Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition

By Charles Taylor; K. Anthony Appiah et al. | Go to book overview

Identity, Authenticity, Survival
MULTICULTURAL SOCIETIES AND
SOCIAL REPRODUCTION
K. ANTHONY APPIAH

I

CHARLES TAYLOR is surely right that much of modern social and political life turns on questions of recognition. In our liberal tradition we see recognition largely as a matter of acknowledging individuals and what we call their identities. We also have the notion, which comes (as Taylor also rightly says) from the ethics of authenticity, that, other things being equal, people have the right to be acknowledged publicly as what they already really are. It is because someone is already authentically Jewish or gay that we deny them something in requiring them to hide this fact, to pass for something that they are not.

As has often been pointed out, however, the way much discussion of recognition proceeds is strangely at odds with the individualist thrust of talk of authenticity and identity. If what matters about me is my individual and authentic self, why is so much contemporary talk of identity about large categories—gender, ethnicity, nationality, “race,”1 sexuality—that seem so far from individual? What is the relation

____________________
1
I have spent enough time arguing against the reality of “races” to feel unhappy about using the term without scare quotes. See In My Father's House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), passim.

-149-

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Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Multiculturalism - Examining the Politics of Recognition *
  • Contents vii
  • Preface (1994) ix
  • Preface and Acknowledgments xiii
  • Part One 1
  • Introduction 3
  • The Politics of Recognition 25
  • Comment 75
  • Comment 87
  • Comment 99
  • Part Two 105
  • Struggles for Recognition in the Democratic Constitutional State 107
  • Identity, Authenticity, Survival Multicultural Societies and Social Reproduction 149
  • Contributors 165
  • Index 169
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