19th and 20th century European philosophy, specifically phenomenology, existentialism, and post-structuralism; psychoanalysis
Aesthetics; political philosophy; general humanities teaching
My dissertation offers a critique of the concept of authenticity that Martin Heidegger developed in Being and Time. The concept of authenticity has been critiqued for many reasons—mainly for moral and political reasons. My dissertation develops, on the other hand, a conceptual critique. For Heidegger, the authentic person “foreruns” into her own death—she relates to her death in an explicit, and impassioned way. However, for Heidegger, by forerunning into her own death, the authentic person is able to be an individual: she is able to make autonomous choices, and understand her own particularity. My dissertation shows that, understood rigorously, a person’s forerunning into her own death does not let a person be able to be an individual: in fact, it makes her unable to be an individual. As a consequence, Heidegger’s concept of authenticity is paradoxical, or incoherent: what it joins together—a person’s forerunning into her death, and her ability to be an individual—is incompatible. While the critique I offer is a conceptual or philosophical critique, it shares the aims of moral and political critiques. I try to give conceptual or philosophical reasons to resist a concept with problematic moral and political implications.