Paolo Furia

In this article I will establish a dialogue between the theory of identity elaborated by Paul Ricoeur in Oneself as Another and the dismissal of the concept of identity suggested by the anthropologist Francesco Remotti in L’ossessione identitaria. From this confrontation it is possible to draw some useful insights about the peculiar position of Ricoeur with regard to the controversy between the modern and the postmodern – a controversy that Ricoeur has never dealt with in straightforward terms. If, on the one hand, Ricoeur’s emphasis on the narrative character of the self seems to be in line with the postmodern cultural climate, on the other hand his efforts to save the self from radical deconstruction seems to fit with the modern project. In the first paragraph of the article, I will show how this ambiguity makes it difficult to determine whether Ricoeur’s thought can be reduced to either a modern or a postmodern framework. I will also outline Ricoeur’s multifaceted stance over structuralism and post-structuralism in cultural anthropology. In the second paragraph, I will discuss in more detail the criticisms formulated by Remotti towards the idem/ipse dialectic expounded by Ricoeur in Oneself as Another. According to Remotti, Ricoeur carries out a sophisticated and specious revival of a reactionary conception of identity understood as a self-sufficient substance. In the third and last paragraph, I will answer to Remotti’s criticisms by showing that the identity-idem, far from being a substance, is inherently dependent and defined by otherness.

Il dilemma dell’identità
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