Narrative and coherence

Mind and Language 19 (4):409–427 (2004)
  Copy   BIBTEX


We outline a theory of one puzzling aspect of human cognition: a tendency to exaggerate the degree to which agency is manifested in the world. We call this over‐coherent thinking. We use Pylyshyn's idea of cognitive penetrability to help characterize this notion. We argue that this kind of thinking is essentially narrative in form rather than theoretical. We develop a theory of the relation between the degree of narrativity in a representation and its aptness to represent, and to express, mind. We review the prospects for several theories about how over‐coherent thinking gains a purchase on motivation. We argue that progress in this difficult area may require the abandonment of a categorical belief/imagination distinction in favour of vaguely specified clusterings in a many‐dimensional cognitive space. We conclude with the idea that an error‐prone system for the retention of ideas that are low in some of the characteristics generally thought desirable in belief might emerge as a result of an arms‐race between deceivers and deceiver‐detectors.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,168

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Narratives and Narrators: A Philosophy of Stories.Gregory Currie - 2010 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Coherence in the midst of complexity: advances in social complexity theory.Hugo K. Letiche - 2011 - New York, NY: Palgrave-Macmillan. Edited by Michael Lissack & Ron Schultz.
Measuring coherence.Igor Douven & Wouter Meijs - 2007 - Synthese 156 (3):405 - 425.
Formal models of coherence and legal epistemology.Amalia Amaya - 2007 - Artificial Intelligence and Law 15 (4):429-447.


Added to PP

123 (#147,568)

6 months
15 (#170,094)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Greg Currie Nj
University of York

Citations of this work

The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Methodology.Herman Cappelen, Tamar Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.) - 2016 - Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
The Imagination Box.Shen-yi Liao & Tyler Doggett - 2014 - Journal of Philosophy 111 (5):259-275.
Superstitious Confabulations.Anna Ichino - 2020 - Topoi 39 (1):203-217.
Imagination and Belief in Action.Anna Ichino - 2019 - Philosophia 47 (5):1517-1534.
Why We Need Imagination.Amy Kind - 2023 - In Brian McLaughlin & Jonathan Cohen (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Mind, 2nd edition. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 570-587.

View all 13 citations / Add more citations