authenticity as an inarticulate ideal in the contemporary discourse of good childhoods

luiz miranda


This paper consists of an initial investigation about the meaning of a good childhood following the ethical ideal of authenticity. In this introduction to a philosophy of childhood and authenticity, the central theme is to investigate how the authenticity ideal is already presupposed in the contemporary discourse on what constitutes a good childhood. In the emerging field of philosophy of childhood, the capacities of children for agency, autonomy, and committing and the fundamental role of parents in guaranteeing possibilities to exercise them are being increasingly highlighted, together with a discourse that there are some intrinsic goods of childhood. These developments parallel contemporary reconstructions of authenticity as an ethical ideal. Current debates emphasize the importance of a person finding, creating and constructing their originality, and how to realize it. At the same time, this search must recognize demands emanating from something more than human desires: from one’s culture and community. The parallel dynamics between these two discourses - children-parent and individual-society - point to a direction that applying the concept of authenticity to the construction of novel interpretations and practices of a good childhood can bring fruitful results. After examining such parallels, some of these practices that emerge from the analysis of good childhoods as authentic childhood are pointed out, such as the importance of cultivating children’s moments of caring and committing, and the development of personal projects. The paper concludes by exploring some limitations of the applied methodology and how it can be a strength in future research on this topic.


childhood; authenticity; moral-psychology; personal projects.

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