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Live for the future sacred or secular delay gratification


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Title: Live for the future sacred or secular delay gratification

Traditional Wisdom
  • Live for the future (sacred or secular)
    delay gratification
  • Subordinate oneself to ones community
  • Women are different than men and shouldstay in
    their proper place
  • Accept the authority of others as ones own
  • Aim for worldly successwealth
  • Work hard do not waste time nose to the
  • grindstone
  • 6. Be practical, not a dreamer Rationalistic
  • 7. Repress emotions they are not useful
  • 8. Take responsibility for oneself rugged

Features of romantic reaction
  • the embrace of the present
  • the importance of joy
  • rejection of traditional ideas of "success"
  • rejection of the work ethic
  • validation of imagination and emotion
  • the liberation of the self from domination by
  • conventional values and roles
  • the refusal to be classified by race, gender,
  • the search for individual enlightenment
  • the search for authenticity

See The O.G.s powerpoints for detaill
The individualism of self-fulfillment Taylor
everyone has a right to develop their own form
of life, grounded on their own sense of what is
really important or of value. People are called
upon to be true to themselves and to seek their
own self-fulfillment. What this consists of,
each must in the last instance, determine for
him- or herself.
  • There is a powerful moral ideal at work here,
  • The moral ideal behind self-fulfillment is that
  • being true to oneself
  • in a specifically modern understanding of that
  • Self-fulfillment . . . is not just
  • hedonismseeking pleasure for its own sake
  • egoismthe only being in the world that counts
    is oneself
  • or self-indulgence.
  • It is a moral ideal,

A moral ideala standard of what we ought to
Moral ideal a picture of what a better or
higher mode of life would be where better and
higher are defined not in terms of what we
happen to desire or need, but offer a standard of
what we ought to desire.
Thus, many people feel called to be true to
themselves, feel they ought to do this, feel
their lives would be somehow wasted or
unfulfilled if they didnt do it. One the
other side, many people deride conformism becaus
e it is the opposite of being true to oneself.
this way of being true to oneself authenticity
Authenticity Genuineness the quality of being
genuine or not corrupted from the
original. This dictionary definition fits
Emerson precisely. Each of us has an original
true and good nature that we want to protect from
corruption by society so we can develop it to
its fullest and original potential.
  • Authenticity is a moral ideal
  • that requires us to approve some forms of life
  • and condemn others.
  • Ways of life that allow for the expression of
    ones true
  • self are approved by this standard
  • those that do not are disapproved
  • The traditional Pleasantville way of life was
  • but inauthentic because it kept out any part of
  • nature that was threatening to the pleasantness
  • their lives and thus required suppressing
    important parts
  • of peoples natures.
  • Authentic life may not be as enjoyable, or
  • as inauthentic life.
  • But pleasure is not the goal of life.
    Authenticity is not hedonism.

That is being true to oneself is not just doing
whatever one likes or whatever one feels like or
whatever gets one pleasure. It is a demand that
one live out ones potential even if that is
painful, difficult, or dangerous.
Why shouldnt conformity or following a
script also be accepted as an individual life
choice to be respected? Because, given the
uniqueness of our individual characters, scripts
designed for many people and for the
convenience of society are not going to allow for
the development of ones own talents and
abilities. The conformist life is inauthentic
because it doesnt suit ones nature. One is a
round peg in a square hole. A script is one size
fits all. But Romantics insist that no size fits
all--in fact no size fits more than one. The
conformist is someone who does not live the
unique life suited to his or her nature instead
s/he lives a life designed for others.
There is, of course, a logical possibility
that a script might in fact suit one, Perhaps I
am naturally cut out to be a businessman. Romanti
cs tend to dismiss this as possible but
extremely unlikely.
In what concerns you much, do not think that you
have companions know that you are alone in the
world. ---Henry David Thoreau If a man does
not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is
because he hears a different drummer. Let him
step to the music which he hears, however
measured or far away. --Henry David Thoreau,
Walden, The average artist is an anti-social
person, and when he turns sociable it is usually
at the expense of some compromise with his inner
being. --Alfred Kreymborg (1883-1966) poet and
There seems to be one type of exception to this
rule Where people have been denied access to a
whole class of scripts, authenticity may seem to
demand being allowed to follow one of them.
For such people, being authentic may involve
trying to lead a conventional life. Women who
have been denied the option of having careers may
have to fight their way into conventional careers
in order to exercise that traditionally
masculine part of them. Nonetheless, the true
Romantic will hold that such scripts may be more
authentic than the circumscribed scripts hitherto
available for women, but will ultimately not
be completely authentic.
e.g. Lois Jenson who believed it her nature to
do the same work as a man in an Iron mine had to
undergo serious sexual harassment and ultimately
had to file and win a class action suit so that
she could work there. She was not fighting to be
a bohemian, but to have the same working life as
men. But in doing so she had to fight
conventional ideas of what was mans work and
what was womens work. For her and for many
women, traditional mens work may suit their
natures better than traditional womens
work. But the Romantic will assert that this
work will still not be completely authentic
because it wont be completely Individualized.
  • This suggests the strong possibility that there
  • May be no possible society in which individuals
  • Could all be authentic.
  • But
  • It will still be possible for Romantics to strive
  • to bring about a kind of society in which
  • will be more widely available.
  • Romantics will favor societies that have as few
  • unnecessary barriers to people living as they
  • as possible.
  • Romantics will favor societies run according to
  • harm Principle, e.g., as opposed to societies
  • enforce a particular moral or religious view
    about how
  • to live.

