literature · synopses
Mădălina Diaconu /
Delia Popa (eds.):
Person, Community and Identity.
Casa Cărţii de Ştiinţă,
Casa Cărţii de Ştiinţă:
Person, Community and Identity is the result of a conference that took place at the Babeş-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca (Romania) in 2002. It is the also the result of a discourse started by central and eastern European philosophers. The editors – Ion Coperu, Mădălina Diaconu and Delia Popa – believe that the motivation for the avid philosophical interest lies in the critical discussion consisting of questions about democratisation and the social changes in their home countries. These reflections, which also involved numerous thinkers from the so-called »western« countries, necessarily led to the main topics of the book: Person, Community and Identity.
The articles originate from a phenomenological context, although nearly all of them concentrate on examining other (e.g. postmodern) approaches. The structure of the book reflects the different levels of problems. Commencing at a microscopic level, the article looks at different approaches to the constitution of the subject, followed by questions about community/mutuality until arriving at the macroscopic level of »life-worlds« (Lebenswelten) and the all-embracing question about the formation of cultural identity. It is impossible to refer to every single interesting author in this brief review, but I will point to a number of articles particularly seminal for the discourse of interculturality.
Mădălina Diaconu provides an interesting description of the construction of the subject. She examines the value that the sense of smell has for human identity and the narrative construction of this identity. Diaconu also reveals that smell served as a source for racist prejudice, referring to a constitution of the other which lies outside traditional philosophical categories. Dean Komel looks at the tense relationship between tradition and techno-scientific mobilisation, noting that problems do not only arise in programmes of cooperative development work, but also with the formation of a (»new«) European identity. The specific, European need for culture is, according to Komel, a need for philosophy, demanding a tradition of freedom.
Andriy Bogachov also raises the question of technology. He analyses the opposition between theory and technology, emphasising that, in ancient Greece, technology was always associated with the arts and not with the sciences. However, for the civilising identity of the west the unity between theory and technology seems to be essential. Technology is not something that we use, but something that we experience as fate – which, however, does not mean that we should submit to it without a fight. Bogachov challenges his readers to profoundly examine the essence of technology.
A few more articles from the section »Faces of Identity« are worth mentioning. Hans Rainer Sepp, for instance, discusses the culturally dependent attitudes towards alterity, contrasting the occidental tradition – characterised by the perspective and dichotomy of universalism and particularism – with the Japanese one. Claude Karnoouh describes the genealogy of globalisation and identifies its basis in occidental logic, while Olga Shparaga discusses the central, phenomenological idea of plurality and the illusion of a common world, her article concentrating on the concept of open identity.