Journal of Consciousness Studies 15 (6):63-84 (2008)
AbstractIs 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.
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