We are multiple, fragmented, and changing selves who, nevertheless, believe we have unique and consistent identities. What accounts for this illusion? Why has the problem of identity become so central in post-war scholarship, fiction, and the media? Following Hegel, Richard Ned Lebow contends that the defining psychological feature of modernity is the tension between our reflexive and social selves. To address this problem Westerners have developed four generic strategies of identity construction that are associated with four distinct political orientations. Lebow develops his arguments through comparative analysis of ancient and modern literary, philosophical, religious, and musical texts. He asks how we might come to terms with the fragmented and illusionary nature of our identities and explores some political and ethical implications of doing so.
Richard Ned Lebow is Professor of War Studies at King's College London and James O. Freedman Presidential Professor Emeritus at Dartmouth College. In a career spanning six decades he has published widely in the fields of international relations, political psychology, methodology and political theory. Among other books, he is the author of Why Nations Fight (Cambridge University Press, 2010); A Cultural Theory of International Relations (Cambridge University Press, 2008) which won the 2009 American Political Science Association Jervis and Schroeder Award for the Best Book on International History and Politics as well as the British International Studies Association Susan Strange Book Prize for the Best Book in International Studies; and The Tragic Vision of Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2003) which won the 2005 Alexander George Book Award of the International Society for Political Psychology.
Winner of International Society of Political Psychology Alexander George Book Award 2013.