The human world is replete with narratives - narratives of our making that are uniquely appreciated by us. Some thinkers have afforded special importance to our capacity to generate such narratives, seeing it as variously enabling us to: exercise our imaginations in unique ways; engender an understanding of actions performed for reasons; and provide a basis for the kind of reflection and evaluation that matters vitally to moral and self development. Perhaps most radically, some hold that narratives are essential for (...) the constitution of human selves. This volume brings together nine original contributions in which the individual authors advance, develop and challenge proposals of these kinds. They critically examine the place and importance of narratives in human lives and consider the underlying capacities that permit us to produce and utilise these special artifacts. All of the papers are written in a non-technical and accessible style. (shrink)
I argue against two popular claims. The first is a descriptive, empiri- cal thesis about the nature of ordinary human experience: ‘each of us constructs and lives a “narrative” . . . this narrative is us, our identities’ (Oliver Sacks); ‘self is a perpetually rewritten story . . . in the end, we become the autobiographical narratives by which we “tell about” our lives’ (Jerry Bruner); ‘we are all virtuoso novelists. . . . We try to make all (...) of our material cohere into a single good story. And that story is our autobiography. The chief fictional char- acter . . . of that autobiography is one’s self’ (Dan Dennett). The second is a normative, ethical claim: we ought to live our lives narratively, or as a story; a ‘basic condition of making sense of ourselves is that we grasp our lives in a narrative’ and have an understanding of our lives ‘as an unfolding story’ (Charles Taylor). A person ‘creates his identity [only] by forming an autobiograph- ical narrative – a story of his life’, and must be in possession of a full and ‘explicit narrative [of his life] to develop fully as a person’ (Marya Schechtman). (shrink)
This book is part of the growing field of practical approaches to philosophical questions relating to identity, agency and ethics, working across continental and analytical traditions. Kim Atkins explains and justifies the basis of the practical approach through an explication of the structures of human embodiment and an account of how those structures necessitate a narrative model of selfhood, understanding and ethics. She highlights how recent work on agency and autonomy implicitly draws upon conceptions of embodiment and intersubjectivity that (...) underpin the narrative view. (shrink)
his book develops an account of legal reasoning based on underlying narrative patterns, and compares other such approaches in legal philosophy, psychology and history. Download full ToC and Preface from http://www.legaltheory.demon.co.uk/books_lfnc.html.
Is the self narratively constructed? There are many who would answer yes to the question. Dennett (1991) is, perhaps, the most famous proponent of the view that the self is narratively constructed, but there are others, such as Velleman (2006), who have followed his lead and developed the view much further. Indeed, the importance of narrative to understanding the mind and the self is currently being lavished with attention across the cognitive sciences (Dautenhahn, 2001; Hutto, 2007; Nelson, 2003). Emerging (...) from this work, there appear to be a variety of ways in which we can think of the narrative construction of the self and the relationship between the narrative self and the embodied agent. I wish to examine two such ways in this paper. The first I shall call the abstract narrative account, this is because its proponents take the narrative self to be an abstraction (Dennett, 1991; Velleman, 2006). Dennett, for example, refers to the self as a centre of narrative gravity, to be thought of as analogous to a mathematical conception of the centre of gravity of an object. The second I shall call the embodied narrative account and this is the view that the self is constituted both by an embodied consciousness whose experiences are available for narration and narratives themselves, which can play a variety of roles in the agent’s psychological life. (shrink)
This article examines the narrative approach to self found in philosophy and related disciplines. The strongest versions of the narrative approach hold that both a person's sense of self and a person's life are narrative in structure, and this is called the hermeneutical narrative theory. This article provides a provisional picture of the content of the narrative approach and considers some important objections that have been raised to the narrative approach. It defends the view (...) that the self constitutes itself in narrative and argues for something less than the hermeneutical view insofar as the narrative is less agency-oriented and without an overarching thematic unity. (shrink)
In this article, I outline various ways in which artifacts are interwoven with autobiographical memory systems and conceptualize what this implies for the self. I first sketch the narrative approach to the self, arguing that who we are as persons is essentially our (unfolding) life story, which, in turn, determines our present beliefs and desires, but also directs our future goals and actions. I then argue that our autobiographical memory is partly anchored in our embodied interactions with an ecology (...) of artifacts in our environment. Lifelogs, photos, videos, journals, diaries, souvenirs, jewelry, books, works of art, and many other meaningful objects trigger and sometimes constitute emotionally-laden autobiographical memories. Autobiographical memory is thus distributed across embodied agents and various environmental structures. To defend this claim, I draw on and integrate distributed cognition theory and empirical research in human-technology interaction. Based on this, I conclude that the self is neither defined by psychological states realized by the brain nor by biological states realized by the organism, but should be seen as a distributed and relational construct. (shrink)
