Conference: Narrative, Identity and the Kierkegaardian Self

Posted by on July 26, 2011 at 9:49 am.

I would love to go to this conference, but no more conferences for me until my PhD is finished. It sounds pretty exciting. Patrick Stokes, the conference organizer, has a book entitled Kierkegaard’s Mirrors: Interest, Self, and Moral Vision (US | UK) which is an excellent and fun read (I have a forthcoming review of it in The Heythrop Journal where I give it more specific praises).

Call for Papers Reminder (deadline for proposals is next Friday, 5th August):

Narrative, Identity and the Kierkegaardian Self
University of Hertfordshire, Friday 4th and Saturday 5th November 2011

Narrative accounts of selfhood have been a major, if heavily contested, feature of personal identity theory in the last quarter-century, driven by the work of thinkers as diverse as MacIntyre, Ricoeur, Schechtman, Dennett and Velleman. In the last decade, it has further been claimed that Kierkegaard (despite MacIntyre’s controversial reading of him inAfter Virtue) also holds a narrativist conception of the self – and that his work holds valuable resources for getting to grips with the normative dimensions of narrative identity. However, Kierkegaard’s work also brings some of the serious questions about narrative identity into stark focus:

  • What makes the attainment of narrative identity normative?
  • Do selves exist prior to their narration?
  • How can the narrative self be something we both are and are ethically enjoined to become?
  • How can we understand our lives as a narrative when the ending of our
  • story – our death – is necessarily unknown to us?
  • Are metaphysically realist or anti-realist versions of the narrative selfhood hypothesis more tenable – and what of the claim that practical and metaphysical identity cannot be separated at all?
  • Are narrative conceptions of self consistent with any strong form of free will?

This conference, organised under the auspices of the EU-funded FP7 project ‘Selves in Time’

(, aims to address some of these problems both within Kierkegaard Studies and within the broader debate on narrative selfhood. Confirmed speakers are:

  • Kathy Behrendt (Wilfrid Laurier University)
  • John J. Davenport (Fordham University)
  • John Lippitt (University of Hertfordshire)
  • George Pattison (University of Oxford)
  • Anthony Rudd (St Olaf College)
  • Marya Schechtman (University of Illinois at Chicago)
  • Patrick Stokes (University of Hertfordshire)

We welcome proposals for papers (40 minutes reading length maximum) addressing the conference theme. Papers on narrative and selfhood that do not deal directly with Kierkegaard will also be considered. Please submit abstracts of 250-300 words to by Friday 5th August.