On Identity
De Benoist (Alain)
Source: Telos, Summer 2004 Issue 128, p9-64, 56p;
Paper - Abstract

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Introductory Paragraph

    It is always difficult to talk about identity because it is intrinsically a problematic concept. Rather than an answer or a statement, it is primarily a question. The problems of identity only become conceivable with the question: "Who am I?" which has not always been an obvious one. Therefore, it is not an overstatement to say along with Zygmunt Bauman that the problem of identity appears to be first of all a questioning, i.e., the wording of a problem. "Identity never 'became' a problem, it has always been a problem, it started as a problem." Any serious reflection on identity involves an investigation into the conditions of appearance of this questioning, into the process that allowed the question about identity to be asked.
Final Paragraph
    Doctors and psychologists have been studying identity problems for a long time. They deal daily with victims of identity crisis, who complain of a feeling of emptiness, loss of self-esteem, uncertainty about what really matters. Identity crisis is a form of alienation and disorientation. Loss of identity is a pathology which deprives the individual of his singular identity (his name) and all possible sociability, because the latter always requires a mediation. In that, it is comparable to amnesia, to forgetting, whose essence is to plunge beings and things into indistinction. It is like Nietzsche's "words without voice" (Thus Spoke Zarathustra): words without a subject, without identity. It corresponds to the process by which the subject ceases to exist as such and exists only as an object. The loss of identity, both for people and for individuals, is the exit from the symbolic. This exit condemns one to a wandering in the perpetual present, i.e., to an escape forward which no longer has a goal or an end.


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