CONCLUSIONS by wulinqing

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									                                    CHAPTER EIGHT

                                RETHINKING IDENTITY

                                    Où est donc ce moi?
                                    [Where is this me?]

                                       - - - Blaise Pascal1

       In this conclusion I draw comparatively on my diverse texts to reflect on the

questions I raised in the Introduction. My arguments adhere to the general distinction I

made in that chapter between macro-historical and micro-process features of identity. The

former refer to the conditions that enabled the emergence of modern identities, the diverse

projects associated with them and the widespread belief that people can develop unitary

and unique identities. The latter describes the dynamics of identity construction and the

role of agency in this process. I bridge the two domains toward the end of the chapter

when I discuss the normative implications of my empirical findings.

        I begin by critiquing the conventional understanding of psychological autonomy. I

agree that it is very much dependent on the development of interiority and the reflective

self, both of which are generally assumed to have emerged in the late Middle Ages, become

more pronounced in the Renaissance and early modern Europe and full-blown in the

nineteenth century. I contend that interiority is evident in the ancient world, and those who

consider it a modern development may be confusing interest in inner life with its existence.

There can be no doubt, however, that this interest and the discourses it helped to foster and

legitimize interiority, which in turn had powerful behavioral consequences. A similar story

can be told about reflexivity, as the two concepts are very closely related. In contrast to

many accounts, I also stress role proliferation as a key catalyst of modern identity
construction because it was greatly exacerbated tensions between reflexive and social


          Modern identities respond to interiority and reflexivity in different ways. I

identified four generic strategies for addressing the tensions to which they give rise

between our so-called reflexive (inner) and social (outer) selves. These strategies represent

different approaches for overcoming the divide between these selves. The first two reject

modernity and attempt to do away as far as possible with interiority and reflexivity, The

latter two embrace it, but one gives priority to our social selves and the other to our internal

selves. These strategies are attractive to different kinds of people, but their appeal can also

be explained by reference to the relative strength of state and society in different countries.

          My micro-analysis focuses on identity construction and the role of agency in this

process. My most radical claim is that healthy identity construction involves drawing

closer to those from whom we differentiate ourselves. Some of my texts, and

psychological research on children, suggest that autonomy is best achieved in the context

of close relationships. Identity construction should be understood as a dialectical process;

we accordingly need to pay as much attention to integration as to separation. I elaborate

this understanding and explore some of its behavioral and normative implications.

          Identity construction is a social and individual process. Many works in political

theory and the history of thought emphasize the role of agency and ideas and the choices

open to people, institutions and states. The sociological literature emphasizes so-called

structures and the social nature of identity. Anthropologists offer a parallel argument with

an emphasis on the dominant role of culture. Even social determinists like Marx,

Durkheim and Mead agree that actors have choices about their identities at the individual,

institutional and national levels, and my texts offer some insight into how this works.

People are most influential when they are responsible for discourses that change cultural

orientations responsible for social identities. Influence is not the same thing as agency,

which is best described as the freedom to make choices about social roles and their

performance. In some circumstances people can pioneer new roles or assume those

previously closed to them. Role playing is an enabling mechanism of agency. It allows

people to test out alternative roles and identities and perhaps transform themselves in the

process. Role playing also provides an outside perspective to look at and reflect on


       My texts represent three kinds of discourses: golden ages, utopias and dystopias.

The first two are important vehicles for identity construction. Dystopias have more often

probed the behavioral implications of identities. Chapter two offers a comparative analysis

of the three genres, demonstrates their interdependence and how they reflect different

responses to modernity and the idea of social and scientific about progress. The project of

the autonomous self is closely associated with and sustained by the belief in progress. That

belief in turn is an important determinant of the relative appeal of the four strategies for

addressing the psychological tensions associated with modernity. Expectations of social,

economic and political progress became evident in the Renaissance and may have peaked

in the twentieth century. In the course of the twentieth century, belief in progress has

diminished throughout much of the developed world. This loss of faith, if it continues, will

have important implications the kinds of identities we seek. Our belief in progress – or

lack of it -- also determines in part how we read utopias and dystopias. In a challenge to

the conventional wisdom, I read utopias in general as a reaction against modernity and for

the most part associated with anti-modern projects.

       Golden ages, utopias and dystopias are linear narratives; they tell stories with

beginnings and endings. They do not necessarily tell their stories in temporal sequence but

readers must be able to discern or impose a linear structure on them. This is also true of

autobiographical narratives, with the difference that they tell an on-going story. Like

histories, autobiographies – even the most informal kinds of life narratives-- impose an

order on events, emotions and reflections that was not evident at the time and often

unjustifiable in retrospect. We tend to think of linear narrative as a "natural" form of

expression that captures the essence of the world and ourselves. Such Kantian-style

isomorphism is unwarranted; linear structure is no more natural to narratives than linear

perspective is to the visual arts. Both gestalts reflect and support particular cultural

configurations. Linear structure and perspective facilitated the emergence of the

autonomous self and became more deeply embedded in Western culture as a result. In the

twentieth century, non-linear perspectives became prominent in art and architecture and

more recently, in music videos and computer games. A move away from linearity may be

a precondition of freeing ourselves from the illusion of unique and coherent identities.

       Identities are central to individuals but also to groups, organizations and nations.

We even attribute an identity to our species. Science fiction is interested in species identity

and some of its authors ask whether it would continue to have any meaning in a world of

intelligent and feeling androids, symbiots and body-free human intelligence. Some see

benefits to discarding markers of identity and bridging boundaries between our species and

other forms of life. Their position is rooted in a philosophical tradition that goes back to

Protagoras and Plato and offers an appropriate vantage point to rethink the relationships

between identity and ethics. In doing so, I challenge political theorists like Leo Strauss,

Eric Vogelen, Alasdair MacIntyre and Charles Taylor who maintain that ethical codes

derive from identities which in turn must be anchored in some kind of cosmic order.

       I close with some thoughts about the empirical and normative futures of identity. I

make an analogy between efforts to construct unique and consistent identities and those to

find alternative, secular foundations for ethical systems. Modern scientific and

philosophical thinking encourages skepticism about heaven and hell and divine sanction of

conventional moral codes. Kant and his successors struggled without success to anchor

these codes in reason and sentiment. In developed countries, most people no longer believe

in a deity and have no interest in moral philosophy. Social and political behavior

nevertheless appears to be at least as rule-based as in the past. If we can live without god,

we also learn to lead meaningful lives without the illusion of unitary, consistent identities.

It may be that in this circumstance we could live at least as contentedly and with more

understanding of our selves and sympathy for others.

                                    MODERN SELVES

       My first question is why so many Westerners believe they have unique and

consistent identities? The short answer is that we have been socialized to think of

ourselves this way. Late eighteenth century German idealists theorized about Identität

[identity] and the concept gradually moved from philosophy into the public discourse. It

burst upon the American scene in the 1960s through the writings of Danish-American

psychiatrist Erik Erikson. Erikson was a Freudian, and Freud was steeped in German


       Historians of political thought provide a more satisfying answer by putting these

discourses into historical context; they portray them as the product of a long-term

intellectual and political project, beginning in early modern Europe, to construct the

autonomous individual.2 It initially sought to transfer as much responsibility as possible

from church, state, and family to individuals for enforcing moral codes. Another key goal

was to make individuals responsible for their identities, rather than allowing society to

define them in terms of their roles and status. Finally, autonomy came to be associated

with life choices and the freedom of individuals to choose roles, and to make status more a

function of merit than of birth. Autonomy is often thought to have a long history, with

roots that in ancient Greece, but significantly influenced – positively and negatively --by

Christianity and more recently by religious skepticism, state building and industrialization.3

The construction of the autonomous self is nevertheless a quintessential modern project,

although Rousseau and the Romantics who followed envisaged it as a reaction against

modernity. In the twentieth century the autonomous self was regarded by many

intellectuals as a means of escaping from what Weber called the "stahlhartes Gehäuse"

[iron cage] and Foucault the "disciplinary society."4

       My reading of autonomy and its development differs from the conventional wisdom

in two important ways. As noted above, I emphasize the extent to which so many forms of

identity pioneered by utopias are anti-modern in the sense that they attempt to limit

individual autonomy by reducing, or doing away with, interiority and reflexivity. I also

challenge the sharp distinction routinely made between modern and ancient selves. Greeks

and Romans are said to have derived their identities and moral compasses from the roles

they performed and to have been incapable of thinking of themselves divorced from them

or the societies that structured and conferred them.5 Modern people, by contrast, are

thought to look more to themselves for definition -- routinely described as "self-definition."

This characterization originates with nineteenth century Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt.6

In sociology, it finds an influential statement in Durkheim's distinction between mechanical

and organic solidarity. It is based on the idea that the replacement of the collectivity by the

individual as the object of ritual attention is one of the hallmarks of the transition from

traditional to modern societies.7 I contend that interiority and reflexivity were to some

degree always present among human beings, although for cultural reasons did not find

much expression in ancient literature and art. Simple comparisons between ancient and

modern texts are accordingly misleading. The Burckhardt interpretation also ignores the

extent to which modern identities are arguably as much social products as their ancient


       Let me address the ancient-modern distinction here as I treat the question of anti-

modernism in a later section of this chapter. In Greece and Rome, it is claimed, nobody

kept a diary or wrote an autobiography until Augustine of Hippo in the early fifth century

of the Common Era.8 Characters in Greek tragedies are archetypes more than they are

people; whatever distinctiveness they have is due to the roles they enact and secondarily to

generic qualities like strength, bravery and intelligence.9 Inner struggles are rarely

described, although they are not infrequently made evident by other means. The opening

line of the Iliad tells us about Achilles' rage, but we do not encounter it until more than two

hundred lines later when Agamemnon deprives him of the slave girl Briseus.10 Here and

elsewhere, internal conflict is signaled by a god or goddess intervening to persuade a hero

to pursue some course of action. Augustine, by contrast, tells us directly about his conflicts

and how different parts of himself are at odds.

       The distinction between the ancient and modern worlds is real but overdrawn.11

The absence of diaries and autobiographies and the failure of ancients to represent the inner

lives of their characters does not necessarily mean the absence of interiority. Before Freud,

there was little recognition of the unconscious in Western literature and philosophy, but

nobody would maintain that it did not exist or was unimportant before it was theorized.

Ancient writers give hints of interiority, as Homer does when he acknowledges that heroes

are reflective, and has Achilles do so directly when he thinks about how his father will

respond to his death, which leads him to empathize with Priam.

       Virgil, like Homer, uses gods to shape human destiny and individual behavior.

Both poets make it apparent that our lives are affected by many forces, some of them

beyond human control, but that there is still ample room for agency. In the final scene of

the Iliad, when Achilles weeps with Priam and returns Hector's body to him, we encounter

Achilles the man, not a puppet of the gods or an enraged animal. At the end of the

Odyssey, when its eponymous hero kills the suitors and brings peace to Ithaca, we observe

the man of many devices, the skilled fighter and canny conjuror who must be chastised in

the last line because of his increasingly dominant interiority. Virgil's Aeneas is guided and

assisted by the gods, but toward the conclusion of the epic he kills Turnus in an act of range

and vengeance that the poet leaves no doubt arises from within. The Aeneid's ending lends

itself to multiple interpretations. Most commonly, it has been read to symbolize Rome's

unwillingness to share power with other political units, as evidence that Aeneas has lost the

humanity that Achilles regained, and as a warning about the complexities of political life.

All three readings indicate interiority, and alert us to some of its dangers.

       The Iliad valorizes warrior-based honor societies.12 Archetypes are well-suited to

this purpose because they create role models, uncomplicated by internal conflicts and

inconsistencies, which listeners or readers are encouraged to emulate or shun. Homer

provided a model for the Greeks and the Greeks for the Romans. I am unpersuaded that

interiority emerged with Augustine, as is sometimes claimed.13 Other readings of his

autobiography are possible, including one that interprets it as a pre-modern denial of the

independent inner self.14 I surmise that his proselytizing goal led him to emphasize a long

pre-existing but rarely articulated interiority. His incentive was to contrast secular

pleasures with spiritual fulfillment in an attempt to demonstrate the superiority of the latter,

but also to describe the internal conflict they generated and how appetite could be

overcome by willpower and faith. Interiority is not the same as self-fashioning, and

traditional Christian views of autonomy remained unreservedly negative. "Hands off

yourself," Augustine warned. "Try to build up yourself, and you build a ruin."15

       Autonomy and self-fashioning are undeniably products of the modern era. In the

Introduction, I described how the two components of internal autonomy -- interiority and

reflexivity – became more visible in the Renaissance art and literature and even more

pronounced subsequently. These texts were catalysts for self-fashioning, which frequently

found its initial expression in role playing. Role playing was an outlet and an experiment

in a world where changing roles in practice was much more difficult. It heightened

interiority and reflexivity – and also alienation to the degree that people felt more

comfortable in their assumed roles than those they were compelled to perform on a daily


         Discourses and autonomy were to a significant degree co-constitutive. Charles

Taylor nevertheless reminds us that the modern self is not simply the creation of the mind.

It is the product of numerous changes in religious, social, political, economic, family and

artistic practices. Some of these practices were supportive of discourses valorizing external

and internal autonomy.16 Others were distinctly at odds with them, so we must avoid being

drawn into a narrative of linear progress. The sixteenth century, where the story of

modernity typically begins, witnessed little change in external autonomy as religious and

state institutions became better organized and more capable of disciplining middle-class

and aristocratic subjects alike.17 For these reasons, Stephen Greenblatt maintains,

Renaissance self-fashioning was highly constrained. Subjectivity, he argues, is “not an

epiphany of identity freely chosen but a cultural artifact." The self can only be constructed

and maneuver within a set of collectively prescribed practices and codes. The power is to

shape oneself is very much dependent on the tolerance or support offered by the society.18

This point is also made by Natalie Zemon Davis in the context of sixteenth century French

villages. She finds considerable evidence of a normative ideal of self-expression and

autonomy, although not nearly as pronounced as nineteenth century French individualism.

She attributes this difference in large part to the confining nature of traditional religious

obligations and patriarchal family structures. Individuality and its expression, she insists, is

very much related to the external autonomy of agents.19

         Tensions between individuals seeking freedom and states attempting to regulate the

external and internal lives of their citizens intensified over the course of the modern era.

Some of the philosophers, writers and artists who pioneered the concept of self found

themselves severely constrained by dominant practices. John Locke's commitment to

individualism might be understood as a reaction to the hierarchical nature of seventeenth

century English social relations and his dependence on powerful patrons. His letters to his

patron Alexander Popham are positively fawning, in accord with conventional practice.

Cramped court etiquette and thinking and its limited cultural life were offensive to Locke

and all the more painful given the openness and intellectual vitality of his circle of friends.

This contrast may have provided a strong motive to invent a conception of the person that

encouraged people to reject the model of the courtier in favor of the noble character.20

Locke imagined a world in which he would feel at home and fulfilled.

       Chapter four depicts Mozart and Da Ponte in a similar light. Given the political,

economic and social restrictions of Austria of Maria Theresa, Joseph II and Leopold II,

Mozart and his librettists had to experience the Enlightenment vicariously. In Salzburg,

Mozart was repeatedly humiliated by his patron, Archbishop Colloredo. In Vienna, he was

treated better, but still came up against serious creative, economic and social constraints.

In their operas, Mozart and Da Ponte created worlds in which aristocrats and kings were

powerless, parodied or even punished. In Marriage of Figaro, Figaro‟s opening cavatina,

“Se vuol ballare” [If you want to dance] asserts his equality, indeed, his superiority, over

his employer the Count. Mozart struggled to make a living and rise in status. His

ambitions were ahead of his time. Beethoven would be the first composer to cash in on

growing public respect for, if not awe of, musical genius.21 Like Locke, Mozart and Da

Ponte had little choice but to reach an uneasy and clearly uncomfortable accommodation

with highly-placed representatives of the existing order. This made it possible for them to

practice their respective arts and achieve a limited degree of independence.22 Rebellion

was restricted to their art, where they were inspired to create imaginary worlds in which

they or others might become "themselves." They were neither the first nor last artists or

philosophers to pursue this strategy.

