Sincerity and Authenticity Cover

Sincerity and Authenticity

The Carles Eliot Norton Lectures, 1969-1970. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1972.

Summary: “Now and then,” writes Lionel Triling “it is possible to observe the moral life in process of revising itself.” In this new book he is concerned with such a mutation: the process by which the arduous enterprise of sincerity, of being true to one’s self, came to occupy a place of supreme importance in the moral life–and the further shift which finds that place now usurped by the darker and still more strenuous modern ideal of authenticity. Instances range over the whole of Western literature and thought, from Shakespeare to Hegel to Sartre, from Robespierre to R.D. Laing, suggesting the contradictions and ironies to which the ideals of sincerity and authenticity give rise, most especially in contemporary life. Lucid, and brilliantly framed, its view of cultural history will give Sincerity and Authenticity an important place among the works of this distinguished critic.


I. Sincerity: Its Origin and Rise

II. The Honest Soul and the Disintegrated Consciousness

III. The Sentiment of Being and the Sentiments of Art

IV. The Heroic, the Beautiful, the Authentic

V. Society and Authenticity

VI. The Authentic Unconscious

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