The Philosophy of Autobiography

The Philosophy of Autobiography

Christopher Cowley

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780226267890

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


This book explores a new area, the philosophy of autobiography. There are many long-standing philosophical discussions surrounding concepts relating to autobiography: the self, personal identity, narrative, understanding others, self-understanding, the reliability of memory, self-deception, the meaning of life. There has also been sustained interest among literary critics in the genre of autobiography. However, there is relatively little that brings these philosophical debates together to ask: what is it we are doing, exactly, when we write an autobiography? And the related question of: what do we understand when we read someone else's autobiography? Finally, the volume also asks: what is special about a published autobiography, as opposed to a single individual thinking about her life, or a self-description spoken to a friend, or the writing of a personal diary? This volume brings together ten diverse contributions from different perspectives and disciplines, exploring some answers to these questions: Marya Schechtman, Garry L. Hagberg, Christopher Hamilton, Marina Oshana, John Christman, Somogy Varga, D.K. Levy, Merete Mazzarella, J. Lenore Wright, and Áine Mahon.