Posted on: January 1st, 2010 “I need you in order to be myself.”

“In coming to see the other correctly, we inescapably alter our understanding of ourselves.  Really taking in the other will involve an identity shift in us.  That is why it is so often resisted and rejected.  We have a deep identity investment in the distorted images we cherish of others … If understanding the other is to be construed as fusion of horizons and not as possessing a science of the object, then the slogan might be:  no understanding the other without a changed understanding of self.  The kind of understanding that ruling groups have of the ruled, that conquerors have of the conquered—most notably in recent centuries in the far-flung European empires—has usually been based on a quiet confidence that the terms they need are already in their vocabulary.  Much of the ‘social science’ of the last century is in this sense just another avatar of an ancient human failing.  And indeed, the satisfactions of ruling, beyond the booty, the unequal exchange, the exploitation of labor, very much includes the reaffirmation of one’s identity that comes from being able to live this fiction without meeting brutal refutation.  Real understanding always has an identity cost—something the ruled have often painfully experienced.  It is a feature of tomorrow’s world that this cost will now be less unequally distributed” (Charles Taylor, “Gadamer on the Human Sciences,” 141).

Thanks to Cynthia Nieslon for this.

Share Button

3 Responses to ““I need you in order to be myself.””

  1. Collins Aki Says:
    January 12th, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    “We have a deep identity investment in the distorted images we cherish of others”…this line resonates very strongly with me. To use Judith Butler’s understanding of identity politics (and G. Ward’s) and my question of how we envision the Body of Christ, I agree that the discourse on what we accept as “thinkable” and “liveable” (and “natural”)identities and redemptive bodies (or our speculation on the intention of creation), has been determined, not by God or Holy Writ, but by interpretations of a particular group (you know who) with a vested interest in the vantage point they have “canonized” (i.e. to preserve their power and comfort). But Christ seems to show us a different picture.Marginalized people (and identities) have always been the examples Christ had used as evidences of Himself–the new humanity (his Kingdom and his will). He has always pushed against our comfort and understanding of who we thought he was (and those images of him that were previously distorted) for us to see that he was expanding his Body, redeeming forms that we have always distorted, and rebuking power that we have been guilty of hoarding. This is the way his Body can cover this earth, not conforming to what we think, but, we conforming to how he expands.

  2. matt Says:
    February 4th, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Collins, is “the particular group” you mention above referring to the church?

  3. boonation » Blog Archive » My remarks on: “I need you in Order to be Myself”. Why Liberals, along with Conservatives fail Badly at the issue of Civil Liberties Says:
    June 7th, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    […] love to my boy Matt Boulter  for the link: (check his blogsite out at […]

Leave a Reply