The fog of identity

Politics, Philosophy and Economics 8 (3):285-288 (2009)
Abstract
Personal identity and social identity are two very different concepts and the idea of getting them together, as Bhikhu Parekh proposes, within an integrated bundle of some `overall identity' raises serious questions of coherence. Personal identity demands the `sameness' of a person (Who is this guy? Am I still the same person that I was ten years ago?). Social identity is focused instead on our social affiliations, such as identifying with others with, say, the same nationality, or the same religion, or same political partnership. We can make reasoned choices about our priorities in social affiliation. Those who want to make our social affiliation a matter of `discovery' rather than of choice may frighten us by saying that we would lose our overall identity if we were to choose to affiliate differently (for example as an Indian and not just as a Hindu, or as British and not just as a Muslim). To understand that there is no threat to personal identity involved in such choices is important both for clarity of analysis and for standing up against the herd behaviour of identity politics
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R. G. Swinburne (1973). Personal Identity. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 74:231 - 247.
Michael Quante (2007). The Social Nature of Personal Identity. Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (s 5-6):56-76.
Bhikhu Parekh (2009). Logic of Identity. Politics, Philosophy and Economics 8 (3):267-284.
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