Workshop: Self-Narratives and Irony

Self-Narratives and Irony

2nd March 2023 2:30-5:30pm, Deakin Downtown, Level 12, 727 Collins Street Docklands

An afternoon workshop featuring presentations from Pierre-Jean Renaudie (University of Lyon) and Daniel Rodriguez-Navas (The New School, via Zoom) followed by open discussion.

All welcome, to register please email Patrick Stokes.

Vilhelm Hammershøi, Courtyard Strandgarde 30, c.1905
Vilhelm Hammershøi, Courtyard Strandgarde 30, c.1905

Over the last forty years, the philosophical question surrounding the problem of personal identity has undergone two important and concomitant transformations. These transformations have durably affected theories of personal identity. Departing from the metaphysical ground of analysis of the modalities of identification and temporal synthesis of the Ego, a significant number of historical or systematic works devoted to the question of the Self have first sought to re-inscribe the problem a practical perspective. This allows the question of personal identity to be approached in narrower frameworks: those of moral philosophy or philosophy of action (Williams B. 1982, Frankfurt 1988, Ricœur 1990, Taylor 1992, Korsgaard 1996, Moran 2001, Larmore 2004, Descombes 2014). A second important displacement in the question of personal identity occurred in parallel to this first transformation with the rise of the narrative approaches of the self (MacIntyre 1981, Ricœur 1984, Bruner 1987 and 1991, Schechtman 1996, 73, Hutto 2007, Goldie 2012), engaging an in-depth reinterpretation of the question of individual identity and initiating the “narrative turn” of identity theories (Stokes 2015, 166).

These two lines of transformation have converged and come together over the last fifteen years through various works seeking to take advantage of the resources offered by narrative identity theories in order to propose a new model of “practical identity” (Williams S. 2004, Atkins 2008, Atkins and Mackenzie 2008, Korsgaard 2009, Mackenzie and Poltera 2010, Davenport 2012). However, this philosophical attempt to renew our understanding of personal identity highlight the practical dimension of the self and paid little attention to the various forms of self-detachment that narratives allow. The use of irony in the construction of narratives is paradigmatic of such forms of self-detachment, which enable the narrator to take a critical distance towards the characters of the story told.

The purpose of this workshop is to analyse the forms of self-detachment that ironical self-narratives involve, so as to highlight the role and philosophical significance of irony with regard to the constitution of one’s identity.


2:30: Welcome and introduction

2:35-3:30 Pierre-Jean Renaudie, “Tragedy or comedy? The ironic failure of self-narratives in Sartre”

3:30-3:45 Break

3:45-4:45 Daniel Rodriguez-Navas, “Individualism and the Limits of Accountability: Narrating Selves in Brison and Butler”

4:45-5:25 Open discussion

5:30: Conclusion