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The lies that bind - Anthony Appiah

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The lies that bind - rethinking identity : creed, country, colour, class, culture
Anthony Appiah
Profile Books
UK Publication Date

From the best-selling author of Cosmopolitanism comes this revealing exploration of how the collective identities that shape our polarized world are riddled with contradiction.We often think identity is personal. But the identities that shape the world, our struggles, and our hopes, are social ones, shared with countless others.
Our sense of self is shaped by our family, but also by affiliations that spread out from there, like our nationality, culture, class, race and religion.Taking these broad categories as a starting point, Professor Appiah challenges our assumptions about how identity works. In eloquent and lively chapters, he weaves personal anecdote with historical, cultural and literary example to explore the entanglements within the stories we tell ourselves. We all know there are conflicts among identities; but Professor Appiah explores how identities are created by conflict. Identities are then crafted from confusions - confusions this book aims to help us sort through. Religion, Appiah shows us, isn't primarily about beliefs. The idea of national self-determination is incoherent. Our everyday racial thinking is an artefact of discarded science. Class is not a matter of upper and lower. And the very idea of Western culture is a misleading myth. We will see our situation more clearly if we start to question these mistaken identities. This is radical new thinking from a master in the subject and will change forever the way we think about ourselves and our communities.

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Kwame Anthony Appiah is Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University and has been President of the PEN American Center. Grandson of a British Chancellor of the Exchequer and nephew of a Ghanaian king, he spent his childhood in both countries, before studying Philosophy at Cambridge University. He is author of seminal works on philosophy and culture, including In My Father's House, The Honor Code and the prize-winning Cosmopolitanism. He lives with his husband in New York and New Jersey.

Find him on Twitter @KAnthonyAppiah

The Lies that Bind is a small volume of mighty power. In his lucid prose, Appiah elegantly dismantles the humbug, dogma, pseudo-science and propaganda that have long dogged our attempts to discuss 'identity,' and offers in their place a practical and philosophical tool-kit, as subtly radical in its aims as it is humane in application. From the illusions of 19th century ideas of biological destiny, to the late-capitalist logic of our contemporary 'cultural appropriation' debates, this book will help a lot of people think with far more clarity about some of the thorniest issues of our times. An inspiring and essential read.
Zadie Smith

Through this meditative journey, Appiah calls on us to buckle down to the difficult task of living with complexity?that is, the task of being modern. Erudite, personal, timely and deeply humane, this is a book for our time.
Arlie Russell Hochschild, author of Strangers in Their Own Land

Not only does that elegant writer and transcendent thinker, Anthony Appiah, clarify the historical gaslighting around color and racial stereotype, he also forges radical new theories of identity as they apply to almost every conceivable aspect of self. The Lies That Bind forces you to rethink what tribe you actually belong to with regard to race and religion, geography and gender, class and sexuality. Sheer genius and a joy to read.
Mary Karr, author of The Art of Memoir

Appiah makes the controversial and difficult subject of identity lucid, edifying, and even fun. When it comes to the humane values that allow us to live with one another, he may be our most penetrating?and entertaining?major philosopher.
Atul Gawande, author of Being Mortal

This wonderful book unravels a tapestry of suppositions about identity. Understanding what draws us together and what tears us apart lies at the core of democracy. This is a vital book, an antidote to violent nativism, and a key to success in the human experiment.
Louise Erdrich, author of LaRose

The terrible power of bad ideas is best resisted, as The Lies That Bind shows, by subjecting them to serious critical scrutiny. Identities central to contemporary cultures can be both historically grounded and utterly misconceived. There is so much to learn from Anthony Appiah's splendid book.
Amartya Sen, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics

Praise for Cosmopolitanism
Wonderfully perceptive and levelheaded
New Republic

Elegantly provocative.
New York Times

Praise for The Honor Code
Fascinating, erudite and beautifully written.
The New York Times Book Review

Praise for In My Father's House
Montaigne invented the modern essay ... Appiah has the brilliance to extend it.
Village Voice

Appiah's essays are exquisitely and painstakingly argued.
Washington Post Book World

this entertaining, meandering journey

The Lies That Bind is a wise and erudite introduction to this most vexed of subjects.
Irish Times - Houman Barekat

There is barely a word in his book I don't agree with
Observer - Afua Hirsch

If you are going to read only one book on identity this year, Appiah's is the one
The Guardian

A topical study, particularly given today's societal divisions in the US and UK.
The Tablet

Keyword Index
Identity (Philosophical concept)
Country of Publication
Number of Pages
xvi, 256

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