In Self, Value, and Narrative, Anthony Rudd defends a series of interrelated claims about the nature of the self. He argues that the self is not simply a given entity, but a being that constitutes or shapes itself. But it can only do this non-arbitrarily if it has a sense of the good by which it can be guided as it chooses to endorse some of its desires or dispositions and repudiate others. This means that there is an essentially ethical or evaluative dimension to selfhood, and one which has an essentially teleological character. Such self-constitution takes place in narrative terms, through one's telling-and, more importantly, living-one's own story. Versions of some or all of these ideas have been developed by various influential writers (including Frankfurt, Korsgaard, MacIntyre, Ricoeur, and Taylor) but Rudd develops these ideas in a way that is importantly different from others familiar in the literature. He takes his main inspiration from Kierkegaard's account of the self, and argues (controversially) that this account belongs in the Platonic rather than the Aristotelian tradition of teleological thinking.
Through close engagement with much contemporary philosophical work, Rudd presents a convincing case for an ancient and currently unfashionable view: that the polarities and tensions that are constitutive of selfhood can only be reconciled through an orientation of the self as a whole to an objective Good.
Anthony Rudd is Visiting Associate Professor of Philosophy at St Olaf College, Minnesota. He is the author of Kierkegaard and the Limits of the Ethical (Oxford, 1993), Expressing the World: Skepticism, Wittgenstein and Heidegger (Open Court, 2003), as well as numerous articles. He is co-editor of Kierkegaard After MacIntyre (Open Court, 2001) with John Davenport.