Narrative and embodiment – a scalar approach

Allan Køster

pp. 893-908

Recent work on the relation between narrative and selfhood has emphasized embodiment as an indispensable foundation for selfhood. This has occasioned an interesting debate on the relation between embodiment and narrative. In this paper, I attempt to mediate the range of conflicting intuitions within the debate by proposing a scalar approach to narrative and an accompanying concept of a split-self (Waldenfels 2000). Drawing on theoretical developments from contemporary narratology, I argue that we need to move away from a binary understanding of narrative as something an entity (the self) strictly is or is not; rather, we need to see narrative as an attribute admitting of degrees. I suggest that the relation between narrative and embodiment should be seen along these lines, proposing three levels of the narrativity of embodied experiencing: 1) the unnarratable, 2) the narratable and 3) the narrative. Finally, I discuss the implications this framework has for the general question of the narrative constitution of selfhood.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s11097-016-9485-8

Full citation:

Køster, A. (2017). Narrative and embodiment – a scalar approach. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 16 (5), pp. 893-908.

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