A self is a temporal unity in which responsibility for past commitments modifies how the present world is experienced and evaluated. This structure is analogous (a) to biological evolutionary changes in perception and (b) to how changes in a computer program determine how it will respond in the future. Responsibility is not an add-on to a self, but the mode of its integration over time. (Presented at Royal Institute of Philosophy Annual Conference, Narrative and Understanding Persons, University of Hertfordshire, (...) UK, 2005). (shrink)
_Relating Narratives_ is a major new work by the philosopher and feminist thinker Adriana Cavarero. First published in Italian to widespread acclaim, _Relating Narratives_ is a fascinating and challenging new account of the relationship between selfhood and narration. Drawing a diverse array of thinkers from both the philosophical and the literary tradition, from Sophocles and Homer to Hannah Arendt, Karen Blixen, Walter Benjamin and Borges, Adriana Cadarero's theory of the `narratable self' shows how narrative models in philosophy and literature (...) can open new ways of thinking about formation of human identities. By showing how each human being has a unique story that can be told about them, Adriana Cavarero inaugurates an important shift in thinking about subjectivity and identity which relies not upon categorical or discursive norms, but rather seeks to account for `who' each one of us uniquely is. (shrink)
Narrative thinking -- Narrative thinking about one's past -- Grief : a case study -- Narrative thinking about one's future -- Self-forgiveness : a case study -- The narrative sense of self -- Narrative, truth, life, and fiction.
Uses insights from Kierkegaard to explore contemporary problems of self, time, narrative and death Is each of us the main character in a story we tell about ourselves, or is this narrative understanding of selfhood misguided and possibly harmful? Are selves and persons the same thing? And what does the possibility of sudden death mean for our ability to understand the narrative of ourselves? These questions have been much discussed both in recent philosophy and by scholars grappling (...) with the work of the enigmatic 19th-century thinker Søren Kierkegaard. For the first time, this collection brings together figures in both contemporary philosophy and Kierkegaard studies to explore pressing issues in the philosophy of personal identity and moral psychology. It serves both to advance important ongoing discussions of selfhood and to explore the light that, 200 years after his birth, Kierkegaard is still able to shed on contemporary problems. (shrink)
Geologists, Paleontologists and other historical scientists are frequently concerned with narrative explanations targeting single cases. I show that two distinct explanatory strategies are employed in narratives, simple and complex. A simple narrative has minimal causal detail and is embedded in a regularity, whereas a complex narrative is more detailed and not embedded. The distinction is illustrated through two case studies: the ‘snowball earth’ explanation of Neoproterozoic glaciation and recent attempts to explain gigantism in Sauropods. This distinction is (...) revelatory of historical science. I argue that at least sometimes which strategy is appropriate is not a pragmatic issue, but turns on the nature of the target. Moreover, the distinction reveals a counterintuitive pattern of progress in some historical explanation: shifting from simple to complex. Sometimes, historical scientists rightly abandon simple, unified explanations in favour of disunified, complex narratives. Finally I compare narrative and mechanistic explanation, arguing that mechanistic approaches are inappropriate for complex narrative explanations. (shrink)
This paper promotes the view that our childhood engagement with narratives of a certain kind is the basis of sophisticated folk psychological abilities —i.e. it is through such socially scaffolded means that folk psychological skills are normally acquired and fostered. Undeniably, we often use our folk psychological apparatus in speculating about why another may have acted on a particular occasion, but this is at best a peripheral and parasitic use. Our primary understanding and skill in folk psychology derives from and (...) has its primary application in special kinds of second-personal engagements. (shrink)
