recognize that this sentiment connects us to a wider whole. It was perhaps not an accident that in the Romantic period the self-feeling and the feeling of belonging to nature were linked.”

“perhaps the loss of a sense of belonging through a publicly defined order needs to be compensated by a stronger more inner sense of linkage.”

“With the emphasis on owning actions and choices, authenticity can seem selfishly self-referential. However, relational creatures that we are, it could be that becoming our own person is only possible vis-à-vis strong bonds to something outside of ourselves. For Kierkegaard it is God, but Taylor submits this connection can take the form of binding yourself to a “political cause or tending to the earth.” In the early 1990s Taylor was more than hinting that we are living in an increasingly fragmented world. He submits, “Perhaps this is what a great deal of modern poetry has been trying to articulate.”

“ However we define it, authenticity does not seem to be something we can work at, save in the sense that we can make strides to avoid inauthenticity.” (In other words, we become more authentic by avoiding inauthenticity.)


Marino, G. (2019). The Existentialist’s Survival Guide: How to Live Authentically in an Inauthentic Age (Reprint edition). HarperOne.