Inventing the Self

The chiken or the egg?

October 2nd, 2013 by Gabriel R. Seijo · 3 Comments

This week’s readings brought to my mind the eternal philosophical question of which came first, the chicken or the hen? Narrative Theory and the perspectives of identity seem to be putting forward Noe’s insistence of the relation between self and society, and in this sense bringing up the inquiry of the relation between the development of society and the development of self. The descriptive use of phases through which the self evolves, with a time wise orientation, can be very much compared to the phases through which the progress of social and material development are understood chronologically through history.

The eternal loop that this duality generates is sensed in McAdams internal debate as to how individual myths can influence social ones, and vice versa. Where: “Some stories gain wide acceptance for their ability to communicate a fundamental truth about life.” (p. 33); or, “A society’s myths reflect the most important concerns of a people” (p.34). The meshing between social and individual myths can create a questioning as to where the self becomes realized, as to what part of life caries more weight in the invention of the self; either in personal conceptions of society or the general social conceptions that affect our personality. Narrative Theory in a way makes behavior seem like the place where to search for the self; are we polite because we internalized that being so is a good quality, or a we so because society will deem it worthy?

Still with this said, the search for the self through the narrative capacity of individuals gives much opportunity to the possibility of agency that maybe a biological notion of the self doesn’t find a place in which to consider. The capacity of evaluating the narrated past, and the constantly mentioned foundation, gives individuals the tool of continuously editing their stories. Something that possibly the biological description of brain mapping and memory with mechanisms that reduce the brains efforts may not be able to grasp. This new shift in the standpoint of inquiry, as did the others, creates further questions, something that personally transforms into the question of where does unconsciousness lie within Narrative Theory? How can the mind’s unconscious activity be captivated by narrative action? Questions that Damasio’s and Hustvedt’s accounts seem better prepared to answer.

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3 responses so far ↓

  • John Giunta // Oct 2nd 2013 at 12:24 pm

    I totally agree, nature and nurture (or maybe we should say “culture”) become a kind of circuit, with humans simultaneously creating and being influenced by stories, myths, narratives, or what have you.

  • Adam Wagner // Oct 2nd 2013 at 2:01 pm

    I like the chicken or egg analogy. I wonder if our narrative selves evolved because our minds were structured to tell stories, or telling stories structured our minds in narrative sense. Interesting.

  • Samantha Gamble // Oct 2nd 2013 at 2:13 pm

    The Narrative Theory readings also reminded me of Noe’s idea that our environment is a part of our consciousness. I saw this connection mainly in Chapter 5 of the McAdams piece where he states ” “Imagoes are often built around significant others (130)” and then goes on to explain that our Imagoes are modeled after people that are important in our lives.

    I think that we can separate the personal from the social. Society influences who we are or helps in creating these imagoes, but as we age we begin to write our own personal narratives. McAdams states that between twenty and forty “characters are still seeking their unique roles within the self-defining story (132).” Although McAdams does not feel that during this stage of life we can “reconcile and fully resolve the central conflict of identity,” this is what we strive to do.

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