Getting the story straight: Kierkegaard, Macintyre and some problems with narrative

John Lippitt
University of Hertfordshire
As part of the widespread turn to narrative in contemporary philosophy, several commentators have recently attempted to sign Kierkegaard up for the narrative cause, most notably in John Davenport and Anthony Rudd's recent collection Kierkegaard After MacIntyre: Essays on Freedom, Narrative and Virtue. I argue that the aesthetic and ethical existence-spheres in Either/Or cannot adequately be distinguished in terms of the MacIntyre-inspired notion of 'narrative unity'. Judge William's argument for the ethical life contains far more in the way of substantive normative content than can be encapsulated by the idea of 'narrative unity', and the related idea that narratives confer intelligibility will not enable us to distinguish Kierkegaardian aesthetes from Kierkegaardian ethicists. 'MacIntyrean Kierkegaardians' also take insufficient notice of further problems with MacIntyre's talk of 'narrative unity', such as his failure to distinguish between literary narratives and the 'enacted dramatic narratives' of which he claims our lives consist; the lack of clarity in the idea of a 'whole life'; and the threat of self-deception. Finally, against the connections that have been drawn between Kierkegaardian choice and Harry Frankfurt's work on volitional identification, I show something of the dangers involved in putting too much stress on unity and wholeheartedness.
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DOI 10.1080/00201740601154766
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References found in this work BETA

After Virtue.A. MacIntyre - 1981 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 46 (1):169-171.
Oneself as Another.Paul Ricoeur - 1992 - University of Chicago Press.
Against Narrativity.Galen Strawson - 2004 - Ratio 17 (4):428-452.
The Constitution of Selves.Marya Schechtman - 1996 - Cornell University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

After Virtue and Accounting Ethics.Andrew West - 2018 - Journal of Business Ethics 148 (1):21-36.
In Defence of Narrative.Anthony Rudd - 2009 - European Journal of Philosophy 17 (1):60-75.
Towards a Constitutive Account of Implicit Narrativity.Fleur Jongepier - 2016 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 15 (1):51-66.
Is Narrative Identity Four-Dimensionalist?Patrick Stokes - 2012 - European Journal of Philosophy 20 (S1):e86-e106.
Heidegger and the Narrativity Debate.Tony Fisher - 2010 - Continental Philosophy Review 43 (2):241-265.

View all 12 citations / Add more citations

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Kierkegaard, Macintyre and Narrative Unity - Reply to Lippitt.Anthony Rudd - 2007 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 50 (5):541 – 549.


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