Identity / Privacy Series, Philosophy of Privacy

The Narrated Self (Identity and Privacy I)

The discussions and debates about privacy are key to trust in the information society. Yet, the our understanding of the concept of privacy is still in need of further exploration. This short essay is an attempt to highlight one aspect of the concept that seems to be crucial, and highlight a few observations about what we could conclude from studying this aspect.  Privacy is not a concept that can be studied in isolation. It needs to be understood as a concept strongly related to identity. Wittgenstein notes that doubt is impossible to understand without having a clear concept of belief, since doubt as a concept is dependent on first believing something. You have to have believed something to be able to doubt something.  The same applies for privacy. You have to have an identity in order to have privacy, and in order to have that privacy infringed upon in some way. Theories of identity, then, are key to theories of privacy.  So far nothing new or surprising. As we then turn to theories of identity, we find that there are plenty to choose from. Here are a few, eclectically collected, qualities of identity that I think are rather basic. 1. Identity is not a noun, but a verb, it exists not as a quality in itself but as a relationship with someone else. You find yourself strewn in the eyes of the Others, to paraphrase (badly) Heidegger. Your identity is constructed, changed and developed over time. A corollary of this…

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