miércoles, 13 de noviembre de 2019

"The lies that bind" - Kwame Anthony Appiah

The Lies That Bind: Rethinking IdentityThe Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity by Kwame Anthony Appiah
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It would difficult to find a more appropriate writer for a book about the absurdity of identities than Kwame Anthony Appiah. The author is mix-race person, which descend from high-class but self-made families from different countries and religions, and he is also openly gay. Taking all this background he spends various a little more than two hundred pages deconstructing religions, nationalities, races, classes and, finally, culture, showing the arbitrariness of divided human beings using such a relative concepts.

The main contribution of the author is providing us with a mirror for our behaviour. As he writes in the introductory chapter, all the features that we see as part of our identity are the reasons why we do things and the reasons why others do things to us. And yet, all that feature are not as timeless and settled as we think. The parameters that define a religion (a body of belief, a practice and a community) have evolved along time for any creed we think of; the borders that define countries has changed across centuries and many times have a capricious origin; the appearance of race as a biological concept hides a mix of a social construct and statistic; the class system is not based in objective economic reasons as we think but in a self inflicted hierarchycal discrimination; the values and principles of cultures have not existed since ever and they are the result of a process based on succession of temporarily triumphal ideologies.

However, in spite of all the arbitrariness of the features of what we called identity, there are also some limitations for freeing from them. As Appiah warn us, we are never completely free to choose what we are, there is an inner voice that limit our behaviour in society and others also try to put limits to our personal development. The walls exist but we have the opportunity to see across their windows and doors and bring inside the house new objects to enrich its value. Breaking the binds to create a bigger chain with more echelons.

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