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Narrative, Identity and the Kierkegaardian Self$
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John Lippitt and Patrick Stokes

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748694433

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748694433.001.0001

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Forgiveness and the Rat Man

Forgiveness and the Rat Man

Kierkegaard, ‘Narrative Unity’ and ‘Wholeheartedness’ Revisited

Chapter:
(p.126) 8 Forgiveness and the Rat Man
Source:
Narrative, Identity and the Kierkegaardian Self
Author(s):

John Lippitt

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748694433.003.0009

As Kierkegaardian narrativists such as John J. Davenport have revised and expanded upon their positions, the gap between them and narratosceptics has narrowed significantly. Despite this narrowing, Davenport’s continued emphasis on the Frankfurtian term ‘wholeheartedness’ (and its purported superiority to ‘ambivalence’) remains problematic. This is brought into view via a consideration of J. David Velleman’s critique of Harry G. Frankfurt in the light of Freud’s ‘Rat Man’ case. The Rat Man’s problem is not his ambivalence, but the self-misinterpretation that constitutes his reaction to it – something troublingly close to Frankfurt’s proposed cure for ambivalence itself. Very often, however, psychotherapy’s purpose is not to take a client from ambivalence to wholeheartedness, but from feeling unmanageably to manageably torn (a more liveable kind of ambivalence). This is demonstrated via a discussion of forgiveness, of both others and oneself, noting the importance of a variety of forgiveness that continues to incorporate blame or self-reproach.

Keywords:   Kierkegaard, Narrative, Harry G. Frankfurt, J. David Velleman, Forgiveness, Freud

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