Monday, November 26, 2007

On judging persons

A person has to be judged by his or her individual qualities. Even if I do not like the group he or she belongs to, even if I do not like 99,99% of the members of the group this person belongs to, it is quite possible that I do like this individual person if I happen to meet him or her.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Personal identity (21)

Why do people (for example Huntington) so often identify civilization with religion? Isn’t there more in the world that makes a civilization a civilization? But as the Thomas-theorem says: "If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences". So, once civilization is identified with religion people behave as if civilization can be identified with religion. That’s the danger of doing this, of narrowing a broad concept to one dimension.
Amartya Sen expressed the same, when he wrote: "... the social world constitutes differences by the mere fact of designing them. Even when a categorization is arbitrary or capricious, once they are articulated and recognized in terms of dividing lines, the groups thus classified acquire derivative relevance" (Sen, Identity and violence, p.27).

Monday, November 12, 2007

Personal identity (20)

What does it mean that civilizations clash? Does it mean that ideas clash and that the bearers of these ideas are watching what is happening? Isn’t it so that only people can clash, so that we must mean with the clash of civilizations the clash of people? But how can this be right if a member of one civilization (say civilization A) is befriended with a person of an "opposite" civilization (say civilization B) while another member of A is clashing (fighting?) with a member of B? How can civilizations clash and not clash at the same time?

How can we say that a person belongs to civilization A and another person to civilization B, if they are alike on most traits with the exception of those traits that make the person a representative of civilization A or of civilization B?

Does all this mean that civilizations do not exist? Does the fact that each man is unique undermines the idea that civilizations exist?

Vide Samuel Huntington, The clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order and Amartya Sen, Identity and violence, who attacks the idea that civilizations clash.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Dangerous ideas

On an airport, they can scan your material luggage but not your dangerous thoughts. That is why the authorities think that every passenger is a possible criminal and that they want to collect your private data.