Identity, Authenticity and Survival

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Formative Writing I : Identity, Authenticity and Survival by Kandru Manibhushan Rao

Kwame Anthony Appiah’s essay on Identity, Authenticity and Survival is based on Charles Taylor’s earlier work on recognition and identity. Though Taylor’s references to identity are mostly to collective identity, Appiah’s aim is to draw a comparison or even find a connection between individual identity and collective identity.


A collective identity, explains Appiah, is the way an individual is recognized based on broad qualities of categorization such as gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. Whereas individual identity is born from personal characteristics such as wit, charm, grace, arrogance, etc. Collective identities, as the writer goes on to say, are broadly heterogeneous or inconsistent, changing constantly over a large collective. Collective identities are also more important to the bearers than the society. An example of this is religion as a collective identity. Religion unlike other forms requires an attachment or a commitment to traditional religious practices and rituals. Another example of is gender, which is again, in its own turn, unique as it is not an identity that is shaped or formed, but is innate. The same terms also apply to sexuality or sexual orientation. Appiah points out that disability, both physical and sensory, also qualify as a collective identity. Physically disabled people take refuge in modeling themselves after racial minorities in the society, as they feel they share a common feeling of discrimination. Blind and deaf people on the other hand, as they usually tend to colonial, model themselves after ethnic groups that form minorities in the social structure. In North America however, the major categorization of collective identity is religion, ethnicity, race and sexuality. The essay moves on to portray a connection between collective identity and individual identity. Appiah...
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