"The very notion of selfhood (individual and social) is challenged by discourses where human subjects are increasingly defined as 'desiring machines' or 'effects of signifiers'. The best answer to this crisis of identity is not, however, to revive some substantialist notion of the person as essence, cogito or ego. We must look here again. Ricoeur suggests, to the resources of narrative. The most fitting response to the question 'Who is the author or agent?' is to tell the story of a life. Why? Because the enduring identity of a person, presupposed by the designation of a proper name, is provided by the narrative conviction that it is the same subject who perdures through its diverse acts and words between birth and death. The story tells us about the action of the ‘who’: and the identity of this 'who' is a narrative identity. This is what Ricoeur' terms an ipse-self.
The narrative self involves an ongoing process of self-constancy and self-rectification that requires imagination to synthesize the different horizons of past, present, and future. The narrative concept of self thus offers a dynamic notion of identity (ipse) that includes mutability and change within the cohesion of one lifetime…. This means, for instance, that the identity of human subjects is deemed a constant task of reinterpretation in the light of new and old stories we tell about ourselves. 'The subject becomes, to borrow a Proustian formula, both reader and writer of its own life. Selfhood is a cloth woven of stories told'" (Kearney 2004:108-109).
2004 On Paul Ricoeur: The Owl of Minerva. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.
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