Using an all-too-familiar modern story of social media seduction, consequent marital breakup, and the futile search for validation in new romantic relationships, I traverse chapters 6 and 7 in Charles Taylor’ Malaise of Modernity. The story is sadly commonplace, which is ironic because breakups are often done in the quest for authenticity. But for that reason, this story is an analog for what generally ails us. I cover some systemic reasons Taylor mentions which help explain why people often make relationship mistakes over and over again in the search for an authentic life, but I offer a critique as well.
Charles Taylor does not adequately deal with the influence of capitalism as the underlying cause of the systemic reasons he does mention, and for the deep-rooted habits of “expressivism” that yield the shallow and trivial authenticity he criticizes. Capitalism feeds off of personal misery and the endless quest for fulfillment and makes it difficult (but not impossible?) to get beyond shallow authenticity.
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