Keywords: Authenticity; Consciousness; Emotion; Mindreading; Social cognition.
The phenomenology of alienation is rich, yet it is far from clear how to account for a
paradox it raises about consciousness. Consciousness cannot be said to be false in the
same way beliefs can be. Talks of alienation rather suggest that we may happen to undergo
experiences that look as if they are not ours. The paradox is therefore different,
and far deeper, than paradoxes and irrationalities affecting beliefs in self-deception,
wishful thinking and the like. As a consequence, explanations working at the level of
beliefs and their etiology seem at least incomplete. I argue that a complete account
may involve the distortion of mechanisms operating in social cognition. Simulation
theories of mind reading, in particular, seem to provide the theoretical tools to explain
how subjective experience can turn out to look alienated or "false".