Alan Jacobs

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“We have to resist the liberal fantasy in which identities are merely chosen, so we are all free to be what we choose to be. In truth, identities without demands would be lifeless.” — Kwame Anthony Appiah. The argument seems hopeful but naive. I’ll withhold judgment until I see the whole book, but I hope Appiah is able to present a something stronger and richer than “Let’s negotiate our identities together rather than individually.” And I also hope that he addresses the brute facts of a natural order to which we, like all other creatures, belong, an order that does not negotiate.

I sometimes find myself remember Alasdair MacIntyre’s question in response to a literary critic who said that life, unlike stories, has no beginnings and endings: “Has this man not heard of death?”