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Visible IdentitiesRace, Gender, and the Self$
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Linda Martín Alcoff

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195137347

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0195137345.001.0001

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The Philosophical Critique

The Philosophical Critique

(p.47) 3 The Philosophical Critique
Visible Identities

Linda Martín Alcoff

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the philosophical critique of identity. In order to understand the current aversion to cultural identity, one needs to retrace the development of the philosophical treatment of the self in modern, Western philosophy. Charles Taylor's Sources of the Self (1989) is the best recent attempt to do this, and the chapter begins with an overview of some of the main ideas in his philosophical history that relate to the question of identity. Based on readings of Hegel, Sartre, and other key figures, a genealogy of the philosophical critique of identity is developed, which shows that its more fundamental basis is not actually in the Western concept of rationality but in the modern Western treatments of the Other developed in the context of the European colonialism. Finally, it is shown how this legacy lives on today in some aspects of postmodern philosophy.

Keywords:   identity politics, social identity, cultural identity, Western philosophy, Charles Taylor

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