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In search of self VIII

October 28, 2015

Novelty rarely measures itself in revolutions, preferring instead increments, and it is in the perspective of increment that we have opted to remain. Contemporary outlets in humanities and the social sciences place too much stock on the discovery of new principles, which in turn aim to establish new general theories. Certainly, we intend to recast certain existing theories in new molds. Likewise, some far-reaching conclusions will gradually come into focus, but no general political theory will accompany so as to frame them within a well-defined whole.

Furthermore, certain annex questions will necessarily await later, more considered treatment. These range from considerations of whether groups can bear identity-related rights in the same manner as individuals, to possibilities of amending existing institutions in order to better incorporate difference and communities. Indeed, this last issue seems of particular interest in the wider European community at a time of greater integration and differentiation.

Beyond its immediate applications in politics and questions of identity, a grammar of identity could likewise find some traction in the broader field of ethics or even aesthetics. Therein, it might play a role in arbitrating, between individuals, rival claims to the just or the least within certain limits. In the academic world, this grammar might provide a point of commonality between “analytic” and “continental” practices and grant further visibility to their shared interest in mediating individual and community.

While little in the way of revolution should be expected from the consideration of such questions here, in the conclusion, even in future studies, it could serve to bring into focus the rival claims and claimants within these areas. Until then, we hope to set more modest goals as regards a grammar of identity and to arrive at a number of provisional considerations which facilitate future reflection on matters of this kind.

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