AND Historically, various sorts of socialist
theory, from anarchism to Marxism have held
that it would indeed be possible to achieve a
society in which people could be authentic.
Marxs view was that the demands of
capitalism required people to fit themselves into
working-life scripts that were far narrower and
less fulfilling than necessary. Efficiency may
demand that people spend their days on an
assembly line, doing the same boring routine
action over and over and over. Marx thought that
the logic of efficiency required that most jobs
be boring and routine, with only a few jobs
(managerial for example) allowing for the use of
imagination or a reasonably broad range of ones
abilities. Marx was critical of capitalism
because it required that most of our skills
atrophy while we use only a very narrow range of
them at work.
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Marxist man at work In the communist utopia
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In his early writings Marx discusses how under
true communism, one would not have to be an
accountant, but could be a fisherman in the
morning, a poet in the afternoon, and a mechanic
at night. That is one would not be forced by the
demands of capitalism to choose to develop only
one set of abilities at the expense of others.
One could develop all ones abilities. However,
this is getting off the beaten track of American
Romanticism, since Marxism has never Been a major
stream of thought here. Given the common view
that Marx has been shown By history to be wrong,
its important to emphasize
(Early) Marxists are Romantics but Not all (or
even most) Romantics are Marxists.
The conformist is not leading a life that matches
her or his nature
The Stepford Wives
A man is relieved and gay when he has put his
heart into his work and done his best but what
he has said or done otherwise shall give him no
peace. . . the objection to conforming. . . is
that it scatters your force. It loses your time
and blurs the impression of your character. . .
do your work and I shall know you. -Emerson
the individuals ideal of normalcy may
contradict the aim of the full realization of
himself as a human being. Erich Fromm,
The Sane Societ In this atmosphere (that of
Greenwich Village) a man felt something like his
raw self, though he knew well he had been cooked
to a turn by the worlds convention. --Art
Young, Masses cartoonisty
In Dostoyevskys Notes from Underground the
insistent nonconsciousness of the normal
bourgeois world would make any kind of
introspection , or even self-awareness, seem
self-conscious if not downright sick. .
.Self-awareness is against the interests of a
dominant class that wants to maintain power
without thinking too much about motives or
consequences --Ronald Sukenick
  • The Sources of the idea of Authenticity
  • The idea of authenticity is relatively new
  • born at the end of the 18th century.
  • Romanticism was critical of the
  • idolization of reason
  • and of an
  • isolated individualism which denied community.
  • One of its sources is the idea of a moral sense
  • (conscience)

moral sense was seen as a way of attaining
objective moral truth it was
originally a way to find out Gods truth. The
moral sense was God speaking within you. The
notion of authenticity develops out of a
displacement of the moral accent in this idea.
On the original view, the inner voice is
important because it tells us what is the right
thing to do. Being in touch with our moral
feelings would matter here, as a means to the end
of acting rightly.
What Im calling the displacement of the moral
accent comes about when
Being in touch takes on independent moral
significance. That is, the moral sense
itself has value its value doesnt come from its
being an avenue to truth Coming from God It
comes to be something we have to attain to be
true and full human beings.
In the Romantics such as Emerson,
The moral sense is seen as the voice of nature
The moral sense still puts us in touch with an
objective truth about ourselves, but now it lies
in Nature, not in God. Our nature becomes
morally valuable in and of itself. (Emersons
Deity is not the traditional Christian one it
is more like another word for Nature.)
No law can be sacred to me but that of my
nature. . . I am ashamed to think how easily we
capitulate to badges and names, to large
societies and dead institutions. . . .It is easy
in the world to live after the worlds opinion
it is easy in solitude to live after our own
but the great man is he who in the midst of the
crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the
independence of solitude. --Emerson
This voice can easily be drowned out by social
messages stemming from our dependence on others.
Rousseau shelters Emile and sees that he is
carefully educated to allow the natural inner
voice to speak clearly Emile is to be educated so
he can discover and express his true
individuality. He is to be protected from
conformity, from being deformed by the wishes of
society. He is to be educated to be himself, not
what others think he should be.
(our original thoughts are the voices which we
hear in solitude, but they grow faint and
inaudible as we enter into the
world. -Emerson The first duty is to
protect oneself, and one's ability to see what
is going on I will not have my eyes put out and
my ears spoiled by its smoke and steam and
hissing. ita train that passes too close to
Walden, symbolizing modern industrial
society -Thoreau
At one point in Walden Thoreau is discussing
how modern commerce deprives us of
self-sufficiency. We no longer make things, we
buy them. We get used to having things done for
us. He then remarks sarcastically No doubt
one's thinking could also be done for one, but
it's not obviously desirable that it be. Of
course one of the major themes of Walden is That
we all too often do let others do our thinking
for Us, instead of taking heed to our own
for Thoreau to suppress the ordinary
understandings and calculations of conventional
life is necessary to allow a Deeper, more
natural, more trustworthy sense of what is
important to emerge. This is what Thoreau means
by his genius. Every man can listen to his
own genius, every man can discover his own
bents, his own good. Then he needs only (!) to
follow it undeviatingly whatever it may be and
as Whitman says even if all hell blazes.
Thoreau is concerned that all of us get there,
and Walden Was written to tell us what he knows
about how to do that. And the first step in the
process is to retreat from the Deafening voices
of civilization, back to the woods where One can
hear ones true self speak. It is after all a
still, small voice
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)
  • First important Romantic thinker
  • Men were happiest in the state
  • of nature prior to any civilization
  • whatsoever.
  • Civilization corrupts human
  • nature by introducing
  • envy, desire for wealth, and
  • other vices.

