Saturday, May 20, 2006

These are a few (or two, anyway) of my favorite Cambridge guys--

Amartya Sen and Salman Rushdie--in a hardcore, argumentative conversation about the realities of plurality and the possibility of self determination.

Here's some Sen: "History and background are not the only ways of seeing ourselves, and the groups to which we belong. There are a great variety of categories to which we simultaneously belong. I can be at the same time an Asian, an Indian citizen, a Bengali with Bangladeshi ancestry, an American or Great Britain resident, an economist, a dabbler in philosophy, an author, a sanskritist, a strong believer in secularism and democracy, a man, a feminist, a heterosexual, a defender of gay and lesbian rights, with a non religious lifestyle, from a Hindu background, a non-Brahmin, a non-believer in an afterlife, and also, if the question is asked, a non-believer in before-life. This is just a small sample of diverse categories."

And here's some Rushdie:
"You describe "singularity" i.e. putting oneself in a box, as an error of self-description. Let's take as an example the 7 July bombers in London. What happens if that "singularity error" is the choice made by the individual? The fact is that these boys decided to strip away from themselves all their other identities – British, as brothers, sons, or cricket players – they chose to be this self I'm not sure you can explain that away by outside pressure."

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