Sunday, May 30, 2021

Pg. 99: Samuel Clark's "Good Lives"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Good Lives: Autobiography, Self-Knowledge, Narrative, and Self-Realization by Samuel Clark.

About the book, from the publisher:
Reasoning with autobiography is a way to self-knowledge. We can learn about ourselves, as human beings and as individuals, by reading, thinking through, and arguing about this distinctive kind of text. Reasoning with Edmund Gosse's Father and Son is a way of learning about the nature of the good life and the roles that pleasure and self-expression can play in it. Reasoning with Siegfried Sassoon's Memoirs is a way of learning about transformative experience, self-alienation, and therefore the nature of the self. Good Lives: Autobiography, Self-Knowledge, Narrative, and Self-Realization develops this claim by answering a series of questions: What is an autobiography? How can we learn about ourselves from reading one? On what subjects does autobiography teach? What should we learn about them? In particular, given that autobiographies are narratives, should we learn something about the importance of narrative in human life? Could our storytelling about our own lives make sense of them as wholes, unify them over time, or make them good for us? Could storytelling make the self?

Samuel Clark provides an authoritative critique of narrative and a defence of a self-realization account of the self and its good. He investigates the wide range of extant accounts of the self and of the good life, and defends pluralist realism about self-knowledge by reading and reasoning with autobiographies of self-discovery, martial life, and solitude. The volume concludes by showing that autobiography can be reasoning in pursuit of self-knowledge; each of us is an unchosen, initially opaque, seedlike self; our good is the development and expression of our latent capacities, which is our individual self-realization; and self-narration plays much less role in our lives than some thinkers have supposed, and the development and expression of potential much more.
Learn more about Good Lives at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Good Lives.

--Marshal Zeringue