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Emile being sheltered from the corruption of the
world so he can develop naturally.
Myshkin has grown up in a Swiss
sanatorium, under treatment for his
periodic epileptic fits. At the beginning
of the novel, he returns to Russia,
penniless, for the first time since early
childhood and almost immediately
inherits an unexpected fortune. While
not really the idiot that many think
him, his illness has left the prince with
a strange diffidence, which allied to his
virtuous, simple and open personality makes him
stand out as completely different to the polite
society around him in a supposedly Christian
country, he is a truly Christlike
individual, yet is almost completely alien to
those around him -
Fifties social critic/philosopher Erich Fromm
critiqued modern society for its
conformity-producing features and for its
tendency to make autonomy very difficult to
A critique of fifties society by Erich Fromm
Today we come across a person and find that he
acts and feels like an automaton that he never
experiences anything which is really his that
he experiences himself entirely as the person he
thinks he is supposed to be that smiles have
replaced laughter, meaningless chatter replaced
communicative speech dulled despair has taken
the place of genuine pain. Two statements can be
made about this person. One is that he suffers
from a defect of spontaneity and individuality
which may seem incurable. At the same time it
may be said that he does not differ essentially
from thousands of others who are in the same
position. Erich Fromm
Overt authority is exercised directly and
explicitly. The person in authority frankly
tells the one who is subject to him, You must do
this. If you do not, certain sanctions will be
applied against you. Anonymous authority tends
to hide that force is being used. Anonymous
authority pretends that there is no authority,
that all is done with the consent of the
individual. While the teacher of the past said to
Johnny, You must do this. If you dont, Ill
punish you" todays teacher says, Im sure
youll like to do this. Here, the sanction for
disobedience is not corporal punishment, but the
suffering face of the parent or what is worse,
conveying the feeling of not being "adjusted, of
not acting as the crowd acts. Overt authority
used physical force anonymous authority employs
psychic manipulation. --Erich Fromm
Adjustment was an important Fifties idea. People
who didnt fit in, who were rebels in any way
were thought to be maladjusted. American
Heritage Dictionary maladjustmentFaulty or
inadequate adjustment, as in a machine. . . it
often implies an individual's failure to meet
social or cultural expectations
Maladjustment is a conservative idea If a part
is maladjusted, one readjusts the part,
one Doesnt throw away the machine The fault is
with the part, not with the whole. From his
parents point of view, Jim Stark Is
maladjusted they keep searching for the key
to Making him a normal fifties teenager.
  • A progression of advice to unhappy married women
  • You are maladjusted find some way to change your
  • attitudes character who you are so as to
    be happier in this marriage.
  • But after the surge of Romanticism in the 60s
    and the Womens Liberation Movement that it
  • 2. Perhaps this marriage doesnt fit who you are.
    Find another
  • man.
  • 3. Perhaps marriage per se doesnt fit who you
    are. Perhaps
  • youre not cut out for it (perhaps you want a
    career or are a lesbian).
  • 4. Perhaps its not you at all perhaps marriage
    per se doesnt suit women in general it requires
    them to sacrifice their individuality to please a
    man and raise children.
  • Under the impetus of Romanticism, a conservative
    point of
  • View gives way to a radical point of view.

The anguish of not being authentic
Our economic system must create men who fit its
needs men who cooperate smoothly men who want
to consume more and more. Our system must create
men whose tastes are standardized, men who can
be easily influenced, men whose needs can be
anticipated. Our system needs men who feel free
and independent but who are nevertheless willing
to do what is expected of them, men who will fit
into the social machine without friction, who
can be guided without force, who can be led
without leaders, and who can be directed without
any aim except the one to make good. --Erich
If an individuals character more or less closely
conforms with the social character, the
dominant drives in his personality lead him to
do what is necessary and desirable under the
specific social conditions of his culture. Thus,
for instance, if he has a passionate drive to
save and an abhorrence of spending money for any
luxury, he will be greatly helped by this drive
supposing he is a small shopkeeper who needs
to save and to be thrifty if he wants to
survive. Besides this economic function,
character traits have a purely psychological one
which is no less important. The person with whom
saving is a desire springing from his
personality gains also a profound psychological
satisfaction in being able to act accordingly
that is, he is not only benefited practically
when he saves, but he also feels satisfied
psychologically. ---Erich Fromm
Romantics tried to devise alternative methods of
schooling that would, like Emiles, preserve
the autonomy and individuality of children
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"I did not invent a method of education, I simply
gave some children a chance to live." -
Maria Montessori, 1914
This Romantic self also has uniqueness we are
all different, We each have a unique and
special character to be nurtured, an original
way of being human. There is a certain way of
being human that is my way. I am called upon to
live my life in this way, and not in imitation
of anyone elses. But this gives a new
importance to being true to myself. If I am not,
I miss the point of my life. I miss what being
human is for me.
It seems as if the Deity dressed each soul which
he sends into nature in certain virtues and
powers not communicable to other men, and
sending it to perform one more turn through the
circle of beings, wrote, "Not transferable" and
"Good for this trip only," on these garments of
the soul. Emerson "Uses of Great Men"
An influential fifties individualistAyn
Ayn Rand
I need no warrant for being, and no word of
sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and
the sanction. Ayn Rand, Anthem
Objectivism opposes the ethic of self-sacrifice.
It holds that each person's life and happiness
are and should be the lodestones of value for
himself. It is an egoist moral code, down to the
root. It is an ethic of rational selfishness
principled self-interest. And in correspondence
with its ethical code, Objectivism implies an
idea of the hero which we see realized not only
in crises like the September 11 attacks, but
also in the normal run of business, in the acts
of people who are "selfish with their
time."Bourgeois heroism is exemplified in a
rational, professional, and productive
excellence. For example, a scientist who wins a
Nobel Prize for achievements in his field is a
hero to his peers due to what he has created. In
the same way, someone who develops new products
or opens new markets is a hero. Objectivism adds
the insight that this kind of excellence is of
the noblest spiritual character it is predicated
on a love of life and on the use of reason to
create value. In its fullest sense, then, this
view of heroism, so appropriate to the American
way of life, is a greatness of loyalty to values.
  • Manevery manis an end in himself, not the means
    to the
  • ends of others. He must exist for his own sake,
    neither sacrificing
  • himself to others nor sacrificing others to
    himself. The pursuit of
  • his own rational self-interest and of his own
    happiness is the
  • highest moral purpose of his life.
  • The ideal political-economic system is
    laissez-faire capitalism.
  • It is a system where men deal with one another,
    not as victims
  • and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but
    as traders,
  • by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit.
  • Ayn Rand, 1962

