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The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  64 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews

From the best-selling author of Cosmopolitanism comes this revealing exploration of how the collective identities that shape our polarized world are riddled with contradiction.

Who do you think you are? That’s a question bound up in another: What do you think you are? Gender. Religion. Race. Nationality. Class. Culture. Such affiliations give contours to our sense of self

Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published August 28th 2018 by Liveright
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Robin Friedman
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A Nightmare A Body's Got To Live With In The Daytime

Robert Coover's, recent novel "Huck out West" carries the story of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn and related characters through the Civil War to 1876. The story is told in Huck's voice with many observations, some cutting but some insightful. Among the latter sort, Huck says in this book discussing what contemporary readers would recognize as the concept of identity:

"Tribes"... They're a powerful curse laid on you when you get born. They ruin y
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
The author is a Ghanian/ British philosopher who has spent most of his career in the US. He gets a little academic at times, but does a brilliant job of dissecting and debunking ideas of identity around "creed, country, color, class and culture," showing how too much of our thinking about those things are left over from bad 19th century ideologies.

He doesn't think we can get rid of identity in the sense of social groups, but "the problem is not walls as such but walls that hedge us in; walls we
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Liked this book so much! Reminded me of his Cosmopolitanism book. Very good discussions of things like race, nationality, sex but I most of all liked his treatment of religions and cultures.
Reads like a series of undergrad lectures. I generally agree with him and enjoyed the board range of references he drew from but didn’t feel challenged or pushed or particularly surprised by anything in this book (and sometimes felt he oversold his argument). I would be very interested to read more about the life of Anton Wilhelm Amo Afer, though.
Oct 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. It was broad ranging and 'introductory' in nature - if you have specialised experience of some of the particular areas then it wouldn't take you into new territory - but the whole thing was joyfully disruptive, and I found some areas of Appiah's discussion rather helpful in clarifying my own 'broad brush' thoughts. Especially around class and culture: the questioning of any and all kinds of essentialism that undermine the overlapping complexity of our messy human realities. ...more
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I read Cosmopolitanism, it was exactly what I needed; finally somebody was making sense, finally someone with global morals. Here, Appiah comes very close to Cosmopolitanism (which I consider his best statement, and which I’ve loaned to friends and raved about). However, The Lies that Bind covers a LOT of ground, and I found some strawmen in his arguments and is dismissive of European enlightenment & reformation cultural innovations in a way that would have Will and Ariel Durant, or Ken ...more
A good primer on the subject. Identities are necessary to growth, to self-awareness, to challenge. And yet identities/groups/sub-groups don't explain the nuances. It's a delicate balance, a continuous push and pull of which we really need to be consistently aware. Appiah has some good examples, especially when it comes to class (the race and country chapters also dive deeper). But on the whole this is more of an introduction than a thorough investigation.
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, philosophy
One of the better philosophy books I've read in awhile. It's well written and easy to comprehend (which says something for the philosophy genre) and the ideas are interesting and thought provoking. I wish I had more than three weeks to think about the ideas and research some of the references (perhaps I need my own copy...).
Jennifer Fredin
Sep 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Very good. Most identities are vague at best. One should reflect the identities one claims.
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Kwame Anthony Appiah, the president of the PEN American Center, is the author of The Ethics of Identity, Thinking It Through: An Introduction to Contemporary Philosophy, The Honor Code and the prize-winning Cosmopolitanism. Raised in Ghana and educated in England, he has taught philosophy on three continents and is a former professor at Princeton University and currently has a position at NYU.