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[ox-en] Re: Identity as an OHA aspect

Hi Casimir and list!

I'm not sure whether I understood everything you wrote. May be even it
depends on the different language. May be I can't *think* some
concepts in English which I find easy in German ;-) .

3 weeks (21 days) ago Casimir Purzelbaum wrote:
* Ref.: »Identity as an OHA aspect (was: Re: [ox-en] Patents and Copyright, but what about other Exclusive Property Rights/Trademarks?)«
*        Stefan Merten 	(2004-01-16  12:18)
Yes, it is about identity. And identity is a concept which is based on
limits. Identity is more or less the ability to say what belongs to
something / someone and which doesn't. Or in other words: What is in
or out of some limits.

I know there is some (mostly German?) discussion about identity which
I really did not follow - and frankly do not really understand - which
may be a result from not following it. At one time I understood the
concept of identity is rejected as not being emancipatory. I think the
argument says that an identity is (always?) forced down your throat
and thus prevents you from unfolding your own self. Sorry, I really
did not understand it. PLEASE anybody more knowledgeable correct me
where I'm misguided / wrong / stupid.

Unfortunately I don't know the discussion that you refer to.
But I would like to accept the invitation to explain my view on
why Identity is an ambiguous thing.  (Again, it won't be very
practical, but ... you've asked for it ;-)

Yes thanks. I'll follow closely so you can see where I get lost.

As you said, identity has something to do with limits, with
limiting oneself, on a practical level.  Now, the question is:
how are these limits determined?


What is the identity of a free-software programmer?  What does it
have to do with his name, with the programs he writes etc? What
does it have to do with the world he lives in?  If there were no
free-software scene, he couldn't be an FS-programmer, no matter
what he would think about his programs and what he would wish

Niall pointed out that it does not need an explicit scene to have a
certain identity. I agree with him. However, I think the social
conditions must be in a certain way to be able to choose some
identity. Insofar creation of a identity is closely linked to the
society as a whole.

Hence, his "real identity" as this or that cannot be
determined.  The "real identity" of any {person | thing | group | *}
is an infinite thing.

This is where I get lost. What do you mean by "real identity"? Or even
more: What could such a concept be good for?

Doesn't it suffice to let it unclear to a high degree? I mean what use
does it have if you know all of your limits at a given time as long as
you are confronted only with a tiny fraction of them?

(That's BTW the point where I have some difficulties thinking it in
English. When I translate it back to German I think I know what you
are talking about - but not in English ;-) .)

The practical identity, however, is a conceptual thing and as
such it is limited.  Well, as you said, it's very purpose is
limitation.  Thus, his concept of his identity is different from
his "real identity".  Or, as you might put it: the practical
identity is always alienated from the "real identity".

Well, I'd put the practical identity in the focus so the "real
identity" seems to me the alienated part.

And, I think, that's why people come to think that identity was
as such anti-emancipatory.

Ah. I think I understand. But this concept of a "real identity" is
totally misguided - isn't it. Doesn't say much about what you call
practical identity.

Secondly, how is identity "forced down your throat"?

a) starting with your name: it is given to you and you must keep
it regardless of your own likings. (Why? People who (really) know
you will know you even if you change your name or drop having a
name altogether, won't they? -- although the latter would make
communication in "cyberspace" a little more complicated ;-)

To a good part I think this is not a conscious decision and for some
part it simply can't be changed. For instance your body sets a number
of limitations you simply can not get over. I mean you can not be 5
meters tall regardless of how much you wish it.

So on the one hand we can distinguish limits which are forced upon you
by nature and on the other hand limits which come from the social
conditions. Also there are limits you may consciously set up yourself
such as "I won't kill someone (voluntarily)." or "I like to write Free

b) limits: who is it, that sets the limits? In the case of
Indimedia-India, it was not the people concerned who chose to
draw the line -- they were forced to do it, by the others. That
is, even though they are free to choose (or refuse) a particular
"identity", they cannot *freely* choose it, they cannot even
determine it on their own and by their own accounts. (Because
they are forced to decide between a set of alternatives that they
have not determined themselves.)

Yes. But after all they can choose to use Indymedia or not. There is
no totality there. This is different to a state.

I hope, these thoughts where worth their while for starters -- I
don't want to give an argument concerning the *always* bit... But
I think it should be obvious that it's not altogether wrong.

I also hope, you will at least vaguely understand, why I do not
agree with your hypothesis that

...this is how the world is regardless of the concrete form of

I'm not saying the concrete limits are the same in each society. I'm
just saying that there *are* limits. There are even some which can not
be overcome by any means. And there are limits which can be changed as
well as limits which are freely chosen. I think *this* is the case in
every society. Would you agree?

But I do -- for a change -- agree with you here:        ;-)

So at least it makes no sense to ignore this. I even think it
is dangerous to ignore these nasty things because if they can
not be removed from some social construct then they will exist
in one way or the other. And for me it is better to approach
these things openly instead of denying their existence. The
positive aspect is that if they are approached openly then they
can be discussed and changed. This is far more difficult if
they actually exist but everybody denies their existence.


						Mit Freien Grüßen



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