  • Emerson and Rand both
  • believe in being true to oneself
  • Rand though
  • Is not a democrat, but an elitist who
  • believes that some people are born superior
  • to others.
  • 2. Believes in the use of reason
  • 3. Believes in rational, professional, and
    productive excellence
  • 4. Believes in business and capitalism

Rands heroes are individuals but they are
not Bohemians or hip. They play by the rules
because they can win by the rules. But when the
rules dont allow them to win, they feel free To
disregard those rules. Rand has no interest in
alternative life styles.
Conservative uses of nature
  • When men and women are seen to have different
    natures, then it has been
  • argued that each needs to stay in his or
  • her separate sphere.
  • Women who attempt to break out of their
  • natural domestic role were accused of
  • being unnatural, not real women, unsexed

  • Late 19th century critics of women reformers and
    proponents of equal rights labeled them sexless
  • and insisted that the only way in which a woman
    could achieve equality was to unsex herself.
  • When Lois Jenson started work in the mine, she
    was repeatedly told that it wasnt womens work
    and that she was taking a mans job.

  • Similar arguments were used to keep blacks in
    their place.
  • Slavery was justified in part on the grounds that
    blacks were naturally primitive and childlike
    they couldnt handle freedom, so slavery was
    really for their own good.
  • Later black poverty and apartheid was laid at the
    door of their natural laziness, stupidity, and
    lack of ambition.

  • Romantics however differ because they
  • see each person as unique and reject
  • gender and racial stereotypes as inaccurate.
  • Romantics are democrats they do not believe any
    group of people is more worthwhile than another
    everyone has a genius of his or her own that is
    worth developing.
  • Romantics in politics then insist that barriers
    to the development of individual genius be
    removed, whether they be racial or gender
    discrimination (or age, or sexual orientation or
    . . .)

