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Lockean Persons, Self-Narratives, and Eudaimonia

Rossella Guerini, Massimo Marraffa

Abstract


In this article we explore the ethical import of a naturalistic form of narrative constructivism that distances itself from both the non-naturalistic and antirealist strands in theorizing on the self. Our criticism builds on William James’ theory of the self. Against this Jamesian backdrop, the claim that we constitute ourselves as morally responsible agents (as “Lockean persons”) by forming and using autobiographical narratives is combined with the realist claim that the narrative self is not an idle wheel but a layer of personality that serves as a causal center of gravity in the history of the human psychobiological system. This alliance between narrative constructivism and self-realism takes shape in the context of a tradition of thought that views the synthesis of the various strata of personality as the highest developmental point of the selfing process – a viewpoint that aligns with an ethic that hinges on the idea of eudaimonia: the discovery and actualization of our unique potentials and talents.

Keywords


eudaimonia; demystifying hermeneutics; individuation; narrative identity; personality; realism about the self; William James’ I/Me distinction;

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