       Chapter five explores yet another variation on this theme: the liminal position of

eighteenth and nineteenth century German intellectuals and its implications for literature

and philosophy. This problem existed at the individual and collective level. The biography

of Johann Gottlieb Fichte offers insight into the constraints faced by individuals from non-

aristocratic backgrounds. By dint of his phenomenal memory and ability to recite sermons

verbatim, he escaped from his family's Saxon village and weaving trade. In 1770, a local

aristocrat sponsored his education with the idea that he would become a minister. Fichte‟s

unorthodox religious views, combative posture and insistence on being treated as an equal

alienated sponsors and employers alike and kept him in a professional limbo for some

years. So did his plebian origins, regional speech inflection and aristocratic prejudices

against people of lower class origins. He was denied entry into the system of patronage

that reserved the best educations and positions for sons, deserving or not, from well-born

families. The frustrated Fichte described himself at “ceaseless war” against “a host of

prejudices, obstructions, and insolences of all sorts.”23

       In 1792, Fichte published his first major publication, which instantly made him the

most prominent of Kant‟s disciples. However, this work and subsequent ones earned him

an undeserved reputation as a Jacobin and he was fortunate to secure a teaching post at

Jena in 1794. At Jena, he tried and failed to secure academic freedom for the staff, an

involvement that cost him his job. Of all the German thinkers of his era, Fichte was

arguably the most committed to the construction of the self as a fully autonomous moral

agent. Before the end of the eighteenth century he had drawn on his reflexive premise to

show how the self might be developed and situated in a modern world characterized by the

increasing importance of what Hegel would call civil society. Fichte conceived of the self

very much in terms of its public presentation and stressed its rhetorical nature, somewhat

akin to self-fashioning through role playing. This approach mirrored and legitimized his

life-long ambition to build a successful identity career by this means.24

       In the various German states the public sphere [Öffentlichkeit] was relatively

undeveloped until well into the nineteenth century and aristocratic elites were more

parochial in their thinking than their French and British counterparts. As Kant observed, it

was the age of Enlightenment, but in Germany it was not yet an enlightened age.25

Centralizing authorities drew support from local nobles and many urban elites who were

anxious to protect their local economic and social privileges. German intellectuals had

little recourse but to reach some kind of accommodation with the existing order as the state

employed them as ministers, professors, teachers and other kinds of civil servants. For

much of the nineteenth century they remained dependent on the support and toleration by

the very princes and bureaucrats whom they believed stood in the way of cultural progress

and national rebirth and with it, the possibility of developing identities in harmony with a

much evolved society.

       German intellectuals turned to a highly idealized ancient Greece as a source of

freshness, balance and reason. The golden age of Athens they invented was intended as a

model for restructuring German society through Bildung [self improvement] in lieu of

direct political action. Following the Napoleonic Wars, Prussia and other German states

turned their backs on reforms and liberal thinking and Greece increasingly became a

fantasy world where intellectuals and artists could dream and create in personally fulfilling

ways. As early as 1801, Schiller described Germany as an “inward Empire.”26

       Given Germany's situation as a late economic and cultural developer, its

intellectuals faced working conditions not dissimilar from those of pre-commercial and

industrial Britain. In both societies, artists and intellectuals were dependent on patrons and

constrained by their subservient positions. The German situation was far more intolerable

by virtue of the readily available comparisons with contemporary France and Britain,

where intellectuals had a freer existence and often met with more commercial success.

Short of exile – a solution embraced temporarily by Heine in Paris and Nietzsche for good

in Switzerland – they had to find some means of coping psychologically and practically

with what most regarded as a backward and oppressive order. Cultural isolation and

insecurity found expression in the construction of an identity bound to the state and an

image of the German state and Kultur as superior to those of Enlightenment Britain and

revolutionary France. Kant‟s effort to discipline French individualism with the supposedly

enlightened corporatism of Germany is an early example. Even more revealing was

Fichte‟s 1807 Address to the German Nation, which praised the “German spirit,” whose

ideals were said to transcend the selfish goals of France and Britain, making Germans the

only Europeans capable of profound and original thought. Anti-Western diatribes became

a major trope of German literature in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

       Throughout the West, identity became a paramount concern. Within national states

and cultures, there were nevertheless important differences in how this project developed.

A key determinant was the relative power of state and society. In countries like Britain and

the United States, where the state was relatively weak and the society strong, identity was

framed as a matter of individual choice. After coming up to London, the young Boswell

wrote in his diary that "I have begun to acquire a composed genteel character very different

from a rattling, uncultivated one which for sometime past I have been fond of. I have

discovered that we may be to some degree whatever character we choose."27 Boswell,

Hume and Mill regarded society as a valuable resource, where people intent on developing

and expressing themselves were exposed to a range of role models. They considered this

diversity beneficial to individuals and society alike.

       In strong states, like France and the newly unified Germany, civil society was

regarded negatively or with ambivalence. A few thinkers like Helvétius envisaged civil

society as a vehicle for personal and cultural development, but many more intellectuals

eyed it warily as an uncontrolled space where people could easily be led astray. Rousseau

was among the first to characterize society as Janus-faced; it corrupts human beings but

nevertheless has the potential to restore their humanity. Diderot insisted that society wore

away individuality instead of fostering it. Throughout the nineteenth century French

thinkers warned that individuals who wiggle free of state-imposed social controls indulge

their selfish interests at the community's expense.28 Even Durkheim, who considered the

French state a tyranny, felt compelled to genuflect to the conventional wisdom by

distinguishing two kinds of self, one positive, the other committed to individuality with

selfishness.29 In Germany, where society was weaker still, it was regarded with even more

suspicion. Chapter four described how German philosophers, writers and educators

denigrated commercial activities and sought to focus the ambitions of the young on grand

collective projects. Most envisaged identity construction as a national rather than

individual enterprise and the state as source of individual identification and fulfillment.

                                    MAKING SELVES

       Identity is a first order concern of human beings. It begins in childhood with the

recognition that we are physically distinct from others no matter how closely we resemble

them. With maturity, we come to understand that we are responsible for our behavior and

goals in ways that less reflective, more instinct-driven species are not. All forms of social

identification -- from family to species -- involve differentiation from others. They also

require us to draw closer to other members of our social unit. Identities involve integration

in a second way: a meaningful sense of self is greatly facilitated by close relations with

those from whom we differentiate ourselves.

       Discourses about identity largely ignore this dynamic. They recognize only one

kind of integration: affiliation and bonding with others in the same family, group, or state.

This one-sided understanding arises from the conception of the autonomous self, which is

endemic to social science and contemporary conceptions of identity. It is the foundation of

economic and rational choice theories, both of which build on the myth of autonomous,

egoistic individuals making decisions on the basis of self-interest. Since Kant and Hegel,

scholars, intellectuals and politicians have generally assumed that identities form and

solidarity is built and enhanced by emphasizing how we differ in positive ways from

others. This conceptualization, which emphasizes autonomous actors, directs our attention

to markers of identity and the boundaries we create to distinguish us from others.

Boundary maintenance is commonly assumed, or at least be abetted by, negative

stereotypes of these others.

       Chapter three turned to Homer and Virgil for a different understanding of identity

formation and maintenance, one based on empathetic relations with others and nuanced

understandings of them. In the Iliad, Greeks and Trojans possess strong identities prior to

their war, and there is no evidence that they achieve group solidarity as a result of the

conflict. It reveals Greek unity to be fragile and it is nearly destroyed by the intense

antagonism between Achilles and Agamemnon. The Trojan War highlights the mutual

dependence of Greeks and Trojans, as warrior aristocrats on both sides yearn to compete

for aristeia. This is only possible against an adversary who has similar values and

practices. Warriors respect one another and have strong incentives to acknowledge

publicly the outstanding qualities of their adversaries. War nevertheless involves death and

sacrifice and the anger they arouse threatens to undermine the norms governing relations

between adversaries and among Greeks. Cooperation between the warring camps reaches

its climax in Priam‟s successful ransom of his son‟s body from Achilles. Through this

encounter, Achilles, the best of the Achaeans, regains his humanity and identity.

       In the Aeneid, Virgil implies that the Trojans must expand their identity to gain

empire. On the verge of victory, Aeneas promises the defeated Italians that they will never

have to bow to Trojans. “May both nations," he proclaims, "under equal laws, march

together toward an eternal pact of peace.”30 His message is reinforced by Jove and Juno,

who command the Trojans and Latins to blend into a stronger, hybrid people.31 Writing as

an Italian Roman, Virgil is, in effect, urging Augustus to treat contemporary Roman

citizens equally, regardless of their territorial origins. By this form of identity stretching

Augustus can marshal support through the Empire and realize Jove‟s prophecy. Aeneas is

offered as a prototype. He allies with Etruscans and various Latins and marries the Latin

princess Lavinia, making clear that Rome is a multicultural project from the outset.

        Homer's approach to identity receives considerable support from recent research in

social psychology on group formation. It indicates that the creation of "others" and

negative stereotypes about them are not necessary for group formation and solidarity. Such

images are a special case and most likely to develop when groups compete for scarce

resources.32 This understanding of identity is shared by psychiatrists who study child

development. Freud maintained that the ego emerges as a consequence of identification

with others, and that the self arises from the resulting tensions within the child.

Contemporary psychiatrists describe identity formation as biologically programmed and

manifested early in life when infants struggle to understand themselves as beings in their

own right distinct from parents and other caregivers.33 Such recognition usually develops

by the age of four.34 Robust, confident identities are most likely in families where a sense

of self develops in the context of positive feelings towards other family members and care


        Identity formation is best understood as a dialectical process in which we become

ourselves by drawing closer to others while at the same time separating from them. At

every level of social aggregation identity formation should be studied in the context of

relationships, not as an isolated unitary phenomenon. Other actors provide positive and

negative role models as well as feedback about our behavior, all of which is essential to

how individuals, institutions and states shape and maintain their sense of self.

        The self does not form so much in opposition to the “other” as it does in

conjunction with it. In the course of such an interaction, the self is constructed and

develops the potential to become stretched. This understanding of identity receives its first

theoretical treatment in Plato for whom identity is a reflection of a universal form. People

are distinct but linked to one another by virtue of their connection to this form. Otherness

is a highly visible but superficial feature of identity.36 On a more practical level, Plato, like

Thucydides, contends that cities – that is, political orders – depend on affection and

friendship [philia]. These bonds encourage empathy that enables us to see ourselves

through the eyes of others. We come to recognize that our framing of justice – and

everything else -- is parochial and that our happiness and identity depend on those of our

families, friends and fellow citizens. Plato also considers friendship important because it

creates an atmosphere of trust in which meaningful dialogue becomes possible. In his

Republic, Socrates‟ positions never represent any final truth. His interlocutors make

arguments that he cannot fully refute, or chooses not to. Deeper understandings only arise

from a holistic understanding of competing claims and positions.37

       With modernity, friendship again comes to the forefront as the foundation of order

and even of human fulfillment. Hobbes describes “fellow-feeling” and sympathy for others

as natural proclivities of human beings and relies as much on them as a Leviathan to

construct and maintain society.38 Adam Smith attributes moral sensitivity to empathy. Our

ability to experience the pain and pleasure of others, and our desire to have them

experience ours, keeps us from being entirely selfish.39 Socrates‟ emphasis on dialogue has

been revived in the twentieth century, and is central to the writings of figures as diverse as

Mikhail Bakhtin, Hans-Georg Gadamer and Jürgen Habermas.40 For Gadamer, dialogue

“is the art of having a conversation, and that includes the art of having a conversation with

oneself and fervently seeking and understanding of oneself.”41 It puts us in touch with

ourselves and others. Experiencing the other through dialogue can lead to exstasis, or the

experience of being outside of oneself. Dialogue can be understood as a means of

extending our personal horizons and identities and by this means allows us to escape in part

from the confines of culture and power structures.42 Critical hermeneutics of the kind

advocated by Gadamer implicitly assumes that in the modern world with all its diverse

interlocutors, in contrast to Achilles and Priam, we can find a language that promotes

empathy and helps to construct new identities.

       The Homeric understanding of identity suggests that separation need not involve

alienation or antagonism. Individuals, groups and even nations can construct distinct

identities, and social units encourage solidarity, in the absence of hostility toward others

and negative stereotypes of them. Collaborative identity construction confers many

benefits: it provides the basis for continuing good relations with other actors, serves as a

corrective for unhealthy and destructive forms of self-involvement and the foundation for a

still wider circle of relationships. Arguably, these kinds of relationships make us human, or

at least bring out and develop those qualities many of us associate with the best side of

human nature. This is a question to which I revisit later in this chapter when I take up the

problem of identity at the species level.


       In traditional societies where there are few roles and most of them ascribed, people

knew who they were and their identities were confirmed on a daily basis by practices.

People may have been unhappy about being peasants but for the most part did not deny

their status to others or themselves. Attempts to do so would have been difficult and likely

to have met resistance.43 James Scott contends that it is not all that much easier in the

modern world as states have invented multiple categories of identification to which they

assign people.44 Modernity is nevertheless characterized by widespread attempts -- many

of them successful -- to escape, finesse or otherwise transform assigned categories and

roles. In the so-called post-modern era especially, people have compelled state

bureaucracies to reformulate, loosen or drop long used categories of identification. A nice

example is the categories the American census uses to determine so-called race.45

       Meaningful agency requires some possibility of choice and self-fashioning, and this

was made possible in the modern era by changes in both material and ideational conditions:

a more complex division of labor, proliferation of roles and the emergence of discourses

that problematize existing roles and identities and theorize alternatives. Isaiah Berlin

describes the "apotheosis of the will" as a defining feature of modernity.46 For Romantics,

agency becomes an end in itself, even if its consequences are often destructive, as they are

for Turgenev's Zinaida and Yeat's aviator.47

       Agency is a deeply problematic concept for conceptual and empirical reasons. It is

a widely used term used to signify different, sometimes contradictory things. In rational

choice and strategic interaction models it refers to actors' calculations and decisions. Social

scientists who use such models explain agency in one of two ways: as choices based on

actor preferences and assessments of the likelihood of satisfying them, or as choices based

on incentives and constraints generated by the environment in which actors function. The

former put more emphasis on agency because individual preferences are considered of

prime importance. The latter minimizes agency by treating actors as more as less

interchangeable if their circumstances are similar, an assumption without which these

models would have no traction.

       Political philosophers have generally advocated more expansive notions of agency.

Many refuse to consider actions taken in response to either internal or external pressures as

evidence of real agency, or freedom. Plato insists that rule by one‟s appetites is the worst

form of tyranny and that agency begins with the individual or city learning to restrain and

educate appetite and spirit alike.48 Kant offers a critique of external agency in his

distinction between Wille [the manifestation of reason in its practical form] and Willkür

[the faculty of choice, a manifestation of practical reason]. He contends that real freedom,

or rational agency, is the capacity to act for oneself independently of the causality of nature

or society.49 He roots this capacity in his transcendental idea of freedom. It provides “a

complement of sufficiency” that is based on “absolute spontaneity of the will.”50 Hegel

comes at the problem from a different angle. In Phenomenology of the Spirit, he

emphasizes the behavioral conformism imposed by the conventions of language and how

this limits the spontaneity of the self. Mead offers a third take on external constraints. For

him, social categorization and its associated attributions constitute the principal external

constraint to our freedom. They give rise to the “me” – that part of the self that internalizes

the attitudes and expectations of others. However, the “I” – the actor‟s response to others –

can provide a sense of freedom and initiative “as it is never entirely calculable or merely a

response to situational demands.”51 The point here is not to catalog what different theorists

say about agency but to stress the widely shared understanding that true agency requires

something beyond simple choice and behavior based on it.52 It must be free choice, a

choice that is rooted in one‟s so-called identity or rationally constructed agenda, and not

merely a response to appetite, socialization or other social pressures. Empirically, such

claims are notoriously difficult to establish. As Durkheim notes, individuals have a strong

illusion of agency.53

       Agency drives social change of all kinds but we know relatively little about the

various mechanisms by which this happens. In some circumstances, for example, African-

Americans fighting segregation, it required conscious, and often courageous, rejection of

existing social, institutional or legal realities. Other changes are the result of a countless,

small unrecorded acts. Consider how the practice of professor has changed since the

1960s. Publishing has replaced teaching as the most important criterion for hiring and

promotion at universities, sexual relationships with students are now verboten and the

boundaries of the professorial role have been redefined. The professoriate has become

open to qualified PhD‟s regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual preference and the

status of professors has declined relative to many other professions. Some of these changes

were initiated from above but most came about through practice and in response to value

shifts in the profession and society at large.

