By Valerie Gray Hardcastle
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Extra resources for Constructing the Self
Schechtman 2004, p. 423). We, as interpreters of our own behavior, are fundamentally meaning-seekers. As a result, we can, either through a failure of self-expression or of self-control, be alienated from our own lives. I hope that you will agree with me that the picture I have sketched makes immanent sense. Of course, we track our lives through time, we have a sense of our tracking ourselves, and we use this tracking to organize our activities and understand our behavior. While many quibble about the details of how this process might be done and its importance in being fully human, I have found only one person who makes a case for this picture not capturing what we mean by self in the slightest: Galen Strawson.
The kiss becomes a functional element in the story because we need to talk about it in order to explain the change in John. However, not all ordered, evaluative tellings are stories. J. Greimas (1976) and Tzvetan Todorov (1969, 1971, 1975) say more about culling the appropriate actions for a narrative. According to them, to be a story, one has to move from a description of disorder or alienation to an account of order or integration. All narratives depict particular transformations; they all go from negative beginnings to positive ends.
I don’t know and I don’t know how to answer this question either. In the end, there may be something wrong-headed about trying to give principled and definitive answers to questions of re-identification. Perhaps the best we can do are the rough and ready criteria we use in our everyday life. I recognize that this has been a fairly breathy and whirlwind tour through the first two questions surrounding the ontology of persons. My main concern here is not that all the attendant concerns be aired and soberly analyzed.