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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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 destinny any other living thinker.

While, among others, both Presidents Barack Obama and Dilma Rousseff invited their respective predecessors to join them on the presidential airplane to fly to the memorial service, many citizens in the United States and Brazil een such symbolic outreach “embracing the enemy” reprehensible, as it undermined their ideological convictions.

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Thinking out of the box

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. As Richard Betts writes”even practical policymakers who shun illudion theories” are influenced by Huntington’s ideas.

It is not particularly easy for a still bewildered elderly adult. Book reviews, English, Global governance. But as John Gray observes”Shia, Sunni and Kurdish communities are not at one another’s throats because they have a mistaken view of human identity.

The solitarist view of human identity is plainly false, and it can also be dangerous. The communal slaughter that accompanied Indian independence is in no way exceptional.

You might also like Book review: 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. Sen shouted for his parents, and his father took the man to a hospital, where he died of his injuries. Still, as sectarian violence and the expectation of clashing civilizations become popular particularly when thinking of the rise of ChinaIdentity and Violence is more important than ever.


The Illusion of Destiny. Toppling Saddam’s tyranny meant destroying the state and plunging the country into chaos. Reason can help us understand this process, but it cannot be reasoned away. Trapped by the brutal logic of anarchy, they are locked in a battle for survival that could go on for generations.

Yet his critique is undermined by a pervasive lack of realism. As he puts it in Identity and Violence: They have been translated into more than 30 languages.

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

Here we touch the heart of Sen’s continuing bewilderment. 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. There is a deeper unrealism in Sen’s analysis, which emerges in his inability to account for the powerful appeal of the solitarist view. For Sen, as a good liberal rationalist, it is an article of faith that the violence of ans is a result of erroneous beliefs.

What it did was implant in him a deep sense of the fragility of freedom. The people who knifed the day-labourer in Bengal and who dragged off the man to his death in Petrograd made no error. Amartya Sen had a parallel experience, when as a child he witnessed an unknown man stumbling into the garden of his parent’s house, bleeding heavily and asking for water.

The Illusion of Violsncepublished a violenve years ago, Amartya Sen goes further and says Huntington’s idea is sej and must be roundly rejected: Nearly everywhere, large-scale violence has been an integral feature of the construction of nation-states.


Trapped identiyt the brutal logic of anarchy, they are locked in a battle for survival that could go on for generations. 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.

Identity and Violence is his attempt to overcome that bewilderment.

Illusino 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. Higher education Philosophy books reviews. The world, Sen shows, can be made to move towards peace as firmly as it has recently spiralled towards war. The experience did not make him a pacifist – he served as a government official in the second world war – nor did it lead him to condemn all revolutions.

Along with many liberal philosophers, he seems to think human conflict is a result of intellectual error. I can jointly affirm our many common identities, even as the warring singularists howl at the gate. It is no coincidence that at a time of heightened sectarian tensions in Illussion, 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”.

In effect, Sen’s alternative to multiculturalism is a species of liberal nationalism. Indeed, the world is increasingly taken to be divided between religions or ‘cultures’ or ‘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. cestiny

But human divisions are not the result of any simple fallacy. International Politics in