The Self as Narrator
Velleman (David)
Source: Autonomy and the Challenges to Liberalism: New Essays, eds. John Christman & Joel Anderson, Chapter 3
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Philosophers Index Abstract

  1. Daniel Dennett argues that the self is a "center of narrative gravity" - a fictional character in the autobiography composed by a human brain, which neither is nor includes a real self.
  2. I agree with Dennett that a human being improvises a character that is fictive in the sense of being made up; but I argue that this fictive character is not fictional in the sense of being merely imaginary or unreal.
  3. The persona improvised by a human being is what it purports to be, because it purports to be a human improvisation, by virtue of being the persona of an autonomous agent.
  4. And the self whose reality Dennett denies is the improvisor, who is perfectly real.

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