Decoupling a modestly construed Narrative Self Shaping Hypothesis from Strong Narrativism this paper attempts to motivate devoting our intellectual energies to the former. Section one briefly introduces the notions of self-shaping and rehearses reasons for thinking that self-shaping, in a suitably tame form, is, at least to some extent, simply unavoidable for reflective beings. It is against this background that the basic commitments of a modest Narrative Self-Shaping Hypothesis are articulated. Section two identifies a foundational commitment—the central tenet—of (...) all Strong Narrativist proposals, those that posit a necessary link between narrative self-shaping and narrative self-experience. As will be shown, in the hands of Strong Narrativists the latter notion is unpacked in stronger or weaker ways by appeal to the notion of implicit Narrativizing. Section three reminds the reader of Strawson’s challenge to Strong Narrativism. It is revealed that Strawson’s objections are most effective if they target Strong Narrativism’s central tenet construed as a phenomenological revelation about what is necessary for self-experience and not merely the psychological Narrativity thesis, construed as an empirical hypothesis about typical Narrativizing proclivities. Having set the stage, section four critically examines two different strategies, pursued by Rudd and Schechtman respectively, for escaping the horns Strawson’s dilemma poses for Strong Narrativism. In the end both strategies invoke the notion of implicit Narrativizing at a crucial juncture. Section five reveals that a substantive proposal about what implicit Narrativizing might be is lacking, hence we have no reason to believe that it actually occurs. It is concluded that, as things stand, Strong Narrativism has no way of avoiding the horns of Strawson’s dilemma. Brief concluding remarks in the final section are a reminder why, despite their modesty, softer versions of the NSSH—when coupled with a developmental proposal about the narrative basis of our folk psychological competence—are non-trivial and worthy of further development and investigation. (shrink)
The profound changes in personality, mood, and other features of the self that neural interventions can induce can be disconcerting to patients, their families, and caregivers. In the neuroethical debate, these concerns are often addressed in the context of possible threats to the narrative self. In this paper, I argue that it is necessary to consider a dimension of impacts on the narrative self which has so far been neglected: neural interventions can lead to a loss of meaning (...) of actions, feelings, beliefs, and other intentional elements of our self-narratives. To uphold the coherence of the self-narrative, the changes induced by neural interventions need to be accounted for through explanations in intentional or biochemical terms. However, only an explanation including intentional states delivers the content to directly ascribe personal meaning, i.e., subjective value to events. Neural interventions can deprive events of meaning because they may favor a predominantly biochemical account. A loss of meaning is not inherently negative but it can be problematic, particularly if events are affected one was not prepared or willing to have stripped of meaning. The paper further examines what it is about neural interventions that impacts meaning by analyzing different methods. To which degree the pull towards a biochemical view occurs depends on the characteristics of the neural intervention. By comparing Deep Brain Stimulation, Prozac, Ritalin, psychedelics, and psychotherapy, the paper identifies some main factors: the rate of change, the transparency of the causal chain, the involvement of the patient, and the presence of an acute phenomenological experience. (shrink)
In this article, “Narrative Closure,” a theory of the nature of narrative closure is developed. Narrative closure is identified as the phenomenological feeling of finality that is generated when all the questions saliently posed by the narrative are answered. The article also includes a discussion of the intelligibility of attributing questions to narratives as well as a discussion of the mechanisms that achieve this. The article concludes by addressing certain recent criticisms of the view of (...) class='Hi'>narrative expounded by this article. (shrink)
Memories of our personal past are the building blocks of our narrative identity. So, when we depend on objects and other people to remember and construct our personal past, our narrative identity is distributed across our embodied brains and an ecology of environmental resources. This paper uses a cognitive niche construction approach to conceptualise how we engineer our memory ecology and construct our distributed narrative identities. It does so by identifying three types of niche construction processes that (...) govern how we interact with our memory ecology, namely creating, editing, and using resources in our memory ecology. It also conceptualises how identity-relevant information in objects and (family) stories is transmitted vertically, i.e., across different generations of people. Identifying these processes allows us to better understand the cultural information trajectories that constitute our memory ecologies. Thus, what I’ll argue is that our memory ecology distributes our narrative identity and that engineering our memory ecology is a form of narrative niche construction. (shrink)
Relating Narratives is a major new work by the philosopher and feminist thinker Adriana Cavarero. First published in Italian to widespread acclaim, Relating Narratives is a fascinating and challenging new account of the relationship between selfhood and narration. Drawing a diverse array of thinkers from both the philosophical and the literary tradition, from Sophocles and Homer to Hannah Arendt, Karen Blixen, Walter Benjamin and Borges, Adriana Cadarero's theory of the `narratable self' shows how narrative models in philosophy and literature (...) can open new ways of thinking about formation of human identities. By showing how each human being has a unique story that can be told about them, Adriana Cavarero inaugurates an important shift in thinking about subjectivity and identity which relies not upon categorical or discursive norms, but rather seeks to account for `who' each one of us uniquely is. (shrink)
