Joint keynote by Marco Caracciolo (Ghent University, Belgium) and Daniel Hutto (University of Wollongong, Australia). Keynote will be moderated by Mark Freeman (College of the Holy Cross, USA). Location of the keynote will follow soon.
Folk Psychological Narratives and their limits: how boldy can we go?
This talk brings together a philosopher and a literary scholar, staging a conversation in three acts on narrative’s grounding in intersubjective engagements. Daniel Hutto will open by outlining the links between narrative and folk psychology, defending the view that storytelling is the normal route through which we come to be able to explain actions in terms of reasons. Narrative practices, on this account, including our dealings with sophisticated stories—such as those we find in literary fiction— matter to how we understand ourselves and others in quite fundamental ways.
In a second step, Marco Caracciolo will discuss the ways in which certain cultural texts may put pressure on narrative’s bias towards the human scale—its favoring interactions at the personal level. This move reflects a more general tendency, in areas of literary scholarship, to focus on narratives that are outliers or limit cases in that they call into question basic concepts of folk psychology—for instance, the distinction between agents and inanimate objects, or the link between overt behavior and mentalistic intention. This discussion will bring into view strategies through which narrative may face phenomena that are, fundamentally, not intersubjective and human-scale, such as the temporalities of biological evolution or of geological processes. How far can storytelling boldly go beyond its folk psychological roots before narrative collapses completely? This is the question that Hutto and Caracciolo will address in a final discussion, in which they will assess the specificity of their disciplinary frameworks as well as the limitations of narrative itself.
Marco Caracciolo (see picture below) is Assistant Professor of English and Literary Theory at Ghent University in Belgium, where he leads the ERC Starting Grant project "Narrating the Mesh" (NARMESH). Marco's work explores the phenomenology of narrative, or the structure of the experiences afforded by literary fiction and other narrative media. He is also interested in the dynamics of interpretation and in engaging with characters, especially characters whom we perceive as "strange" or deviant (narrating animals, serial killers, cyborgs). He is the author of three books: The Experientiality of Narrative: An Enactivist Approach (De Gruyter, 2014; honorable mention for the Perkins Prize of the International Society for the Study of Narrative); Strange Narrators in Contemporary Fiction: Explorations in Readers' Engagement with Characters (University of Nebraska Press, 2016); and A Passion for Specificity: Confronting Inner Experience in Literature and Science (co-authored with psychologist Russell Hurlburt; Ohio State University Press, 2016).
Daniel D. Hutto (see picture below) is Professor of Philosophical Psychology at the University of Wollongong and member of the Australian Research Council College of Experts. He is co-author of the award-winning Radicalizing Enactivism (MIT, 2013) and its sequel, Evolving Enactivism (MIT, 2017). His other recent books, include: Folk Psychological Narratives (MIT, 2008) and Wittgenstein and the End of Philosophy (Palgrave, 2006). He is editor of Narrative and Understanding Persons (CUP, 2007) and Narrative and Folk Psychology (Imprint Academic, 2009). A special yearbook, Radical Enactivism, focusing on his philosophy of intentionality, phenomenology and narrative, was published in 2006. He is regularly invited to speak not only at philosophy conferences but at expert meetings of anthropologists, clinical psychiatrists/therapists, educationalists, narratologists, neuroscientists and psychologists.