Affectivity and the distinction between minimal and narrative self

Anna Bortolan* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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In the contemporary phenomenological literature it has been argued that it is possible to distinguish between two forms of selfhood: the “minimal” and “narrative” self. This paper discusses a claim which is central to this account, namely that the minimal and narrative self complement each other but are fundamentally distinct dimensions. In particular, I challenge the idea that while the presence of a minimal self is a condition of possibility for the emergence of a narrative self, the dynamics which characterise narrative selfhood do not have a structuring effect on minimal self-experience. I do so by drawing on both classical and contemporary phenomenological literature to show that at least certain forms of affective experience are complex phenomena in which minimal and narrative forms of selfhood are deeply entwined. More specifically, I claim that, due to their evaluative character, intentional and non-intentional affective states convey a pre-reflective experience of constitutive aspects of the narrative self. This enables me to argue that minimal and narrative selfhood are phenomenologically inextricable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-84
Number of pages18
JournalContinental Philosophy Review
Early online date30 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • Affectivity
  • Emotions
  • Feelings
  • Minimal self
  • Narrative self
  • Phenomenology
  • Self-consciousness


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