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Authenticity (from the Greek αὐθεντικός authentikós "real"; late Latin authenticus "guaranteed, reliable") means authenticity in the sense of "found to be original ". The adjective for authenticity is authentic .


Authenticity denotes a critical quality of perceptual content (objects or people, events or human action) that presupposes the opposition of appearance and reality as a possibility of deception and falsification. Such content is considered authentic if both aspects of perception, immediate appearance and actual being, are found to be in agreement. The separation of the authentic from the supposedly real or fake can be seen as a specifically human form of world and self-knowledge. To prove authenticity, very far-reaching cultural techniques have been developed that try to normatively (re) construct the criteria of authenticity for a certain subject area.

Forms of authenticity

Archaeological and historical authenticity

Authenticity of various artifacts found (e.g. works of art, components, coins, documents) means that the object to be examined actually originates from the persons , authors or sources from whom it claims to originate, i.e. that it is neither a forgery nor a mistake. A classic example from the field of classical philology is the so-called Homeric question . With the help of linguistics, Homer's authorship is checked against traditional attribution. At the same time, within the framework of classical studies, the historical authenticity (the actual existence) of Homer as well as the scenes and events described in these writings are checked using the means of historical science and archeology ( Troy debate ).

The question of historical authenticity was discussed intensively using the example of biblical texts. Compared to a biblical understanding, according to which the correspondence truth of the Bible should be proven by archaeological artifacts, theological science has enabled a differentiated allocation of factuality claims and narrative fictionality. Authenticity is expanded to include the question of truth and reality.

Hermeneutics: Mens Auctoris and interpretatio authentica

The Greek church fathers translated authenticity with the Latin term auctoritas , which has been preserved in the German language as authorship or authority . The basis of hermeneutic exegesis (text interpretation) includes the question of the author's intention (mens auctoris) as well as the concept of an authentic interpretation , which must be differentiated from absurd or heretical, inauthentic interpretations.


The rhetoric negotiates the question of authenticity on the text level and the level of oratorial performance (performance). It is a staging that tries to hide its staging and thus to create an authenticity or reality effect (cf. the principle of dissimulatio artis ). Authenticity is not to be understood as a property that is simply inherent in a text or a person, but as the result of an attribution process that should be traced back to the oratorial intention .

At the text level, authenticity is created by hiding the construction of the text; media such as film or photography are very successful here. In relation to the oratorical performance, the concept of authenticity is closely related to the ethos of a person, in rhetoric with the orator .


In music theory, among other things, certain church scales are described as authentic , in contrast to the plagal church scales: Authentic here means what originally sets the tone, to which the plagal is in a merely modifying, subordinate derivative relationship.

In popular music , authenticity is often translated as “ street credibility ”. The guarantee for one's own is mainly taken over by the fan community (" peer group "), which often understands this to be a congruence to one's own living conditions. This congruence should be decipherable as far as the music is concerned. If you move from the musical to the popular musical, then that is already an economic decision, an economy of attention that would suggest confirmation in pure sales figures, were it not for the moment of resistance against the culture industry , which is often associated with the public guarantee Train is coming. Street credit, too, has only a secondary impact on sales figures. Where the exploitation machinery becomes aware, popular music is given credibility. This can also be the case on other occasions, for example the joint commitment of many musicians against the Iraq war in 2003. However, music does not have to interfere in business or politics in order to be credible: The image of those who are not interested in political and social issues can lead to it contribute to an authentic shape. Authenticity in popular music is a sensitive yardstick, it reacts almost allergically to attempts at artificial adaptation - it is a truth and honesty yardstick for conveying sincerity, which very precisely captures the levels of musical design as well as the framework conditions. What is guaranteed is not just the appropriateness of the musical expression, often the living conditions of the artists also play a role. Superstars are often faced with the problem of being able to generate authenticity only from the topoi of society as a whole , which they escape from the typical styles (in the sense of subcultures ). Street credit is a modern tool. With early blues, for example, one would rather speak of authenticity, with hip-hop , one would rather speak of street credit. In popular music, for example, authenticity is an individual (subjective) measure, street credit is a collective ( intersubjective ) one. The most effective elements for the reconstruction of street credibility in popular music are often live elements, such as those in the song “Denkmal” (2004) by the band Wir sind Helden . In one of the official video releases of the song, the chorus is sung by the audience at one point (“They built a monument for us”). In addition, there is a video presentation, which is strongly oriented towards the documentation of stage and tour experiences. Another video release of the same song deals more closely with the contextual references of the lyrics, which are typical for authenticity and street credibility in popular music.


