Profound and humane, Amartya Sen's "Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny" examines some of the most explosive problems of our time and shows how we can move towards peace as firmly as we have spiralled towards war. In this penetrating book, Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen argues that we are becoming increasingly divided along lines of ...
Profound and humane, Amartya Sen's "Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny" examines some of the most explosive problems of our time and shows how we can move towards peace as firmly as we have spiralled towards war. In this penetrating book, Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen argues that we are becoming increasingly divided along lines of religion and culture, ignoring the many other ways in which people see themselves, from class and profession to morals and politics. When we are put into narrow categories the importance of human life becomes lost. Through his lucid exploration of such subjects as multiculturalism, fundamentalism, terrorism and globalization, he brings out the need for a clear-headed understanding of human freedom and a constructive public voice in Global civil society. The hope of harmony in today's world lies in a clearer understanding of our sheer diversity. ""Identity and Violence" is a moving, powerful essay about the mischief of bad ideas". ("The Economist"). "Impassioned, eloquent and often moving, "Identity and Violence" is a sustained attack on the "solitarist" theory which says that human identities are formed by membership of a single social group". (John Gray, "Guardian"). "Rich in ideas...I would love to send it to Osama bin Laden and have his reply". ("Spectator"). "Sen's moving and most personal book yet". ("The Times Literary Supplement"). "Stimulating ...simple and persuasive". ("Financial Times"). "An accessible and exceptional humanitarian". (Jon Snow, "New Statesman", "Heroes of Our Time"). Amartya Sen is Lamont University Professor at Harvard. He won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1998. His other books published by Penguin include "The Argumentative Indian" and "The Idea of Justice".
Publishers Weekly, 2006-01-30 Nobel Prize-winning economist Sen deplores the "little boxes" that divide us in this high-minded but seldom penetrating brief against identity politics. Sen observes that ideologies of hate typically slot people into communities based on a single dimension that trumps the multifaceted affinities of class, sex, politics and personal interest that make up individual identities. This "reductionist" us-versus-them outlook is not limited to jihadists, he argues, but is a widespread intellectual tendency seen in Samuel Huntington's "clash of civilizations" paradigm, in postcolonial critiques of democracy and rationalism as "Western" ideals, as well as in efforts to "dialogue" with moderate Muslims. (These last, he feels, pigeonhole Muslims in purely religious terms.) Sen rebuts the "singular affiliation" falsehood with a cursory historical, literary and cultural survey of the diversity of supposedly monolithic civilizations (Akbar, a 16th-century Mughal emperor and champion of religious toleration, is a favorite citation.) Sen's previous work (Development as Freedom) injected liberal values into development economics; here, he argues that the freedom to choose one's identity affiliations is the antidote to divisive extremism. Stitched together from lectures, the book is dry and repetitive. While Sen's defense of humane pluralism against narrow-minded communalism is laudable, he never really elucidates the social psychology that translates group identity into violence. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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