Constructing the Self by Valerie Gray Hardcastle

By Valerie Gray Hardcastle

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Extra resources for Constructing the Self

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Most good stories have lots of points embedded in them. Ryan describes ­narratives as a “sequence of peaks and valleys,” with tellability focused on how one builds from a valley to a peak (1991, p. 151). The peak, a narrative highlight, articulates some unusual event or feature. Understanding why one wants or needs to talk about the peaks also explains why the story told is tellable. Following Wilensky, Ryan divides tellability criteria into two types. On the one hand, we have pragmatic principles of tellability that concern the current or historical relationship between the teller and the listener.

Some of what we do is absolutely central to our very being; some is not. How can we tell the difference? , Barresi 1999; Barresi & Juckes 1997; Bergson 1977; Bruner 1983, 1986, 1990; Carr 1986; Damasio 1999; Dennett 1988, 1989, 1992; Flanagan 1991a, b, 1992, 1995; Hermans et al. 1992; Kerby 1991,1988–1989; Kermode 1967; MacIntyre 1981; McAdams 1990; Muldoon 1990; Ricoeur 1986; Schechtman 1997; Turner 1996; see also Gallagher 2000). Indeed, there is a remarkable consensus regarding what the human self is.

In other words, we can be extremely un-self-reflective and yet still have narrative selves. Second, the very descriptions that Strawson provides of himself are strikingly narrative in nature (as narrative is described above and later in chapter three). All of the “I” sentences quoted above are psychologically organizing descriptors of how Galen Strawson conceives of himself as a self. Galen Strawson is a man who does not perceive his life to be a narrative; he is one who is not particularly engrossed either by his past or his future.

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