Richard Ned Lebow


On his book The Politics and Ethics of Identity: In Search of Ourselves

Cover Interview of February 14, 2013

In a nutshell

We are multiple, fragmented, and evolving selves who, nevertheless, believe we have unique and consistent identities.

What accounts for this illusion?  Why has the problem of identity become so central to post-war scholarship, fiction and popular culture?

I contend that the defining psychological feature of modernity is the tension between our reflective and social selves.

To address this problem, Westerners have developed four generic strategies of identity construction that are associated with four distinct political orientations: conservatism, totalitarianism, liberalism and anarchism.

I develop my argument through the reading of ancient and modern literary, philosophical and musical texts.