The aim of this paper is to propose and outline a conception of narrative that takes into account developments in teaching language to nonhuman primates, studies of preverbal communication in children, and evolutionary anthropology. The thesis proposed is that narrative is work done on a system of joint attention that is built up in dialogical co-construction, and which takes place within the context of an indicative complex. The proposed view is intended to be suitable for both verbal and non-verbal forms of expression.
A brief characterization of the indicative complex presupposed for narrative will be provided in order to outline the thesis. The proposed sketch of narrative will be contrasted with the dominant view, which descends from Aristotle with some modifications introduced by Russian Formalism, and which is widely held not only in philosophy, but also in literary criticism, art criticism, the social sciences, and cognitive science. According to the dominant view, narrative is the representation of a linear, causal relation between agents’ beliefs, desires, and actions. It will be suggested that the dominant view is inherently at odds with the implications of both evolutionary theory and post-Kantian philosophy, with which the alternative view proposed is compatible.
|Keywords:||Aristotle, Bakhtin, Labov, Meaning and Representation, Narrative and Evolution, Narrative Meaning, Symbolic Meaning|
Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies, Saint Leo University, Saint Leo, FL, USA
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