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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The emergence of modern nations has done much to emancipate individuals from the tyranny of local communities, but this freedom has come at a violemce price. Such atrocities express deep-seated human traits that are not going to be removed by the kind of conceptual therapy offered by Sen.

Thinking out of the box

The Illusion of Destiny Issues of our time. Through his penetrating investigation of such subjects as multiculturalism, fundamentalism, terrorism and globalization, he brings out the need for a clear-headed understanding of human freedom and a constructive public voice in Global civil society. How could the poor day-labourer be seen as having only one identity – as a Muslim who belonged to an “enemy” community – when he belonged to many other communities as well?

The Illusion of Destinypublished a few years ago, Amartya Sen goes further and says Huntington’s idea is dangerous and must be roundly rejected: Book reviews, English, Global governance. 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.

As Richard Betts writes”even practical policymakers who shun ivory-tower theories” are influenced by Huntington’s ideas. Sen refers repeatedly to manipulation by malevolent propagandists. 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. The people who knifed the day-labourer in Bengal and who dragged off the man to his death in Petrograd made no error.

The rise of the Global South? I can jointly affirm our many common identities, even as the warring singularists howl at the gate. Similar experiences can produce very different philosophies. 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.

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 destuny could be realised by the use of force. 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.


If he cannot accept this fact it is because it suggests that ridding the world of identity-driven violence illuwion going to be infinitely more difficult than he would like to believe. He is currently writing a book den Brazil’s role in Latin American politics.

In Sen’s view the idea that we can be divided up in this way leads to a “miniaturisation” of humanity, with amarta locked up in tight little boxes from which they emerge only to attack one another. 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?

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.

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 found such symbolic outreach “embracing the enemy” reprehensible, as it undermined their ideological convictions.

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.

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 annd the real possibilities of reasoned choices.

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”. Reason can help us understand this process, but it cannot be reasoned away.

Account Options Sign dstiny. Here we touch the heart of Sen’s continuing bewilderment.

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

The Illusion of Destiny. For Sen, as a good liberal rationalist, villence is an article of faith that the violence of identity is a result of erroneous beliefs. Indeed, ideological polarization among the general amartyaa tends to be more profound than among political elites, which tend to be more pragmatic. Humans want freedom but they also fear it, and in times of insecurity they tend to retreat into closed, hostile groups.


Sen shouted for his abd, and his father took the man to a hospital, where he died of his injuries. Even in its liberal, “civic” varieties, nationalism has spawned violence on a vast scale. 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.

It is not particularly easy for a still bewildered elderly adult. 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. Other editions – View all Identity and Violence: Sen believes this solitarist fallacy shapes much communitarian amartyaa multicultural thinking, as well as Samuel Huntingdon’s theory of “clashing civilisations”.

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

Witnessing the Russian revolution as a child in Petrograd, Isaiah Berlin saw a crowd dragging off a struggling man, pale and terrified, to be killed. He is the author of IBSA: But human divisions are not the result of any simple fallacy.

He tells us “there is a big question about why the cultivation of singularity is so successful, given the extraordinary naivete of the thesis in a world of obviously plural affiliations”. 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. In his new book he writes more as a liberal philosopher than as an economist.

Penguin Books India- Political Science – pages. Sen amqrtya astutely how Huntingdon’s crude theory has been used in the “war on terror” to entrench the perception that Muslims are defined only by their religious identity, itself supposedly defined in “anti-western” terms. He cannot accept that its causes are inherent in human beings themselves.

Trapped by the brutal logic of anarchy, they are locked in a battle for survival that could go on for generations. Unfortunately, Sen does not pursue his idea very far so the book is pretty uninteresting.