Grief: A narrative account

Ratio 24 (2):119-137 (2011)
Abstract
Grief is not a kind of feeling, or a kind of judgement, or a kind of perception, or any kind of mental state or event the identity of which can be adequately captured at a moment in time. Instead, grief is a kind of process; more specifically, it is a complex pattern of activity and passivity, inner and outer, which unfolds over time, and the unfolding pattern over time is explanatorily prior to what is the case at any particular time. The pattern of a particular grieving is best understood and explained through a narrative account, and not merely through a causal account, for narrative accounts in such cases have powerful explanatory, revelatory, and expressive powers which causal accounts lack. Although I will not argue for it here, I believe that this view of grief can be generalised to other kinds of emotion. If this is so, then many philosophical accounts of emotion are at fault in identifying emotion with a kind of mental state or event
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