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The Self as a Centre of Narrative Gravity

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Dennett’s arguments detailing how selves are fictional, narrative constructs generated by our story-telling skills will be backed up in this essay. Delving into ideals of a centre of gravity, a novel-writing machine, and Gazzaniga’s ideologies, I will be able to change your beliefs on this issue. Our selves are our own constructs which are changed and altered through the story-telling skills we allow them to behold. Hopefully I will be able to focus your own thinking into looking at Dennett’s perspective on this issue.

Dennett is arguing for the concept of a ‘self’ as a centre of ‘narrative’ gravity. He details around certain aspects of narrative or created figures, and the relation our own ‘selves’ can relate to them. He also makes light of how our own ‘self’ is not a physical object, using abstraction in order to create ideals through a train of thought. Dennett wants to argue that our self, not being, is more of a character in a novel than the author who wrote it (Dennett, 1992). In saying this, I believe it is important to note, how ones ‘self’ or characteristics are actually played out through a persons created persona.

The self as a centre of gravity is an interesting point of how a person or ‘self’ is able to easily change their level of focus throughout various areas of their body, whether that may be spiritual or mental. Through easy changes made by our being we are able to shift our gravity into different areas. “So, although a center of gravity is a purely abstract object, it has a spatio-temporal career, which I can affect by my actions” (Dennett, 1992). This ‘gravity’ is no physical object but holds much more importance to our self than some physical things may. Rather than looking at this gravity as an actual ‘force of gravity’ it is better defined as the persona’s representation in how they believe their energy should be best exerted. Placing our best foot forward. Or rather our best self.

I now want to focus on how the selves or persona a person may create through their story-telling skills are rather fictional constructs that are actually best fitting with their own character. Through reading Dennett’s arguments, I understood that this ‘centre of gravity’ that a self may adapt to and changes is because of the forever changing beliefs and ideals that a person may hold. Also I believed taking into account the changing perspectives that a person may have on themselves is also a key factor in shaping our narrative constructed self. Seeming as how our selves are just theoretical fiction (Dennett, 1992), it is quite easy to understand how this self-made self is constantly changing. Dennett talks about the idea of changing the centre of gravity of a water pitcher through placing some bubble gum on the side. This change represents the difference we all go through, physical or not.

The novel writing machine is an Idea brought up in Dennett’s reading. He delves into the idea of a computer system able to write its own fictional novel, due to certain algorithms and scenarios being built into the computer. Dennett’s idea sparks argument into the process of such a machine, and the character it creates, Gilbert (Dennett, 1992, pg.108). The character which is created soon becomes the centre of a novel that is not of the best quality, however is substantially well written. The autobiography of Gilbert follows and in such ways as we are asking about our own self narrative creations and how this links to the machines narrative. In such a scenario it is important to ask that if this machine is no person or being, then who is this persona it has created? This gilbert has a self, but no being. Though we may be the ones creating a fictional character, it holds possibly more of our self than we might know. The characteristics, nature, and decisions the persona may attain are possibly more likely to be what we ourselves would do.

The novel-writing machine is no person, instead a series of complex outcomes placed into a machine to determine such a story. Such, the created persona is rather not the self of a computer, because well how could it be. So this created persona, belongs to which fictional self? I believe Dennett is simply trying to state that the idea of a self, is truly that of a fictional narrative storyline. It is rather this centre of narrative gravity, than a physical force.

Gazzaniga’s claims surrounding the split-mind is very interesting and provided me with a better insight into this idea of the self being disconnected from ones physical self. He had made clear points around the split-brain and the reaction it creates with various parts of the body. Though each of these is not connected to each other, messages are sent and help create a sense of surrounding. I believe Dennett wanted to push forth this idea because of his own beliefs surrounding

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