Authenticity and Alienation
Alienation being a stranger in ones own
land to be divorced from its customs, to not
feel at home. --Teenagers often feel alienated
from their families --One can be alienated
from ones small town and find familiarity and
comfort in the city this is a theme that
crops up over and over again in American
literature. --One can be alienated from American
society this is the theme of much Fifties art
such as Rebel Without a Cause and Catcher in the
Rye. --Or one can be alienated from a universe
that seems to make no sense to one, or from God.
Jim Stark is alienated from everything family,
school, other kids. No one understands him except
perhaps Judy.
In contrast to the idea of maladjustment
The notion of alienation does not necessarily
suggest that the fault lies with the
alienated. The literature of alienation usually
suggests that the fault is in society or in its
grandest philosophical expressions such as in
Camus, in the universe itself. Alienation is
thus a Romantic notion since the Romantic idea
that Nature is good puts the blame for misfits on
society, not the individual.
A classic novel of alienation, The Stranger tells
the story of a totally senseless
murder Committed by a man who seems to drift
uncomprehendingly and Without connection or
affect through The world.
The victim is Arab, and word has it that George
Bush is reading The Stranger these days.
The Original Alienation
The Fall of Satan
Lucifer Cast out From Heaven
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Herman Melville, a Romantic contemporary and
friend of Emerson, gave us the first alienated
hero in our literature Bartleby who when asked
to do any work by his employer, simply replies
I would prefer not to.
Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning to find
himself transformed into a giant cockroach.
In The Trial, Kafka presents A nightmare world of
Incomprehensible and Senseless
bureaucracy Against which Joseph K. Attempts in
vain to Wrestle some coherence. Kafkas
metaphor for The alienation of Modern people
In the face of increasingly Impersonal and
dehumanized Bureaucracies societies that Have
ceased to make any Sense to their members But
continue to pursue their Own inexorable logic.
The Underground Man is one of the first
anti-heroes in fiction, a protagonist utterly
lacking every trait of the Romantic hero and
living out a futile life on the margins of
society. Such figures were to dominate much
serious fiction in the mid-twentieth century,
notably Albert Camus' Meursault in The Stranger.
Wise Blood expresses the Alienation of those
who Deny God and their Nature, and who wander The
world looking for A way to live without Him. But
to a Catholic like OConnor A world without God
has No meaning.
Two men Waiting for Godot who will no doubt make
their wait meaningful. But he never comes. What
should they do while waiting? Should they keep
waiting? How long? Do they really need Godot
anyway? Maybe it would be better if he didnt
come after all. . . Becketts play was famous
upon its publication in the fifties and has
remained so. He was widely thought then to be
concerned with the plight of a humanity martyred
by memories of war, atomic dread, the death of
God. In Endgame, one of his characters says
Were not beginning to . . . . .to. . mean
something? Not a chance in Becketts world
Catcher in the Rye came out in the early fifties
and was the literary equivalent of Rebel Without
a Cause. Holden Caulfield is an adolescent for
whom the entire adult world is absurd. It began a
tradition of books and films wherein kids see
the adult world as hypocritical and false. Like
Jim Stark, Holden Caulfield can see no
authentic way to live in the adult world.
The very picture of Alienation Alone even in a
Subtitled Problems of Youth in the Organized
One of the most-read alternative books of the
early 60s, Growing Up Absurd analyzes the ways
in which adolescents are Not given any
meaningful visions of what adult life is like
And how schooling is an alienating exercise in
turning kids Into imitations of their parents
Growth, like any ongoing function, requires
adequate objects in the environment to meet the
needs and capacities of the growing child, boy,
youth, and young man, until he can better choose
and make his own environment. It is not a
psychological question of poor influences and
bad attitudes, but an objective question of real
opportunities for worth-while experience . . .
. (I say the young men and boys rather than the
young people because the problems I want to
discuss in this book belong primarily, in our
society, to the boys how to be useful and make
something of oneself. A girl does not have to,
she is not expected to, make something of
herself. Her career does not have to be
self-justifying, for she will have children,
which is absolutely self-justifying, like any
other natural or creative act. With this
background, it is less important, for instance,
what job an average young woman works at till
she is married.) . . . .
In our society, bright lively children, with the
potentiality for knowledge, noble ideals, honest
effort, and some kind of worth-while
achievement, are transformed into useless and
cynical bipeds, or decent young men trapped or
early resigned, whether in or out of the
organized system. My purpose is a simple one
to show how it is desperately hard these days for
an average child to grow up to be a man, for our
present organized system of society does not
want men. They are not safe. They do not
suit. Paul Goodman, preface to Growing Up
"The idea of Jeffersonian democracy is to educate
its people to govern by giving them initiative
to run things, by multiplying sources of
responsibility, by encouraging dissent. This has
the beautiful moral advantage that a man can be
excellent in his own way without feeling
special, can rule without ambition and follow
without inferiority. Through the decades, it
should have been the effort of our institutions
to adapt this idea to ever-changing technical
and social conditions. Instead, as if by dark
design, our present institutions conspire to
make people inexpert, mystified, and slavish.
One is astounded at the general slavishness.
The journalists at the Presidents press
conference never ask a probing question they
have agreed, it seems, not to 'rock the boat.'
Correspondingly, the New York Times does not
print the news, because it is a 'responsible
newspaper.' Recently, the Commissioner of
Education of the State of New York spoke of the
need for young people to learn to 'handle
constructively their problems of adjustment to
authority' a remarkable expression for doing
what youre told." --Goodman, Utopian Essays
and Practical Proposals, 1962, Preface
he was a child of his times, because he
remained something of a life-long adolescent,
one who would surely have refused to grow up
either into the abhorrent morally neutral
pragmatism of those running the establishment,
which he characterized as the top-down,
bureaucratized, hierarchical, centralized
organization of the state and state-nourished
institutions, or into the acquiescent acceptance
of powerlessness of those who resign themselves
to work within that establishment. --James
"As a social critic, Goodman has had few peers in
America. He stubbornly held forth a vision of
individual self-realization through love and
work against the dehumanizing pressures that
bureaucracy and technology were producing. This
was not a Darwinian vision of self-reliance or
American rugged individualism, however, but of
anarchist community. Goodman believed that
groups of people, dealing directly with one
another on a small scale, could begin to hand
craft a new and humanly decent community out of
the sprawling over-centralized mass of
post-industrial society. He wrote about these
matters both the evils and the possibilities
of correcting them with an intelligence that
in its precision, common sense, and passionate
conviction often rises to lyrical heights."
Michael Vincent Miller, Introduction to the
Gestalt Journal Press Edition of Nature Heals
The Psychological Essays of Paul Goodman (Natua
sanat non medicus), Edited by Taylor Stoehr, 1994
Woman Warrior represents a tradition of
literature in which the children of immigrants
are alienated from their parents because the old
folks represent the ways of the Old World, not
the new ways of America.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High In a more comic
vein, We have Jeff Spicoli, The surfer dude
who Is completely alienated From his school
and From most of his Schoolmates But in Fast
Times, this Is played as comedy, Not as anguish
and Despair.
. . . All the way to the latest pop culture,
where the X-men films can be seen as a metaphor
for the alienation of those who are born
different and are denied recognition and
respect by their society.
authenticity without the natural self
  • Taylors alternative
  • the dialogical self
  • There is no pre-existing internal self
  • waiting to be discovered
  • 2. Our selves are created
  • 3. They are created by interaction
  • with others dialogue

  • Our nature, our self, is unique but it is not
    entirely original
  • it is made up of common cultural elements
  • Being true to myself means being true to my
    nature but not
  • if nature is seen an existing something inside
  • waiting to be realized
  • We do not discover an inner nature
  • We create our natures, our selves.
  • I can only create myself in dialogue with others
  • Self-creation is dynamic, not static.
  • Self-creation is thus a continuously on-going
  • We cannot create ourselves by isolating ourselves
    from the
  • corrupting influences of society.

