This theme only becomes clear towards the end of Part Two of Discourse on Inequality. Rousseau analyzes many of the problems of modern society, but this is perhaps the most important. The system of needs that enslave modern man and the operation of amour propre make him inauthentic, or untrue, both to himself and to others. He cannot behave in an authentic way towards his fellow citizens, because he is continually thinking about how to deceive and dominate them. Those who founded society and first created property deceived others, and their heirs act in a similar way. More importantly, modern man is not true to himself. This is partly because he is controlled by ridiculous needs and "factitious passions," but also because his very nature is inauthentic. Modern man has evolved so far from true human nature that he would be almost unrecognizable to savage man. Modern life is thus built around a lack of authenticity.

In contrast, savage man is both true to himself and to others. He has limited needs and no desire to dominate others. Indeed, his few dealings with other humans are initially for reproduction alone. There is no possibility of him using or deceiving others because he has no notion of deceit. Savage man can only "be": Modern man is forced to "be" and to "appear," and so becomes inauthentic.