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Narratives and Narrators: A Philosophy of…
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Narratives and Narrators: A Philosophy of Stories (edição: 2010)

de Gregory Currie (Autor)

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Narratives are artefacts of a special kind: they are intentionally crafted devices which fulfil their story-telling function by manifesting the intentions of their makers. But narrative itself is too inclusive a category for much more to be said about it than this; we should focus attention instead on the vaguely defined but interesting category of things rich in narrative structure. Such devices offer significant possibilities, not merely for the representation of stories, but for the expression of point of view; they have also played an important role in the evolution of reliable communication. Narratives and narrators argues that much of the pleasure of narrative communication depends on deep-seated and early developing tendencies in human beings to imitation and to joint attention, and imitation turns out to be the key to understanding such important literary techniques as free indirect discourse and character-focused narration. The book also examines irony in narrative, with an emphasis on the idea of the expression of ironic points of view. It looks closely at the idea of character, or robust, situation-independent ways of acting and thinking, as it is represented in narrative. It asks whether scepticism about the notion of character should have us reassess the dramatic and literary tradition which places such emphasis on character.… (mais)
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Título:Narratives and Narrators: A Philosophy of Stories
Autores:Gregory Currie (Autor)
Informação:OUP Oxford (2010), 266 pages
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Narratives and Narrators: A Philosophy of Stories de Gregory Currie

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Gregory Currie’s account of narrative is firmly rooted in neo-Gricean pragmatics. He believes that pragmatic inference—inference to the intended meaning behind the words—is ubiquitous in the comprehension of narrative. For “narratives are artefactual representations” that typically emphasize “the causal and temporal connectedness of particular things, especially agents,” which together constitute the story that the narrative communicates. In this way the intentions of the author, or implied author, are made plain to the perceptive reader. It is intentionalism, certainly, but not the fallacious sort debunked by Beardsley; it has no forensic goal, but is just “a common-or-garden activity over which we usually exercise little conscious control.”

If narratives typically concern themselves with causal and temporal connectedness, it will be no surprise to find that they often serve an explanatory function. This is seen vividly in historical narrative (or narrative histories), but fiction also partakes. And it may also account for the reciprocal and mutually supporting relationship that Currie sees later between narrative and Character (by which Currie means “the idea of character as property, as inner source of action, something related to personality and temperament”).

In the final chapters, Currie embraces Character scepticism. This might be seen as an instance of a broader challenge to folk psychological (or folk narrative) concepts. It is possible that Character scepticism also has its roots in neo-Gricean pragmatics, though Currie does not draw the connection. In any case, it is a troubling position for the reader who may have casually accepted Currie’s fine distinctions and close argument as he elaborated a plausible account of narrative. For along with Character scepticism goes scepticism for virtues and much of the machinery of moral psychology.

Running almost in parallel with the main argument of Narratives and Narrators is a series of appendices to chapters that present a speculative evolutionary account of how certain features of the practice of narrative might have arisen. It seems strange until one returns to the earlier noted explanatory power of narrative. By the end of the book Currie is exploiting his evolutionary story to underwrite his Character scepticism (where other arguments seem to have fallen short). But this seems illegitimate; here a speculative evolutionary account confers the impression of a causal explanation for why Character might have arisen as a practice even though (pace the Character sceptic) there is no such thing. I suspect Currie’s philosophical opponents may find room for disagreement here.

Currie claims that nearly everything we may want in terms of literary criticism and the expressive impact of narratives can be sustained even in the face of extreme Character scepticism. I am not so sure. But I am sure that any serious analytical philosophical discussion of narrative in future will do well to engage Currie’s position directly and forcefully. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Mar 21, 2012 |
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Narratives are artefacts of a special kind: they are intentionally crafted devices which fulfil their story-telling function by manifesting the intentions of their makers. But narrative itself is too inclusive a category for much more to be said about it than this; we should focus attention instead on the vaguely defined but interesting category of things rich in narrative structure. Such devices offer significant possibilities, not merely for the representation of stories, but for the expression of point of view; they have also played an important role in the evolution of reliable communication. Narratives and narrators argues that much of the pleasure of narrative communication depends on deep-seated and early developing tendencies in human beings to imitation and to joint attention, and imitation turns out to be the key to understanding such important literary techniques as free indirect discourse and character-focused narration. The book also examines irony in narrative, with an emphasis on the idea of the expression of ironic points of view. It looks closely at the idea of character, or robust, situation-independent ways of acting and thinking, as it is represented in narrative. It asks whether scepticism about the notion of character should have us reassess the dramatic and literary tradition which places such emphasis on character.

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