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Opaque selves

a ricœurian response to Galen Strawson's anti-narrative arguments

Kristofer Camilo Arca

pp. 70-89

As narrative conceptions of selfhood have gained more acceptance within various disciplines including philosophy, psychology, and the cognitive sciences, so too have these conceptions been critically appraised. Chief among those who are suspicious of the overall viability of ‘narrative identity’ is the philosopher, Galen Strawson. In this paper, I develop five arguments underlying Strawson’s critique of narrative identity, and respond to each argument from the perspective of the hermeneutic phenomenology of Paul Ricœur. Though intuitive, I demonstrate that none of Strawson’s arguments are cogent. The confrontation between these two figures highlights a deep conceptual disagreement about our epistemic access to the self, which has thus far gone unrecognized in the Anglo-American discussion, so that it raises a new problem for the metaphysics of personal identity.

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