In jurisprudence , the wording of a legal norm published by the legislature itself is called authentic . In contrast, there are other pronouncements or publications, such as in textbooks or commentaries , which, contrary to the authentic version, are not legally binding in their wording .

A well-known example of this are the headings of paragraphs in most German laws . In the authentic version of the law (in Germany only the pronouncement in the Federal Law Gazette ), the individual paragraphs often have no headings, while in many text editions by publishers they contain non-authentic (i.e. unofficial and therefore legally non-binding) headings. Such additions are usually indicated as inauthentic by square brackets .

Austria is the first European country to consider the online version of the Federal Law Gazette (in the legal information system of the Federal Chancellery ) as authentic instead of the paper version that is also published.

An interpretation of the law ( exegesis ) can have the status of the so-called authentic interpretation if the legislative body itself has expressed it, especially in the parliamentary legislative materials.

Computer science

In information security , authenticity describes the properties of authenticity, verifiability and trustworthiness. The verification of an alleged property is called authentication . Authentication of the data origin proves that data can be assigned to a specified sender , which can be made possible by digital signatures .

The problem of the Byzantine generals can be used to examine many questions about the authenticity of information . In this scenario, several generals who do not trust each other besiege Byzantium and have communications sent to each other . Algorithms are needed for the secure transmission and verification of these messages, as the sender or an entire message can be forged by someone else, messages can be lost by intercepted messengers or can be replaced by forged messages.

Subject didactics

In subject didactics , authenticity is understood to mean that the material (e.g. interview, film, news program, newspaper article, sign, etc.) that a teacher uses has not been designed or changed for the classroom.

In foreign language didactics , situations and tasks are regarded as "authentic" if the pupils experience them in the school and classroom situation as immediately real or at least accept them as lifelike, so that they can also transfer what they have learned into the world outside of school.

According to Hans-Jürgen Pandel, history didactics differentiate between different forms of authenticity.

  • Person and event authenticity: indicates to what extent represented persons or events actually existed.
  • Source authenticity: indicates the extent to which a source meets the requirements for authenticity.
  • Type authenticity: indicates the extent to which people / characters are possibly invented, but are still convincing in a historical context (example: the invented Hitler boy in a youth novel).
  • Authenticity of experience: indicates the extent to which what is experienced and felt in texts was actually felt by the author. Pandel notes that this type of authenticity can hardly be proven with the “usual historical sources”.
  • Representation authenticity: indicates the extent to which a displayed event depicts other occurrences / events typical of the epoch.


Within the strategic brand management , brand authenticity is defined as the “truthfulness of the declared brand promise”. The value proposition is perceived as truthful by the consumers if they have the impression that the brand does not present itself differently from the outside than it is.

In cultural studies discourse

Rolf Lindner approached this topic with the "idea of ​​the authentic". He sees the basic discourse of cultural anthropology in the question of authenticity. In current contributions to the discourse, it is assumed that questions of cultural authenticity can be achieved through dramaturgical processing of the action (thus also through staging), in contrast to this, it was previously assumed that authenticity only takes place where nothing is staged.

According to Manfred Hattendorf , authenticity can also depend on the different dimensions of perception. So something can be authentic in one context, but not in another. Authenticity therefore depends on the interaction of several variables. Hattendorf compares the reception of authenticity with the conclusion of a contract. First, an organizing authority offers a communication. The recipient is there with his knowledge, experience and specific perception. The relationship between the two is characterized by mutual influence. Now the organizing authority provides incentives to arouse the interest of the recipient. A reception can be set in motion by specific authenticity signals, which in the best case lead to a contract being concluded. With this knowledge, it becomes clear to us that something is authentic when the viewer's trust is won. If this is not the case, it is perceived as implausible. Thus, authenticity always depends on the individual. With this understanding, Hattendorf is at the center of cultural studies authenticity discourses and makes it clear that it is difficult to draw a dividing line between staged (false) and authentic (real).

