Naked subjectivity: minimal vs. narrative selves in Kierkegaard

Patrick Stokes

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    14 Citations (Scopus)
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    In recent years a significant debate has arisen as to whether Kierkegaard offers a version of the onarrative approacho to issues of personal identity and self-constitution. In this paper I do not directly take sides in this debate, but consider instead the applicability of a recent development in the broader literature on narrative identitythe distinction between the temporally-extended onarrative selfo and the non-extended ominimal selfto Kierkegaard's work. I argue that such a distinction is both necessary for making sense of Kierkegaard's claim that we are ethically enjoined to become selves, and can indeed be found in Either/Or and the later The Sickness Unto Death. Despite Kierkegaard's Non-Substantialism, each of these texts speaks (somewhat obliquely) of a onaked selfo that is separable from the concrete facticity of human being. In both cases, this minimal self is linked to issues of eschatological responsibility; yet the two works develop very different understandings of oeternityo and correspondingly divergent accounts of the temporality of selfhood. This complicates the picture of Kierkegaardian selfhood in interesting ways, taking it beyond both narrativist and more standard neo-Lockean models of what it is to be a self.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)356-382
    Number of pages27
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


    • personal identity
    • self


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