‘No one is the author of his life’: Philosophy, Biography and Autobiography


19/01/2019 (Saturday)

2.00 - 5.00 pm

The Adelaide

A Saturday School with Chris Hamilton

How are we to understand the kind of truth telling that is peculiar to autobiographical and biographical writing? We shall explore a number of philosophical reflections on this issue that suggest that there is no such thing as the telling of the truth of one’s own life or that of the other – though there can be, perhaps, truthful tellings. We shall develop this further by exploring Hannah Arendt’s claim that ‘no one is the author of his life’. We shall end by suggesting that the real interest of (auto)biographical writing lies in revealing what Montaigne called a person’s ‘master form’ – something like the quality of spirit revealed by the writing.