Image of writing iconThis learning topic has focused on the fact that human beings are story tellers. Contemporary philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre (1981) offers more insight on the importance of story in constructing the self:

It is through hearing stories about wicked stepmothers, lost children, good but misguided kings, wolves that suckle twin boys, youngest sons who receive no inheritance but must make their own way in the world and eldest sons who waste their inheritance on riotous living and go into exile to live with the swine, that children learn or mislearn both what a child is and a what a parent is, what the cast of character may be in the drama into which they have born and what the ways of the world are. Deprive children of stories and you leave them unscripted, anxious stutterers in their actions as in their words. Hence, there is no way to give us an understanding of any society, including our own, except through the stock of stories which constitute its initial dramatic resources. Mythology, in its original sense, is at the heart of things. (p. 216)

We tell stories to each other as a way of getting to know each other better, and perhaps even more importantly, we tell stories about ourselves. Stories are a primary means by which we make sense of our lives. In this way, stories have explanatory power. They explain why we are the way we are, and why we do what we do. Stories are also constructive. There are a myriad of experiences that happen to us, yet we select out only certain experiences for inclusion in the story (and stories) we tell about ourselves. This gives us the ability to shape, at least to some degree, our storied selves.

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