Creation of the self through
Dialogue Examples Asking yourself What
would my father do in this situation? What would
Christ do? Asking someone else what should I do,
what should I be? Finding role models in movies,
TV Reading books that model diverse
characters Picking up on subtle cues from others
that one is being uncool Advice from parents,
teachers, religious authorities Hanging out with
Dialogue continued
  • Good etiquette, for a man, is whatever makes a
    woman feel more like a woman without making her
    feel weak-minded. . .
  • Good etiquette for a woman,is whatever makes a
    man feel more like a man, without making him
    feel more harassed and put upon than he normally
  • --1959 book of etiquette
  • Here a 50s man could learn how to be a man
    through dialogue with an etiquette book.

  • Romantics dont have to worry about
  • what they are just about finding out what
    they are and living accordingly
  • If gender is natural, then a man is a man and a
    woman a woman
  • But for Taylor we have to create a self
  • so one may be insecure about whether
  • one is really a man or enough of a
  • woman

That dialogue can change drastically. Here is
what American women were told was desirable
behavior for them during World War II.
In only a few short yearsthe dialogue
teachinggirls how to be womenwas quite
different.The men were backfrom the warwomen
are no longer needed in the workplace,so now
they must be taught that their properplace is
in the home.There was nothing subtleabout the
And nobody said being feminine was going to
be easy.
  • she in the kitchen aproned young and lovely
    wanting my baby and so happy about me she burns
    the roast beef and comes crying to me and I get
    up from my big papa chair saying Christmas teeth!
    Radiant brains! Apple deaf!
  • Gregory Corso (b. 1930), Beat poet.

  • A 50s cigarette ad shows a busty young woman in
    a lab coat walking past a couple of guys who are
    leering at her.

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  • It reads
  • Dont let this girls costume fool you.Shes not
    really a mad scientist. Shes a girl--a real,
    live, girl. Its just that she has to prove
    something to herself. She has to prove that she
    has a brain and that, if she ever has to compete
    with men on their own terms, she can do it--and
    win. But she doesnt really want to compete with
    men. In her heart she wants to attract men and
    eventually, marry one. . .

To believe that a woman is at heart a girl who
really wants to get married rather than have a
career is to believe that we Have natures and
that those natures are gendered that men Are
naturally different from women. Not all
Romantics believe that this is what our nature is
like. Many of the Romantics were looking at
believe that our natures Are not gendered that
gender differences are learned, and Created by
society, not inherent in our natures. Romantics
believe that we either are naturally gendered or
not. Taylor does not believe that gender or its
lack is a matter of Nature at all--biology is
natural, but gender is learned through Dialogues
about what it means to be feminine and masculine.

