Narrating the self : Freud, Dennett and complexity theory

De Villiers, Tanya ; Cilliers, Paul (2004)

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Article

Adopting a materialist approach to the mind has far reaching implications for many presuppositions regarding the properties of the brain, including those that have traditionally been consigned to “the mental” aspect of human being. One such presupposition is the conception of the disembodied self. In this article we aim to account for the self as a material entity, in that it is wholly the result of the physiological functioning of the embodied brain. Furthermore, we attempt to account for the structure of the self by invoking the logic of the narrative. While our conception of narrative selfhood incorporates the work of both Freud and Dennett, we offer a critique of these two theorists and then proceed to amend their theories by means of complexity theory. We argue that the self can be characterised as a complex system, which allows us to account for the structure of the wholly material self.

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