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Authentic life

A term coined by Martin Heidegger to refer to people who accept the finiteness of their existence, allowing them to exercise their freedom to create a meaningful existence.
Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) believed that we are free to choose the nature of our own existence. It is essential, though, that we accept the fact that our existence is finite; only then can we lead an authentic life, exercising our personal freedom to create a meaningful existence and continually grow (becoming). The alternative is to live an inauthentic life, give up our freedom, pretend, accept conventionality, and be concerned only with the present. Most people don't exercise their personal freedom, and consequently they experience guilt. Leading an authentic life minimizes guilt. But, leading an authentic life also takes courage, as our life becomes filled with uncertainty. We experience anxiety, first because we are experimenting with life and second because we must take responsibility for the consequences of our choices.
Further Reading:

Boeree, C. G. (1997). Ludwig Binswanger [On-line] Available:

Heidegger, M. (1927). Being and time. Halle, Germany: Niemeyer.

Kemerling, G. (2001). Authenticity [On-line] Available:

Related Terms:
Anxiety (Heidegger)


Guilt (Heidegger)

Heidegger, Martin (1889 - 1976)

Inauthentic life

Self-Instructional Resources:
Take a 1-item self-test over this concept.

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