Autobiography and Biography

Stephen Mulhall

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Literature

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780195182637
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 Autobiography and Biography

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This article looks at the relevance of biography and autobiography to philosophy. It suggests that the key to understanding the philosophical nature of biography and autobiography is to acknowledge the distinctive way in which the human subject's presence takes the form of a certain kind of absence. It explains that in order to understand the reality of selfhood it is important to recognize that it is beyond the grasp of any narrative account that might be given of it. It also argues that if autobiographical and biographical exercises can be genuinely authoritative or authentic in the way they make present the self's absence, then biography and autobiography must be considered forms of spiritual exercise, and engaging in such exercises must be inherent to becoming a person.

Keywords: biography; autobiography; philosophy; human subject; selfhood; narrative account; spiritual exercise

Article.  10155 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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