Action and selfhood: a narrative interpretation

László Tengelyi

in The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Phenomenology

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199594900
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Action and selfhood: a narrative interpretation


This chapter enters into a debate with the analytic theory of action, especially the version developed by Donald Davidson, who makes it clear that the upsurge of a desire to perform a specific action is a natural event that is causally responsible for the action in question. The narrative interpretation of selfhood was initiated by Hannah Arendt. Selfhood is certainly assured on a passive and affective plane. Edmund Husserl maintains that in the passive sphere, a self is constituted preceding active reflection. As Paul Ricœur clearly determines, the complicity with reality entails a ‘decentred self’ that is strictly opposed to the self-centred, self-controlled, and self-assured ego of modern philosophy. Emmanuel Levinas never accepted Wittgenstein's constraint on philosophy to remain silent with regard to the ‘unsayable’.

Keywords: action; Donald Davidson; desire; narrative interpretation; selfhood; Hannah Arendt; Edmund Husserl; Paul Ricœur; modern philosophy; Emmanuel Levinas

Article.  12067 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Mind

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