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Publisher Description

The following essay examines and highlights in detail some of the problems surrounding the modern and post-modern modes of thought in order to demonstrate the usefulness of narrative theory in overcoming these problems. In particular, it argues that the abstract theories of both modernism and postmodernism are unfruitful for understanding humans as a process of becoming and tend to either limit humans to egoistic individuals or hinder the development of identity through fragmentation and relativism. It will be argued that modernity, through its tendency to totalise, excludes other modes of understanding and the postmodern response to this totalisation, an utter respect for and celebration of difference, has rendered the search for any kind of meaning unintelligible. In order to overcome these limitations and to augment the defence of narrative theory this article draws considerably from the work of Mikhail Bakhtin whose philosophy both compliments and enhances narrative understanding and has considerable potential in generating a more inclusive and creative understanding of humanity, our relationships to others and to the world in which we are inextricably linked. Through recognition of the dialogism inherent in the world, this article seeks neither to discredit nor destroy the two modes of thought in question, but to overcome their limitations and to recognise these modes of thought as apart of a wider process of interactive, intersubjective and creative becoming. Rather than accepting the modern dogmatism of absolute truths or the postmodern scepticism towards truth, it will be argued that narrative understanding, alongside Bakhtin's dialogism, allow for truth to be provisional and alterable in light of an ever expanding horizon of understanding. In light of continuing global issues including the prevalence of various levels and forms of inequality and increased environmental destruction, there is a growing recognition of the limitations, epistemological, political, social, cultural, ethical and ecological, of the modes of thought that have dominantly governed and continue to govern our worldview. Alongside the recognition of these limitations are attempts to overcome the negative affects of these modes of understanding and to create new ways of understanding ourselves, our relationship to others, human and non-human and to the larger world process in which we find ourselves.

Religion & Spirituality
July 1
Ashton and Rafferty
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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