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Identity/Difference

Democratic Negotiations of Political Paradox

2002
Author:

William E. Connolly

Identity/Difference

A new edition of this classic work on the idea of difference.

In this foundational work in contemporary political theory, William Connolly makes a distinctive contribution to our understanding of the relationship between personal identity and democratic politics, particularly in the domains of religion, ethics, sexuality, and ethnicity.

In a new, expanded edition of Connolly’s best-known work, a substantial new preface explains and further justifies some of the core ideas motivating his interventions in debates about identity.

Radical Philosophy

In this foundational work in contemporary political theory, William Connolly makes a distinctive contribution to our understanding of the relationship between personal identity and democratic politics, particularly in the domains of religion, ethics, sexuality, and ethnicity. Every identity, Connolly argues, whether individual or social, presents us with a fundamental and troubling paradox: an identity establishes itself in relation to a set of differences, and it operates under powerful pressures to fix, regulate, or exclude some of these differences as otherness. The dignity of a people or political regime, and the quality of democratic culture, depends on the acknowledgment and ethos cultivated in response to these pressures.

In a substantial new essay, Connolly responds to the heated controversy surrounding his ideas when Identity\Difference was first published in 1991, while augmenting his discussion of the virtues of critical responsiveness. The issues of identity and difference cannot be ignored, he contends, and are ubiquitous in modern life.


Identity/Difference

William E. Connolly is professor and chair of the Department of Political Science at The Johns Hopkins University. His most recent books are Why I Am Not a Secularist (1999) and The Ethos of Pluralization (1995), both published by Minnesota. His work The Terms of Political Discourse won the 1999 Benjamin Lippincott Award.

Identity/Difference

In a new, expanded edition of Connolly’s best-known work, a substantial new preface explains and further justifies some of the core ideas motivating his interventions in debates about identity.

Radical Philosophy

William Connolly's latest book may be thought of as the accomplishment of the themes broached in his two earlier books, Politics and Ambiguity and Political Theory and Modernity. The emotional center of the book is a long ‘Letter to Augustine’ premised upon the notion that the position of a ‘post-theist’ is similar to that of a ‘post-pagan,’ that as Augustine's writings punctuated the end of paganism, so Foucault and Nietzsche (and friends) in our age mark the end of the difference that Augustine and Christianity made. The point, for Connolly, is to get ourselves out of arguments that want to fix the self and the world once and for all. His critiques of contemporary theorists are incisive and often novel.

Tracy B. Strong, Ethics

Identity/Difference

Contents

Preface
Confessing Identity\Belonging to Difference
Identity\Difference: Democratic Negotiations of Political Paradox

Introduction: The Problem of Evil

1. Freedom and Resentment
2. Global Political Discourse
3. Liberalism and Difference
4. Responsibility for Evil
5. A Letter to Augustine
6. Democracy and Distance
7. The Politics of Territorial Democracy

Notes

Index