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The Power of Authenticity, Integrity and Sincerity

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Authenticity is a contradiction to this observation since it encourages one to understand one’s true self via self-reflection and stay true to that self-portrait. Thus, authenticity can be defined as being true to oneself. To be authentic is to live in a way such that our choices reflect our true self; our nominal self, which reflects one’s inner desires and feelings, untainted by societal expectations. However, since society shapes our values and are the origins of our opinions, authenticity is not bereft of social influences.

Integrity refers to having unwavering moral beliefs and being able to remain faithful to one’s ethical paradigm. A person with integrity is someone who is honest, someone whose actions match with her words. However, authenticity does not simply advocate for adhering to your professed moral code. For a person to be authentic, not only must he follow his steadfast beliefs, his proclaimed ideals must also match with the inner desires of his true self. Moreover, unlike integrity, authenticity is not bound by morality: as long as a choice is self-serving, it can be considered authentic.

Sincerity can be defined as being truthful so that one can be honest while dealing with others; it is considered a characteristic of someone who is blindly obedient of societal rules. While sincerity is often confused with authenticity, there is a key distinction between the two: sincerity advocates for one to be honest with oneself to sustain good social relationships while authenticity encourages non-altruistic honesty in a person.

In autonomy, a person critically evaluates all the relevant information available while taking personal decisions on her own, whereas in authenticity, a person makes personal decisions based on her feelings, via introspection. In autonomy, for example, if a person who is interested in painting chooses to study engineering for his/her undergraduate degree after reviewing all the choices available to him, that person is autonomous but not authentic. This is because the person is choosing a degree that does not reflect him.

Thus, I do believe that authenticity with integrity and sincerity are a distinctive virtue in and of itself. While the essence of them might advocate selfishness, being authentic and sincere is good because it encourages people to live their own lives according to their own ideals: we only live once after all. However, it is too weak a characteristic to set a person’s moral dimensions by itself. So, authneticity must be bolstered by other characteristics such as integrity and sincerity, to ensure that a person’s values are equally as altruistic as they are self-serving.   

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