Since the work of Alasdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor, and Paul Ricoeur in the 1980s, there has been sustained interest among Anglo-American philosophers in the relation between narrative and the self. Theories abound, some holding that narrative facilitates self-knowledge, others that it plays a necessary role in making us who we are. I interpret Heidegger, in the existential analysis of “Being and Time”, as offering a novel and more defensible notion of the self as narrativizing. The very form of our understanding – as “thrown projection” – places us in a readerly relation to ourselves and is irreducible to our actual histories.
Benjamin Roth is Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy, Boston University, and currently Junior Visiting Fellow at the IWM.