Authenticity of people

Authenticity also describes a personality trait and a personal (ethical) value (moral concept). Applied to persons, authenticity means to act according to one's true self , i.e. H. expressing one's values, thoughts, emotions , beliefs and needs and acting accordingly, and not being determined by external influences (Harter, 2002). Peer pressure and manipulation, for example, undermine personal authenticity.

The social psychologists Michael Kernis and Brian Goldman distinguish four criteria that must be met in order to experience yourself as authentic :

  • Awareness - An authentic person knows their strengths and weaknesses as well as their feelings and motives for certain behaviors. This presupposes self-knowledge through self-perception and perception of others and self-reflection in order to become aware of oneself and one's actions.
  • Honesty - This includes looking into the face of the unvarnished reality regarding oneself and alsoacceptingunpleasant feedback .
  • Consistency - An authentic person acts according to his values ​​and beliefs. This applies to the priorities setand also in the event that this results in disadvantages. Hardly anything seems more mendacious and inauthentic than an opportunist .
  • Sincerity - Authenticity includes the willingness to openly show one's true self, with its positive and negative sides, in social relationships and not to deny it.

A person described as authentic appears particularly “real”, radiates that they stand by themselves with their strengths and weaknesses and act in harmony with themselves. It conveys an image of yourself that the viewer perceives as honest, coherent, natural, unbent, unaffected. It does not have to be the real properties of what is being viewed. Also attributions of viewers can cause these impressions and as part of a successful staging act. If the staging is exaggerated, it can appear clichéd and become kitsch , or it can appear artistically skillful.


Both in terms of a conceptual description (Aristotle, Plato) and in the form of an exemplary embodiment (Socrates), authenticity is already known in ancient philosophy. An orientation towards the concept of “authenticity” is nevertheless described by many authors as a moment in the history of ideas of the modern age and as a development since the end of the 18th century. In the field of aesthetics, for example, as an influential thesis will now Lionel Trilling , art no more than correct compliance with a rule canon understood, but as a means of self-exploration. In ethics (in a very broad sense), orientations towards “authenticity”, such as Charles Taylor, are a “child of romanticism”. Here an expansion and modification of earlier versions of an "individualism", such as that of Descartes (self-thinking before traditional teachings) or Locke (person before social obligation) are made, and a. by observing the sociality of the individual.

Existentialism and existential philosophy

The concept of “authenticity” plays an important role for many authors who are assigned to existentialism.


For Heidegger, "authenticity" and "inauthenticity" are two fundamental alternatives for how subjects can relate to their own being: "Inauthenticity can [...] determine existence to its fullest concretion in its busyness, excitement, interest, ability to enjoy." Inauthenticity is completely dazed by the “co-existence of others in the man”; it is “worried in a world”. “Conversely, the actual existence is nothing that hovers over the decaying everyday life, but existentially only a modified grasping of it.” In Heidegger's reception, the terms “authenticity” and “authenticity” were often juxtaposed with little distinction or were e.g. B. "authenticity" translated as "authenticity".

Heidegger's concept of “authenticity” is a concept whose suitability for establishing normative ethics, for example, is often questioned. Instead, many of Heidegger's critics objected, it was a formal concept that could not prevent even very problematic concretions, as was the case with Heidegger's own problematic positioning and the like. a. to fascist ideology.

