Narrative, Identity and Moral Philosophy

Philosophical Papers 32 (3):261-277 (2003)
Abstract
I distinguish what I call ?minimal narrative? from narrative of the kind that might disclose a person's identity in biography or autobiography. The latter exists in what I call ?the realm of meaning?; a realm in which, in ways I try to make clear, form and content cannot be separated. The realm of meaning is also the realm in which we develop an understanding of what it means to lead a human life lucidly responsive to the defining facts of the human condition and, interdependently with that, our sense of what it means to wrong someone. To show to what degree assumptions about the realm of meaning set the stage for our understanding of what it is to wrong someone, of the nature of biography and autobiography and of what it is to learn morally from someone's example, I detail the conceptual structure of a certain kind of racist perception. The racist's distinction between ?us? and ?them?, is essentially the distinction between lives that are lived in the realm of meaning and lives that are not. Much of moral philosophy, I argue, takes as it starting point a perception of human life that is little different from the racist's perception of the lives of those whom he regards as less than fully human
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Joseph Neisser (2008). Subjectivity and the Limits of Narrative. Journal of Consciousness Studies 15 (2):51-66.
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