Identity, Recognition and Conflict

In: From Conflict to Recognition
Giorgio Bertolotti
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Two widespread objections to the politics of recognition contend that (i) it reifies identity, and (ii) it promotes a type of conflict that threatens to destroy society. The aim of the chapter is to discuss these criticisms, acknowledging their force but resisting their conclusion, at least in relation to an important model of recognition, namely Hegel’s. With respect to (i), it is often complained that the politics of recognition start with a dialogical notion of identity but end up supporting cultural monologism. I claim, by contrast, that the Hegelian model is quite different from such a politics, since its strength is to turn into reciprocal recognition what initially was an apparently irreconcilable conflict. With respect to (ii), the point is rather to show how disputes over identities, undoubtedly prima faciecases of non-divisible conflicts, behave according to the model. While they start as conflicts of the ‘either-or’ kind, and seem to leave no room for compromise, they become divisible along the process, and are bound by their own ‘logic’ to reach for a negotiated solution. No one, it is suggested, has understood this particular ‘logic of recognition’ better than Hegel.

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