A profoundly intelligent book about identity: how the individual defines it and how different cultures perceive and construct it.
The notion of identity – personal, religious, ethnic or national – is one that has given rise to heated passion and crimes throughout human history. It is one that is at the heart of many of the most difficult social and political issues in the world today. What it is that makes each one of us unique and different from any other individual has been one of the fundamental questions of philosophy from Socrates to Freud and beyond. In this important series of reflections the distinguished novelist Amin Maalouf, a Lebanese who now lives in France, considers how we define ourselves and how identity is understood in the world's different cultures. Maalouf emphasises the importance of respecting the multiplicity of identity and the dangers of reducing it to a single, simple core. We should all be encouraged to recognise our identities as the sum of various parts rather than an irreducible whole.