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

The rise of the Global South? The Illusion of Destinypublished a few years ago, Amartya Sen goes further and says Huntington’s idea is dangerous and must be roundly rejected: 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.

Ten Predictions under IddntityFeatured. Here we touch the heart of Sen’s continuing bewilderment.

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. Toppling Saddam’s tyranny meant destroying the state and plunging the country into chaos. 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.

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. The US became a modern nation only after a devastating civil war, France only after Napoleon.

Those who foment global confrontations or local sectarian violence amartyaa such a prechosen and divisive identity on people who are to be recruited as “foot soldiers” of political brutality, slaves of an illusory force.

Indeed, the world is increasingly taken to be divided between religions or illueion or ‘civilizations’ignoring the relevance of other ways in which people see The Illusion of Destiny. 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.


Writing of sectarian conflict in post-Saddam Iraq, Sen observes: They have been translated into more than 30 languages. The Illusion of Destiny.

In his new book he writes more as a liberal philosopher than as an economist. But human divisions are not the result of any simple fallacy. Humans want freedom but they also fear it, and in times of insecurity they tend to retreat into closed, hostile groups. Penguin Books India- Political Science – pages.

In comparison, multiculturalism – the chief target of Sen’s critique – is a sideshow. The world, Sen shows, can be made to move towards peace as firmly as it has recently spiralled towards war. Unlike most liberal thinkers, Berlin understood that, while freedom may be a universal value, it is far from being an overriding human need. Sen refers repeatedly to manipulation by malevolent propagandists.

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

Book reviews, English, Global governance. The solitarist view of human identity is plainly false, and it can also be dangerous.

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. Or is the failure of understanding actually in the liberal philosopher?

Thinking out of the box

Along with many liberal philosophers, he seems to think human conflict is a result of intellectual error. It can thus be read not only as a rejection of the Clash of Civilizations thesis, but also as a criticism of those who enhance ideological polarization in more general terms.

There is a deeper unrealism in Sen’s analysis, which emerges in his inability to account for the powerful appeal of the solitarist view. 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.


Impassioned, eloquent and often moving, Identity and Violence is a sustained attack on the “solitarist” theory which says that human identities are formed by membership of a single social group. But as Berlin perceived, when freedom and order break down it is not because of mistakes in reasoning.

As he puts it amartyz Identity and Violence: Is he a Twitter-savvy technocrat obsessed with boosting development for all India by slashing red tape, wooing foreign investors and building a amrtya digital economy? As Richard Betts writes”even practical policymakers who shun ivory-tower theories” are influenced by Huntington’s ideas.

Yet his critique is undermined by a pervasive lack of realism. International Politics in In Sen’s view the idea that we can be divided up in this way leads to a “miniaturisation” of humanity, with everyone locked up in tight seb boxes from which they emerge only to attack one another.

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He is currently writing a book on Brazil’s role in Latin American politics. The Illusion of Destiny Issues of our time. 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.

Wilsonianism in the 21st Century Book review: Such atrocities express deep-seated human traits that are not going to be removed by the kind of conceptual therapy offered by Sen. 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, oc, music, morals or politics, and denying the real possibilities of reasoned choices.

You might also like Book review: Trapped by the brutal logic of anarchy, they are locked in a battle for survival that could go destinj for generations. Similar experiences can produce very different philosophies.