Strangers, Gods, and Monsters: Interpreting Otherness

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Psychology Press, 2003 - Literary Criticism - 294 pages

Strangers, Gods and Monsters is a fascinating look at how human identity is shaped by three powerful but enigmatic forces. Often overlooked in accounts of how we think about ourselves and others, Richard Kearney skil lfully shows, with the help of vivid examples and illustrations, how the human outlook on the world is formed by the mysterious triumvirate of strangers, gods and monsters.
In the first part of the book, he shows how the figure of stranger - the "barbarian" for ancient Greece, the 'savage' for imperial Europe - defines our own identity by the very idea that it is the Other, not we, who is unknown. He then goes on to examine the image of the monster, and with the aid of powerful examples from ancient Minotaurs to medieval demons and post-modern enemies, argues that human selfhood itself frequently contains a monstrous element. In the final part of the book Richard Kearney shows how many gods are still alive for people today testifying to the human psyche's yearning to slip the shackles of our finitude and death.
Throughout, Richard Kearney shows how strangers, gods and monsters do not merely reside in myths or fantasies but constitute a central part of our cultural unconscious. Above all, he argues that until we understand better that the Other resides deep within ourselves, we can have little hope of understanding how our most basic fears and desires manifest themselves in the external world and how we can learn to live with them.



Strangers and scapegoats
Rights of sacrifice
Aliens and others
Evil monstrosity and the sublime
On terror
from Shakespeare to Joyce
between gods and monsters
a task of narrative
God or Khora?
faith and philosophy

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About the author (2003)

Richard Kearney is Professor of Philosophy at Boston College and University College Dublin. His publications include On Stories, Wake of Imagination and Postnationalist Ireland (all published by Routledge), and Sam's Fall (novel).

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