Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Practical Philosophy and Applied Ethics (MA)


Philosophy and Religious Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Erinn Gilson

Second Advisor

Dr. Hans-Herbert Koegler

Third Advisor

Dr. Murray Skees

Department Chair

Dr. Andrew Buchwalter

College Dean

Dr. Hans-Herbert Koegler


In a world bombarded with advertisements, it may be difficult for the development of an authentic self. Authenticity is a mode of existence in which there is ownership in the sense of self, while at the same time being able to present this sense of self to others. To be authentic is to act and live in a way that expresses a genuine concern for the self in which projects and goals pursued. The sense of self is the feeling of genuineness of the self and representing this self requires actions that correlate to these feelings. Advertisements act as communication to the public in an attempt to persuade people to purchase products. The tactics that advertising agencies use cause people and society to internalize these messages, in effect, influencing the way people experience the world. Thus, advertising can have a harmful effect on an individual by hindering the development of an authentic self. I will first explain the concept of authenticity, following a discussion of how people organize experience by means of George Mead’s concept of the ‘I’ and the ‘me.’ I will then provide a description of Martin Heidegger’s account on authenticity in juxtaposition with Sartre’s contrasting forms of inauthenticity by means of bad faith. Finally, I will discuss the damaging effects that advertising has to authenticity, and suggest ways to successfully exist in a world full of these advertisements.