Experimental and relational authenticity: how neurotechnologies impact narrative identities

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-18 (forthcoming)
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Abstract

The debate about how neurotechnologies impact authenticity has focused on two inter-related dimensions: self-discovery and self-creation. In this paper, we develop a broader framework that includes the experimental and relational dimensions of authenticity, both understood as decisive for shaping one’s narrative identity. In our view, neurointerventions that alter someone’s personality traits will also impact her very own self-understanding across time. We argue that experimental authenticity only needs a minimum conception of narrative coherence of the self and that reversibility should remain a key feature in the ethical assessment of neurotechnologies. The relational dimension of authenticity derives from the fact that a process of self-constitution is never a solitary business. The significant others act not just as subsequent judges of one’s life decisions, but as real co-authors of one’s self. We discuss relevant cases in which others are actively contributing to the meaning-making process, as to the direction one’s life is taking. We also claim that the experimental and the relational dimensions of authenticity should aim to correct each other. The relational dimension introduces socially approved standards as well as limitations to the array of available possibilities of self-fashioning or human enhancement. The experimental side enables us to avoid confusing one’s personal identity with a social and narrative construct that only bears the mark of social pressure and conformism.

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Author Profiles

Cristian Iftode
University of Bucharest
Constantin Vica
University of Bucharest
Emilian Mihailov
University of Bucharest

References found in this work

Transformative Experience.Laurie Ann Paul - 2014 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
The Ethics of Authenticity.Charles Taylor - 1991 - Harvard University Press.
Oneself as Another.Paul Ricoeur - 1992 - University of Chicago Press.
The Constitution of Selves.Marya Schechtman (ed.) - 1996 - Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Action and Interaction.Shaun Gallagher - 2020 - Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

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