       My texts offer insight into one of the ways in which the quiet, less dramatic form of

agency finds expression. They draw our attention to role playing as a key feature of

modernity and a vehicle for many of the changes in roles and identities that we associate

with it. The Mozart operas, while fictional, build on and often mimic contemporary

practices. Role playing on stage, in books and at social gatherings stimulated its real life

counterpart. It encouraged people to think of roles as social constructs that could be

performed well by people not born or raised into them and its corollary, that people had

choices regarding roles and their performance. This recognition encouraged social

experimentation and the blurring and even crossing of traditional social boundaries. In a

deeper sense, as Shakespeare's histories suggest and Nietzsche explicitly observes, role

playing puts us in the bodies and minds of others and blurs the boundaries and distinctions

between them and us.54 Role playing not only lets us examine other selves by imitating

them, it lets us examine ourselves by temporarily stepping outside of them.

       Greeks and Romans viewed roles positively. They gave identities to people and

made society possible. The ancients pitied people outside of society because without

assigned roles they lacked identities and were incapable of realizing their human potential.

Hobbes adopted this perspective in Leviathan, where his state of nature reveals that people

stripped of the roles and relationships society provides act on the basis of raw needs and

passions. Thinking about roles and role playing underwent revision in the Renaissance.

Hobbes gives an inkling of the direction of this change in his equation of persons with

actors, both of whom can choose how to represent themselves to others.55 In The Prince,

Machiavelli urges leaders to assume deceptive stances toward other princes and their own

peoples. Chapter two noted now Thomas More was aware of acting this way as Lord

Chancellor, but also in his family as husband and father – and his discomfort in doing so.

       The ancient metaphor of theatrum mundi or scaena vitae [theater of the world] was

intended to drive home the vanity of human life. Individuals were puppets of the gods who

arranged and observed their performances. St. John Chrysostom, Augustine and John of

Salisbury gave voice to Christianized versions of this trope. By the end of the Middle Ages

it was used together with such popular images as the Dance of Death and the Ship of Fools

to symbolize the insignificance of the secular world.56 Like Hobbes' invocation of

theatrum mundi, Shakespeare's famous description of the world as a stage and people as

actors is sharply at odds with the classical understanding in a double sense. It is entirely

secular in that people are the impresarios, spectators and actors, and those on stage have

some leeway in the roles they perform and how they present themselves. The metaphor is

now being used to signify the human potential for, and actual practice of, self-reflection

and self-fashioning. With self-fashioning comes the possibility not only of representing

what we think of as ourselves but of dissimulation, that is the portrayal of those whom we

know we are not. Elizabethan England witnessed a rising concern for distinguishing the

true character of people from their possibly deceptive masks.57

       Dissimulation was encouraged by society's reliance on roles and their outward

markers as signs of status. With even minimal wealth they could be feigned or acquired,

which made it easier to cross class barriers. By the eighteenth century, it was possible to

purchase patents of nobility, something that legitimized and further encouraged the

crossing of boundaries.58 As society grew larger and interactions more impersonal, it

became easier for people to adopt higher status roles than it was in days when people knew

one another. Status hierarchies were porous in both directions. Chapter four described

how Spanish nobles in search of sexual adventures donned capes and masks to mix with

lower class women. Beaumarchais witnessed this practice in Madrid and incorporated it

into his Marriage of Figaro. Mozart and Da Ponte feature this practice not only in their

opera based on the Beaumarchais play, but in Don Giovanni, where Giovanni compels

Leporello to exchange costumes with him for purposes of seduction.

       In Così fan tutti, the two male suitors adopt disguises to seduce each other's

inamorata. Critics at the time, and many since, consider its libretto morally corrupt and

entirely unsuitable to Mozart's genius. Così fan tutti appears to legitimate role playing for

erotic ends, and worse still, to undermine the institution of marriage by showing the

arbitrary and fickle nature of the romantic attachments on which it was increasingly based.

I argue in chapter four that the plot facilitated the intellectual goals of composer and

librettist as it was part of their thought experiment to probe the consequences of ancien

régime and Enlightenment identities under widely varying circumstances. It also provides

the opportunity for the more sophisticated Don Alfonso and Despina to educate the young

couples by destroying their illusions about love and by doing so, lay the foundations for a

social order based on equal doses of reason and cynicism. Così fan tutti is an epistolary,

even revolutionary opera.

      As the reaction to Così fan tutti indicates, traditionalists focused on the perceived

immorality of role playing and did their best to limit it through regulation of dress, theater

and other amusements. Chapter four describes how Spanish authorities sought to suppress

role playing and social mixing. The reforming ministers were concerned with crime but

also objected to the social confusion, loss of legibility, libertinage, laziness and bad

hygiene they believed capes and hats to promote. Anti-majismo legislation aroused

resistance and led to a popular revolt in 1766, known as esquilache riot [riot of the cape

and hat]. The government suppressed the demonstrations, which in retrospect came to be

considered the first collective revolt against Enlightenment-inspired reforms.59 The riot

had the immediate effect of politicizing habits, which in turn encouraged their

conceptualization by journalists and writers. Majismo became more self-conscious and

culturally elaborated and a principal subject of popular theater, literature, music and art,

especially inexpensive prints.

       Sumptuary laws also backfired. Louis XIV was frustrated in his attempt to regulate

clothing, as were similar efforts in seventeenth century Italy, Spain, England and Holland.

Diderot observed that everyone at court tried to resemble people above them and in the

process blurred social distinctions.60 Norbert Elias found that court gradations intensified

the struggle for prestige because they made it possible to define, as with money, the value

of every increment with respect to others.61 This only accelerated efforts by the rich to

move upwards in status. Censorship and theater reforms also had unintended

consequences. The kind of theater encouraged by moral reformers like Jovellanos in

Madrid and Joseph II in Vienna helped to undermine the social order by encouraging

people to regard roles as conventions sustained by performance. It also encouraged the

kind of social mixing of different classes and religions that so horrified conservatives.

       Theater and opera were not the only fronts on which role playing was encouraged

and explored. Epistolary novels, that bridged the boundary between fact and fiction, were

very influential as people strongly identified with their characters. Richardson's Pamela,

Rousseau's Julie and Goethe's Werther are the best-known examples. Literature opened up

a space where the self could be explored without the usual social constraints. Abbé de

Condillac was among the first eighteenth century writers to recognize that people remade

themselves by emulating consecutive role models. They mix and match attributes of real or

fictional characters to become "a different combination of borrowed traits and habits."62

       The German Enlightenment encouraged the formation of reading circles that

brought people together socially in the context of book discussions.63 In Berlin, in the

1790s, reading aloud and discussion was supplemented by musical performances, dancing,

card games and role playing. Guests were often required to come dressed as some real or

fictional figure and act the part for the duration of the evening.64 Masked balls became

popular among the upper classes, and Mozart and Da Ponte have Don Giovanni stage one

in the hope of seducing Zerlina. As I noted in chapter four, three bands simultaneously

play three different kinds of dance music. Two of them are representative of different

classes and the third is free of class associations. Using counterpoint, Mozart harmonizes

these dances and their distinctive rhythms. Following the Don‟s botched seduction, this

elaborate structure breaks down and the music becomes cacophonous. This scene lends

itself to multiple readings, one of which suggests there is nothing unnatural about cross-

class social encounters as the three dances are readily reconciled musically.

       Those who welcomed civil society welcomed role playing. Kant thought it

socialized people into behaving in a more civilized manner. "For if men keep on playing

these roles," he wrote in his lectures on anthropology, "the real virtues whose semblance

they have merely been affecting for a long time are gradually aroused and pass into their

attitude of will."65 In Britain, Boswell, Smith and Hume looked to society to provide

models on the basis of which individuals could construct themselves. John Stuart Mill

echoed their arguments in the nineteenth century. In contrast to the Kantian hope that

people would find rationality within themselves and reflected in others and by this means

come to a more universal understanding of moral law, Mill's individuals discover what

makes them different through their interactions with others. Echoing Condillac, he

suggests that by imitating different features of different people we meet, we formulate

distinct selves. Through this process, "human life also becomes rich, diversified, and

animating, furnishing more abundant aliment to high thoughts and elevating feelings, and

strengthening the tie which binds every individual to the race, by making the race infinitely

better worth belong to."66 Mill's formulation, like Smith's, reveals an abiding optimism in

the prospect of individual improvement through social interaction.

      The embrace of civil society and role playing as a vehicle for identity construction is

the quintessential expression of strategy three, the first in an historical sense, of the two

modern strategies of identity construction that I described in the Introduction. They both

welcome interiority and reflexivity, but regard society quite differently. For strategy two,

as Boswell, Smith, Hume and Mill believed or hoped, society and individual identity are

compatible and even mutually constitutive. This is an optimistic strategy, as it assume that

society will provide useful role models, that individuals – not just rich and powerful ones --

will have the freedom and will to choose diverse role models and that their choices will

feed back positively into society. At best, I believe, these conditions have only been

partially met in the developed industrial world.

      The anti-Enlightenment and Romantic movements gave the metaphor of role playing

a new, and darker meaning. By positing something inherently unique about individuals,

they made it incumbent upon them to discover and express their inner selves. Donning a

mask and playing a role was considered a serious impediment to internal discovery and

self-expression. Rousseau insisted that the art of acting was nothing less than

"counterfeiting oneself."67 Rousseau and the Romantics developed the fourth strategy of

identity construction. They welcomed interiority and reflexivity, but rejected society and

its roles as sources of oppression, not of liberation. Their frame of reference set the stage,

so to speak, for multiple philosophical and political projects intended to overcome this

tension through a radical focus on and assertion of individual uniqueness and identity.

      Mozart‟s operas explore these different understandings of role playing and identity

construction. Don Giovanni appears to reflect Rousseau‟s condemnation of acting as a

form of counterfeiting oneself, except in the case of Giovanni there is no self to counterfeit.

All of his roles are equally superficial, and none of them achieve the benefits described by

Hobbes, Smith, Kant or Mill. The opera can nevertheless be read as a critique of

Rousseau‟s assumption that human character will improve once purged of the false roles

and values put in place by society. Don Giovanni, who shreds these roles and their

associated conventions, appears to validate the contention of the Greeks, Hobbes and Musil

that without social roles people quickly lose the attributes of civilization.

      Role playing is equally central to the Marriage of Figaro. Count Almaviva, like Don

Giovanni, dons a cloak for purposes of seduction. Cherubino disguises himself as a woman

for the same end. Figaro, Susannah and the Countess assume disguises in the night-time

rendezvous scene to foil the Count's plans. Their characters are not undermined but

strengthened by this ruse, unintentionally in the case of the Count, who, for at least the

times being, is compelled to reassume his more responsible guise. The most interesting

figure is Figaro who is under deep cover as a servant -- so deep that he is unaware he is

playing a role -- because he does not know he is the illegitimate offspring of nobles. His

origins are ultimately revealed and he readily assumes the role of gentleman, one we

perceive that will give more range to his varied talents. Figaro‟s reversal -- the very

opposite of an Aristotelian peripeteia in that his situation improves – was undoubtedly used

by Beaumarchais to defuse whatever concerns the censors might have had about an

intelligent, uppity and successful servant. To his audiences, it nevertheless suggests that

character is independent of roles – quite contrary to the assertions of the ancien régime –

and even more radically, makes clear the scope people have to exercise that character is

very much dependent on class.

      Così fan tutti offers more insight into role playing. Guglielmo and Ferrando assume

disguises, once again for purposes of seduction. When they succeed, they reappear as their

original themselves only to "discover" that they have been betrayed by their mistresses.

They reveal themselves to have been the Albanian suitors and the two couples, suitably

chastened, are reconciled. Guglielmo and Ferrando are back in their original dress, but

Mozart will not let them return to their original voices. Role playing changes people,

seemingly along the lines that Hegel would soon suggest. The role provides an alternative

vantage point – a reflective self, as it were – through which the empirical or social self can

be interrogated. In his autobiography, Goethe repeatedly adopts disguises and even dreams

to disappear into other versions of himself.68 Hegel emphasizes cognition at the expense of

emotion, but role playing, like good acting, requires putting oneself into the spirit as well as

the mind of the person being portrayed. This involves emotional commitment, not just

reflection. The gap they both open between the stage and other self has the potential to

create a new person, and hence the inability to return to the "home" key. This change has

the potential to drive further experimentation and change.

       In Marriage of Figaro, Cherubino not only disguises himself in pursuit of a sexual

conquest, he crosses the gender divide by dressing as a woman. His deception is made

more amusing by the audience‟s knowledge that his role is sung by a soprano. Science

fiction picks up on this theme and explores crossovers that are still impossible in today's

world. People readily assume the bodies of other people, genders and species. Even more

interesting for probing identity are novels that create multiple versions of the same person,

as do Jack Vance's To Live Forever, John Varley's Ophiuchi Hotline and Richard Morgan‟s

Altered Carbon. None of them go very far in examining the consequences of such

doubling. In Altered Carbon, Takeshi Kovacs, in his new ninja "sleeve" or body, meets

himself, in the sleeve of the former lover of the police sergeant with whom he has now

teamed up. The two selves have no idea how to relate to one another and begin to argue

about their father and his effect on their lives, conducting a kind of Bakhtinian dialogue.

They must decide which one of them can survive after they perform their required tasks

because the same person is not allowed to exist in more than one form at any given time.

Unable to find any logical way to resolve this problem they agree to leave the decision to

chance.69 As Locke long ago had realized, thought experiments that switch bodies or

produce multiple ones have the potential to explore cognitive and affective components of


        Role playing prompts several additional observations. Earlier, I noted the different

outlooks of philosophers and social theorists living in countries with a strong society and

weak state and those from lands with strong states and weak societies. Intellectuals who

welcome role playing, like Smith, Hume and Mill, invariably reside in strong societies, and

those who oppose it live, or grew up, in strong states. Different takes on role playing also

reflect different points of entry into the problem of identity. When the starting point is the

individual, as it is with the empirical and liberal English thinkers from Hobbes and Locke

on, a robust civil society is the stage on which actors learn roles and perform them as part

of the process of becoming themselves. Those accustomed to strong states tend to view

civil society in a more negative light because of its assumed propensity to free people from

necessary and beneficial restraints. Alternatively, they vehemently reject civil society and

its roles because they are thought to force people into confining and alienating roles and


        A few thinkers from strong states, Nietzsche, most notably, adopt an individual

perspective and theorize routes for people to free themselves from the double binds of state

and society. Most, however, maintain a state or society oriented perspective, as arguably

does Rousseau, for whom people can only regain their humanity through their integration

in a just society that brings out the general will. German idealists, and Hegel and Marx,

develop variants of this solution. The emergence of the self is a defining feature of

modernity, but one that has taken diverse forms. This variety cannot be understood

independently of the social and political conditions in which thought about the self arose.

Most social scientists respond favorably to arguments that explain behavioral diversity in

terms of structural attributes of societies. We should, however, also consider the opposite

possibility: that the emergence of different intellectual traditions were an important part of

the explanation for different structures, like weak and strong societies and states.

        Modernity is invariably described as a Western innovation that spread to the rest of

the world as part of the on-going process of globalization. This perspective ignores the

extent to which modernization was perceived as a foreign import in much of the West. It

was rarely seen as indigenous, and less so the further east in Europe one travels. Even

where modernization was recognized as at least in part a local development, as say in

France, it was regarded by many as something foisted upon society by urban elites or

foreigners in one‟s midst. Anti-Semitism was a long-standing European social disease but

one that dramatically intensified in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as modernity‟s

opponents portrayed the Jews as its perpetrators and beneficiaries. From Germany east,

modernity was generally considered an alien “Western” import. Central, Southern and

Eastern Europeans accordingly displayed the same generic responses to modernity that

would later become evident elsewhere in the world. Some people attempted to maintained

traditional life-styles and identities, and groups like the Roma and Amish still do in Europe

and the United States. Others embraced modernity, welcoming it, at least initially, as a

form of political, economic and psychological liberation. Still others proclaimed the

superiority of local culture but nevertheless sought to adopt those features of modernity that

would enhance economic and military power. In the West, as elsewhere, responses to

modernity have been diverse and fluid as have their implications for identity

                                IDENTITY AND ORDER

      Until the Renaissance, identity and order were thought to be mutually reinforcing;

society conferred identities and practices associated with them sustained political, religious

and social orders. This relationship became problematic when people began to distinguish

themselves from their roles. The latter were increasingly seen as artificial constructs whose

performance confined, even imprisoned, the self. Citing Hegel, but also modern

psychology, I argued that the tension between reflective and social selves is often

pronounced and can be considered a defining psychological feature of the modern era.

