Kevin Harrelson
Ball State University
Our ability to tell stories about ourselves has captivated many theorists, and some have taken these developments for an opportunity to answer long-standing questions about the nature of personhood. In this essay I employ two skeptical arguments to show that this move was a mistake. The first argument rests on the observation that storytelling is revisionary. The second implies that our stories about ourselves are biased in regard to our existing self-image. These arguments undercut narrative theories of identity, but they leave room for a theory of narrative self-knowledge. The theory accommodates the first skeptical argument because there are event descriptions with retrospective assertibility conditions, and it accommodates the second argument by denying us epistemic privilege in regard to our own past. The result is that we do know our past through storytelling, but that it is a contingent feature of some of our stories that they are about ourselves.
Keywords self-knowledge  personal identity  narrative identity  memory  retrospection
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1017/apa.2015.30
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

References found in this work BETA

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory.Alasdair C. MacIntyre - 1983 - University of Notre Dame Press.
Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.
A Treatise of Human Nature.David Hume & A. D. Lindsay - 1958 - Philosophical Quarterly 8 (33):379-380.

View all 34 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Making Peace with Moral Imperfection.Camil Golub - 2019 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 16 (2).
Dramatizing The SUBJECT's Identity.Mercedes Rivero-Obra - 2019 - Philosophia 47 (4):1227-1245.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Teleology, Narrative, and Death.Roman Altshuler - 2015 - In John Lippitt & Patrick Stokes (eds.), Narrative, Identity and the Kierkegaardian Self. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 29-45.
Problemas y aciertos de la teoría del Yo narrativo de Dennett: aportaciones al debate sobre la identidad personal.Alfonso Muñoz Corcuera - 2013 - Logos. Anales Del Seminario de Metafísica [Universidad Complutense de Madrid, España] 46:27-45.
On Narrative: Psychopathology Informing Philosophy.James Phillips - 2013 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 20 (1):11-23.
Paul Ricæur's Narrative Ethics.Guillermo Zapata Díaz - 2008 - Universitas Philosophica 25 (51).
Going Narrative: Schechtman and the Russians.Simon Beck - 2008 - South African Journal of Philosophy 27 (2):69-79.
Disablement and Personal Identity.Steven D. Edwards - 2006 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 10 (2):209-215.


Added to PP index

Total views
1,015 ( #5,228 of 2,454,726 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
61 ( #12,236 of 2,454,726 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes