Identity and Otherness:
The term identity refers to such features of people as their race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, religion and sexuality. Labels of identity like men, Americans, Indians, Catholics, Buddhists, and so on generate ideas about people who fit the label. These ideas shape the ways people conceive themselves and their projects. More often than not, people conceive the idea of a ‘good life’ also by reference to the available labels of identification. Every collective identity is said to have certain genus of structures: First, it requires the availability of terms in public discourse that are used to pick out the bearers of identity. Normative content of a group of people as well as their particular identities with a particular label is determined by its bearers.
Identity is an abstract concept that has a metaphysical import. Its referent cannot be pointed at and said to be this or that. To identify is to delineate or isolate the features which mark out from others and hence of a conflict. Thus to talk of identity is to talk of a conflictual relation, which forms the basis of the underlying philosophical problem of identity. When we say that identity implies a conflictual relation, what is meant is that issues which are related to identity must begin from recognizing and appreciating identity both in nature and society as conflictual.
During the past many centuries, Indian understanding of identity is shaped and supported by caste identity. This systematic evil was vigorously supported and often vitiated by the stratified social system with an absolute impossibility of crossing one’s caste. It is legitimized and enacted by a theological, social and cultural ontology by the crude and selfish interpretations of the doctrines like Karma, Svadharma, Advaita and Yoga. What is central to the idea is that even today, caste has not lost its ontological status; it also points to the implication that that caste is the basis of solidarities and collective identities. Defined from the aspect of being, caste may be regarded as the historically and culturally located categorization of human persons involving certain visual determinants such as colour, ascribed social stigma, stark poverty, ancestry, outside perception, habits and practices etc. In fact, caste considerations got its metaphysical validity and efficacy through the medium of human cognition, which has been considered as anvikshiki or philosophy in India. Philosophically considered, they are the explicit manifestation of two kinds of ontologies that this tradition and culture has brought forth; the first one may be called as the ontology of permanence and the second may be called the ontology of impermanence. Thus, there are two conceptions of reality in this culture and the philosophies and world-view in this tradition may be categorized in terms of these two categories of ontologies.
The department identifies the following themes/ sub-themes for an in-depth study under the proposed seminar. They are:
- General Categorization of Identities: Human Consciousness and Cultural Freedom.
- Cultural Traditions and Human Subject: Individualization and Globalization.
- Person and Identities: The Indian Tradition.
- Caste Identity and Otherness: Philosophical Issues
- Identity and Otherness: Phenomenological Elements
- Identity and Otherness: The Metaphysical Elements
- Cultural Creativity and the Creative Self: Identity as Value Signifier.
- Otherness and Complemetarity: Emmanuel Levinas
- Human Rights, Human Dignity and the Other.
In addition to the above sub themes, the seminar welcomes discussions on other issues that are significantly related to the central thematic content elaborated above. Proposals or abstracts of approximately 500 words should be sent to Sebastian Velassery at email@example.com
Department of philosophy
India. Mob: 09041108458/ 09988253035.