Be Yourself! How Am I Not myself?

II. Society and Politics: Between Essentialist and Existentialist Authenticity


Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs is mostly animalistic; only self-actualization is uniquely human. Yet even this token of “human exceptionalism” is hampered by subscribing to essentialist, rather than existentialist, authenticity. If the former is just about recovering an innate, latent, core, it robs humans of their freedom to (re)create who they are. If we dare to choose, we cannot but be ourselves.

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Further Reading

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  5. Giddens, A. 1991. Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age. Stanford, Calif:Stanford University Press.

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  6. Golomb, J. 1995. In Search of Authenticity: From Kierkegaard to Camus. New York:Routledge.

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  7. Maslow, A. H. 1943. A Theory of Human Motivation. Psychological review, 50(4), 370–396.

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  8. Maslow, A. H. 1954. Motivation and Personality (First ed., ). New York:Harper & Row.

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  9. Maslow, Abraham H. 1999 [1962]. Toward a Psychology of Being. 3rd ed. cNew York: J. Wiley & Sons.

  10. Maslow, A. H. 1971. The Farther Reaches of Human Nature. New York:Viking Press.

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  11. Milnes, Tim, and Kerry Sinanan, eds. 2010. Romanticism, Sincerity, and Authenticity. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire; New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

  12. Nietzsche, F. W. 2005. The Anti-Christ,Ece Homo, Twilight of the Idols, and Other Writings. New York:Cambridge University Press.

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  13. Sartre, J.-P. 2007 [1945]. Existentialism Is a Humanism. New Haven:Yale University Press.

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Correspondence to Uriel Abulof.

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Abulof, U. Be Yourself! How Am I Not myself?. Soc 54, 530–532 (2017).

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  • Maslow
  • Human needs
  • Self-actualization
  • Authenticity
  • Essentialism
  • Existentialism