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The Quest(ion) of European Identity

Eurostudia, vol.1, no.1, June 2005
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Konstantinos Arvanitakis, McGill University
Reading Homer, Plato and the Greek tragedies indicates that at the bottom of the identity problems with which we are dealing lies the myth of a primordial wound. This myth of the schism of an original whole finds its most flagrant expression in Aristophanes’ discourse from Plato’s Symposion. This myth seems to be at the same time a precondition for a reflection on identity, personal as well as collective, and to determine in this sense, as a trauma on which depended and still depends the ontology of the identical, the matrix of our necessarily inter-subjective conception of “Europe”. It is this necessity that our reflection is about, concluding that once this primordial wound is recognized as a collective trauma, identity can be understood as an ongoing transition, by virtue of a constant actualisation of the tragedy, to the figure of alterity.