Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Sincerity, redefined

Read this article on sincerity and politics, the other day on Aeon.

The main argument is about the notion of sincerity being the hallmark of modern politics and what was quite surprising for me was that it had nothing to do with truth!  So one could be sincere even if one did not base oneself on truth, or if the belief about which one is sincere is shallow or even without reasons.  It has nothing to do with correctness, good or right, integrity...

Somewhere halfway through the author makes a distinction between authenticity and sincerity.
According to Trilling, in the 19th century, authenticity superseded sincerity as the system to signal the alignment of outer life and inner belief. Authenticity, he claimed, destroyed sincerity’s logic of conformity and coherence between inside and outside, the self and the world. Instead, authenticity privileged the way in which such factors as love, hate, fear or contempt, which really shaped human beings, broke through the artifice of everyday life and transformed it. In other words, rather than sincerity’s task of matching practices with beliefs, authenticity was about acknowledging deep and primal forces, even allowing them on occasion to destroy social norms, so as to create altogether new ones.
Today, sincerity is no longer defined by conformity. Sincerity rather presupposes the elimination of an inner life, the same inner life required for generating either authenticity or conformity. With the disappearance of inner life, one of the traditional hiding places of truth has also ceased to exist.
Then the notions of hypocrisy, doubt, post-truth, inner life (as contrasted to public life), objectivity, reality... too are discussed but strangely in a totally different sense.

The article attributes Donald Trump's popularity to his sincerity.  For me it appeared to mean that he had no filters.  That's what people like about him.  That he changes his mind, he has no basis, certainty about facts or figures, is not important, but that he is frank and open.  Even if he has to say exactly the opposite of what he said the previous day, is fine, as long as he is clear about it now.

Strange notion of sincerity! 

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