Recent work on the relation between narrative and selfhood has emphasized embodiment as an indispensable foundation for selfhood. This has occasioned an interesting debate on the relation between embodiment and narrative. In this paper, I attempt to mediate the range of conflicting intuitions within the debate by proposing a scalar approach to narrative and an accompanying concept of a split-self. Drawing on theoretical developments from contemporary narratology, I argue that we need to move away from a binary (...) understanding of narrative as something an entity strictly is or is not; rather, we need to see narrative as an attribute admitting of degrees. I suggest that the relation between narrative and embodiment should be seen along these lines, proposing three levels of the narrativity of embodied experiencing: 1) the unnarratable, 2) the narratable and 3) the narrative. Finally, I discuss the implications this framework has for the general question of the narrative constitution of selfhood. (shrink)
How can human beings acknowledge and experience the burdens of political responsibility? Why are we tempted to flee them, and how might we come to affirm them? Jade Larissa Schiff calls this experience of responsibility 'the cultivation of responsiveness'. In Burdens of Political Responsibility: Narrative and the Cultivation of Responsiveness, she identifies three dispositions that inhibit responsiveness - thoughtlessness, bad faith, and misrecognition - and turns to storytelling in its manifold forms as a practice that might facilitate and frustrate (...) it. Through critical engagements with an unusual cast of characters hailing from a variety of disciplines, she argues that how we represent our world and ourselves in the stories we share, and how we receive those stories, can facilitate and frustrate the cultivation of responsiveness. (shrink)
In the last two decades, interest in narrative conceptions of identity has grown exponentially, though there is little agreement about what a "life-narrative" might be. In connecting Kierkegaard with virtue ethics, several scholars have recently argued that narrative models of selves and MacIntyre's concept of the unity of a life help make sense of Kierkegaard's existential stages and, in particular, explain the transition from "aesthetic" to "ethical" modes of life. But others have recently raised difficult questions both (...) for these readings of Kierkegaard and for narrative accounts of identity that draw on the work of MacIntyre in general. While some of these objections concern a strong kind of unity or "wholeheartedness" among an agent's long-term goals or cares, the fundamental objection raised by critics is that personal identity cannot _be_ a narrative, since stories are artifacts made by persons. In this book, Davenport defends the narrative approach to practical identity and autonomy in general, and to Kierkegaard's stages in particular. (shrink)
Narratives are an integral part of human expression. In the graphic form, they range from cave paintings to Egyptian hieroglyphics, from the Bayeux Tapestry to modern day comic books (Kunzle, 1973; McCloud, 1993). Yet not much research has addressed the structure and comprehension of narrative images, for example, how do people create meaning out of sequential images? This piece helps fill the gap by presenting a theory of Narrative Grammar. We describe the basic narrative categories and their (...) relationship to a canonical narrative arc, followed by a discussion of complex structures that extend beyond the canonical schema. This demands that the canonical arc be reconsidered as a generative schema whereby any narrative category can be expanded into a node in a tree structure. Narrative “pacing” is interpreted as a reflection of various patterns of this embedding: conjunction, left-branching trees, center-embedded constituencies, and others. Following this, diagnostic methods are proposed for testing narrative categories and constituency. Finally, we outline the applicability of this theory beyond sequential images, such as to film and verbal discourse, and compare this theory with previous approaches to narrative and discourse. (shrink)
The objective of this article is twofold. In the first part, I discuss two issues central to any theoretical inquiry into mental imagery: embodiment and consciousness. I do so against the backdrop of second-generation cognitive science, more specifically the increasingly popular research framework of embodied cognition, and I consider two caveats attached to its current exploitation in narrative theory. In the second part, I attempt to cast new light on readerly mental imagery by offering a typology of what I (...) propose to be its four basic varieties. The typology is grounded in the framework of embodied cognition and it is largely compatible with key neuroscientific and other experimental evidence produced within the framework. For each imagery variety, I make some elementary suggestions as to how it may typically be cued by distinct narrative strategies. (shrink)
The self is not a metaphysical object but a mode of temporal organization unified by responsibility. Learning to be responsible constitutes the self as a self-identical entity over time. Responsibility depends on the current self interpreting previous events, attributing them to itself and thereby committing itself for the future. (2004) .
