[xmca] Is NARRATIVE Developmental?

From: David Kellogg <vaughndogblack who-is-at yahoo.com>
Date: Fri May 11 2007 - 21:52:33 PDT

I guess this is the bit I don't get:
  "(T)he paradigm of a narrative is a conventional story told in words. I take the term to attribute--at the very least--a certain sort of developmental and hence temporal unity or coherence to the things to which it is standardly applied--lives, parts of lives, pieces of writing."
  It seems to me that's exactly what narrative isn't. If you read the first page of David Copperfield, you have the sense that the main character's birth is being narrated by the ADULT, fully developed main character.
  "Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show."
  That is exactly what the narrative does NOT do. Because the character is fully developed from the very beginning, what we get is a completely teleological unfolding. "Temporal" development happens to the character's environment, but not to the character himself.
  Other problems I had with the Strawson article:
  a) No discussion of a "narrative" vs. "episodic" point of view on specific ethical issues. If the differences are as important as Strawson indicates, then there should be quite obvious ramifications. For example, is the propensity for deficit spending and personal debt a product of episodic thinking? Isn't death an affirmation of the episodic stance?
  b) No social dimension. The reason why neither the episodic nor the narrative stance can explain actual behavior is that the self is socially and not experientially OR reflectively constructed.
  c) No differentiation between history, which is a teleological standpoint that assumes greater relevance for recency and thus works from present to past, and narrative, which is past to present. This is a key distinction for a linguist, if not for a philosopher. Compare:
  i) "The king died. So the queen died of grief."
  ii) "The queen died of grief, because the king had died." (E.M. Forster's examples)
  iii) He predeceased.
  For a while she tried
  To live without him, liked it not
  And died. (H.G. Widdowson, from an actual tombstone)
  David Kellogg
  Seoul National University of Education

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Received on Fri May 11 22:54 PDT 2007

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