This chapter demonstrates both how Rousseau is correctly seen as the original of the modern concern for authenticity as a human ideal and how his thought was deeply critical of the practice of being fully genuine with others. Despite that Rousseau identifies the modern bourgeois human type as a particularly troublesome example of inauthenticity, Rousseau nonetheless understood hypocrisy to be a perennial human problem rather than merely an historical one. This chapter interprets a large swath of Rousseau’s corpus to the end of identifying and exploring several of the ways in which human beings deceive themselves, such as conformity hypocrisy, denial, and rationalization. True authenticity, then, is exceedingly difficult to attain, for our acts of self-deception often occur un- or subconsciously. But this is not an unmitigated tragedy, for Rousseau, because inauthenticity may very well be necessary both for the good of oneself and the good of others.
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