Sen argues in his new book that conflict and violence are sustained today, no less than the past, by the illusion of a unique identity. Indeed, the world is. Profound and humane, Amartya Sen’s Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny examines some of the most explosive problems of our time. Identity and violence: the illusion of destiny, by Amartya Sen. In , when he was a boy of 11, Amartya Sen witnessed first-hand some of the.

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It is not particularly easy for a still bewildered elderly adult. This book is interested in the question of human identity, its inherent multiplicity, and the choices that we make in regard to aligning ourselves with certain identities over others. Sen thus contests the so-called “solitarist” approach to human identity, which sees human beings as members of exactly one group. In effect, Sen’s alternative to multiculturalism is a species of liberal nationalism.

Indeed, ideological polarization among the general population tends to be more profound than among political elites, which tend to be more pragmatic. Higher education Philosophy books reviews.

Is he a Twitter-savvy technocrat obsessed with boosting development for all India by slashing red tape, wooing foreign investors and building a modern digital economy? For Sen, as a good liberal rationalist, it is an article of faith that the violence of identity is a result of erroneous beliefs.

The Illusion of Destiny Issues of our time. In each case it involves the fallacy of defining the multiple and shifting identities present in every human being in terms of a single, unchanging essence.

Review: Identity and Violence by Amartya Sen | Books | The Guardian

Similar experiences can produce very different philosophies. This year, the Indian government forced Amartya Sen to leave his post as chancellor of Nalanda Universityone of the oldest educational illuwion in the world.

Sen continues to be not only horrified but also baffled by the communal violence he witnessed at that time. Or is the failure of identit actually in the liberal philosopher? I can jointly affirm our many common identities, even as the warring singularists howl at the gate. My library Help Advanced Book Search. Here, and at several points in Identity and Sn, Sen mounts a timely critique of the contemporary politics of identity.

As an economist Sen has been hugely influential, illuslon found the new discipline of social choice theory and winning the Nobel prize for economic sciences in Trapped by the brutal logic of anarchy, they are locked in a battle for survival that could go on for generations.


It has become fashionable to argue that the solution lies in partition, but if smaller and more viable states do eventually emerge in Iraq it will only be after a long period of mass slaughter as horrific as any that occurred when India was partitioned. Humans want freedom but they also fear it, and in times of insecurity they tend to retreat into closed, hostile groups.

They have been translated into more than 30 languages. Writing of sectarian conflict in post-Saddam Iraq, Sen observes: It can thus be read not only as a rejection of the Clash of Civilizations thesis, but also as a criticism of those who enhance ideological polarization in more general terms. Identity and Violence is his attempt to overcome that bewilderment. Sen’s point is that conflict is reduced when we recognize that individuals can hold multiple identities.

The victim was a Muslim day-labourer who had been stabbed by Hindus during the riots that occurred in Bengal in the last years of the British Raj. Still, as sectarian violence destony the expectation of clashing civilizations become popular particularly when thinking of the rise of ChinaIdentity and Violence is more important than ever.

Thinking out of the box

Through his seminal studies of famine and his theory of freedom as a positive condition involving the full exercise of human capabilities, he has done more to criticise standard models of economic development than any other living thinker. Yet his critique is undermined by a hte lack of realism.

Sen believes this solitarist fallacy shapes much communitarian and multicultural thinking, as well as Samuel Huntingdon’s theory of “clashing civilisations”. Or is he a canny ideologue intent on imposing a strict Hindu code of values on a nation that prides itself on tolerance, diversity and pluralism? Indeed, the world is increasingly taken to be divided between religions or ‘cultures’ or identitignoring the relevance of other ways in which people see Wilsonianism in amartyya 21st Ieentity Book review: He is currently writing a book on Brazil’s role in Latin American politics.

While, among others, both Presidents Barack Obama and Dilma Rousseff invited their respective amarhya to join them on the presidential airplane to fly to the memorial service, many citizens in the United States identiry Brazil found such symbolic outreach “embracing the enemy” reprehensible, as it undermined their ideological convictions. Other editions – View all Identity and Violence: Ten Predictions under EnglishFeatured.


The world, Sen shows, can be made to move towards peace as firmly as it has recently spiralled towards war.

They did what they did from fear, desperation or cruelty. But as Berlin perceived, when freedom and order break down it is not because of mistakes in reasoning. Nearly everywhere, large-scale violence has been an integral feature of the construction of nation-states. Selected pages Title Page. The emergence dewtiny modern nations has done much to emancipate individuals from the tyranny of local communities, but this freedom has come at a heavy price.

But human divisions are not the result of any simple fallacy. Unfortunately he fails to ask how nationhood is achieved, and at what cost. Penguin Books India- Political Science – pages. Their causes are many identuty tangled, including conflicts of interest, rival power structures and competition for resources. How could the poor day-labourer be illusionn as having only one identity – as a Muslim who belonged to an “enemy” community – when illysion belonged to many other communities as well?

As the New York Times wondered last week about India’s energetic Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Is he a Twitter-savvy technocrat obsessed with boosting development for all India by slashing red tape, wooing foreign investors and building a modern digital economy? Those who foment global confrontations or local sectarian violence impose such a prechosen and divisive identity on people who are to be recruited as “foot soldiers” of political brutality, slaves of an illusory force.

With academic freedom increasingly under attack in India, Sen writes that academics must resist “the unilateral extremism that characterizes many of the academic interventions by the Modi government.

He used to say that the episode gave him a life-long horror of violence, and it undoubtedly bred in him a suspicion of theories that suggested a radiant future could be realised by the use of force. You might also like Book review: Sen refers repeatedly to manipulation by malevolent propagandists.

He attacks the multicultural view of society, contrasting it with Gandhi’s “far-sighted refusal to see a nation as a federation of communities and religions”.