IN ART & ORGANISM you have heard me make much of the AUTHENTICITY of your expression (as in your mind-maps) as of great value in your confidence in your SELF-KNOWLEDGE.   (We are obviously placing a great value on knowing one’s own self, as well as on how well we know each other  (individuation and socialization).  To KNOW and to be KNOWN are presumed to be of great value.

SPONTANEITY is also of great value here: it occurs when the transfer of information from deep aspects of consciousness can come to expression that will inform us and others. (A&O notes on spontaneity). As a NEED, its connection to health can be psychoanalysis


In any meaningful exchange between people, authenticity is highly prized and appreciated.  We open up more fully to the authentic voice:  In resonance with the sentiment “to thine own self be true”[i] and “Like Hugh MacLeod, who famously asserted that “the best way to get approval is not to need it,” [we can say for all art what Oscar Wilde says of “writing for acclaim … “Popular authority and the recognition of popular authority are fatal. … A true artist takes no notice whatever of the public. The public are to him non-existent. He has no poppied or honeyed cakes through which to give the monster sleep or sustenance. He leaves that to the popular novelist.” [from The Marginalian]




The concern for the authenticity of a work of art often (usually but not always) extends to the artifact itself :  

The Chinese have two different concepts of a copy. 

  • Fangzhipin (仿製品) are imitations where the difference from the original is obvious. These are small models or copies that can be purchased in a museum shop, for example. The second concept for a copy is 
  • fuzhipin (複製品). They are exact reproductions of the original, which, for the Chinese, are of equal value to the original. It has absolutely no negative connotations.

The discrepancy with regard to the understanding of what a copy is has often led to misunderstandings and arguments between China and Western museums. The Chinese often send copies abroad instead of originals, in the firm belief that they are not essentially different from the originals. The rejection that then comes from the Western museums is perceived by the Chinese as an insult.” — Byung-Chul Han in Aeon 2018)[i]

Recently (2023), the possibility of creating a precise replica of the Elgin Marbles is getting attention: Watch “Robots Are Carving Replicas of the Elgin Marbles: Could They Help the Real Ancient Sculptures Return to Greece?You Tube 


Read Maggie Cao in The Guardian  19 Oct 2016 on fascination with forgeries: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/oct/19/forgery-fiction-literatures-fascination-with-fake-art 


[i] The copy is the original  Byung-Chul Han  Aeon 2018 (3/8/2018)https://aeon.co/essays/why-in-china-and-japan-a-copy-is-just-as-good-as-an-original?   This is an edited extract from Shanzai: Deconstruction in Chinese’ © 2017 by Byung-Chul Chan, translated by Philippa Hurd, and published by MIT Press.   

“[participants in an experiment may behave differently…[according to their perception of the authenticity of an artwork] Perceived authenticity influences the evaluation of a painting’s quality as well as the artist’s talent (Wolz and Carbon, 2014).

 … “The effect of representations of artworks is rather difficult to examine. One has to differentiate between the already mentioned perceived authenticity (Pelowski et al., 2017) and the actual authenticity. Even if authenticity is correctly perceived – meaning that the participant that is confronted with an image of a real artwork reacts as if he is confronted with the real artwork– a copy does not feature the aura and the temporal and spatial uniqueness of the original (Benjamin, 1969). Therefore, the reaction to the copy might be different (Locher et al., 1999). In summary, researchers should be aware that some investigations are illegitimate when performed on mere copies of actual artworks (for details, see section “Control over Stimuli”). Thus, such experiments should be avoided or they should be conducted with actual artworks.

A rather similar problem arises from the location of the experiment. Researchers should be aware of the difference between a museum setting and a laboratory setting. Usually, visitors are in a certain state of mind when visiting a museum (Brieber et al., 2015) which might be related to the prestige of institutionalism in our time (Pelowski et al., 2017). When participating in an experiment, their state of mind is not necessarily the same. For instance, the contour of the room influences ratings on beauty and pleasantness (Vartanian et al., 2013). Additionally, other aspects of presentation context like framing (Redies and Gross, 2013Ensor and Hamilton, 2014), boundaries (Cupchik, 2006), lighting (Griswold et al., 2013) and size (Pelowski and Akiba, 2011) have been discussed to be relevant for art appreciation. Quite often studies on artworks target on the state of mind of the perceiver. In these cases, the location of the participant has to be considered in order to reach a valid interpretation of the results (Cela-Conde et al., 2011Gartus and Leder, 2014).”  (From Hayn-Leichsenfring (2017) (saved on-line: https://neilgreenberg.com/ao-reading-empirical-aesthetics-research-by-hayn-leichsenring-2017/ )

Wolz S. H., Carbon C. C. (2014). What’s wrong with an art fake? Cognitive and emotional variables influenced by authenticity status of artworks.   Leonardo 47 467–473. 10.1162/Leon_a_00869 [Cross Ref]


[i] (“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”—Advice of Polonius, a counselor to the King, to his son Laertes, in Act 1 Scene 3 of Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet.)


How can we define the object of study in aesthetics?  Because of the ambiguity of “what is an artwork” and thus the difficulty in defining it in everyday practice, leads the author to take a philosophical approach and looks at it in terms of its extension (examples) and intension (essence)



 I read today (November 24, 2020) in the NYT that the Cambridge University Library has reported that two of Darwin’s Notebooks, that were thought misplaced were most likely stolen.  They are described as “priceless” but nevertheless [has as] estimated value of “millions of pounds.”  This resurrected my interest in why authenticity is so important: relics of saints, provenance of art works… originals in general—even when a counterfeit is almost impossible to detect.  Is the need for an unbroken chain of empirical evidence? Or…??? Should go through the entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia. An “authentic individual” is one free of artifice … This likely articulates with the problem of humans versus humanoid robots.   (Authenticity is also one of the six fundamental components of information security).

In the philosophy of existentialism, the prime example of personal authenticity is Socrates’s admonition that: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”[7] In the 18th century, Romantic philosophers recommended intuition, emotion, and a connection to Nature as the necessary counterbalances to the intellectualism of the Age of Enlightenment.[8] In the 20th century, Anglo–American preoccupations with authenticity centre upon the writings of existentialist philosophers whose native tongue is not English; therefore, the faithful, true, and accurate translation of the term existentialism was much debated, to which end the philosopher Walter Kaufmann assembled the canon of existentialist philosophers, which includes the Dane Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855), the German Martin Heidegger (1889–1976), and the Frenchman Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980), for whom the conscious Self comes to terms with existence (being and living) in an absurd, materialist world featuring external forces, e.g. Geworfenheit (Thrown-ness), and intellectual influences different from and other than the Self. Therefore, personal authenticity is in how a man or a woman acts and changes in response to the influences of the external world upon the Self. Among artistsauthenticity in art describes a work of art that is faithful to the values of the artist.[9] In the field of psychology, authenticity identifies a person living life in accordance with his or her true Self, personal values, rather than according to the external demands of society, such as social conventionskinship, and duty.[10][11][12] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authenticity_(philosophy))