This phenomenon gave rise to four generic strategies intended to reduce the gulf between

reflective and social selves.

      The first two strategies, both of which I characterize as anti-modern, emerged in the

Renaissance. They attempt to resolve internal conflict by doing away with interiority and

reflexivity. One seeks to do this by means of a secular utopia in which individuality will be

all but expunged. The other aspires to recreate a religious-based cosmic order in which

there will be no tension between individuals and their society because the former will be

devout Christians and the latter will instantiate Christian principles and practices.

      Thomas More, author of the first modern utopia, pioneered strategy one.71 As we

saw in chapter two, More was deeply troubled by the growing tension between what he

considered his inner self and his political and social roles. His Utopia aimed to overcome

such alienation by submerging individuals so deeply in their social milieu that they would

lose their interiority and reflexivity. Utopia allows for no visible distinctions among

people, no independent careers, no real free time and no privacy. Such a society was

intellectually appealing to More but unrealistic, and this may be why he acknowledged the

"foolishness" of thinking that it might be a model for Europe. John Tyndale, responsible

for the first printed English language bible, was one of a number of dissenting Protestants

who helped to develop the second strategy. He rejected society as hypocritical and corrupt,

in large part because people were forced to assume false roles. By leading an honest

Christian life based on the bible, the tension between identity and society might be finessed

to the extent that true believers could withdraw from or create their own society as the

Pilgrims would later do.

      These choices had diametrically opposed implications for order. More sought

identity in society through active participation in its roles and rituals. Tyndale and his

followers sought an identity outside of and against the conventions of society. Both

strategies were equally problematic as evidenced by the fate of their proponents. More

left office to become a private person because he could not accept Henry VIII‟s rupture

with the Catholic Church, but was arrested and executed. Ironically, the inner self he

sought to deny rebelled against the public role he would have to play in an anti-Catholic

regime. Tyndale's rejection of the state and its religion made him appear a double danger

to the authorities and he was burned at the stake in 1536.

      Tyndale‟s project – and strategy two in general – requires a great strengthening of

the inner self if believers are to turn away from society and face the tribulations and

persecution such a life generally involves. While the inner self is strengthened,

individual identity is nevertheless limited by anchoring it in the Bible. Identity is

regarded as a communal phenomenon and individual differences are muted as far as

possible as they are considered relatively unimportant in comparison to one‟s relationship

to god. Strategy two attempts to address interiority and reflexivity by reducing their

importance but emphasizing aspects of them that can be made compatible with a

Christian social order. A negative “other” is very helpful, if not essential, to this

enterprise because it provides the role model against which the inner self is defined and

solidified. For Tyndale and early Protestants, the Antichrist served as this "other" – as it

does for present day Dispensationalists. More and his Utopia did not require an external

"other" because his intended selves found expression and purpose in social roles. To the

extent More and strategy one needs an "other," it is an internal one that feels hemmed in

and yearns for oblivion.

      These strategies that would be adopted in one form or another by many subsequent

thinkers and movements with anti-modern agendas. Chapter two showed how More's

underlying philosophical project was copied by, or at least found echoes in, many

subsequent utopias. These utopias embed their citizens in social orders that allow little to

no individual distinction in wealth or honor and only limited privacy and free-time. They

do away with politics and thereby deny the possibility of free thinking and legitimate

opposition. They kill, expel, discipline or brainwash citizens who raise objections, and

some do this to those who merely give evidence of being contrarian. Rousseau is very

much in this tradition. He regards interiority and reflection as the principal sources of

human corruption because they encourage the desire for distinction and give rise to amour

propre. His Social Contract is a variant of More's Utopia in that reflection is encouraged,

but only about the community, never about the self, in the expectation that this will give

rise to the general will.72 The triumph of the general will depends on the nearly complete

stifling of interiority – although clearly, not Rousseau's. Marx and Engels develop another

version, which arguably reduces, if not does away with, interiority through the near-total

social integration of the worker in his or her enterprise and society. Alienation

[Aufhebung], considered a product of exploitation, is made impossible by definition. In

contrast to More's Utopia, workers have considerable freedom in how they spend their

time, and great emphasis is put on free time.73 However, there will no distinctions of

wealth or status among them and a collective identity has largely replaced individual

ones.74 Engels, at least, recognizes that this shift in self-identification will not be easy to


      Strategy two builds on previous efforts by Medieval millennial sects to bring the

social order in line with their understanding of Christianity, although many of them

resorted to violence toward this end.76 The Left Behind novels follow the Tyndale model

closely Interiority is encouraged but only to construct an identity based on total

commitment to Jesus. Rather than withdrawing from society, the Left Behind's authors

destroy the corrupt society through war, famine, natural disasters. Jesus returns to create a

millennium where the faithful can live a Christian life. Believers are integrated into a new

society that is conceived of as a religious utopia. Inhabitants – they can hardly be called

citizens -- possess little real interiority and reflexivity. Their life and thoughts are focused

on Jesus and what reflections they have are encouraged take the form of love and

admiration for their savior. Those who fail to achieve this level of commitment are zapped

by lightning, regardless of their outward conformity. There is no meaningful wealth, and

the distraction of profane interpersonal relations is greatly reduced by doing away with the

hormones that arouse sexual desire. Residents are, in effect, neutered. Some opposition is

allowed, but only to set an example for others when they are hit by lightning bolts and sent

to hell to roast for eternity.

      Secular and religious utopias do away with interiority and reflection or limit and

direct it toward desirable ends. This is a major reason why their critics characterize these

utopias as dystopias. Dystopias are more diverse than utopias in their horrors, but some

very prominent works (e.g. Zamyatin's We, Orwell's 1984) achieve their most chilling

effects by reducing interiority and reflexivity. Zamyatin and Orwell follow More in

introducing regimentation, uniformity, propaganda and surveillance. In Huxley's "soft"

dystopia, carrots largely replace sticks, but reduce interiority and reflection just as

effectively by hooking individuals on drugs and sex. People are enticed to lull themselves

into a numbing but pleasurable form of mindlessness.

      Utopias and dystopias alike deprive human beings of meaningful freedom. In Don

Giovanni, Mozart and Da Ponte explore the other side of this equation: the consequences of

near total freedom. This is, of course, an instrumental goal of strategy four. People must

free themselves of all social roles and conditioning to discover and express their inner

selves. Don Giovanni suggests that efforts to liberate ourselves in this fashion ultimately

deprives us of our humanity by reducing us to beasts governed by raw appetites. Don

Giovanni is presented as the inevitable outcome of the Enlightenment project: a man

liberated from external and internal restraints who is a danger to himself and everyone

around him. He is intended to rebut the idealistic expectation that human beings will use

freedom and reason to make themselves into more ethical beings, as Kant and so many

other Enlightenment thinkers hoped. Mozart and Da Ponte believe that reason is more

likely to be directed outwards, with the goal of satisfying unconstrained and therefore more

urgent appetites. Untrammeled reason will not lead to a more harmonious society, but one

in which a minority assert their will and exploit everyone else. This powerful minority will

not be any happier, merely driven. Die Zauberflöte elaborates on to this theme. It suggests

that political orders that pretend to be based on reason and love for humanity are really

tyrannies. From our vantage point, Sarastro's realm, like Schiller's Spain in Don Carlos,

can be regarded as the precursors of the totalitarian regimes that plagued the twentieth


      Don Giovanni is more an archetype than a person and the Commendatore takes him

to the underworld, not to hell. This Greek framing is appropriate because Giovanni

behaves the way Greeks expect of someone who frees himself of social constraints. The

opera can be interpreted as an avant la lettre critique of the fourth strategy of identity

construction that would be associated with the Romantic movement. Mozart and DaPonte

suggest that the project of autonomy is as dangerous as it is hollow. Conservatives still

read Don Giovanni as a warning about individual assertion run amok, but the opera should

also be understood as an equally powerful critique of the ancien régime and more

traditional approaches to identity. Mozart and Da Ponte have no sympathy for the class-

based hierarchy that sustains itself through superstition and oppression. Commoners like

Leporello, Zerlina, Masetto, Figaro and Susanna, and the generally nameless peasants who

surround them, are subject to the whims of exploitative patrons upon whom they depend

for sustenance or support. Aristocrats are not necessarily any freer. To the degree they

have internalized the moral codes of their society they must enact their assigned roles,

suppress their emotions and defer, or forever postpone, gratification of ordinary human

desires, let alone any attempt to develop and express more sophisticated personal projects.

They lead crabbed, unfulfilled and thoroughly unenviable lives. This may be one reason

why the women are so attracted to Giovanni. Zerlina aside, the aristocratic women are

pathetic figures who oscillate between passivity and hysteria.

       The deeper question raised by the opera goes to the core of the modern identity

dilemma. Is it possible to find a rewarding and stable compromise between or alternative

to anti-modern and modern approaches to identity? Could Europeans escape the antiquated

values and confining roles of the traditional order without giving rise to even more dreadful

horrors? Mozart and Da Ponte explore this possibility in Così fan tutti which voices the

hope that enlightened cynicism might provide the basis for a more sophisticated ultimately

more satisfying understandings of self and more stable social orders. Their cautious

optimism stands in sharp contrast to the unrelievedly negative takes on the Enlightenment

offered by modern critics like Oswald Spengler, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Leo

Strauss and Zygmunt Bauman.77 The reconciliation that occurs in the last scene of this

opera can be analyzed in Kantian terms. The Königsberg sage contended that externally

imposed rules crushed our freedom – as they do for the aristocrats in Don Giovanni – but

that freedom from all rules makes us slaves to our appetites – as it does for Don Giovanni.

To avoid these evils we must impose necessity on ourselves. We must adhere to rules that

we have prescribed because they reflect our understanding that they do good for others.

The reconciliation of the lovers is acceptance of a self-imposed order, and one that is

understood to be good for all parties concerned. This resolution is decidedly in the face of

the old order because it appears to affirm behavior that is traditionally considered immoral

and to undermine the sanctity of marriage.

      Così fan tutti valorizes certain kind of compromises but makes no attempt to resolve

underlying tensions between reflective and social selves. At best, it minimizes them by

easing up on social constraints to make individual expression easier, but also providing

reasons for individuals to exercise self-restraint. Of equal importance, it encourages

individuals to accept tensions, even contradictions, between their sense of what is right – a

judgment arising from their reflective selves – and what they are prepared to accept in

practice. The opera encourages these compromises through role playing, which it reframes

in an interesting way. We have examined role playing as something that people are either

forced to do to achieve their external goals or sought to do to express and develop their

inner selves. The former involves conscious dissimulation which is likely to provoke

tension between reflective and social selves while the latter often encounters external

constraints and social disapproval. Mozart and Da Ponte put a positive spin on

dissimulation and use it to smooth social frictions and allow people expanded freedom

within a social order that must, of necessity, be to some degree constraining. The kind of

dissimulation that characterizes the last scene of the opera stands in sharp contrast to the

that which drives its plot. Guglielmo and Ferrando's charade to test the steadfastedness of

their mistresses is egocentric and threatening to the social order, but their willingness to

overlook the unfaithfulness of their women by pretending that it never happened has the

potential to uphold the institution of marriage and restore the happiness of the two couples.

Their charade is based on acceptance of the rigid social conventions of the existing order

while their marriage accepts the inevitable tensions between that order and individual

frailties and needs for self-expression.

      Do reflective and social selves need to be harmonized? Mozart and Da Ponte clearly

regard such a project as fatally flawed, if not downright dangerous. Some prominent

political theorists disagree. Leo Strauss and Charles Taylor, and many conservatives and

communitarians, believe that transcendent moral orders are essential and obtainable.

Taylor maintains that only people who live in societies where there is consensus about the

moral order are capable of developing identities in harmony with their surroundings. He

conceives of identity as the site of our moral compass and denies that adequate foundations

for moral choices can be found within ourselves, in nature or created through social


       Secularism and cynicism have certainly increased in the modern world, but Taylor's

argument fails to acknowledge that transcendent orders are no longer possible, or could

only be achieved at horrendous human costs. In the West, traditional forms of Christianity

compete with many different visions of the cosmos. There are some people – a small

minority in the West -- who lead culturally isolated lives with others who share their beliefs

and practices. Most Westerners live in pluralistic societies, and an even more pluralistic

world, where there is no consensus about fundamental values. In its absence, we confront

acute, sometimes violent, conflicts over beliefs and practices, making it impossible to live

in harmony with the social order regardless of our beliefs.79 Dispensationalism nicely

illustrates this problem. Like all forms of Christianity, it claims legitimacy on the basis of

its understanding of the cosmic order, but believers find the larger society bemused by or

downright hostile to their eschatology. Their response – the only one possible aside from

hermit-like withdrawal – is to insist that the Jesus will soon prove their truth claims by

rapturing the faithful. This demonstration is expected to prompt mass conversions and,

after a period of tribulation, the advent of the Millennium. Jesus, Dispensationalists insist,

will impose harmony between individual identities and the social order.

       Taylor is undoubtedly correct in insisting that in the absence of an accepted cosmic

order there is no firm foundation for moral choices.80 But it does not follow that people

will stop making moral choices or give up their commitments to identity. Throughout this

book I have argued that continuous and unified identities are impossible under any

circumstances and belief or disbelief in cosmic orders does not affect this reality. Toward

the end of this chapter I explore alternative ways of thinking about and practicing self-

identifications. In the paragraphs that follow I relate ethical behavior to identity in a very

different way than Taylor.

      Traditional European conceptions of order relied on enforcement of moral codes by

family, church and state. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, there was a

general assault on these authorities and their self-serving claims that they were essential to

maintain order.81 Philosophers conceived of morality as self-governance, which in turn

provided the justification for people to assume control of their lives in a wide range of

domains. Locke, Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Reid, Bentham, Rousseau, Wolff and Kant are

all major figures in this intellectual transformation. From Locke to Kant, many

philosophers committed to this project nevertheless doubted that moral codes could

effectively be enforced by reason-induced self-restraint. More and Voltaire considered

belief a vengeful god necessary to maintaining order because those who would commit

misdeeds had to expect judgment and punishment.82 Kant thought belief in god and a

"world not now visible" absolutely essential if reason is to lead people to morality as its

apprehension depends on receptivity to "objects of emulation and awe" as incentives and

sources of resolve.83 While writing this section of the chapter, Pope Benedict XVI was

addressing 70,000 people a mile away in Hyde Park repeating his shopworn and

empirically unjustifiable message that morality is impossible without religion and that

atheism is responsible for the Nazis and other twentieth century horrors.

      These fears are groundless. Public opinion polls reveal that the percentage of people

who believe in god in the developed world, the US aside, is somewhere in the range of 30-

35 percent.84 It is lower in Scandinavia and Japan, places with relatively low crime rates

and a high degree of voluntary compliance to social norms. By contrast, Eastern Europe

and Latin America, with significantly higher religious beliefs and church attendance are

demonstrably less law-abiding and more violent. There are many reasons for these

differences and most political scientists would contend that they have little to do with

religion. This is my point. Ethical behavior and political order are not dependent on

widespread acceptance of cosmic orders and their transcendental moralities. Believers and

non-believers alike routinely obey laws, practice honesty, behave considerately towards

one another and not infrequently, display altruism.

      When asked to justify their behavior, some religious people refer to the Ten

Commandments or other religious principles or teachings. But many will simply assert, as

most non-believers do, that they do what is right. Concern for divine sanction or logical

grounds for ethical systems is a question that concerns a very narrow circle of intellectuals.

Some of them err, and display arrogance, in thinking that the vast majority of people

require or desire incontrovertible warrants for good behavior. The absence of such

warrants does not even trouble most intellectuals who are aware of the problem. As

Mozart and Da Ponte hope the principal characters of Così fan tutti will, they have long

since learned to live comfortably with ungrounded ethics and difficult moral choices. They

are prepared to accept many kinds of ethical compromises but also feel capable in most

instances of distinguishing between right and wrong, even though they recognize they

cannot possibility demonstrate the validity of their judgments. For many people, I suspect,

ethical behavior helps them to construct and maintain identities. If so, the arrow of

causation works in the opposite direction supposed by Strauss, MacIntyre and Taylor.

