Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The self.

This is scientism gone completely over the edge. The basic story is about psychological theories that personality (by which, I think, they mean "whatever makes you you" -- so, the self) requires narrative. The problem is the slavish reporting of frankly speculative theorizing as undisputed fact. What particularly sticks in my craw is the leap from the claim that some people, when pressed, will tell stories about their lives to the claim that everyone's self necessarily has a narrative structure. The problem is pretty clear: the former is a matter of conforming to a questioner's expectations, while the latter is not.

It's at least possible that, as Galen Strawson has argued on several occasions (The Self, The Self and the SESMET (.pdf)), narrative selves are only part of the story. There are also episodic selves, those of us (and I do mean "us", including myself) who don't see themselves as living some kind of a story, with connected events and prevailing characters, but as a collectiong of largely-disconnected episodes. It's my theory -- I can't support it, so I should probably just call it a "hypothesis" -- that my lousy sense of direction and time are related to this. I have almost no awareness of how the things that happen in my life connect together, so it would be quite surprising if I had anything more than a vague idea of how much time is passing or what directions I need to go in order to reach a destination. I have to say I'm not quite as bad as Strawson, though; taking his word as sincere and accurate, he seems to be almost completely disconnected from his younger self.

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