PHIL 318 – Stories in our lives: Mind, Self and Psychosis

Everyone enjoys a good story, but might narratives be playing much more fundamental roles in our lives? This subject examines arguments for and against claims that our ability to narrate – to tell stories – might be necessary for understanding what it is to act for a reason, for certain forms of memory, and, remarkably, for making us who we are by constituting our selves. Relatedly, we will also consider what part our narrative capacities, or lack thereof, might play in explaining certain kinds of psychopathology, looking at the roles they may have in fostering and maintaining particular kinds of mental disorders and delusions.

In this subject we will explore the possibility that is narratives not theories that do crucially important work in enabling us to make sense of others and ourselves in everyday life. We will consider to what extent, if at all, we are products of our own narratives. We will consider such question as: Are our narrative capacities built–in or acquired? How do they develop during childhood? Can narratives provide us with genuine causal explanations? Do narrative explanations of our actions compete with those offered by scientific psychology? What happens when narrativizing goes wrong, as in cases of delusional thinking and psychosis. We will examine different possible answers to these questions, exploring their relevance for philosophy, for other disciplines in the humanities, the sciences and beyond the academy.


  • Storytelling Animals?
  • Understanding Minds through Folk Psychology
  • Theory Theories
  • Simulation Theory
  • The Narrative Practice Hypothesis
  • Narratives and Autobiographical Memory
  • Folk Psychology and Interpretation
  • Fictionalism about Folk Psychology
  • Eliminating Folk Psychology?
  • A Phenomenological Critique of Folk Psychology
  • Narrative Self-Constitution
  • Against Narrativity
  • The Role Narrativity in Mental Disorders and Delusions

Here is a short video featuring some of the key figures in contemporary discussions of the significance of narrative for understanding ourselves and others:






Narratives in Mind, Self and Psychosis is taught by Prof. Dan Hutto, Professor of Philosophical Psychology. Prof. Hutto has published over 100 articles and regularly speaks at conferences and expert meetings – over 160 since 1998 – delivering keynotes, plenary lectures or presentations not only to other philosophers but also to anthropologists, clinical psychiatrists, educationalists, narratologists, neuroscientists and psychologists. Some of his recent books, include: Wittgenstein and the End of Philosophy (Palgrave, 2006), Folk Psychological Narratives (MIT, 2008). He is co-author, with Erik Myin, of the award-winning Radicalizing Enactivism (MIT, 2013) and also Evolving Enactivism (forthcoming in 2017). He is the 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.