      Even if they could be grounded or universally accepted, cosmic orders would not

provide the kind of ethical guidance Strauss, MacIntyre and Taylor assume. Among people

who believe in a deity – or any form of cosmic order -- there are, and always have been,

enormous controversies about the proper application of religious principles to specific

issues and problems. The ordination of female or homosexual ministers and same sex

marriage offer contemporary examples, just as dancing, card playing and the education of

women did in the past. Cosmic orders have lots of wiggle room and require interpretation

the same way laws and constitutions do. Conflicting positions in these controversies are no

more defensible in cosmic orders than they are in secular ones. In institutionalized cosmic

orders, religious authorities attempt to adjudicate controversies, but in the West, a declining

proportion of people are willing to accept their right to impose solutions by fiat. This

points to a more general problem faced by religions or philosophical systems that root

themselves in cosmic orders. Even in situations where there is a consensus about a moral

position, it does not mean everyone will act accordingly. I have seen no empirical evidence

in support of the proposition that religious people behave more ethically than their secular

counterparts. The last century provides ample evidence of both kinds of people committing

the worst kinds of atrocities.

        In practice, modern roles and affiliations are multiple and often cross-cutting.

These tensions put a premium on rules and conventions that provide guidance when facing

role conflicts and they are routinely offered by the religious, economic, political and other

authorities. In the modern world, these authorities are generally independent of one

another and not infrequently at loggerheads. People in search of guidance often encounter

competing sets of rules, which only intensifies their problems of choice and commitment.

When rules are reinforcing and effective, they have the potential to become unduly

constraining and make it difficult for people to act in ways they think consistent with their

personalities, needs or goals.

        This is the problem faced by all the aristocrats of Don Giovanni, its eponymous

hero aside. Civil order and psychological well-being require rules -- but also frequent

exceptions to them. Orders with loose, vague or ambiguous rules are invariably fortuitous

as authorities of all kinds do their best to forestall such possibilities. For this reason,

successful orders are never the result of purposeful design. It is all the more ironic that so

many intellectuals have nevertheless aspired to overcome alienation and injustice through

the rational construction of orders. And it is to these utopian projects that I now turn.

                               UTOPIAS AND PROGRESS

       One of the claims of this book is that identities are linked to conceptions of progress

and that these conceptions are developed by distinct kinds of narratives. Golden ages trace

the decline of the human race from an earlier imagined state of near-perfection. They are

deeply pessimistic and generally deployed to justify and reconcile people to their current

miseries and injustices. The Christian version combines this pessimism with optimism as it

holds out the prospect of resurrection and life in heaven.

       Utopias are generally understood to advance reformist, sometimes revolutionary

projects, and are associated with a period of Western history in which intellectuals were

optimistic about the possibility of scientific and social progress. Utopias reverse time's

arrow, moving golden ages into the future but also making them less allegorical and

fantastic. They depend on the prior existence of golden ages. Both kinds of narrative

appear to be Western innovations.

       Utopias are offered as model societies in which individual happiness and collective

harmony are achieved by means of institutions and practices that rest on and reinforce what

their authors depict as generic human traits and aspirations. They invariably incorporate

the principle of equality and de-emphasize material goods and their use as status symbols.

Most utopias are agricultural, valorize artisanship and all are to a significant degree

authoritarian. They generally restrict personal freedom, which they consider a threat to

order and stability. The Magic Flute is very much in this tradition. There is no visible

economy beyond exchanging birds for food and wine and nothing that hints at any

institutional structure. The Queen of the Night rules by fiat while Sarastro relies on a kind

of carefully managed Politburo. My reading of the opera emphasizes the extent to which

Sarastro exercises power by means of psychological manipulation and coercion and, like

his adversary, the Queen of the Night, seeks power for its own sake. Utopias put

extraordinary and totally misplaced trust in intellectuals -- whether guardians, scientists or

philosophers – and their ability to rule by reason.

       By raising false hopes, utopias made it more likely that people disillusioned by the

failure to transformative projects will regard the existing world as more of a dystopia.

Even before attempts to create utopias brought about such attitudes, dystopia emerged as a

genre. It was a reaction in the first instance to industrialization and its human costs, and

secondarily, to still imaginary utopian projects that sought to transcend it through social

engineering, revolution and the creation of harmonious communal societies. Dystopia

encourages cultural pessimism. H. G. Well's When the Sleeper Wakes, Zamyatin's We,

Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World suggest that the future has the potential,

perhaps the likelihood, to be worse than the present.

       Magic Flute drives home the extent to which a work written in one genre can be

read in another. The opera is seemingly offered as a blend of golden age and utopia but I

interpret it as a dystopia. Other golden ages can be read as dystopias for some of the same

reasons. Chapter five offers the example of the German reconstruction of ancient Greece

as a golden age and intended model for German identity. In retrospect, it was an idealistic

project that arguably had tragic real world consequences. Chapter six offers another

example: the millennium described in the Left Behind series. It is a utopia modeled on a

biblical golden age, but its depiction of Jesus and the world he rules shares so much in

common with Big Brother's Oceania that it is convincingly read as a dystopia. Dystopias

are more difficult to put a positive spin on, and I am unaware of serious efforts to do so.

The closest we come may be science fiction‟s treatment of immortality. It is expected to

produce various kinds of dystopias from which heroes and heroines seek to escape and

return to mortal societies. From their perspective, our society, if not a relative utopia,

certainly is more desirable by comparison to theirs.

       When texts are read against earlier, contemporary or later ones they encourage

connections that may have been unavailable to their authors. We can situate them in

broader literary and political developments that allow different and diverse interpretations.

Among the most revealing comparisons this strategy encourages are those between the

Magic Flute and Communist China during the Cultural Revolution and between

Dispensationalism and Marxism-Leninism. Marxism has often been described as a

secularized version of Christianity as it seeks to regain paradise, but on earth and by

political means. Marxism and Dispensationalism embrace revolutionary change – one

man-made, the other divinely inspired – and advance parallel arguments about the

unfolding of history based on their respective texts. Both understand the world as full of

seeming contradictions that can be reconciled at a deeper level of understanding. They

foreground villains with no saving graces, unless it is their myopia. Satan and capitalists

are fiendishly clever but strangely shortsighted. They dream up and execute complex

conspiracies but cannot foresee how counterproductive they will be. Revolutionary

Marxists and Dispensationalists consider society utterly corrupt and incapable of reform.

They aspire to replace it with something fundamentally pre-modern in its values and

practices. From its inception, Dispensationalism envisaged a millennium that does away

with industrialization and all of its consequences. Left Behind fleshes out this vision. It

has a political hierarchy that Lenin would instantly recognize as a variant of democratic


       Marxism and Dispensationalism developed at about the same time, represent

different paths for escaping modernity and finding human fulfillment. Dispensationalists

believe the world is coming to an end in the near future and until that happens believers can

find some solace in their solidarity with other believers. This affiliation and the identity

that goes with it are important ways of coping with the larger, utterly repugnant society. It

is significant that Dispensationalism experienced a phenomenal surge in appeal after the

Cold War‟s end and communism‟s collapse. The communist enemy, that Americans held

responsible for so much evil and suffering all but disappeared, but evil and suffering did

not, and, if anything, are believed by many to be on the rise. So too seemingly are

practices abhorrent to religious social conservatives, including sexual freedom,

homosexuality and abortion. The devil has replaced Lenin as the villain.

       My typology of identity helps to explain why Marxism and Dispensationalism have

so much in common. They both embrace anti-modern strategies to address the tensions

generated by conflicts between reflective and social selves. Dispensationalism embraces

the second strategy, that seeks to recreate a world dominated by a religious-based cosmic

order in the expectation that it will bring about full reconciliation between individuals and

their society. Marxism -- in the form advanced by Marx and Engels and practiced in

Maoist China, Cambodia and North Korea – is rooted in the first strategy, that attempts to

suppress, if not do away with, interiority and reflexivity. Marx is adamant that communism

will do away with alienation by creating a communal identity. The two strategies share

much in common. They seek to squash individualism, one by religious and the other by

secular means, and to do away with, or minimize, individual identities by having people

think of and define themselves in collective terms.

       Anti-modernism in both projects also finds expression in negative attitudes towards

role playing. The Left Behind novels depict role playing as a form of falsehood and

deception for evil ends. There is a long tradition in Christianity of the devil disguising

himself to corrupt people and win their souls. In Left Behind, the devil's disciple, Nicolae

Carpathia, pursues this strategy with great initial success, convincing his countrymen, and

then the world, that he is a man of peace and the right choice for Secretary General of the

United Nations. He quickly persuades most countries to disarm and give him dictatorial

powers. Much of the plot of the Left Behind series concerns Carpathia's use of his false

persona to accumulate enormous power and the efforts of a small group of Christians, who

make no pretence about who they really are, to expose him.

       Most of the science fiction texts I analyzed are anti-modern in a different sense.

They offer a more nuanced but still largely negative view of role playing. In Altered

Carbon, it is primarily done for nefarious purposes. Criminals regularly assume sleeves

that make them more powerful and enhance their reflexes or facilitate subterfuge. They

give no indication of being uncomfortable in their new bodies. By contrast, our hero

Takeshi Kovacs, only assumes sleeves in the hope of returning to his original self, and

never feels comfortable in any of his other bodies. The same is true of a woman he brings

back from electronic storage and reunites with her partner. She and her partner feel

physically estranged and yearn for the return of her original form.

       Beginning in the Renaissance, individuals began to have more choices about how to

lead their lives. Role playing is central to the development and exercise of these choices as

it is a vehicle for creating new identities or transforming existing ones. Discourses

accelerated this process. Utopias that create visions of better worlds can inspire efforts to

bring them about, as did Bellamy‟s Looking Backward and Herzl‟s Altneuland. Dystopias

depict negative features of change and efforts to escape them through utopian projects. By

the second half of the twentieth century they all but displaced utopias in Western literature.

Dystopia is the dominant genre in science fiction, whose writers see little hope of escaping

the inequality, corruption and alienation of the modern era. Many, if not most, see these

afflictions becoming more pronounced. In contrast to utopias in which science helped

build a better world, dystopias uniformly portray its social consequences in a negative light.

Immortality is the gold standard of scientific breakthroughs because it has been an enduring

human dream and one seemingly beyond the reach of science until quite recently. In

science fiction, it often comes as part of a suite of scientific, engineering and medical

advances that collectively enhance as well as extend life, but only for those rich and

powerful enough to afford them. Ordinary people suffer, and in many novels and stories,

so do the rich; a longer, healthier life does not make them any happier, rather less so

because they think it should.

       Very few science fiction writers believe in feasible escape routes from the bleak

futures they describe. This may be why agency features so prominently in postwar science

fiction stories and novels. It keeps readers from becoming depressed and holds out some

hope about our ability to preserve our individual identities and with them, our humanity.

Heroes and heroines are invariably committed to traditional values of fairness, equality,

honesty and punishment of evil doers and, like comic book characters, succeed in their

quests to uphold them against incredible odds. Huxley and Orwell, and many of their

postwar imitators and successors, recognize that utopia and dystopia alike impose high

degrees of conformity and compliance. They can only be achieved and maintained by

Hobbesian coercion or Durkheimian social control. Both use modern technology. Postwar

writers, who lived in an era in which governments became more powerful and social

control more effective, have no difficulty in imagining societies that are more malign and

restrictive than those of We, Brave New World or 1984. They nevertheless give even

greater play to agency, making it possible for people to escape these worlds. They are

committed to maintaining the fiction that individual identities can be developed and

preserved in the face of even the most extreme forms of coercion and social pressure.

       Dispensationalists are even more convinced than science fiction writers of the evil

nature of modern life and the impossibility of meaningful reforms. Extreme pessimism

motivates their hope of a total transformation of the world through the intercession of

Jesus. Divine intervention replaces human agency as the vehicle for positive change, but

also highlights the power on human agency. We all have the choice to embrace Jesus and

our salvation, a choice not even the most oppressive governments can deny because it is an

inward spiritual one. As in science fiction, faithful Christians in the Left Behind books face

a series of escalating tribulations but emerge triumphant in the end. They gain entry into a

golden age: first a millennium, based on a highly idealized biblical age, and then a heaven,

modeled on the Garden of Eden. Golden age discourses, initially a vehicle for justifying

hierarchies and their injustices, are here used to overturn them. The fictional paradises they

create nevertheless appear to many secular readers as tyrannies in different guise. Left

Behind's Jesus, a self-aggrandizing religious leader, relies on supernatural powers – far

more effective than mere science -- to impose his will on the masses and foster an

unrivaled cult of personality.

       Utopias are generally understood as progressive, if flawed, visions of the future.

My analysis challenges this understanding. More's Utopia gives the appearance of being

progressive, but is demonstrably anti-modern in intent and in so many of its key features.

It is an agricultural society, with secondary emphasis given to crafts. While they provided

no detailed description of communism, Marx and Engels also emphasize crafts and appear

to do away with industrialization. This is also true of William Morris' socialist London.

All these utopias turn the clock back on individual autonomy. This is true of many of

More's successors, most notably those based on socialist principles. Marx and Engel's

vision of communism, William Morris‟ News from Nowhere and B. F. Skinner's Walden II

are cases in point. Even in novels like Skinner's, where futuristic technology is given

prominence, it is generally used for anti-modern or undemocratic ends. Relatively few

utopias are unqualifiedly modern, Francis Bacon's New Atlantis being a notable exception.

Some utopias straddle past and future, as does Bellamy's Looking Backward. It envisions

central planning and mass distribution centers but freezes gender and racial stereotypes, all

but does away with politics and turns Boston into a leafy, anti-bellum paradise.

       Our reaction to utopias hinges on our conception of modern, and this encourages us

to interrogate our understandings. If we think of modernity as characterized by individual

autonomy, economic development, civil society, democracy and tolerance, then most

utopias are unambiguously anti-modern. If, however, we construct a picture of modernity

that emphasizes economic inequality, state centralization, nationalism and imperialism and

dehumanization of people through workplace regimentation, propaganda and advertising,

than utopias nicely capture key features of our world. Totalitarian, or at least authoritarian,

regimes are as much the norm as democracies, as is loss of meaningful agency for all but

the most fortunate.

        In this unpalatable world, totalizing regimes, like the Church in the Middle Ages,

attempt, and to some degree succeed, in "brain washing" citizens to internalize their

ideology and its values, denying them internal as well as external autonomy. This is made

easier by the well-documented propensity of contemporary people to exaggerate their

agency even while they are demonstrating social conformity.85 The verdict is still out on

the future, and if it comes to resemble this darker world – as so much of science fiction

expects – than we will have to revise our reading of utopias. They will have turned out to

have been remarkably prescient and to have envisaged worlds that our descendants may

regard wistfully – if they are allowed to read them.


        Golden age, utopian and dystopic discourses tell stories with beginnings and

endings. Not all these stories are presented in linear fashion; they may incorporate flash

backs or present the perspectives and adventures of multiple characters. Readers must

nevertheless be able to impose a linear structure on the overall narrative. Linearity is

shared by autobiographical narratives that are essential components of our identities. Like

all works of history, they impose order and progression on events that was rarely evident at

the time and may not be justifiable in retrospect.86 They do so by playing up certain

strands of development at the expense of others and interpreting them in a manner fully

supportive of, their plot line.

       Students of narrative like Hayden White and Louis Mink describe narratives as

imaginary creations that we impose on the world.87 Most people think of linear narratives

as "natural" forms of expression that capture the essence of the world and of ourselves.

Some philosophers in the phenomenological tradition contend that narratives are central to

our being because they allow us to incorporate the past into the present in meaningful

ways.88 Such Kantian-style isomorphism between our minds and the world is highly

questionable, although it is deeply entrenched in Western philosophy and culture. Efforts

by novelists from James Joyce to Robbe-Grillet and Italo Calvino to break free of linear

structure do not have wide appeal because of the unaccustomed and therefore difficult

demands they make on readers. There is nevertheless nothing "natural" or superior about

linear structure. Such beliefs are based on the false understanding of causation and its


       Linearity is distinguished by its causal understanding of the physical and social

worlds. In such narratives, earlier events or developments are assumed to responsible for

later ones and constitute the thread that ties stories together. Others forms of representation

are available and some have a long history in Western culture. Aristotle, while aware of

efficient, or preceding causes, also emphasizes telos, or the ends that objects and living

things are intended to serve. The acorn's purpose is to grow into an oak, and a story about

its life would work backwards from this end to explain various stages of its transformation

and growth.89 The New Testament is framed in part this way as are Marxist accounts of

history, their oak trees being the Second Coming and communism. Greek tragedy and

some modern fiction employ archetypes, as Mozart and Da Ponte do in Don Giovanni.

