Two senses of narrative unification
journal contributionposted on 10.12.2020, 02:42 by Mary Walker
© 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
In this paper I seek to clarify the role of narrative in personal unity. Examining the narrative self-constitution view developed by Marya Schechtman, I use a case of radical personal change to identify a tension in the account. The tension arises because a narrative can be regarded either to capture a continuing agent with a loosely coherent, consistent self-conception–or to unify over change and inconsistency. Two possible ways of responding, by distinguishing senses of identity or distinguishing identity and autonomy, are examined, but I argue that neither precisely maps this tension. I then develop a distinction between two ways in which narrative can unify: through “bottom-up” processes related to the connection between agency and self-conception; and “top-down” processes related to self-interpretative activity. The account provides ways to resolve some criticisms of narrative theories of identity, in particular in better accounting for the role of repudiated characteristics in narrative identity.