As adults, we often become part of the social mass, the anonymous "they." The complex processes of everyday life so completely absorb our attention that we can lose contact with our deepest inner selves. Many of us become responsible adults but inauthentic people.
The purpose of this study is to develop informed curriculum and leadership agendas to promote the creating and living of authentic lives by organization and community members. More specifically, this research pertains to the private and public spaces that culture provides those who are interested in the moral domain.
This study indicates how people can become more authentic when everything in post-modern culture pulls in the opposite direction, keeping people un-centered but functional for the social processes.
The philosophical theoretical framework for this study is based on critical hermeneutics and the protocol of participatory research (Herda, 1999). Three categories direct this inquiry: authenticity, narrative identity, and imagination. These categories are derived from the work of Martin Heidegger, Paul Ricoeur, and Richard Kearney. Conversations with participants were transcribed and analyzed in terms of the three research categories listed above.
The primary finding of this study is that to be human is to search for one's true self and to yearn for authentic relations with others. While it is hard, almost impossible, to attain public authenticity within the prevailing social ethic, with its instrumental personal and economic relations, it is certainly feasible to attempt to do so. We can take responsibility for our actions and to foster a true concern for others.
Autonomy, making our own life-choices, 'doing it my way', though a part, is not the totality of what makes up authenticity, or being one's own person. To be any kind of a person, one's life must have a unity to it, the continuity and coherence of which comes from constructing one's life as a work of art in relationship with others.