A few decades later a new dialogue about women
has become established enough to be in ads Here
is a liberated woman, lively and free in
her Movements and dress (no demure pose,
no confining girdle) sexually attractive and
available, and free from the drudgeries of
her foremothers depicted at the top of the ad.
Contrast that picture with these and ask
how these different dialogical contributions
would affect a young woman trying to figure out
what it means to be a woman.
Men too of
Popular culture contributes to the dialogue
about what it means to be a man, too.
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Leading men the 50s
the 00s
Of course, the greatest challenge to the
conventional dialogue about being a man (or
woman) was Homosexuality little boys are warned
not to be sissies. The first strategy is to
pretend theyre not there social pressure
convinces most gays even now to collaborate in
their own invisibility by staying in the
closet. Here is one piece of information that
illustrates gay invisibility A course called
Preparation for Marriage was mandatory at the
University of Miami for seniors at the
University of Miami in the 40s --Beth L.
Bailey, From Front Porch to Back Seat You know
that that course did not include a segment on gay
marriage in the 40s--would it now?. . .
Apparently the U of M. did not believe (or chose
not to believe) there were any gays on its
One strategy for coping with alienation is to
find kindred souls so that one has a place where
one feels at home.
When I first riffled in 1948 through Alfred
Kinsey's best-selling book The Sexual Behavior
of the Human Male I sensed then that this book
should require that all Americans forevermore
recast their thinking about homosexuals. In a
rush of brains to the head I realized that,
although he hadn't said as much, in my mind he
had turned us 180 degrees around from being
miscreant, criminal, or degenerately misled,
isolated, miserable human beings into being a
body of thousands, if not millions, of people.
. . we were a class, a class of people with the
social and political dimensions of a cultural
Minority. --Harry Hay, recalling the belief
of most gays in the 50s that they were unique
and alone.
Before Stonewall relates a meeting of
gay activists after the Stonewall riots when they
were seriously debating whether they should issue
a public statement that gays were not mentally
ill. Imagine what it did to the selves of gay
people when the predominant view of your society
is that you are mentally ill simply because of
who you are. One could accept that one was mad
and attempt to be cured, one could accept
being gay but such unchallenged dialogue would
obviously damage ones self-esteem. Or one
could, as Allen Ginsberg did, say Who the hell
are these people to tell me what I can and cant
be? and start talking back.
When I first proposed that henceforth we see
ourselves as the organizing committee of a
viciously oppressed cultural minority, they
first gasped and then suddenly lit up like the
shooting stars of fireworks on the Fourth of
July. It was wonderful. For the first time they
were hearing positive words about themselves,
and it had an electric effect on them just as it
had on me two years before. My words had shifted
their world reality forever. The right words at
last were doing just what right words have
always done in the old fairy stories. --Harry
Two classic novels expressing the alienation of
blacks from a Society that refuses to see them
as human beings, to which They are invisible,
forcing them to cry I am! I exist!
Recognize me! Taylors idea that the self is
formed by dialogue Makes it crucial for
minorities to gain respect and recognition From
white society.
An ad from the 60s piggybacking on the Black
Power Movements addition of black
self- affirmation to the cultural dialogue.
Gaining authenticity has always been more
complicated For minorities than for
whites. Blacks cannot (as easily) go it alone in
their quest For authenticity. If ones
self-concept is partly formed by the cultural
Dialog about ones race, then one will have
difficulty Creating a healthy self if ones race
is consistently Demeaned and insulted. For many
blacks, then, it has seemed clear that
individual Self-fulfillment and racial
self-fulfillment had to go Hand in hand.
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Playboy "We've been beatniks for 30 years and
nobody thought we were anything special."
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And now an entirely new form of dialogue
All Romantics agree we have natural selves
notall Romantics agree on what they are like
there are cultural limitations that we must work
with in creating our selves
We can have dialogue with Buddha, or Christ, or
Susan B. Anthony but we cannot become them
because there are cultural limitations that we
must work with. Every culture has its own supply
of stories and ideas that Its members draw upon
in constructing themselves. Some ideas are no
longer current, and selves that embody those
ideas may no longer be possible. One cannot
really be a Samurai warrior in modern America.
How can we be true to a self that doesnt exist?
Taylor does not believe there is a pre-existing
self to which one should be true. The idea of a
self with a specified character as the
template or authenticity is replaced by The
process of self-determination (This he gets from
Rousseau contributes the answer autonomy
self-determining freedom. we are authentic when
we are autonomous, we determine things for
ourselves, independent of outside influences.
Thus to be authentic and free beings, we must
develop the ability to think for ourselves
and by ourselves.
On this view what is wrong with the conformist is
that s/he is not thinking for herself, is not
Dont follow the Pied Piper
Lack of self-direction In the 30s and 40s
the goal of dating was to Have as many dates
with as many different Partners as possible.
Men and women both said that they chose to date
those members of the opposite sex whom lots of
others found worth dating.
Why shouldnt conformity also be accepted
as an individual life choice to be
respected? Because living according to
conventional scripts seems To the Romantic to be
allowing society to do ones Thinking for one,
rather than making up ones own mind. Its not
so much what the conformist does as why s/he
does It that makes the conformist life
inauthentic The conformist is someone who does
not search for the meaning of his or her own
life, but accepts that meaning from others.
  • Two ways to be authentic
  • Be true to your pre-existing internal nature.
  • Romantics (Emerson, Whitman, Thoreau), Rand
  • Be autonomous think for yourself.
  • Rousseau, Taylor, Existentialists
  • Two ways to be inauthentic
  • Follow the pre-existing scripts of ones society.
  • Romantics (Emerson, Whitman, Thoreau), Rand
  • 2. Let others do ones thinking for one.
  • Rousseau, Taylor, Existentialists

For Romantics, authenticity is determined by the
kind of character one has and how well it is
faithful to ones True Self. It is determined by
what one does and how well the way one lives
allows for the expression of ones true
self. For Taylor authenticity is determined
by the process by which ones self is developed.
One must be autonomous, self-determined, to be
authentic Authenticity is determined by the
reasons behind ones choices, and by whether one
has decided for oneself how to live as opposed
to letting others do ones Thinking for
one. Romantics judge authenticity by what one
does. Taylor judges authenticity by why one does
Tough cases
One may find those who struggle not to live
a Individual life in the sense of a unique life
but to live a traditional life that is
different from the mainstream Native Americans
fought to be allowed to Resurrect their
heritages, their separate Tribal cultures and to
live by the rules of Those cultures if they so
chose in the Face of laws that forbade Indian
children to Learn their native tongues and that
outlawed Native American religions.
Is it authentic for a woman to choose to
live Under the rules of a strict Muslim
fundamentalism That makes her a second-class
citizen and denies Her many rights and
opportunities? These are difficult and
seemingly paradoxical Cases Can one In the
name of self-fulfillment wish to subsume oneself
to the demands of a tradition? Is it authentic
to wish to live a life governed by traditional
rules as long as one has freely chosen those
Another source of an idea of authenticity like
Taylors that was influential in the Fifties
  • Existentialism

Existentialism was an influential and
popular philosophy in America during the 1950s
and on, especially among rebels such as the
Beats. It was common among critics of anyone
who deviated from the norms to accuse them of
being existentialists. (Unless they deviated
from the political norms Then they were called
Existentialism Contrary to Emerson but like
Taylor, Existentialists believe that there is
no pre-existing Human nature Man is nothing
else but that which he makes of himself. That is
the first principle of existentialism. --Jean-Pau
l Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism
We all know how many common sayings can be
quoted to this effect, and they all mean much
the same-- that you must not oppose the
powers-that-be that you must not fight against
superior force must not meddle in matters that
are above your station. Or that any action not
in accordance with some tradition is mere
romanticism or that any undertaking which has
not the support of proven experience is
foredoomed to frustration and that since
experience has shown men to be invariably
inclined to evil, there must be firm rules to
restrain them, otherwise we shall have anarchy.
what is alarming in the doctrine that I am about
to try to explain to you is--is it not?--that it
confronts man with the necessity of
choice. Existentialism declares that if God does
not exist there is at least one being whose
existence comes before its essence, a being
which exists before it can be defined by any
conception of it. That being is man . . . What do
we mean by saying that existence precedes
essence? We mean that man first of all exists,
encounters himself, surges up in the world--and
defines himself afterwards. If man as the
existentialist sees him is not definable, it is
because to begin with he is nothing. He will not
be anything until later, and then he will be
what he makes of himself. Thus, there is no
human nature,

