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The Politics and Ethics of Identity: In Search of Ourselves [Paperback]

Richard Ned Lebow

Price: 21.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

20 Mar 2014
We are multiple, fragmented, and changing selves who, nevertheless, believe we have unique and consistent identities. What accounts for this illusion? Why has the problem of identity become so central in post-war scholarship, fiction, and the media? Following Hegel, Richard Ned Lebow contends that the defining psychological feature of modernity is the tension between our reflexive and social selves. To address this problem Westerners have developed four generic strategies of identity construction that are associated with four distinct political orientations. Lebow develops his arguments through comparative analysis of ancient and modern literary, philosophical, religious, and musical texts. He asks how we might come to terms with the fragmented and illusionary nature of our identities and explores some political and ethical implications of doing so.

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'In this remarkable book, Lebow offers a sustained critique of contemporary conceptions of identity in the social sciences, arguing that both the existence of unitary identities and the differential logic invoked to explain their formation lack empirical support. [He] then develops an alternative account that emphasizes the fluid character of identities, and the integrative aspects of identity formation. As such, The Politics and Ethics of Identity is indispensable reading to all social scientists who have thought seriously about identity.' Jens Bartelson, Lund University

'The Politics and Ethics of Identity is both enlightening and unsettling in equal measures. With characteristic breadth, sophistication and originality, Lebow provides a vibrant and compelling account of identity (or, more accurately, identities) in historical perspective. He then employs this account to challenge prevalent conceptions of politics and ethics - making a profoundly important contribution to our understanding of both.' Toni Erskine, Aberystwyth University

'Ned Lebow has a deserved reputation for tackling hard questions that require the resources of many disciplines to properly ask, let alone answer. In this, his most ambitious study yet, he combines social science, psychology, intellectual history, literary and even musical criticism to illuminate the character and significance of identity in the modern world. At the heart of the inquiry is [his] analysis of four distinct strategies of identity construction and the four distinct political orientations they provide the underpinnings for: conservatism, totalitarianism, liberalism and anarchism, and the question he ponders following on from this: whether we can dispense with claims about unitary and consistent identities and what would follow, ethically and politically, if we did. A powerful and challenging study by a major contemporary theorist at the top of his game.' Nicholas Rengger, University of St Andrews

Book Description

We are multiple, fragmented and changing selves who, nevertheless, believe we have unique and consistent identities. Richard Ned Lebow explores what accounts for this contradiction; why identity has become so central in scholarship, media and popular fiction; and the political and ethical consequences of sacrificing the illusion of identity.

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