Chapter

Narrative and Value

Anthony Rudd

in Self, Value, and Narrative

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199660049
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744976 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199660049.003.0009
Narrative and Value

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This chapter reintroduces the evaluative element of narrative theory, arguing that ethical self-evaluation must take a narrative form. A serious self-evaluator must understand his or her life as a narrative unity, and act so as to shape and direct its continuing narrative—to be in part the author of his or her own story. How, though, can the understanding of our lives as narrative unities be both an ethical desideratum and a condition of selfhood? This problem is resolved by following Kierkegaard’s distinction between degrees of selfhood, and therefore of narrative unity. A number of objections to the idea that an ethical life has to, or should, take a narrative form are then considered. Galen Strawson’s attempt to articulate a non-narrative ‘episodic ethics’ is criticized and it is shown that narrative theory does not demand the ‘pernicious’ attempts at excessive self-control that some of its critics have supposed.

Keywords: self-evaluation; narrative unity; episodic ethics; self-evaluation; Strawson

Chapter.  15261 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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