But for that subject to be a person, a genuine moral agent, those experiences must be actively unified, must be gathered together into the life of one narrative ego by virtue of a story the subject tells that weaves them together...
I think the [Narrativity theses] hinder human self-understanding, close down important avenues of thought, impoverish our grasp of ethical possibilities, needlessly and wrongly distress those who do not fit their model, and are potentially destructive in psychotherapeutic contexts.
SPIEGEL: Why is it so important for us to imagine our lives as a collection of stories?
Kahneman: Because that's all we keep from life. It's going by, and you are left with stories. That's why people exaggerate the importance of memories.
Among those whose writings show them to be markedly Episodic I propose Michel de Montaigne, the Earl of Shaftesbury, Stendhal, Hazlitt, Ford Madox Ford, Virginia Woolf, Borges, Fernando Pessoa, Iris Murdoch (a strongly Episodic person who is a natural story teller), Freddie Ayer, Goronwy Rees, Bob Dylan. Proust is another candidate, in spite of his memoriousness (which may be inspired by his Episodicity); also Emily Dickinson.
The first thing I want to put in place is a distinction between one’s experience of oneself when one is considering oneself principally as a human being taken as a whole, and one’s experience of oneself when one is considering oneself principally as an inner mental entity or ‘self’ of some sort – I’ll call this one’s self- experience. When Henry James says, of one of his early books, ‘I think of . . . the masterpiece in question . . . as the work of quite another person than myself . . . a rich . . . relation, say, who . . .suffers me still to claim a shy fourth cousinship’, he has no doubt that he is the same human being as the author of that book, but he does not feel he is the same self or person as the author of that book. It is this phenomenon of experiencing oneself as a self that concerns me here. One of the most important ways in which people tend to think of themselves (quite independently of religious belief) is as things whose persistence conditions are not obviously or automatically the same as the persistence conditions of a human being considered as a whole.
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