Volume 13, 2013
Mary Catherine McDonald
Life as a Narrative: Re-Thinking Strawson’s Anti-Narrative Stance
The discussion within philosophy regarding the extent to which our lives do or should conform to narrative form has become a polarizing one. Since the normative and ontological claims are often tightly intertwined, it is difficult to enter the discussion without aligning oneself with one pole or the other. Alternatively, views that seek to establish themselves in between these poles run the risk of seeming trivial. Galen Strawson contributed two influential articles to the field in an effort to disavow the academic community of an incredibly limited and dangerous type of Narrativity that occurs when life and story are conflated. These articles solidify the antinarrative pole of the debate, and can be interpreted as purely critical arguments intended to tear down the opposing pole. Using a close analysis of these two works alongside the work of Peter Goldie, I argue that this was not Strawson’s intent nor is it necessary to reject the narrative movement entirely in order to criticize a particular type of claim about the role of stories in human life.