Article first published online: 17 NOV 2004
Volume 17, Issue 4, pages 428–452, December 2004
How to Cite
Strawson, G. (2004), Against Narrativity. Ratio, 17: 428–452. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9329.2004.00264.x
- Issue published online: 17 NOV 2004
- Article first published online: 17 NOV 2004
I argue against two popular claims. The first is a descriptive, empirical 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 character . . . 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 autobiographical 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).