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Čapek- Personal Identity and Narrativity (4/21 in New Jersey)

April 12th, 2016 |  Published in Events, News, Uncategorized

Personal Identity and Narrativity

By Jakub Čapek

Charles University, Prague

Thursday, April 21, 2016

4:00-5:30 pm

Babbio Center 320
Stevens Institute of Technology

Free and open to the public

Michael Steinmann


The human capacity to tell stories has never escaped the notice of the human sciences. Nevertheless, the attention paid to story-telling in different areas in recent decades enables us to speak about a “narrative turn”. Narratives are being analyzed in historiography, psychology, and cultural theory, as well as in literary theory and philosophy. One of the key questions that runs through the different disciplines is the narrative constitution of identity: when we try to give an account of who we are (as individuals or as members of a group), we often tell a story.

The “narrative identity theory” argues that personal identity is to be taken as the unity of one’s life as grasped in a narrative. According to Alasdair MacIntyre, the theory elaborates “a concept of a self whose unity resides in the unity of a narrative which links birth to life to death as narrative beginning to middle to end.“ This claim has been recently stated in more precise terms by authors like Paul Ricœur, Marya Schechtman, David Carr or Richard Kearney. In my presentation, I will assess the relevance and some limitations of this proposal.


Jakub Čapek is Associate Professor at the Institute of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Prague (Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Czech Republic). He is currently a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the Phenomenology Research Center, Carbondale, Illinois. His areas of specialization include: twentieth-century German and French philosophy, especially phenomenology and hermeneutics; philosophy of action; philosophy of perception; personal identity. Jakub Čapek has published, among others, three books on Merleau-Ponty, the notion of the possible in theories of action, and the problem of decision in Bergson, Heidegger, Sartre and Ricœur.