While telos-driven stories and archetypes are often embedded in linear plots, causation is

external to them. Depending on one's reading of Sophocles' tragedy, Oedipus' behavior is

attributable to fate or his character, either, or both of which, make the plot unfold as it does.

          Modern understandings of linear causation build on the pioneering work of David

Hume. Following Bacon and his students, who narrowed the concept of cause to

immediate or efficient cause, Hume reasoned that "X" could be considered the cause of "Y"

if the two consistently covary and "X" precedes "Y."90 This approach to causation lies at

the core of neopositivism and its search for regularities. In the course of the twentieth

century, non-linear models have become prominent in the physical and biological sciences.

They assume that the physical and biological worlds are complex, open-ended systems in

which agency, accident and confluence are all important determinants of outcomes In such

worlds, the interaction effects of variables are often non-additive, as they depend on the

presence or absence of other conditions. Even linear systems with known feedback loops

can quickly become non-linear and unpredictable when some of their parameters have high


          Elsewhere, I have made the case for considering the social world an open-ended

non-linear system; by non-linear I mean a system that does not satisfy the superposition

principle so its output is not necessarily proportional to its input. I contend that many, if

not most, social and political transformations are the product of non-linear confluences.92

If this is true, linear narratives cannot model the social world of our individual lives as they

too involve transformations, some of which are triggered by confluences or accidents. If

there is any isomorphism between our minds and our world it will have to be non-linear in


       Hume describes causation as a product of the human mind, not a feature of the

world.93 This understanding is accepted by most physical scientists, who have largely

abandoned the notion of cause. Causation and its linear formulation are social

constructions that we take for granted because they are so deeply embedded in our culture.

Linear perspective in art is a telling example. In the 1920s, Erwin Panofsky suggested that

each historical epoch of Western civilization had its own "perspective" that was consonant

with and helped to negotiate a particular Weltanschauung. Linear perspective should not

be regarded as a scientific advance over medieval representations of space; it came no

closer than earlier perspectives in capturing reality, but did express more effectively the

world view of Renaissance Italians.94 Panofsky‟s ideas initially met great resistance, if not

incredulity, from art historians and scientists, which may have reflected the general

reluctance of even intelligent and sophisticated people to recognize the extent to which

their understandings of the world are limited and parochial.95 Panofsky's insight that linear

perspective is above all a convention no longer seems so radical as it parallels similar

moves towards constructivism in anthropology, philosophy and political science.

       Could we move away from linearity in our life narratives? The occasional use of

other forms of narration in Western culture and their wider use elsewhere indicates that it is

at least a theoretical possibility. It is most pronounced in the visual arts, where during the

course of the last century, abstract, non-linear forms of representation made great inroads.

However, such art remains an elite fascination and most Westerners remain uncomfortable

with it even they may encounter it on a regular basis. Postwar popular culture is more

promising because it has consciously sought to blur, stretch and blend traditional genres

and create new ones. Television is particularly adventurous in this regard. Programming

has moved away from grand, linear, narratives. The forty-five episodes Monty Python and

His Flying Circus, which began in 1965, broke new ground in this regard as did music

videos, which came a decade later, with the advent of MTV in 1977. Music videos violate

most aesthetic boundaries and routinely treat people and their activities in non-linear

ways.96 In postmodern culture, unitary identities are giving way to unstable, pastiche

identities.97 The recognition, even quest, for such identities is reflected in clothing that mix

items representative of diverse styles and purposes that rendered them illegible when

combined for purposes of distinctive individual presentations of self.

       In the absence of other pressures to rethink our identities it nevertheless seems

unlikely that non-linear forms of narrative will ever become really pronounced, let alone

dominant. Claims are made that female autobiographical narratives are less linear than

their male counterparts, but for the foreseeable future it is probably fair to assume that

linear narratives will retain their hold over both sexes and the autobiographies constructed

this way are likely to reaffirm our illusions about unified and consistent selves.98

       Might it be possible to think about our lives in non-linear ways within the

framework of linear narrative? This could take the form of parallel linear narratives that

track the development of multiple selves. Such narratives would not capture the reality of

social life as well as their non-linear counterparts but they would allow life narratives to

support more sophisticated understandings of the self. Multiple narratives would also

encourage us to think about some of the connections among these different framings and

the extent to which they are contingent. If so, we might consider branching points

connecting these framings and some of the other selves we might have been or might yet

become. For some people, this kind of reflection could serve as a spur to personal

development and a more humble understanding of ourselves and our species.

                              WHAT MAKES US HUMAN?

       Over the millennia there have been many attempts to distinguish humans from other

animals. Most markers build on our extraordinary cognitive capacity. Ancient Greeks

emphasized our ability to speak and cook food.99 Aristotle insisted that different forms of

life have different kinds of souls. Only humans have "intellectual" souls and, as a result,

the ability to reason.100 Christians followed Aristotle in associating humanity with souls,

but of the immortal Platonic kind. Descartes connected souls to cognition, arguing that

animals, which lacked souls, could not think and were machine-like in their behavior.

Modern thinkers like Kant and Hegel also emphasized reflexive capabilities. Kant

proclaimed that "The fact that man can have the idea 'I' raises him infinitely above all the

other beings living on earth."101

       Some efforts at distinguishing humanity from "lesser" species build on the

consequences of intelligence. Homo faber, the tool maker, is a case in point, and seemed to

distinguish homo sapiens from earlier hominids as well as other animals. Karl Marx, for

one, emphasized agency, tool making and the choices it conferred.102 Today we know that

Neanderthals, once thought of as culturally inferior, made musical instruments as well as

tools and interbred with humans.103 Various monkeys and other animals fashion tools, and

recent evidence suggests that border collies can develop 1,000 word vocabularies.104 This

distinction, like so many others, as David Hume maintained, must be considered one of

degree and not of kind.105 At best, there is a sliding scale of intelligence with humanity at

the high end. Science fiction creates worlds with intelligent androids in which this gap is

closed; humans are even surpassed in intelligence by machines. This challenge to human

superiority would be threatening under any circumstances, but all the more so in the

modern era where intelligence as a human marker has taken on new significance due to the

progress of science.

       This possibility has led some science fiction writers to turn to affect as the defining

feature of human beings. It differentiates us from machines, unless or until computers and

androids become advanced enough to develop feelings. The move to affect is questionable

for another reason: it cannot distinguish humanity from other mammals who have

emotions, display vitality and engage in free play. Psychologists recognize that humans

and animals share what they call primary emotions (e.g., anger, fear, pleasure) but some

insist that only humans have secondary emotions (e.g., honor, hope, nostalgia, shame).106

Aristotle and some students of emotion insist that all emotions are cognitively mediated.107

In practice, neither intelligence nor affect effectively differentiate us from animals and

advanced, artificial life forms.

       Over the millennia, many philosophers and writers have suggested that recognition

of our mortality not only makes us human but shapes our behavior in ways it does not for

other animals. The Greeks explained the striving for honor and standing as figurative

means of escaping death.108 More recently, Heidegger and Terror Management Theory

advance related arguments.109 Some philosophers and many science fiction and fantasy

writers -- Tolkien for one -- oppose immortality on the grounds that it would deprive us of

the ability to lead a meaningful and balanced life.110 Science fiction alleges that

immortality would produce boredom, destructive envy, greater exploitation of the poor and

a gerontocracy that would marginalize the young and forestall change. These novels and

stories tap long-standing, if infrequently articulated, beliefs about the core constituents of


       Religious people have a different answer: it is our relationship to god. Genesis says

that we are made in his image and given control over other animals.111 Christians add

another marker: our potential to achieve salvation. These claims have diminishing

credibility in the West, although secularized versions find wide resonance. Most of us

believe we have the potential to live more ethical lives and that such striving is unique to

the human race, on this planet, at least. For religious science fiction authors, immortality is

a form of lèse majesté, a slighting of god and his authority. This claim is the latest iteration

of the argument used by retrograde Christians to oppose a string of human improvements

that include smallpox vaccination, organ transplants and stem cell research.

       Secular objections to immortality are more interesting, although some of them in

hark back to religious texts and their interpretation The concern about Boredom is a case

in point. In chapter two, I noted the Jewish interpretation of the Garden of Eden myth; it

understands curiosity, and with it, the desire to become master of our own fates, as such a

powerful human drive that it could not be constrained by the deity. Sophocles offers a

similar understanding in his treatment of Oedipus, whose curiosity and intelligence is

unconstrained by dire warnings and brings about his downfall and that of his family.

Augustine also attributes Adam's lack of resolve to curiosity.112 In a clever riff on the

Garden of Eden, Arthur C. Clarke describes city state paradise where the conditions for

human happiness – including de facto immortality – have been provided for by the

founders of the city. Human beings have been genetically programmed to accommodate to

the city‟s life style, but even futuristic science does not rid human beings of their curiosity

and streak of rebelliousness. The consequences of one man‟s violation of the strictest

taboo leads to his self-willed departure from Eden and discovery that a “natural” life, that

includes mortality, is a more satisfying.113

          Most of the characteristics people attribute to our species portray it in a good light,

which is typical of "us" and "other" distinctions. There is also a darker tradition that

foregrounds negative qualities. Thucydides and Greek tragedy giver equal billing to this

side of human nature and Christianity makes it dominant with its doctrine of original sin.

Dispensationalism takes this pessimism a step further in its insistence that people are

irredeemably corrupt and destined to roast in hell for eternity. Only a small number of true

believers will be raptured, and a somewhat larger, but still minute. proportion of humanity,

will make it to the millennium. And not all of them will gain admission to heaven.

Dispensationalism's view of humanity offers a sharp contrast with that of early Christians –

and many contemporary ones -- who are optimistic about the moral potential of their fellow


          These divergent takes on human nature confront different issues with respect to

boundaries. Optimists for the most part take them seriously as they are anxious to

distinguish humanity from other forms of life. Pessimists are much less concerned with

borders as they emphasize fundamental similarities between humans and other animals.

For optimists, as noted, boundary maintenance relies on intelligence or affect. This kind of

differentiation will become increasingly difficult to maintain in a world we share with

intelligent computers and androids, biologically enhanced humans and real or virtual

symbiots. People may react by developing and deploying objectionable stereotypes about

androids and other threatening forms of intelligence. Asimov's I Robot series is

undoubtedly prescient in its presentation of anti-robot prejudice as a new form of racism.

        In an experimental study, Goldenberg and co-researchers find that people

exaggerate their differences from other animals. For social purposes, they argue, what

counts is not what distinguishes humans from other species but what we believe does. We

rely on equally subjective attributions to determine who among us count as fully human.114

Gaita finds something similar: people we stereotype are said to lack the kind of inner depth

that we believe to characterize our group and make us human.115 Nick Haslam proposes

two ways in which others can be dehumanized: we can make them more animal-like or

deny them affect. The former portrays others as lacking culture, refinement, morality and

nationality, while the latter, attributes coldness, rigidity and passivity to them – making

them robot-like.116 In White Britain and Black Ireland, I examine how variants of these

two strategies were widely used to justify colonialism.117

        Human beings have been waging a rear-guard action in defense of their status for a

long time. First came discoveries that the earth revolved around the sun and that neither

was the center of the universe. Then Darwin developed his theory of evolution and

evidence accumulated – still denied by some Christians – that humans and animals descend

from common ancestors. The twentieth century brought secularization, which pulled the

rug out from underneath the claim that god made man in his own image. It also saw the

Freudian revolution and with it, evidence that we are not the rational beings we had

supposed, but creatures driven as much by appetites over which we have uncertain control.

More threatening still will be the advent of machine-made creatures who equal or surpass

us in intelligence, looks, physical capabilities, reliability and honesty. Less likely but still

possible, is an encounter with aliens from an advanced culture. Boundary maintenance in

any of these worlds would be difficult. Ironically, it might become easier and attractive to

super-capable androids or aliens keen to distance themselves for us. We would find their

claim to superiority as offensive and degrading as colonized people and others who were

victims of such discrimination.

       There are sound psychological and philosophical reasons for rethinking our

commitment to markers and boundaries. Such an approach to identity starts from the

recognition that construction of self requires integration as well as separation. The central

psychological dynamic of integration is empathy, defined as the ability to see ourselves

through the eyes of others. From this outside perspective we come to appreciate our

interlocutors as ontological equals and recognize that our understandings of justice are

parochial. Reason and affect combine to make us more respectful of others and more

amenable to their points of view and the need to compromise. This understanding goes

back at least to Homer, who envisaged identity as a fragile construct that required

empathetic relations with others – even military adversaries -- to sustain our identities. It

found fuller conceptual development in classical Athens, where Plato developed dialogue

as an alternative to rhetoric. Plato's Socrates, Thucydides' Pericles and Aristotle all insist

that friendship, based on empathy, is the foundation of the polis.118

       In modern times, Adam Smith makes a similar argument with his emphasis on

sympathy. He reasons that "we have no immediate experience of what other men feel" so

we need to exercise our imaginations to conceive of how "we ourselves should feel in the

like situation." Sympathy is a cognitive process but also an emotional one because we

must understand how someone feels as well what they might think. According to Smith, it

is almost like entering another's body.119 What these and other formulations and have in

common is the recognition that ability to experience the pain and pleasure of others, and

our desire to have them experience ours, keeps us from being entirely selfish. Feelings are

responsible for ethics because they provide the incentive to understand and evaluate our

behavior as others see and experience it.120 The reverse may also be true. Hannah Arendt

argues that the absence of philia, and a resulting inability to see the world through the eyes

of other people, is what made Adolf Eichmann into “one of the greatest criminals” of the

twentieth century.121 Rousseau makes a somewhat similar point in Emile, where he reasons

that a person who entered the world as an adult, without all the benefit of prior friendships

and the feelings and reflection they encourage, would be a self-centered imbecile.122

       Orson Scott Card's novel Xenocide builds on this Platonic or Smithian insight.

Ender Wiggin, the novel's hero has propagated this understanding through a best-selling

biography of the last hive queen. This is in the aftermath of an all-out war of extermination

between human beings and the insect-lie species – the "Buggers" – who have attacked

earth. Unlike Plato, book and author are well-received, but not everyone is sympathetic.

The overarching plot concerns the efforts of Ender, Jane – a life form that has arisen in a

computer network -- and their allies to prevent earth‟s fleet from destroying the one planet

where empathy has allowed humans to develop meaningful friendships with other species.

Xenocide can be read as a parable about the age-old struggle between those committed to

security at all costs and those worried that this commitment will destroy the way of life

security is supposed to preserve. As it is our values and ability to empathize that are

understood to make us human, the Starways Congress would destroy our humanity to

protect it. With his character Jane, Card implicitly follows Norbert Wiener's plea for

"cyborg metaphysics," which involved the bridging of traditional boundaries between

humans and machines" on the basis of what they share in common.123

       Separation and boundary maintenance should be considered a first and necessary

step in a personal and species maturation. The sense of self it creates is a key requirement

of mental health. People with multiple or entirely imaginary identities do not function well

in society. Hallucinogenic drugs like LSD and Salvia divinorum can create states that

mimic psychosis by creating out of body experiences and the feelings of multiples selves

and realities. Jared Loughner, responsible for the 2011 Tucson massacre was a habitual

user of Salvia divinorum.124 The sense of self is also the foundation for subsequent

integration with others without loss of identity. Such relationships are just as essential to

our humanity as identity because they provide emotional gratification, widen our emotional

and intellectual horizons and, by doing both, deepen our understanding of and contentment

with ourselves. This process begins in childhood with the family but has the potential to

become ever more inclusive, moving up the ladder of social aggregation through groups

and nationalities to the species and even beyond. Herder thought along these lines, with his

conception of all life as part of a "colossal organism" constituted by interactions among its

separate parts.125 His "colossal organism" might be considered an early version of the Gaia

hypothesis. Peter Singer invokes evolutionary biology to infer an ethical imperative to

extend our circle to animals and extend to some of them the same rights we have.126

       I understand empathy as a two way street; for us to empathize with others, they

must be capable of empathizing with us. Empathy is different from sympathy, which we

routinely feel toward animals and people – like those in comas -- who cannot return our

feelings. Empathy, as the Greeks understood, is a product of friendship and this

relationship is based on communication. Not all communication must be verbal, and we

have many stories of friendships developing among people – even erstwhile adversaries --

who shared no common language. Hell in the Pacific, a 1968 movie starring Toshiro

Mifune and Lee Marvin as shipwrecked Japanese naval captain and a downed American

aviator, makes this point nicely. Deeper friendships require deeper communication, and for

this language or telepathy is essential. The blind Helen Keller characterizes her mind and

sense of self as undeveloped and her relationships with people largely superficial until she

could communicate with others via symbols.127 In Xenocide, Orson Scott Card

distinguishes between species with whom humans can communicate and those with whom

they cannot. The war between humanity and the Buggers was a tragedy because only

afterwards did they discover that communication, and hence, accommodation, was

possible. Communication seems a sensible rule of thumb and a good basis for determining

how we respond to others and thus how far out we extend our circle of inclusion. I believe

we have a moral responsibility to all animals, but would limit rights to species with whom

we can communicate at the same level of cognitive complexity we can with fellow humans.

