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The Self in Moral Space: Life Narrative and the Good

David Parker

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ISBN 10: 0801445612 / ISBN 13: 9780801445613
Published by Cornell University Press
Used Condition: Used - Like New Hardcover
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Fine. Cloth, D-j. 2007. Originally published at $37.95. Bookseller Inventory # W84310

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Self in Moral Space: Life Narrative and ...

Publisher: Cornell University Press

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Used - Like New

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

About this title


All of us take our moral bearings from a conception of the good, or a range of goods, that we consider most important. We are in this sense selves in moral space. Building on the work of the philosopher Charles Taylor, among others, David Parker examines a range of classic and contemporary autobiographies―including those of St. Augustine, William Wordsworth, Friedrich Nietzsche, Edmund Gosse, Roland Barthes, Seamus Heaney, and J. M. Coetzee―to reveal a whole domain of life narrative that has been previously ignored, one that enables a new approach to the question of what constitutes a "good" life narrative. Moving from an ethics toward an aesthetics of life writing, Parker follows Wittgenstein's view that ethics and aesthetics are one.The Self in Moral Space is distinctive in that its key ethical question is not What is it right for the life writer to do? but the broader question What is it good to be? This question opens up an important debate with the dominant postmodern paradigms that prevail in life writing studies today. In Parker's estimation, such paradigms are incapable of explaining why life writing matters in the contemporary context. Life narrative, he argues, faces readers with the perennial ethical question How should a human being live? We need a new reconstructive paradigm, as offered by this book, in order to gain a fuller understanding of life narrative and its humanistic potential.

From the Back Cover:

"David Parker works from a full and clear understanding of current positions in autobiography theory in order to argue that identity, as expressed in life narratives, is invariably situated and determined in moral space, and further, that the quality of that moral space contributes quite significantly to the aesthetic quality of the work. The Self in Moral Space blends philosophy and literary criticism with a richness and finesse that will alter the way we read autobiography."--Susanna Egan, University of British Columbia

"In this original and important book, David Parker calls for a new paradigm for comprehending life writing and demonstrates what it would look like. His writing is clear and crisp and moves along quickly. The Self in Moral Space will be of immediate interest to literary critics and scholars of life writing but will also appeal greatly to philosophers and scholars of religious studies, because Parker directly engages the theoretical issues related to ethical criticism."--John D. Barbour, Martin Marty Regents Chair in Religion and the Academy, St. Olaf College

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