Whether non-human animals can have episodic memories remains the subject of extensive debate. A number of prominent memory researchers defend the view that animals do not have the same kind of episodic memory as humans do, whereas others argue that some animals have episodic-like memory—i.e., they can remember what, where and when an event happened. Defining what constitutes episodic memory has proven to be difficult. In this paper, I propose a dual systems account and provide evidence for a distinction between (...) event memory and episodic memory. Event memory is a perceptual system that evolved to support adaptive short-term goal processing, whereas episodic memory is based on narratives, which bind event memories into a retrievable whole that is temporally and causally organized around subject’s goals. I argue that carefully distinguishing event memory from episodic memory can help resolve the debate. (shrink)
A story does more than recount events; it recounts events in a way that renders them intelligible, thus conveying not just information but also understanding. We might therefore be tempted to describe narrative as a genre of explanation. When the police invite a suspect to “tell his story,” they are asking him to explain the blood on his shirt or his absence from home on the night of the murder; and whether he is judged to have a “good story” (...) will depend on its adequacy as an explanation. Can we account for the explanatory force of narrative with the models of explanation available in the philosophy of science? Or does narrative convey a different kind of understanding, which requires a different model and perhaps even a term other than ‘explanation’? (shrink)
This paper examines systematically which features of a life story (or history) make it good for the subject herself - not aesthetically or morally good, but prudentially good. The tentative narrative calculus presented claims that the prudential narrative value of an event is a function of the extent to which it contributes to her concurrent and non-concurrent goals, the value of those goals, and the degree to which success in reaching the goals is deserved in virtue of exercising (...) agency. The narrative value of a life is a simple sum of the values of individual events that comprise it. I claim that this view best explains and support common intuitions about the significance of the shape of a life. (shrink)
A common method for warranting the historical adequacy of philosophical claims is that of relying on historical case studies. This paper addresses the question as to what evidential support historical case studies can provide to philosophical claims and doctrines. It argues that in order to assess the evidential functions of historical case studies, we first need to understand the methodology involved in producing them. To this end, an account of historical reconstruction that emphasizes the narrative character of historical accounts (...) and the theory-laden character of historical facts is introduced. The main conclusion of this paper is that historical case studies are able to provide philosophical claims with some evidential support, but that, due to theory-ladenness, their evidential import is restricted. (shrink)
This collection of work addresses the contribution that ethnography and linguistics make to education, and the contribution that research in education makes to anthropology and linguistics.; The first section of the book pinpoints characteristics of anthropology that most make a difference to research in education. The second section describes the perspective that is needed if the study of language is to contribute adequately to problems of education and inequality. Finally, the third section takes up discoveries about narrative, which show (...) that young people's narratives may have a depth of form and skill that has gone largely unrecognized. (shrink)
"For description and defense of the narrative configurations of everyday life, and of the practical and social character of those narratives, there is no better treatment than Time, Narrative, and History.... a clear, judicious, and truthful account, provocative from beginning to end." —Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology "... a superior work of philosophy that tells a unique and insightful story about narrative." —Quarterly Journal of Speech.
This book is part of the growing field of practical approaches to philosophical questions relating to identity, agency and ethics--approaches which work across continental and analytical traditions and which Atkins justifies through an explication of how the structures of human embodiment necessitate a narrative model of selfhood, understanding, and ethics.
