Comparative Philosophy 7 (1) (2016)

Corey Barnes
University of Memphis
Marya Schechtman has given us reasons to think that there are different questions that compose personal identity. On the one hand, there is the question of reidentification, which concerns what makes a person the same person through different time-slices. On the other hand, there is the question of characterization, which concerns the actions, experiences, beliefs, values, desires, character traits, etc. that we take to be attributable to a person over time. While leaving the former question for another work, Schechtman answers the latter question by proposing what she terms the narrative self-constitution view, whereby Schechtman claims that we account for intuitive features of characterization through narratives. Still, merely having a narrative is not enough. In order to live the life of a person, an agent’s narrative must sync with the narrative told about him/her in community. This paper, while in full agreement with Schechtman’s claim regarding narratives and their ability to explain the intuitive features that regard the question of characterization, puts pressure on the latter claim. I argue that a person’s narrative is not merely one that synchs with the narrative told in community, but one that is determined by the person’s community. In focusing on Schechtman’s second claim, I appeal to the Akan conception of personhood, showing that the community sets the parameters of personal identity, and by body politics and conferring social recognition, determines the traits that we take to be attributed to a given person over time.
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DOI 10.31979/2151-6014(2016).070104
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The Constitution of Selves.Marya Schechtman (ed.) - 1996 - Cornell University Press.
The Constitution of Selves.Christopher Williams & Marya Schechtman - 1998 - Philosophical Review 107 (4):641.
The Moral Foundations of an African Culture.Kwasi Wiredu - 2002 - In P. H. Coetzee & A. P. J. Roux (eds.), Philosophy from Africa: a text with readings. Oxford University Press. pp. 287.

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