chapter  23
12 Pages

Conscience, Self-Deception, and the Question of Authenticity in Kierkegaard

WithClaudia Welz

This chapter investigates the meaning of three key terms in Kierkegaard’s authorship, namely ‘conscience,’ ‘self-deception,’ and ‘authenticity.’ If ‘conscience,’ derived from the Latin word con-scientia, is a ‘knowing-with’ oneself that testifies to one’s private thoughts and feelings as well as to one’s actions and decisions in relation to others, then being accused by one’s conscience can become such a burden that one may desire that the self-knowledge conscience provides against oneself could be deleted. Yet, thereby one would deceive oneself. In what ways can human beings deceive themselves, and how can we prevent or cure self-deception, so that we live ‘authentically,’ if this is possible at all?