Theodor W. Adorno's 1964 essay “ Jargon of Authenticity ” is one of the more extensive exploration of Heidegger's concept of “ authenticity ”. Adorno writes in it:

"The suffix" -keit "[...] stimulates the belief that it already contains that content. The mere relational category is fished out and, in turn, exhibited as something concrete; According to this logic, the highest would be what is absolutely what it is. The reprized Plato is more Platonic than the authentic one, who, at least in the middle period, assigned his idea to any thing, even the lowest, and in no way confused the pure correspondence of the thing with it with the good. In the name of contemporary authenticity, however, a torturer could also file all kinds of ontological claims for compensation, provided that he was only a real torturer. The primacy of the concept over the thing is now, through the alliance of authenticity with "unity," shifted into pure detail, as artificially as the haecceitas of the late scholasticism of Duns Scotus, which made the indissolubility of diesda itself, its non-universal- Being, making it universal, paradigm of an ontologization of the ontic . "


Jean-Paul Sartre's understanding of authenticity is quite controversial in Sartre research. With Sartre, the insincere way of being "can be the normal aspect of life even for a very large number of people." It arises from so-called complicit reflection . At the center of the investigations into his conception of authenticity is the following section: “In short, there are two authentic attitudes: the one through which I recognize the other as the subject, through which I come to objecthood - that is shame; and those through which I see myself as the free design through which the other comes to being other - that is the arrogance or the assertion of my freedom in relation to the object other. But pride - or vanity - is an unstable, insincere feeling ”. Sartre distinguishes between insincerity (mauvaise foi) and authenticity. This distinction is based on the fundamental determination of human existence as "for-itself, [...] that is what it is not and that is not what it is".

The insincerity is thus lying to oneself, in that human reality is aware of an inaccurate but apparently advantageous being, which it at the same time tries to accept or convey as correct. The antithesis of insincerity is honesty. According to Sartre, this is ultimately an “ideal of being” that man cannot achieve, which is why he cannot be honest and, above all, cannot become, because as “for himself” he is free to design himself. Honesty is therefore itself insincere, because human reality is aware that it cannot achieve this ideal.

For Sartre, authenticity is a term that, against this background, refers to the fact that in human reality a feeling of shame is evoked through the recognition of the other as a subject due to the experience of one's own object-in-the-world. This sense of shame is authentic insofar as it is the tangible expression of an original relationship with the other and, since it takes place on the level of pre-reflective thinking, it does not allow any further drafting. The shame is there and cannot be eliminated by an attitude. It must be understood here, however, that Sartre speaks of an original shame, from which the possibility of everyday shame results.

Late modern

According to Michel Foucault's discourse-analytical diagnosis, the concept of “authenticity” is typical of modern forms of subjectivation. It is about the reference to a “way of being of the subject determined by its agreement with itself”. In contrast, Foucault argues for a multitude of forms and practices of self-relation and self-design. He clarifies this z. B. with reference to Sartre's demand that we “really and truly must be ourselves” and to his literature analyzes. Sartre tied the "creative work" (for example of a Baudelaire) back to "a certain relationship to oneself", "to a self-reference of the author" and distinguished only two forms: "authenticity" in the sense of moral "sincerity" or Non-authenticity. Instead, Foucault suggests a reverse perspective: "Perhaps one should view the kind of relationship he has with himself as a creative activity that is at the core of his ethical activity." - "From the thought that the self is not us is given, in my opinion only one practical consequence can be drawn: we have to justify, manufacture and arrange ourselves like a work of art. "

Such criticisms of the classic-modern concept of “authenticity” also lead many other analysts and theorists of the late modern era (insofar often labeled as “ postmodern ”) into the field. During this time, the concept of authentic inauthenticity was also used as a term for playing with the authentic.

Since the 1990s at the latest, however, there have also been defenses of the "authenticity" concept, e.g. B. in aesthetics or ethics. Charles Taylor, for example, with reference u. a. developed a defense and elaboration of an “ethics of authenticity” on Trilling.

Political philosophy

In political philosophy , the question of authenticity arises as a question of true will (authentic in this sense is whoever knows his true will and acts according to it). Here Charles Taylor locates three basic positions.

  • There is no relevant distinction between a true and an untrue will. Freedom is understood as negative freedom , as the absence of external obstacles ( Thomas Hobbes , Jeremy Bentham ).
  • There is a personal self-realization, an inner freedom, within the framework of the formation of a personal true will. However, this true will is only recognized by the person concerned. Here freedom is already identified as inner freedom. The subject is the ultimate authority on the question of whether it is itself free ( John Stuart Mill ).
  • There is a true will that the person concerned may not perceive himself or only in a distorted manner. But other people can recognize this true will in the person. The subject is no longer supreme authority on the question of whether or not its needs are authentic, whether it is free ( Jean-Jacques Rousseau , Karl Marx ).

