In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong

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9781559705936: In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong
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Identity - what makes each of us unique - has been a fundamental question of philosophers from Socrates to Freud. Identity is the crucible out of which we come: our background, our race, our gender, our tribal affiliations, our religion (or lack thereof), all go into making up who we are. All too often, however, the notion of identity - personal, religious, ethnic, or national - has given rise to heated passions and even massive crimes.
"I want to try and understand why so many people commit crimes in the name of identity," writes Amin Maalouf. Moving across the world's history, faiths, and politics, he argues against an oversimplified and hostile concept of identity. Cogently and persuasively he examines identity in the context of the modern world, where it can be viewed as both glory and poison. He demonstrates, too, the dangers of using identity as a protective - and therefore aggressive - mechanism, which frequently leads to the repression or extermination of minorities, heretics, or class enemies.
Maalouf contends that many of us would reject our inherited conceptions of identity, to which we cling through habit, if only we examined them more closely. The future of society depends on accepting all identities, while recognizing our uniqueness.

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Review:

In the Name of Identity is as close to summer reading as philosophy gets. It is a personal, sometimes even intimate, account of identity-in-the-world, not a treatise on the thorny metaphysics of identity. A novelist by trade, Amin Maalouf is a fluid writer, and he is aided by Barbara Bray's award-winning translation. His aim is to illuminate the roots of violence and hatred, which he sees in tribalistic forms of identity. He argues that our convictions and notions of identity--whether cultural, religious, national, or ethnic--are socially habituated and frequently dangerous. We'd give them up, he argues, if we thought more closely about them.

Though the book has been heralded as radical and surprising, Maalouf essentially espouses an Enlightenment sensibility, a faith in the brotherhood of man. He is a believer in progress, arguing that "the wind of globalisation, while it could lead us to disaster, could also lead us to success." In fact, he envisions a globalized world in which our local identities are subordinated to a broader "allegiance to the human community itself." Maalouf wants us to retain our distinctiveness, but he wants it subsumed under the nave of common understanding. --Eric de Place

About the Author:

Amin Maalouf was formerly director of the Beirut newspaper An-Nahar and editor of Jeune Afrique. He is an eminent and widely popular novelist and his books include Rock of Tanios, which won him the Goncourt Prize, Leo the African, Samarkand, and Ports of Call.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9781611453249: In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong

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ISBN 10:  1611453240 ISBN 13:  9781611453249
Publisher: Arcade Publishing, 2012
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9780142002575: In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong

Pengui..., 2003
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9781611451719: In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong

Arcade..., 2011
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