How Do We Know Who We Are?: A Biography of the Self
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Oxford University Press (1997)
"The terrain of the self is vast," notes renowned psychiatrist Arnold Ludwig, "parts known, parts impenetrable, and parts unexplored." How do we construct a sense of ourselves? How can a self reflect upon itself or deceive itself? Is all personal identity plagiarized? Is a "true" or "authentic" self even possible? Is it possible to really "know" someone else or ourselves for that matter? To answer these and many other intriguing questions, Ludwig takes a unique approach, examining the art of biography for the insights it can give us into the construction of the self. In The Biography of the Self, he takes readers on an intriguing tour of the biographer's art, revealing how much this can tell us about ourselves. Drawing on in-depth interviews with twenty-one of our most esteemed biographers--writers such as David McCullough (the biographer of Truman and Theodore Roosevelt), Wallace Stegner (John Wesley Powell), Gloria Steinem (Marilyn Monroe), Leon Edel (Henry James), Peter Gay (Freud), Diane Middlebrook (Anne Sexton), and many others--and interweaving fascinating observations of his own practice, Ludwig takes us through the labyrinthine hall of mirrors we term the self and shows us how malleable, elusive, and paradoxical it can be. In chapters such as "The 'Real' Marilyn," "Psychoanalyzing Freud," "How Did Hitler Live With Himself?" and "What Madness Reveals," we sit in as biographers talk not only about their work, but about their subjects (Allan Bullock on Hitler and Stalin, for instance, or Arnold Rampersad on Langston Hughes) and how their subjects saw themselves. Ludwig describes how biographers must impose a narrative structure on their subjects' lives to create order out of a mass of often contradictory views, baffling behavior, and inconsistent self-representations, much in the same way that psychotherapists try to foster self-awareness and understanding in their patients. In his concluding chapter, Ludwig introduces a new concept--biographical freedom--which brilliantly reconciles free will and determinism. We can, he asserts, become biographers of ourselves. Like the biographer, we are constrained to consider all the available facts of our lives--the personal experiences, cultural forces, and predetermined scripts that shape us--but we remain free to interpret, emphasize, and fashion these givens into a cohesive and meaningful narrative of our own choosing. This thought-provoking volume offers not only a wide-ranging and informative commentary on the biographer's art, but also a highly original theory of the self. Readers interested in biography and in the lives of others will come away with a new sense of what it means to be a "person" and, in particular, who they are.
|Keywords||Human beings Self (Philosophy|
No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
|Buy the book||$4.00 new (86% off) Amazon page|
|Call number||BD450.L79 1997|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
John Henry Bridges (1914/1976). The Life & Work of Roger Bacon: An Introduction to the Opus Majus. Richwood Pub. Co..
Morwenna Griffiths & Gale Macleod (2008). Personal Narratives and Policy: Never the Twain? Journal of Philosophy of Education 42 (s1):121-143.
Edward Kanterian (2007). Ludwig Wittgenstein. Reaktion Books.
Bruce Kuklick (2011). Neil Gross, Richard Rorty : The Making of an American Philosopher. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 47 (1):33-37.
Hock Guan Tjoa (1977). George Henry Lewes: A Victorian Mind. Harvard University Press.
Hans Mattingly (2010). Finding Fault": Jane Welsh Carlyle, Biography, and Biographers. In Paul E. Kerry (ed.), Thomas Carlyle Resartus: Reappraising Carlyle's Contribution to the Philosophy of History, Political Theory, and Cultural Criticism. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
Georg Franz-Willing (1988). Ludwig I of Bavaria. Kingship in the Metternich Era. A Political Biography. Philosophy and History 21 (1):80-81.
Raimond Gaita (2003). Narrative, Identity and Moral Philosophy. Philosophical Papers 32 (3):261-277.
Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.
Added to index2009-01-28
Recent downloads (6 months)0
How can I increase my downloads?