Man is of a greater dignity than a stone or a
For we mean to say that man primarily
exists--that man is, before all else, something
which propels itself towards a future and is
aware that it is doing so. Man is, indeed, a
project which possesses a subjective life,
instead of being a kind of moss, or a fungus or
a cauliflower. Before that projection of the
self nothing exists not even in the heaven of
intelligence man will only attain existence when
he is what he purposes to be.
Man is responsible for what he is.
If, however, it is true that existence is prior
to essence, man is responsible for what he is.
Thus, the first effect of existentialism is that
it puts every man in possession of himself as he
is, and places the entire responsibility for his
existence squarely upon his own shoulders.
This is the anguish that Kierkegaard called
the anguish of Abraham." You know the
story An angel commanded Abraham To go
sacrifice his son and obedience was obligatory,
if it really was an angel who had appeared and
said, "Thou, Abraham, shalt sacrifice thy son."
But anyone in such a case would wonder, first,
whether it was indeed an angel . . . Where are
the proofs?
A certain mad woman who suffered from
hallucinations said that people were telephoning
to her, and giving her orders. The doctor asked,
"But who is it that speaks to you?"
She replied "He says it is God." And
what, indeed, could prove to her that it was
God? If an angel appears to me, what is the
proof that it is an angel or, if I hear voices,
who can prove that they proceed from heaven and
not from hell, or from my own subconsciousness
or some pathological condition? Who Can prove
that they are really addressed to me? . . . If a
voice speaks to me, it is still I myself who must
decide whether the voice is or is not that of an
angel. If I regard a certain course of action as
good, it is only I who choose to say that it is
good and not bad.
Emerson says to heed the still, small voice of
our Intuition, of Nature speaking to and through
us. But Sartre says that this will not do we
must decide For ourselves whether that voice we
hear is Nature, Or something else. And we must
decide whether to Accept what that voice says as
good. After all, even if it is Nature, the
Puritans would have said that this was then the
Devil speaking to and through you.
We cannot shirk responsibility for who we are
and what we do Not even by claiming that it is
our nature to be who we are.
Dostoievsky once wrote "If God did
not exist, everything would be permitted" and
that, for existentialism, is the starting point.
Everything is indeed permitted if God does not
exist, and man is in consequence forlorn, for he
cannot find anything to depend upon either
within or outside himself. He discovers
forthwith, that he is without excuse. For if
indeed existence precedes essence, one will never
be able to explain one's action by reference to
a given and specific human nature in other
words, there is no determinism--man is free, man
is freedom.
man is condemned to be free.
Nor, on the other hand, if God does not exist,
are we provided with any values or commands that
could legitimise our behaviour. Thus we have
neither behind us, nor before us in a luminous
realm of values, any means of justification or
excuse. We are left alone, without excuse. That
is what I mean when I say that man is condemned
to be free. Condemned, because he did not
create himself yet is nevertheless at liberty,
and from the moment that he is thrown into this
world he is responsible for everything he does.
For many have but one resource to sustain them in
their misery, and that is to think,
"Circumstances have been against me, I was
worthy to be something much better than I have
been. I admit I have never had a great love or a
great friendship but that is because I never met
a man or a woman who were worthy of it if I
have not written any very good books, it is
because I had not the leisure to do so or, if I
have had no children to whom I could devote
myself it is because I did not find the man I
could have lived with.
So there remains within me a wide range of
abilities, inclinations and potentialities,
unused but perfectly viable, which endow me with
a worthiness that could never be inferred from
the mere history of my actions." But in reality
and for the existentialist, there is no love
apart from the deeds of love no potentiality of
love other than that which is manifested in
loving there is no genius other than that which
is expressed. . . .
Does anyone reproach an artist when he paints a
picture for not following rules established a
priori? Does one ever ask what is the picture
that he ought to paint? As everyone knows, there
is no pre-defined picture for him to make the
artist applies himself to the composition of a
picture, and the picture that ought to be made
is precisely that which he will have made. As
everyone knows, there are no aesthetic values a
priori, but there are values which will appear
in due course in the coherence of the picture,
in the relation between the will to create and
the finished work.
But we find this freedom frightening and we Will
attempt to find ways to avoid it We will
shelter behind arguments that we cant help Being
the way we are its our nature Or we will hide
behind authorities. Or we will become
ahistorical you cant fight it or Change it,
its just the way things are and theyve Always
been like that.
According to Mademoiselle in 1986 Dating was
probably never fun, But it wasnt
navigating Shark-infested waters, either. . .. If
you wanted sex, You got married society required
it--it was not optional. Men pursued women
ardently and openly women pursued Men ardently
and covertly. The game was clear to all
players. Even if the rules were stifling, it
seems, at least we knew What they were--and the
consequences of breaking them. -Beth Bailey,
From Front Porch to Back Seat The editors of
Mademoiselle are exhibiting a fear Of freedom
give us rules, even oppressive ones. Its too
hard to have to make our own choices.
No one can tell what the painting of to-morrow
will be like one cannot judge a painting until
it is done. What has that to do with morality?
We are in the same creative situation. Man
makes himself he is not found re