Contemporary philosophy of technology, in particular mediation theory, has largely neglected language and has paid little attention to the social-linguistic environment in which technologies are used. In order to reintroduce and strengthen these two missing aspects we turn towards Ricoeur’s narrative theory. We argue that technologies have a narrative capacity: not only do humans make sense of technologies by means of narratives but technologies themselves co-constitute narratives and our understanding of these narratives by configuring characters and events in (...) a meaningful temporal whole. We propose a hermeneutic framework that enables us to categorise and interpret technologies according to two hermeneutic distinctions. Firstly, we consider the extent to which technologies close in on the paradigm of the written text by assessing their capacity to actively configure characters and events into a meaningful whole; thereby introducing a linguistic aspect in the theory of technological mediation. Secondly, we consider the extent to which technologieshave the capacity to abstract from the public narrative time of actual characters and events by constructing quasi-characters and quasi-events, thereby introducing the social in our conception of technological mediation. This leads us to the outlines of a theory of narrative technologies that revolves around four hermeneutic categories. In order to show the merits of this theory, we discuss the categories by analysing paradigmatic examples of narrative technologies: the bridge, the hydroelectric power plant, video games, and electronic money. (shrink)
Engaging in self-narrative is often touted as a powerful antidote to the bad effects of illness. However, there are various examples of what may broadly be termed “aversion” to illness narrative. I group these into three kinds: aversion to certain types of illness narrative; aversion to illness narrative as a whole; and aversion to illness narrative as an essentially therapeutic endeavor. These aversions can throw into doubt the advantages claimed for the illness narrator, including the (...) key benefits of repair to the damage illness does to identity and life-trajectory. Underlying these alleged benefits are two key presuppositions: that it is the whole of one’s life that is narratively unified, and that one’s identity is inextricably bound up with narrative. By letting go of these assumptions, illness narrative advocates can respond to the challenges of narrative aversions. (shrink)
The Narrative Practice Hypothesis (NPH) is a recently conceived, late entrant into the contest of trying to understand the basis of our mature folk psychological abilities, those involving our capacity to explain ourselves and comprehend others in terms of reasons. This paper aims to clarify its content, importance and scientific plausibility by: distinguishing its conceptual features from those of its rivals, articulating its philosophical significance, and commenting on its empirical prospects. I begin by clarifying the NPH's target explanandum and (...) the challenge it presents to theory theory (TT), simulation theory (ST) and hybrid combinations of these theories. The NPH competes with them directly for the same explanatory space insofar as these theories purport to explain the core structural basis of our folk psychological (FP)-competence (those of the sort famously but not exclusively deployed in acts of third-personal mindreading). (shrink)
In this article, I outline various ways in which artifacts are interwoven with autobiographical memory systems and conceptualize what this implies for the self. I first sketch the narrative approach to the self, arguing that who we are as persons is essentially our life story, which, in turn, determines our present beliefs and desires, but also directs our future goals and actions. I then argue that our autobiographical memory is partly anchored in our embodied interactions with an ecology of (...) artifacts in our environment. Lifelogs, photos, videos, journals, diaries, souvenirs, jewelry, books, works of art, and many other meaningful objects trigger and sometimes constitute emotionally laden autobiographical memories. Autobiographical memory is thus distributed across embodied agents and various environmental structures. To defend this claim, I draw on and integrate distributed cognition theory and empirical research in human-technology interaction. Based on this, I conclude that the self is neither defined by psychological states realized by the brain nor by biological states realized by the organism, but should be seen as a distributed and relational construct. (shrink)
Surely since the Enlightenment, if not before, the study of mind has centered principally on how man achieves a “true” knowledge of the world. Emphasis in this pursuit has varied, of course: empiricists have concentrated on the mind’s interplay with an external world of nature, hoping to find the key in the association of sensations and ideas, while rationalists have looked inward to the powers of mind itself for the principles of right reason. The objective, in either case, has been (...) to discover how we achieve “reality,” that is to say, how we get a reliable fix on the world, a world that is, as it were, assumed to be immutable and, as it were, “there to be observed.”This quest has, of course, had a profound effect on the development of psychology, and the empiricist and rationalist traditions have dominated our conceptions of how the mind grows and how it gets its grasp on the “real world.” Indeed, at midcentury Gestalt theory represented the rationalist wing of this enterprise and American learning theory the empiricist. Both gave accounts of mental development as proceeding in some more or less linear and uniform fashion from an initial incompetence in grasping reality to a final competence, in one case attributing it to the work out of internal processes or mental organization, and in the other to some unspecified principle of reflection by which—whether through reinforcement, association, or conditioning—we came to respond to the world “as it is.” There have always been dissidents who challenged these views, but conjectures about human mental development have been influenced far more by majoritarian rationalism and empiricism than by these dissident voices. Jerome Bruner is research professor of psychology at New York University, where he is also serving as Meyer Visiting Professor of Law. His most recent book, Acts of Meaning, appeared in 1990. In 1987 he received the Balzan Prize for “a lifetime contribution to the study of human psychology.”. (shrink)
