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date: 25 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The concept of authenticity has changed considerably through time. Medieval authenticity depended upon faith; medieval texts were not authored but came from God. In pre-Modernist modernity, authenticity derived from sincerity; either through reference back to tradition of through a claim to a natural purity. In late modernity, the era of Modernism, authenticity is an experiential function; it is concerned with the pragmatic quality of things. This process is complicated by the fact that ideas of authenticity can be applied to both persons and things, and that in a world of mass production and commodity, the authentic and the unique are not necessarily the same. Most importantly, whilst inanimate things can have life histories or ‘biographies’, only persons can have autobiographies, in the sense that they become authentically themselves by creating their own precursors. The essential problem for persons in the Modernist era is to be coolly authentic despite the fact that counter-cultural cool is continually commoditized by the Man.

Keywords: authenticity, mass production, Modernism, individualism, cool

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