       For Kant and Hegel, in-group solidarity is achieved through antagonism to

outsiders. Empirically, this is not necessary, and the strategy entails serious costs – to

ourselves as well as to others. There is much to be gained from pursing a "Schengen"

approach to social relations by removing, or at least easing, the markers and boundaries

we have erected to separate us from others. This will make it easier to extend our moral

circle to include people Onora O'Neill describes as "distant strangers."128 There is an

undeniable trend in this direction in Western culture, more pronounced – and

accordingly, more challenged -- in the twentieth century than in the past. It has received

a big boost from anthropology, biology and sociology, which indicate that we have

common origins and that all meaningful differences among use are social in nature. In

international relations, the Eurocentric system has given way to an international one in

which non-Western, non-Christian actors have gained legal as well as de facto equality.

As Jens Bartelson observes, the political imaginary has increasingly raised the idea of a

global community as a counter and offset to national ones.129 Phil Cerny contends that

structural changes in last century rendered the distinction between international relations

and domestic politics all but meaningless. It is not that the sovereign state has withered

away but rather that its borders are porous and increasingly meaningless as political,

economic and social relations consist of overlapping and expanding webs of relationships

and identities.130 Future historians may describe the most fundamental conflict of the

twentieth century as the struggle between those advocating greater inclusion against those

pushing for greater exclusion. Both goals, and the frames of reference that enable and

support them, can be understood as psychological and intellectual responses to


       With respect to rights and obligations, there are two principal competing schools

of thought in moral philosophy. There is a cosmopolitan approach to ethics that insists

we treat all humans as moral equals. It requires an "impartialist response," that is which

an impersonal standpoint that gives equal consideration to those with whom we have no

personal or emotional connection.131 This tradition harks back to Plato and Diogenes

Laertius and finds prominent contemporary voices in Jürgen Habermas, Onora O'Neill,

Peter Singer and Martha Nussbaum.132

        The second approach, "communitarianism," rejects universalism as impractical. It

insists that the abstract moral reasoning can only effectively be based on specific loyalties

and attachments. People must be rooted in communities and invariably associate ethics

with their traditions, beliefs and practices. The communitarian approach is associated

with, among others, MacIntyre, Michael Sandel, Charles Taylor and Michael Walzer.133

Some feminist thinkers offer a variant in their emphasis on interpersonal relationships as

the foundation of ethics.134 This approach represents a sophisticated understanding of

human psychology but also reflects disillusionment with grand projects, too often

associated by with imperialism and other forms of exploitation and cultural


        Anchoring ethics in local or national cultures does not preclude attempts to

construct ethical systems with global implications as Molly Cochran, Fiona Robinson,

Mervyn Frost and Michael Walzer nicely demonstrate.136 There is, however, an

unavoidable tension between the inclusiveness of a universalist, impartialist stance and

the commitment to "us" over "others" inevitably associated with communitarian

approaches. As Toni Erskine observes, these strategies involve a trade-off between

feasibility and inclusiveness.137 Pindar, whom she cites, astutely observes:

                       That which is close to home afflicts all alike,

                       but a heart soon goes free of grief

                       over a stranger's unhappiness.138

Universalist strategies create a global "sphere of equal moral standing" but prove difficult

to implement; people are less willing to sacrifice for those they do not know in contrast to

those who qualify literally or figuratively as kith and kin. For this reason, communitarian

strategies have greater intuitive appeal, but unfortunately narrow the circle of moral

standing. They also facilitate stereotyping of outsiders.139 Tolstoy goes further in his

condemnation, insisting that preference for one's own people and the patriotism it spawns

is "the root cause of war."140

        In Xenocide, Card rests his appeal for a universalism on the evident harm –

extermination of at least two sentient species – that a communitarian perspective is likely

to bring about. International relations scholars make similar arguments, contending that

those who we can harm should have equal moral standing.141 In recent years, scholars

have attempted to devise formulations that build on local loyalties but extend the circle of

moral standing beyond them. They maintain that we may develop and retain loyalties to

both the polis and the cosmopolis.142 In his constitutive theory of individuality, Mervyn

Frost argues that a person is constituted as an ethical self by a state but the state is

constituted by the system of states and citizens and states alike have responsibilities to

others.143 Toni Erskine elaborates the concept of "embedded cosmopolitanism," also

based on the premise that community membership is morally constitutive. Such

communities, she contends, transcend territorial borders, indeed make them fuzzy,

indefinite, overlapping or dispersed. By doing so, provide the basis for bridging

conventional boundaries and widening our ethical horizons.144

        My argument meshes nicely with these more syncretic approaches, especially the

embedded cosmospolitanism of Erskine. Multiple identifications give rise to multiple

identities. These identities, even if we are able to rank order them, sensitize us to the

diversity of ethical perspectives and the communities in which they are rooted. Social,

religious, professional, regional, athletic and other dentifications that cross national

boundaries lead us to question the value and legitimacy of these boundaries and in turn

make us more susceptible to arguments that members of these diverse communities

should be incorporated in our moral sphere. This process is as much emotional as

cognitive, as it rests on the personal ties with create with such people, which makes it

easier, if not natural, to see them as our ontological equals. In effect, the tensions

generated by multiple identities are both a source of angst but also of possible integration.

They provide the cognitive and emotional foundations for extending our moral sphere

and by doing so, of subsuming our diverse identifications into a more universal one.

                                  FUTURE OF IDENTITY

       There are undeniable links between identity and behavior. People routinely

conform to their society's moral codes because they have internalized them and made them

constitutive of their self-understandings. By acting in accord of what is expected of them –

even when it involves great costs or risks to themselves -- they avoid anxiety, dissonance or

guilt. In keeping with his identity as a warrior, Homer‟s Ajax insists that Hector strike the

first blow although it exposes him to possible death.145 People sometimes refer to these

internalized codes as reflective of their inner selves. In the Le chagrin et la pitié [Sorrow

and the Pity], Marcel Ophüls 1969 film about resistance and collaboration in France,

farmers put their lives and those of their families at risk to protect French Jews. Those who

did are generally at a loss to explain why beyond acknowledging that they acted in

character. Every day, we encounter more banal examples of both phenomena. As I

stressed earlier, our sense of self is shaped as much by our behavior as by our beliefs.146

Families and societies shape behavior through roles and associated practices, which in turn

encourage people to define themselves in certain ways. I have explored two different

aspects of the path from behavior to self-identification. The first is self-fashioning by

means of role playing. The second is reflection on this process and its consequences for

our behavior and understnading of ourselves. Reflexivity is a two way street. It is

responsible for the psychological dilemma of modernity because it can people from their

societies. It is also the source of the four strategies intended to overcome this alienation

and the angst to which it gives rise.

        We are fragmented, often conflicting, multiple individual and social selves, and

which self or selves are paramount at any moment depends on circumstances. We are also

multiple selves historically as we continually rewrite our pasts to address present

psychological and social needs. This multiplicity is equally apparent among religious

people, Kantians and atheists. Identity is undeniably a source of ethical guidance, but it is

never a coherent and consistent one. Different identifications generate different, even

completing, ethical imperatives. I noted in the Introduction that this problem is

foregrounded by Hegel in his reading of Sophocles' Antigone and has become more acute

since by virtue of the proliferation of roles and affiliations.

        Given our multiple selves, relying on them for ethical guidance risks reducing us to

incoherence. To cope with this problem, some people narrow their identities to emphasize

one identification (e.g., familial, religious, national, ethnic, political) at the expense of all

others. Such people are uni-dimensional and we often find them difficult to deal with

because they view everything from one perspective and have no doubts about right and

wrong. They must suppress uncertainty in themselves – and sometimes in others – to

maintain their belief systems. Of necessity, a full and virtuous life requires facing up to

contradictions of all kinds. We mature and learn by coping with such tensions and their

related uncertainties as best we can. This approach is not logically grounded but resonates

with how many people live their lives. It is nicely captured by Gahan Wilson's New Yorker

cartoon in which an avuncular, middle-aged man looks up from the book he is perusing and

exclaims with an obvious sense of relief: "My god, for a minute there, it suddenly all made


          There is more to identity than ethics and more to ethics than identity. It is self-

evident that we find ethical guidance from many sources. Most people take their cues from

people they respect and are likely to follow them – for better and worse – given our strong

desire for social acceptance. Elsewhere, I have argued that people and their social units are

keen to build self-esteem and prepared to defend it at great costs.147 Self-esteem usually

involves winning the approval of one‟s peer group or society and provides another

powerful incentive to conform to group norms. Peer group and political pressure have the

potential to direct our behavior in almost any direction. As memoirs, diaries and novels

from the Hitler‟s Germany, Stalin‟s Soviet Union and some very nasty post-Soviet regimes

make tragically clear, it is very difficult to respond to the ethical imperatives of identity

under the thumb of intrusive tyrannies.148 This is by no means a novel insight as the Book

of Revelation – greatly distorted and misused by Dispensationalists – is read by more

sophisticated biblical authorities as an attempt to offer moral support to Anatolian

Christians intent on preserving their identities and religion in the face of serious Roman


          The problem of ethical cross-pressure is not about to go away. In the best of

worlds, conflicts among internal identifications and between them diverse external

pressures make us more aware of multiple ethical perspectives. Such awareness intensifies

our decisional dilemmas and must inevitably unsettle our sense of self. This is worthwhile

if it brings with it the realization that our ethical anchors are by definition context

dependent and parochial. Such recognition can make us more tolerant of the moral

benchmarks of others, and tolerance must rank among our principal ethical commitments in

a world where there are multiple, competing ethical perspectives.

        Ethics might accordingly be facilitated by a certain incoherence in identity. Rather

than taking refuge in indefensible cosmic orders, or searching for an identity within us, in

nature or in our institutions, we must transcend the illusion of coherent identity and live,

albeit never comfortably, with internal conflicts and tensions within ourselves and between

ourselves and our societies. This approach to identity might be described as a

psychologically sophisticated parallel to the Kantian imperative.150 For Kant, the "I" is an

empirical and intellectual recognition. It confers dignity on humanity, but also inspires a

love of self. Egoism can be checked by the egoism of others, but people for the most part

remain convinced of their superiority and of their preferences and beliefs. The categorical

imperative is intended as an antidote to such certainty. It encourages what Kant calls

pluralism, a manner of thinking that gives equal recognition to others. Rather than

engaging the world only from the perspective of the self, we come to think of ourselves as

"citizens of the world." For Kant, pluralism is an intellectual orientation [Denkungsart],

arising from reflection and feeling.151 His Critique of Practical Reason and Foundations of

Metaphysics of Morals elaborate this argument and the concept of the "noumenal" self that

lies behind appearances and allows us to use our reason and appreciation of beauty to grasp

moral laws. The inevitable tension within the self then can provide the impetus for

cognitive, partial transcendence, not of the empirical self, but of our multiple selves.

       Let me close by returning to my four categories of identity. They are associated

with modern and anti-modern social, religious or political projects of varying degrees of

practicality. I think it self-evident that strategies one and two, that seek to reduce or do

away with interiority and reflexivity, have not succeeded. Both these constituents of

internal autonomy have became more prominent in the last hundred years and more

pronounced in popular literature and the media. Efforts to substitute collective for

individual identities have failed despite the phenomenal success and spread of nationalism.

The Soviet Union collapsed, Communist China and Vietnam have evolved considerably,

and are now content to regulate practice and expression of opinion. North Korea is the

only regime committed to a totalitarian form of identity construction. Religious efforts to

reduce interiority and reflexivity have been more successful. Fundamentalist movements

in many of the world‟s major religions have created tight-knit communities in which

members or followers are told what to think, how to dress and behave and encouraged to

commit their lives and resources to movement goals. Totalitarian regimes and fundamental

religions are parallel projects and by their nature intolerant of dissent. They appeal to

people anxious to forego their autonomy for whatever reason and often pressure others to

accept their values and practices. To the extent that these movements come to wield

political power they are a serious threat to people seeking to develop and express their


       Strategies three and four, which embrace reflexivity and interiority, have generally

fared better. The initially British project of reconciling individuals and society though

imitation and role playing and its positive feedback on society has become more common

practice. It has even taken root in countries like France and Germany, where there has

been a significant upward shift toward the valuation of individual autonomy. Socialist

movements everywhere in Europe have also moved away from a traditional Marxist

commitment to strategy one and have for the most part come embrace strategy three. The

promise of socialism is now more in keeping with the early Marx, who can be read as

someone more concerned with constructing a society that would encourage individual

autonomy and expression. This strategy also has wide appeal in non-Western countries,

especially those along the Pacific rim, that have experienced economic growth and

significant increases in the standard of living.

       The division of labor and growth of pluralism and tolerance have generated more

role models and have made more choices available to more people. Critics might

nevertheless contend that strategy three has been too successful in the sense that people

often choose role models for the wrong reasons, that is in response to advertising and other

powerful social cues. This is not the kind of freedom envisaged by Kant, Hegel or Mead,

nor the progressive evolution of society that Smith, Hume and Mill hoped that role playing

would encourage. The interesting, if unanswerable, question is which way different

societies will develop. Will wealth and diversity facilitate autonomy and free choice or

will commercialization and more intensive forms of socialization dictate role models and

other choices and make a mockery of autonomy?

       Strategy three is the only one of the four not associated with utopias or utopian

projects. It emerged as a practice before it was theorized, and discourses about it were

created by British empiricists and literary figures with similar positive attitudes and

expectations about society. It is also the only strategy that recognizes the fragmented and

discontinuous nature of identity. As the Boswell quote indicates, he considers himself a

different person in response to his imitation and internalization through role playing of

others' manners and values. He does not foreclose the possibility of trying on other faces,

some of them at the same time. Neither do the writings of Smith, Hume and Mill's

foreclose this possibility; Mill appears to anticipate and welcome it. Strategy three is the

only strategy that might provide the basis for the post-modern kind of identity discourse I


        Strategy four, which vaunts individual autonomy but denigrates society has been

most successful as an ideology. Most Westerners believe that they have the potential, if not

the responsibility, to discover their uniqueness and develop and express their inner selves.

As noted in the Introduction, this has become the conventional wisdom and nearly

unanimously subscribed to by the university students I teach in Hanover and London.

These expectations have spread beyond the Western world and offer strong competition to

strategy three. In practice, strategy four is difficult to achieve and its successes are difficult

to measure. I noted in the opening paragraph of the book that most people believe they are

unquestionably unique, but offer many of the same reasons to justify this claim. With

arguably more reason, people claim uniqueness on the basis of diverse tastes, personalities,

mannerisms and modes of expression, or the combination of them. The search for a self

with which one is comfortable or satisfied with is another matter and generally understood

to be something of a lifetime project. Many people feel extremely frustrated and stymied

in their efforts to achieve such a self, but others feel a degree of satisfaction, even if it may

be in part, or even largely illusory.

       Strategies three and four reconcile people to modernity but also generate intense

frustration when they come up against the formidable political, social and economic

barriers that often stand in their way. This frustration might be regarded as beneficial to the

extent that it motivates individual or collective action to remove or ease some of these

impediments. The quest for internal, not just external autonomy, can also be a catalyst for

political revolutions, as it arguably has been most recently in the Middle East. The two

forms of autonomy are closely related and essential for the implementation of strategies

three and four. However, in conditions where they prevail, strategy four in my judgment

remains something of a pipe dream. I am not suggesting that we ignore our so-called inner

urgings or give up the quest to express ourselves and seek satisfaction through our choice

of partners, friends, careers and extracurricular activities. I advance a different argument,

and one, I believe, is more compatible with making these kinds of life choices.

