Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter September 1, 2008

Narrative Identification

Vladimir Biti
From the journal

Narrative is usually considered as one of the most established forms of mediation between the self and community. The point of departure for a closer examination of this common truth will here be the provocative thesis put forth by the Italian philosopher Adriana Cavarero in her recent book Tu che mi guardi, tu che mi racconti (1997; Relating Narratives according to the English edition of 2000). Pointing out narrative's dyadic ethic instead of its triadic social connection, she represents it as a scene of exposition of myself to the other: inasmuch as I am not the master of my own life-story, and inasmuch as I cannot find out who I am without it, I am constitutively dependent on You, who is the only being able to narrate it to me. Cavarero thus displaces the classical subject in favor of a narratable self that exists in a permanent need of a supplementary other. Without that unique other my ethical uniqueness (who I am) gets reduced to my social substitutability (what I am). The present study compares Cavarero's account, which relies on Hannah Arendt and Emmanuel Levinas, with that of Judith Butler, which is closer to the thought of Michel Foucault. Butler insists on an anonymous linguistic structure that imposes the third-person perspective upon a subject that is willing to give an account of itself.

Published Online: 2008-09-01
Published in Print: 2008-August

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