Narrative and Meaning in Life

In: Journal of Moral Philosophy
View More View Less
  • 1 Associate Professor of Philosophy, Wellesley College, Wellesley MA hdebres@wellesley.edu

Many theorists have argued that the meaningfulness of a life is related in some way to the narrative or story that can be told about that life. Relationists claim that a life gains in meaning when a particular set of “narrative relations” obtain between the events that constitute it. Recountists claim that it is the telling of a story about those relations, not the relations themselves, that confers meaning. After identifying problems with existing versions of both of these positions, this paper introduces a new and more satisfying variant of Recountism, centered on the old-fashioned idea that a meaningful life is, in part, an intelligible one. I argue that personal narration does play a role in a meaningful life and that my “Fitting Story” account provides the best explanation of how and why that is so.