Francis Heylighen
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
The scientific worldview is based on laws, which are supposed to be certain, objective, and independent of time and context. The narrative worldview found in literature, myth and religion, is based on stories, which relate the events experienced by a subject in a particular context with an uncertain outcome. This paper argues that the concept of “agent”, supported by the theories of evolution, cybernetics and complex adaptive systems, allows us to reconcile scientific and narrative perspectives. An agent follows a course of action through its environment with the aim of maximizing its fitness. Navigation along that course combines the strategies of regulation, exploitation and exploration, but needs to cope with often-unforeseen diversions. These can be positive (affordances, opportunities), negative (disturbances, dangers) or neutral (surprises). The resulting sequence of encounters and actions can be conceptualized as an adventure. Thus, the agent appears to play the role of the hero in a tale of challenge and mystery that is very similar to the "monomyth", the basic storyline that underlies all myths and fairy tales according to Campbell [1949]. This narrative dynamics is driven forward in particular by the alternation between prospect (the ability to foresee diversions) and mystery (the possibility of achieving an as yet absent prospect), two aspects of the environment that are particularly attractive to agents. This dynamics generalizes the scientific notion of a deterministic trajectory by introducing a variable “horizon of knowability”: the agent is never fully certain of its further course, but can anticipate depending on its degree of prospect
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 65,703
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Extended Mind.Andy Clark & David J. Chalmers - 1998 - Analysis 58 (1):7-19.
On the Self-Regulation of Behavior.Charles S. Carver - 1998 - Cambridge University Press.

View all 24 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Embodied Narratives.Richard Menary - 2008 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 15 (6):63-84.
The Narrative Reconstruction of Science.Joseph Rouse - 1990 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 33 (2):179 – 196.
Against Agent-Based Virtue Ethics.Michael S. Brady - 2004 - Philosophical Papers 33 (1):1-10.
A New Form of Agent-Based Virtue Ethics.Daniel Doviak - 2011 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (3):259-272.
Reasons for Action: Agent-Neutral Vs. Agent-Relative.Michael Ridge - 2011 - The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Doxastic Determinism.Steve Bein - 2008 - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 33:5-12.


Added to PP index

Total views
92 ( #120,529 of 2,462,465 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #449,311 of 2,462,465 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes