Puzzling Identities [Book Review]

Mind 126 (503):967-974 (2017)
Abstract
This rich and engaging book addresses a nest of questions that have been mostly neglected in recent Anglophone philosophy. These questions concern ordinary uses of the concept of identity in speaking for example of identity crises, of one’s identity as something that can be lost or maintained, of identification with certain groups, traits, values, or beliefs, and so on. That there are these uses, and that they are an important feature of contemporary culture, is beyond question: witness the difficulty in helping undergraduates focus in the classroom on what ‘we’ (that is, professional philosophers working in the tradition of Locke, Reid, Williams, and Parfit) mean by personal identity, where this meaning is supposed to be distinct from the substantive use of ‘identity’ to mean something that a person has, and that can change or be replaced over the course of their continued life. Seemingly connected to this popular understanding of identity are other ordinary concepts like those of self-discovery (or ‘finding’ oneself) and authenticity (‘being’ oneself), and the seriousness with which people ask and try to answer questions like ‘Who am I?’ To understand these uses would be to understand a main part of the contemporary conception of a person.
Keywords identity  self-consciousness
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