See also


  • Günther Anders : About authenticity. In: Günther Anders: About having. Cohen Verlag, Bonn 1928.
  • Christoph Asmuth : Authenticity and Construction. Body concepts between historical relativity and immediate presence. In: The hard and the soft. Body - Experience - Construction (Ed.) Stache, Antje. Bielefeld 2006, pp. 119–142 (PDF; 376 kB)
  • Christoph Burmann , Mike Schallehn: Conceptualization of brand authenticity. Chair for Innovative Brand Management University of Bremen, Bremen 2010 (Working Paper 44).
  • Erika Fischer-Lichte , Isabel Pflug (ed.): Staging of authenticity. A. Francke Verlag, Tübingen u. a. 2000, ISBN 3-7720-2941-8 ( Theatricality 1).
  • Erich Fromm : Live authentically Verlag Herder, Freiburg i. Breisgau, ISBN 978-3-451-05691-8
  • Manfred Hattendorf: Documentary and Authenticity. Aesthetics and pragmatics of a genre. Universitätsverlag Konstanz, Konstanz 1994, ISBN 3-88295-213-X ( Close up 4), (At the same time: Munich, Univ., Diss., 1993).
  • Susanne Knaller: A word from abroad. History and theory of the concept of authenticity. Universitätsverlag Winter, Heidelberg 2007, ISBN 978-3-8253-5362-9 ( contributions to modern literary history 246).
  • Susanne Knaller, Harro Müller (Ed.): Authenticity. Discussion of an aesthetic term. Wilhelm Fink Verlag, Munich a. a. 2006, ISBN 3-7705-4227-4 .
  • Thomas Knieper, Marion G. Müller (ed.): Authenticity and staging of imagery. Herbert von Halem Verlag, Cologne 2003, ISBN 3-931606-49-X .
  • Helmut Lethen : Versions of the authentic: six commonplaces. In: Hartmut Böhme , Klaus R. Scherpe (Hrsg.): Literature and cultural studies. Positions, theories, models. Rowohlt Taschenbuchverlag, Reinbek 1996, ISBN 3-499-55575-1 , pp. 205-231 ( Rowohlt's Encyclopedia 575).
  • Rolf Lindner : The idea of ​​the authentic. In: Cuckoo. 1, 1998, ZDB -ID 641169-1 , pp. 58-61.
  • Tino Mager: Iridescent Blurring - The Concept of Authenticity in Architectural Heritage. De Gruyter, Berlin 2016.
  • Torsten Näser: Authenticity 2.0 - Cultural anthropological considerations on the search for “authenticity” in the YouTube video portal. In: communication @ society. Vol. 9, 2008, article 2. Online publication: (PDF; 627 kB)
  • Rainer Niermeyer: The Myth of Authenticity. The art of playing the right leadership roles. Campus-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main u. a. 2008, ISBN 978-3-593-38653-9 .
  • Richard Sennett : Decline and End of Public Life. The tyranny of intimacy. Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1983, ISBN 3-596-27353-6 ( Fischer pocket books - Fischer Science 7353).
  • Lionel Trilling : The End of Sincerity. Hanser, Munich a. a. 1980, ISBN 3-446-12840-9 ( Hanser Anthropologie ).
  • Volker Wortmann: Authentic image and authenticating form. Herbert von Halem Verlag, Cologne 2003, ISBN 3-931606-61-9 (also: Hildesheim, Univ., Diss., 2000).
  • Christoph Zeller : Aesthetics of the Authentic. Literature and art around 1970. De Gruyter, Berlin a. a. 2010, ISBN 978-3-11-022720-8 ( Spectrum Literary Studies 23).