This paper responds to a proposal for an intersectional approach to the clinical encounter between patient and medical provider. We agree that an intersectional framework offers new insights and information in the clinical encounter. Intersectionality involves awareness of the physician-patient dynamic, and understanding the various privileges and disadvantages of all parties involved, at a micro and macroscopic level. Yet, this analysis alone is insufficient to aid in the clinical encounter and risks harm. We worry about a clinician making assumptions about (...) her patient’s race, gender, economic status, and how these influence the patient’s own views of her life and health. We argue that a narrative supplement is a necessary element of intersectional clinical encounters. Prioritizing patient narrative curtails assumptions, builds trust, and improves care. (shrink)
In this paper, I aim to determine to what extent contemporary cross-cultural and developmental research can shed light on the role that narrative practices might play in the development of folk psychology. In particular, I focus on the role of narrative practices in the development of false belief understanding, which has been regarded as a milestone in the development of folk psychology. Second, I aim to discuss possible cognitive procedures that may underlie successful performance in false belief tasks. (...) Methodologically, I distinguish between two kinds of narrative practices: ‘mentalistic narrative practice’, and ‘behavioral-contextual narrative practice’ behavior of another person in a specific socio-situational context). Whereas the former is more prevalent in Western cultures than in Eastern cultures, the latter is predominantly used by members of Eastern cultures. Mentalistic narrative practices correlate with cultural divergences in the development of false belief understanding throughout ontogeny but do not seem to play the key role. The analysis shows that conceptual change and the acquisition of mental state terms is essential for passing the false belief task, and that theory is likely to be the cognitive mechanism involved here such as proposed by Theory Theory. However, Hutto’s Narrative Practice Hypothesis trumps over Theory Theory to account for the varieties and ambiguities people typically meet when understanding each other in everyday life. (shrink)
_‘Every now and then a book appears which is literally ahead of its time... _The Political Unconscious_ is such a book... it sets new standards of what a classic work is.’_ – Slavoj Zizek In this ground-breaking and influential study, Fredric Jameson explores the complex place and function of literature within culture. A landmark publication, _The Political Unconscious_ takes its place as one of the most meaningful works of the twentieth century. _First published: 1983._.
Heidegger, like Kierkegaard, has recently been claimed as a narrativist about selves. From this Heideggerian perspective, we can see how narrative expands upon the psychological view, adding a vital teleological dimension to the understanding of selfhood while denying the reductionism implicit in the psychological approach. Yet the narrative approach also inherits the neo-Lockean emphasis on the past as determining identity, whereas the self is fundamentally about the future. Death is crucial on this picture, not as allowing for the (...) possibility of a final meaning to our lives, but as determining Dasein as ‘pure unactualizable possibility.’ Ultimately, therefore, narrative is not what constitutes selfhood – but this does not mean that narrative is not relevant to personal identity, because narrative allows identity to be expressed in action. (shrink)
Narrative identity theory in some of its influential variants makes three fundamental assumptions. First, it focuses on personal identity primarily in terms of selfhood. Second, it argues that personal identity is to be understood as the unity of one’s life as it develops over time. And finally, it states that the unity of a life is articulated, by the very person itself, in the form of a story, be it explicit or implicit. The article focuses on different contemporary phenomenological (...) appraisals of the narrative account. The survey of this partly critical debate is followed by concluding observations concerning a possible phenomenological theory of personal identity. (shrink)
In 1997, David Foster Wallace published “The Depressed Person,” a short story about a privileged, deeply unhappy woman dedicated to exploring and recounting the texture and etiology of her chronic depression. This essay argues that “The Depressed Person” challenges the long-standing assumption that narrativizing the pain of depression is crucial to overcoming it, and the contemporary view that empathic responses from others promote recovery of the depressed. Taken together, these two critiques inform Wallace’s portrayal of chronic depression as an interactive (...) phenomenon that is articulated, sustained, and regenerated through problematic contexts of interaction. Written at a time when public knowledge of and talk about depression was surging, “The Depressed Person” holds an important, if presently under-recognized place, in the expansive corpus of depression texts that emerged in the 1990s. (shrink)