Subjectivity and the limits of narrative

Journal of Consciousness Studies 15 (2):51-66 (2008)
Traditionally, questions about consciousness and subjectivity are treated separately from questions about the self and identity. But sometimes 'the self' is spoken of as 'the subject,' which suggests that the first-person perspective may be constituted in the same way as the self. Narrative provides a powerful model of the self in contemporary psychology, philosophy of mind, and moral psychology. On some versions of narrative theory, narrative is held fundamental not only to self-understanding but to the phenomenology of the first-person point of view, too. I call this approach the narrative self-subject model. I argue that the narrative model does not apply to subjectivity, and that the narrative self should be distinguished from the 'I' of the first- person perspective. Roughly, this is because first-person narratives employ the first-person pronoun 'I' to identify some person, but the distinctive features of subjectivity are marked by a different, non-identifying use of the pronoun 'I'.
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