       At the outset of the book, I opposed my project to that of Heidegger, who sought a

way toward a holistic identity. His project rests on Nietzsche's belief that real change is

only possible in epochal moments when the collapse of meaning and legitimacy open an

abyss that encourages thoughtful people to search for new ways of thinking and new

answers that have the potential to reshape the world. We arguably live in such a world and

Rousseau, Nietzsche and Heidegger were right in thinking that meaning, identity and

human fulfillment are ineluctably linked. Like them, I advocate a reconstruction of self-

identifications, but by encouraging people to accept or exploit the possibilities of

fragmented selves rather than trying to overcome them. Rousseau, Nietzsche and

Heidegger were insufficiently attentive to the down side of their projects. In worlds that

have lost meaning, there is a temptation, to which all too many people succumb, to transfer

their allegiance to projects like fascism or Dispensationalism that appear to restore meaning

but at the cost of giving up key features of one's humanity and imposing meaning of the

lives of others. The project I advocate undeniably has the potential to encourage these

kinds of choices on the part of people unwilling or lacking courage to confront the truth

about thesmelves but it also holds out the prospect of liberating the most positive kinds of

creative energies.

    Pascal, Pensées de Pascal sur la religion, p. 185.
    McIntyre, After Virtue; Taylor, Sources of the Self; Yack, Fetishism of Modernities;

Seigel, Idea of Self.
    MacIntyre, After Virtue; Taylor, Sources of the Self; Seigel, Idea of the Self. Taylor

attempts to find some sense of self in the Greeks, most notably in Plato, but it is a very

thin self. See, Blumberg, Legitimacy of the Modern Age; Gilson, Études sur le rôle de la

pensée médiévale dans la formation du système cartésien; Löwith, Meaning in History;

Gillespie, Theological Origins of Modernity for the positive ways in which Christianity

contributed to the emergence of modernity.
    Weber, Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism ; Foucault, Discipline and Punish.

The Weber translation is Talcott Parsons and has been criticized by Peter Baehr, "'Iron

Cage' and the 'Shell as Hard as Steel'," who suggests that "shell hard as steel" better

captures Weber's intentions.
    Mauss, "Catégorie de Personne."

     Burckhardt, Civilisation of the Renaissance in Italy.
     Durkheim, Elementary Forms of Religious Life and Division of Labor in Society;
     Misch, History of Autobiography in Antiquity; Gusdorf, "Conditions and Limits of

     Lebow, Tragic Vision of Politics, ch. 8.
     Homer, Iliad, 1.222-40.
     Momigliano, "Mauss and the Quest for the Person in Greek Historiography and

Autobiography," makes this point with reference to Greek history and biography.
     Lebow, Cultural Theory of International Relations, chs. 3- 4.
     Gusdorf, "Conditions and Limits of Autobiography."
     Freccero, “Autobiography and Narrative.”
     Augustine, "Sermon 169," quoted in Brown, Religion and Society in the Age of Saint

Augustine, p. 30.
     Taylor, Sources of Self, p. 206.
     Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning, p.1.
     Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning, p. 256.
     Davis, “Boundaries and Sense of Self in Sixteenth-Century France.”
     Yolton, Locke and the Compass of Human Understanding; Dunn, Locke, "From

Applied Theology to Social Analysis" and "Individuality and Clientage in the Formation

of Locke's Social Imagination"; Seigel, Idea of Self, p. 88.
     Beales, Joseph II, II, pp. 555-87.
     Da Ponte would emigrate to New York where he could lead a freer amorous and

professional life.

     La Vopa, Fichte, pp. 2-3, 10, 13, 17-18, 30. Quote on p. 49, citing Fichte to

Weisshuhn, 20 May 1790.
     Kant, "Answer to the Question 'What is Enlightenment?"
     Conze, “‟Deutschland‟ und „deutsche Nation‟ als historische Begriffe.”
     Boswell, London Journal, p. 47. Later entries indicate that identity construction was

difficult than he had imagined.
     Jaume, L'individu effacé; Lukes, Individualism, ch. 1.
     Seigel, Idea of Self, pp. 472, 485, 493, 504
     Virgil, Aeneid., 12.225-28.
     Ibid., 12.950-71.
     See chapter three for references.
     Mahler, Human Symbiosis and the Vicissitudes of Individuation, pp. 8-10; Mahler,

Pine and Bergman, Psychological Birth of the Human Infant, p. 11; Nelson, "Self in

     Martin and Baresi, Naturalization of the Soul; Bermudez, Marcel and Elan, Body and

the Self.
     Mahler, Human Symbiosis and the Vicissitudes of Individuation, pp. 8-10; Bird and

Reese, "Autobiographical Memory in Childhood"; Fivush, Bohanek and Duke,

"Integrated Self."
     Plato, Sophist, 254d-255e; Labbarriè, Discours de l’altérité, p. 49.

37 Plato, Gorgias and Republic; Cooper, “Socrates and Plato in Plato‟s Gorgias.”

38 Hobbes, Leviathan, I, vi, p. 126.

39 Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments, Section 1, chs. 1-2, Section II, ch. 4.

40 Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics; Holquist and Clark, Michail Bakhtin;

Wertsch, Voices of the Mind; Habermas, Moral Consciousness and Communicative

Action; Moon, “Practical Discourse and Communicative Ethics."

41 Gadamer, “Reflections on My Philosophical Journey"; Fabian, “Ethnographic

Objectivity Revisited."

42 Gadamer, Truth and Method, “Plato and the Poets” and “Reflections on My

Philosophical Journey"; Warnke, Gadamer; Arendt, “Crisis in Education.".
     Berger and Luckmann, Social Construction of Reality, pp. 184-88; Davis,

“Boundaries and Sense of Self in Sixteenth-Century France.”
     Scott, Seeing Like a State; Money, Gay, Straight, and In-Between; Kessler and

McKenna, Gender; Ortner and Whitehead, Sexual Meanings. See also special issues of

Social Problems devoted to labeling theory.
     Anderson and Feinberg, “Race and Ethnicity and the Controversy over the US

Census.” for “race” on the

2010 US Census.
     Berlin, "Apotheosis of the Romantic Will."
     Turgenev, First Love; Yeats, "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death."
     Plato, Republic, 562-65..
     Kant, Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, p. 19.
     For an elaboration, Alison, ”Spontaneity and Autonomy in Kant‟s Conception of the

Self.” Lewis Beck, Commentary on Kant’s “Critique of Practical Reason” and “Five

Concepts of Freedom on Kant,” identifies five different conceptions of freedom in Kant.

     Mead, Mind, Self, Society, p. 175-78.
      Mele, "Causation, Action, and Free Will," for a discussion of the extent to which

philosphers consider free will incompatible to action that is determinined from outside.
      Durkheim, Rules of Sociological Method, p. 54
      Nietzsche, Birth of Tragedy, pp. 54-58.
      Hobbes, Leviathan, Book 1, ch. xvi
      Agnew, Worlds Apart, pp. 14-16.
      Trilling, Sincerity and Authenticity, pp. 14-25; Wilshire, Role Playing and Identity,

pp. 6-75; Righter, Shakespeare and the Idea of the Play.
      Furet, Interpreting the French Revolution, p. 105; Dipper, “Orders and Classes";

Buford, Germany in the Eighteenth Century, p. 61.
      Jovellanos, Obras escogidas; Casanova, Memoirs, VI, p. 73; Herr, Eighteenth

Century Revolution in Spain, pp. 184-85; Noyes, "La Maja Vestida.”
     Diderot, Réfutation d'Helvétius, Oeuvres Complètes, vol. 1, p. 863, cited in Seigel,

Idea of Self, p. 204.
     Elias, Court Society, pp. 120-21, 127, 146.
     Quoted in Knight, Geometric Spirit, p. 126, citing Condillac, Oeuvres Complètes, vol.

III, pp. 402-03.
     Ruppert, Bürgerliche Wandel, pp. 104-54; Hull, Sexuality, State and Civil Society in

Germany, pp. 204-07.
     Freedman, review of Bödeker, Histoire du livre; Ruppert, Bürgerlicher Wandel; Hull,

Sexuality, State and Civil Society in Germany.
     Kant, Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View, p. 30.

     Mill, On Liberty, p. 76.
     Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “Letter to M. d'Alembert.”
     Goethe, Aus einem Lebe.
     Morgan, Altered Carbon, pp. 443-51.
     Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding, II.xxvii.15.
     I draw on Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning.
     Rousseau, Contrat Social.
     Marx, Communist Manifesto, Grundrisse, pp. 121-23.
     Marx, "After the Revolution."
     Engels, "On Morality."
     Cohen, Pursuit of the Millennium.
     Spengler, Decline of the West; Husserl, Crisis of the European Sciences; Heidegger,

Being and Time; Strauss, Natural Right and History and City and Man; Bauman,

Modernity and the Holocaust.
     Taylor, Sources of Self.
     Swaine, Liberal Conscience, for a thoughtful discussion of this problem.
     Rist, Real Ethics, for a more detailed defense of this position.
     Schneewind, Invention of Autonomy, p. 4; Taylor, Sources of the Self, p. 83.
     More, Utopia; Voltaire, Philosophical Dictionary, p. 54..
      Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, introduction.
     Association of Religious Data Archives,; Pfaff, "Religious Divide," for

higher figures on European beliefs in a deity and a breakdown by country.

     Miller and McFarland, "Pluralistic Ignorance," and "When Social Comparison Goes

Awry"; Prentice and Miller, "Pluralistic Ignorance and Alcohol Use on Campus" and

"Pluralistic Ignorance and the Perpetuation of Social Norms by Unwitting Actors"

document the phenomenon of "pluralistic ignorance." It describes individuals who act in

conformity with a group but nevertheless feel distinct as individuals. It is most

pronounced when people who would not voluntarily choose to participate in the group

activity -- like binge drinking among college students – nevertheless to do so to maintain

their acceptance by other group members.
      Abelson, "Scripts in Attitudes and Decision"; Pennington and Hastie, Gergen and

Gergen, Robinson, “Sampling Autobiography"; Brewer, “What is Autobiographical

Memory?”; Neisser, “Self-Narratives"; Barclay, “Composing Protoselves Through

     White, "Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality"; Mink, "Narrative Form

as Cognitive Instrument."
     Carr, Time, Narrative, and History, pp. 51-52, for a strong statement of this position.
     Aristotle, Metaphysics, 2.2 and Physics 7.2, 8.5, 256a4-256b27.
     Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, pp. 26-27, 41-45.
     Bak and Chen, “Self-Organized Criticality."; Gleick, Chaos, pp. 59-80.
     Jervis, System Effects; Lebow, Forbidden Fruit.
     Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, 1.3, 6.3; Treatise on Human

Nature, 1.3. 8, 13-14. For different readings, see Rupert and Richman, New Hume

     Panofsky, Perspective as Symbolic Form, pp. 7-24.

      Edgerton, Renaissance Rediscovery of Linear Perspective, pp. 157-61.
      Kaplan, Rocking Around the Clock.
      Gergen, Saturated Self, pp. 145-47.
      Freccero, “Autobiography and Narrative,” on gender. Lebow, “Constitutive Causality”

elaborates this argument.
      Aristotle, Politics, 1253a9-11. Condillac and Herder would make similar arguments.
      Aristotle, De Anima, II.1-3, III, 4-7, 12-13.
      Kant, Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View, p. 9 and Critique of Practical

Reason, 5:161-62.
      Marx, "Reflections of a Young Man on the Choice of Career."
      Richard Alleyne, "Humans Share Neanderthal Genes from Interbreeding 50,000

Years Ago," The Telegraph (London), 6 May 2010.

       Nicholas Wade, “Sit. Stay. Parse. Good Girl!,” New York Times, 18 January 2011,

pp. D1, 4.
      Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 9.2.
      Leyens et al, "Emotional Side of Prejudice."
      Schachter, “Interaction of Cognitive and Physiological Determinants of Emotional

State,” Lutz, Unnatural Emotions; Konstan, Emotions of the Ancient Greeks.
      Lebow, Cultural Theory of International Relations, chs. 2-3.
      Heidegger, Being and Time; Solomon, Greenberg, Pyszczynski, “Cultural Animal,”

for an overview of Terror Management Theory.

      Tolkien, Lord of the Rings.
      Genesis, 1.26; Kant, "Conjectural Beginning of Human History," makes a similar

argument about humans choosing to rise above nature.
      Augustine, City of God, XXII, 1-9, XIII, 12-15 and XIV, 12-14, who defined

curiosity as man‟s desire to transform his perfect human knowledge into perfect divine

knowledge and thus become like a god.
      Clarke, City and the Stars.
      Goldenberg et al, "I am Not an Animal."
      Gaita, Common Humanity.
      Haslam, "Dehumanization."
      Lebow, White Britain and Black Ireland.
      Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1155a14, 26-28,32, 1159b25, 1161a23, 1161b12.
      Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments, I, 1, 1-2.

120 Ibid., 1, chs. 1-2, II, ch. 4.

121 Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem, pp. 287-88.
      Rousseau, Emile, pp. 116-17.
      Mirowski, "Cyborg History and the WWII Regime."
      A. G. Sulzberger and Jennifer Medina, “Shooting Suspect Had Been Known to Use

Potent, and Legal, Hallucinogen,” New York Times, 18 January 2011, p. A16.
      Beddow, Fiction of Humanity, p. 65.
      Singer, Animal Liberation and Expanding Circle. For other arguments for animal

rights, see Sapontzis, "Moral Community and Animal Rights"; Bernstein, "Towards a

More Expansive Moral Community."

       Keller, Story of My Life; Mead, Mind Self, and Society, p. 149.
      O'Neill, Towards Justice and Virtue and Bounds of Justice.
       Bartelson, Visions of World Community, p. 46.
       Cerny, Rethinking World Politics, esp. ch. 2.
      Brown, International Relations Theory; Thompson, Justice and World Order, for this

      Habermas, Theory of Communicative Action and Moral Consciousness and

Communicative Action; O'Neill, Bounds of Justice, Towards Justice and Virtue and

Practical Reasoning; Singer, One World; Nussbaum, "Virtue Revived" and "Patriotism

and Cosmopolitanism." O'Neill and Caney, Justice Beyond Borders make specific

applications to international relations.
      MacIntyre, After Virtue, Whose Justice? and "Is Patriotism a Virtue?"; Sandel,

Liberalism and the Limits of Justice; Taylor, Philosophy and the Human Sciences;

Walzer, Spheres of Justice and Defense of Pluralism and Equality.
      Held, Feminist Morality; Noddings, Caring; Tronto, Moral Boundaries;

Gilligan, In A Different Voice.
      Benhabib, Situating the Self, p. 2. Erskine, Embedded Cosmopolitanism, for a

thoughtful review and critique of both approaches.
      Cochran, Normative Theory in International Relations; Robinson, Globalizing Care;

Frost, Ethics in International Relations; Walzer, Thick and Thin.
      Brown, International Relations Theory, pp. 21-81; Erskine, Embedded

Cosmopolitanism, pp. 8-23.
      Pindar, "Nemea 1."

      Benhabib, Situating the Self, p. 188; Erskine, Embedded Cosmopolitanism, pp. 8-23.
      Tolstoy, "Patriotism or Peace."
      Shue, "Exporting Hazards"; Linklater, Transformation of Political Community and

"Harm Principle and Global Ethics,"
      Walzer, "Spheres of Affection"; Linklater, Men and Citizens, p. 16; Erskine,

Embedded Cosmopolitanism, pp. 39-42.
      Frost, Ethics in International Relations.
       Erskine, Embedded Cosmopolitanism.
       Homer, Iliad, 7.42-43.
       Goffman, Presentation of Self in Everyday Life"; Bem, “Self-Perception Theory";

Lebow, Cultural Theory of International Relations, pp. 562-67.
       Lebow, Cultural Theory of International Relations.
       Klemperer, I Will Bear Witness; Akhmatova, Journals; Martinovich, Paranoia.
       Bauckham, Theology of the Book of Revelation, p. 108; Gibson, Language and

Imagery in the Old Testament; Brooke, “Prophecy.”
      Another variant is Mead's distinction between "I" and "me." Self-fulfillment involves

the "I" gradually comes to institutionalize the "attitude of the whole community." Mead,

Mind, Self, and Society.
       Kant, Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View.


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