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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Sen notes astutely how Huntingdon’s crude theory has been used in the “war on violehce to entrench the perception that Muslims are defined only by their religious identity, itself supposedly defined in “anti-western” terms.

Thinking out of the box

Sen’s book is both a rejection of Huntington’s civilizational argument and a celebration of the complexity of human identity: Unlike most liberal thinkers, Berlin understood that, while freedom may be a universal value, it is far from being an overriding violrnce need. If he cannot accept this fact it is because it suggests that ridding the world of identity-driven violence is going to be infinitely more difficult than he would like to believe.

The US became a modern nation only after a devastating civil war, France only after Napoleon. Sen shouted for his parents, destinyy his father took the man to a hospital, where he died of his injuries.

My library Help Advanced Book Search. As an economist Sen has been hugely influential, helping found the new discipline of social choice theory and winning the Nobel prize for economic sciences in International Politics in Commenting on sectarian violence in Iraq, Sen seems to suggest that the human conflict there is a result of an intellectual error. Names Index I In Africa and the Balkans the formation of nations has gone hand in hand with tribal conflict and ethnic cleansing, while the welding of China into a nation that is under way today involves the ruthless suppression of Tibetan and Muslim minorities.

It’s a good amarttya, but rather obvious in today’s world of large scale immigration. 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”. But as Berlin perceived, when freedom and order break down it is not because of mistakes in reasoning. Witnessing the Russian violdnce as a child in Petrograd, Isaiah Berlin saw a crowd dragging off a struggling man, pale and terrified, to be killed.


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. Trapped by the brutal logic of anarchy, they are locked in a battle for survival that could go on for generations. In comparison, multiculturalism – the chief target of Sen’s critique – is a sideshow. Similar experiences can produce very different philosophies. Identity and Violence is his attempt to overcome that bewilderment.

Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny – Amartya Sen – Google Books

Unfortunately he fails to ask how nationhood is achieved, and at what cost. Indeed, the world is increasingly taken to be divided between religions or ‘cultures’ illusin ‘civilizations’ignoring the relevance of other ways in which people see themselves through class, gender, profession, language, literature, science, music, morals or politics, and denying the real possibilities of reasoned choices.

Ten Predictions under EnglishFeatured. Book reviews, English, Global governance. He is the author of IBSA: It is not particularly easy for a still bewildered elderly adult. Wilsonianism in the 21st Century Book review: Their causes are many and tangled, including nad of interest, rival power structures and competition for resources.

Trapped by the brutal logic of anarchy, they are locked in a battle for survival that could go on for generations. Or is the failure of understanding actually in the liberal philosopher?

You might also like Book review: Unfortunately, Sen does not pursue his idea very far so the book is pretty uninteresting. The Illusion of Destiny.

It is no coincidence that at a time of heightened sectarian tensions in India, Huntington is frequently quoted by leaders of the right-wing movement Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh RSSfor he crudely defines India as a “Hindu civilization”, even though the country is home to almost million Muslims, more than nearly every country in Huntington’s definition of the “Muslim World”.

Particularly since September 11th and the global War on Terror that followed, Huntington’s claim gained widespread support both among the public and the policy world, even though most academics considered the idea to be worryingly simplistic and based on shaky evidence. What it did was implant in him a deep sense of the fragility of freedom.


Sen’s analysis is a wonderful treatise on the use and abuse of human identity and an admirable call to stop asking people to confine their thoughts to only one identity, may it be “Western” or “non-Western”, “Muslim”, “Hindu” or “Christian”. He cannot accept that its causes are inherent in human beings themselves. Here, and at several points in Identity and Violence, Sen mounts a timely critique of the contemporary politics of identity.

Account Options Sign in. Here we touch the heart of Sen’s continuing bewilderment. Other editions – View all Identity and Violence: Selected pages Title Page. Nearly everywhere, large-scale violence has been an integral feature of the construction of nation-states.

This year, the Indian government forced Amartya Sen to leave his post as chancellor of Nalanda Universityone of the oldest educational institutions in the world. 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.

They have been translated into more than 30 languages. As Richard Betts writes”even practical policymakers who shun ivory-tower theories” are influenced by Huntington’s ideas.

Book review: “Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny” by Amartya Sen

The victim was thd Muslim day-labourer who had been stabbed by Hindus during the riots that occurred in Bengal in the last years of the British Raj. Humans want freedom but they also fear it, and in times of insecurity they tend to retreat into closed, hostile groups. The Illusion of Destiny Issues of our time. Toppling Saddam’s tyranny meant destroying the state and plunging the country into chaos. 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.