This paper discusses the history of the concept “authenticity” within the works of Thomas Merton. During his undergraduate and graduate studies at Columbia is where he first developed a theme which would run through most of his religious writings: authenticity. By tracing this term back to his professor, Lionel Trilling, this will give us a new lens through which to view Thomas Merton’s teachings. This paper will also discuss other influences to his use of “authenticity,” including his prolonged exposure and affinity towards Marxism, as well as his interests in Existential writers such as Albert Camus. The discussion of authenticity in Merton’s work revolves around three themes: 1) Solitude, 2) Alienation, and 3) the Absurd. The goal of this paper is to not only illustrate the history of a particular concept in Merton’s work to more fully understand this Catholic monk, but will demonstrate that traditionally non-religious concepts and thinkers often influence the religious lives and experiences of mystics.
"The Authentic Monk: A Study of ‘Authenticity’ within the Works of Thomas Merton,"
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