Web links

Wiktionary: authenticity  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Cf. for example Werner Keller, And the Bible is right. Researchers prove the historical truth, 21st edition 1985 (1st edition 1955).
  2. See for example Susanne Luther, Jörg Röder, Eckart D. Schmidt (ed.), How stories write history. Early Christian literature between factuality and fictionality, Scientific Studies on the New Testament II / 395, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2015.
  3. Video release: We are Heroes - Monument (1)
  4. Video release: We are Heroes - Monument
  5. ^ Budde, Dirk: High ideals and crazy dreams. For the representation of topoi in subcultures and marginal areas of popular music. Berlin, 2004 ( Memento from July 19, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  6. ^ R. Shirey: RFC 4949, Internet Security Glossary, Version 2 . IETF . P. 29. Retrieved on November 10, 2011: "The property of being genuine and able to be verified and be trusted."
  7. ^ R. Shirey: RFC 4949, Internet Security Glossary, Version 2 . IETF . Pp. 26-27. Retrieved November 10, 2011: "The process of verifying a claim that a system entity or system resource has a certain attribute value."
  8. ^ R. Shirey: RFC 4949, Internet Security Glossary, Version 2 . IETF . 96. Retrieved on November 10, 2011: "data origin authentication service (I) A security service that verifies the identity of a system entity that is claimed to be the original source of received data. [...] A digital signature mechanism can be used to provide this service, because someone who does not know the private key cannot forge the correct signature. However, by using the signer's public key, anyone can verify the origin of correctly signed data. "
  9. cf. Gerhard Bach and Johannes-Peter Timm : "Action orientation as a goal and as a method." In: dies. (Ed.): English Lessons. Basics and methods of action-oriented teaching practice. Tübingen, Basel: A. Francke, 5th updated edition, 2013, pp. 4–9 and 12ff.
  10. ^ Ulrich Mayer, Hans-Jürgen Pandel, Gerhard Schneier, Bernd Schönemann (eds.): Dictionary of historical didactics. Wochenschau demand, 2006, p. 31
  11. Authenticity 2.0 - Cultural anthropological considerations on the search for 'authenticity' in the YouTube video portal. (PDF; 612 kB) ( Memento from August 1, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  12. What actually is authenticity? Jochen Mai's blog with reference to Dare To Be Yourself. Article from Psychology Today website . Retrieved October 24, 2010.
  13. ^ L. Trilling: Sincerity and Authenticity . Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. 1971.
  14. Ch. Taylor : The Ethics of Authenticity , Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. 1991, p. 25 et passim.
  15. a b c Heidegger: Being and time
  16. Cf. only Ch. Macann: Who Is Dasein? Towards an Ethics of Authenticity. In: Ch. Macann (Ed.): Martin Heidegger: Critical Assessments, 4 Vols., London 1992, Vol. 4, pp. 214-246; J. Malpas / MA Wrathall (eds.): Heidegger, Authenticity, and Modernity . Essays in Honor of Hubert L. Dreyfus, Vol. 1, Cambridge (Mass.) 2000.
  17. See z. B. the revisions in Iain Macdonald / Krzysztof Ziarek (eds.): Adorno and Heidegger : Philosophical Questions, Stanford University Press 2008, ISBN 978-0-8047-5636-5 .
  18. Th. W. Adorno: Jargon of the authenticity , On the German Ideology, Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt / M. 1971, p. 496f, e-Text (PDF; 499 kB).
  19. a b c Sartre, Jean Paul: Being and nothing. Reinbek near Hamburg, 1995
  20. ^ Michel Foucault: Writings in four volumes . Dits and Ecrits. Vol. 4. 1980–1988, Frankfurt / M. 2005, p. 758.
  21. M. Foucault: Sex as Morality . Conversation with Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow. In: About friendship as a way of life . Michel Foucault in conversation. German by Marianne Karbe and Walter Seitter, Merve Verlag, Berlin 1984, pp. 69–84, here 80f.
  22. Taylor 1991.
  23. Ch.Taylor: The error of negative freedom in negative freedom? Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt 1988, pp. 118-144
  24. a b Ch.Taylor: The error of negative freedom in negative freedom? Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt 1988, p. 120
  25. Ch.Taylor: The error of negative freedom in negative freedom? Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt 1988, p. 122
  26. Ch.Taylor: The error of negative freedom in negative freedom? Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt 1988, p. 125
  27. Ch.Taylor: The error of negative freedom in negative freedom? Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt 1988, p. 118