Last updated:
April 13, 2004

Narrative Psychology Search

[Narrative Psychology]

  Theorists and Key Figures


This subpage provides very brief biographical notes regarding individuals who are important theorists, researchers, or contibutors to narrative psychology, the interpretive turn in psychology and the social sciences, and the diverse influences upon narrative which this resource guide details.

Return to Theorists and Key Figures: Index

Theorists/key figures whose names begin with A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Theorists & Key Figures
found on this page
Allport, Gordon W. (1897-1967)
Aristotle (384-322 BCE)
J. L. Austin (1911-1960)
Bakhtin, Mikhail Mikhailovich (1895-1975)
Bal, Mieke (1946- )
Bamberg, Michael (1947- )
Barthes, Roland (1915-1980)
Bartlett, Frederick C. (1886-1969)
Berger, Peter L.
Brooks, Peter
Bruner, Jerome S. (1915- )
Burke, Kenneth D. (1897-1993)
Carlson, Rae (1927-2003)
Charon, Rita (
Chomsky, Noam Avram (1928- )
Cole, Michael (1938- )
Crossley, Michelle
Cushman, Philip

Danziger, Kurt
D'Emilio, John (1948- )
Denzin, Norman K.

Derrida, Jacques (1930- )
Dilthey, Wilhelm (1833-1911)
Online Resource Sites:  PP Philosophy Pages (Garth Kemerling) SEP Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy  IEP Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
 [Homepage Icon] = Homepage of Figure          [Tinysubhead Icon] links to a page within this site MIA Internet Archive 

 [Gordon W. Allport]

Allport, Gordon W. (1897-1967)

Harvard University personality and social psychologist.

[Tinysubhead Icon] See separate page on Gordon W. Allport


Aristotle (384-322 BCE)   PP

SEP: Aristotle's Rhetoric (C. Rapp; 2002)
IEP: Aristotle: General Introduction (2001); Poetics (J. Sachs; 2001)

The philosopher Aristotle first came to Athens to study with Plato at the Academy when he was 17 years old (367 BCE). He lived in that city and attended Plato's lectures for the next 20 years until his teacher's death in 347 BCE. For the next three years Aristotle traveled until King Philip of Macedon called him in 344 BCE to serve as tutor to his 13-year-old son and heir, Alexander. Aristotle fulfilled this duty for five years until the death of Philip and the ascension of Alexander to the throne. He then returned to Athens where he established his own school, the Lyceum, and taught and wrote there almost until the last year of his life. When Alexander died in 323 BCE, Aristotle had to leave Athens under threat of prosecution and died the following year, 322 BCE, in Chalcis (Euboea).

In the course of his life, Aristotle experienced two prolonged periods of relatively undisturbed residence in Athens (367-347 & 339-323 BCE) as well as a possibly more intense five-year period under royal Macedonia patronage when he tutored the future king. These serve as a kind of backdrop to a lifetime of intense study and authorship across the full range of human disciplines. He was a natural scientist of empirical bent who was as well versed as any person in the classical Western world with topics in biology, botany, animal science, and human psychology. He wrote both important treatises in logical theory and profound systematic works in philosophy (especially, metaphysics, ethics, political theory, and the nature of the arts).

For narrative social science, works in that last cateory, the arts, are the most central. Aristotle stands as the prime starting point in narrative analysis over the centuries. His theories of the nature of drama and rhetoric opened the debate for many on how to understand representation and persuasion as the objects of human artistic creation. He outlined the conceptual terms by which the West began its discussion of drama, particularly tragedy, and introduced many of the distinctions which engage narrative theorists today: mimesis (imitation), plot, character, dramatic reasoning, diction or speech forms, the role of catharsis, etc. His Poetics remains the most influential (though narrowly drawn and often disputed) single treatise on drama in the Western canon. In parallel, his Rhetoric has affected the course of European political and social thought profoundly in its appreciation for the ways in which persuasion could be studied and applied as an art form. Aristotle's classification of the elements of rhetoric and his description of their roles in changing an audience's opinion revealed a discerning psychological eye and ear which continues to shed light on persuasive speech.

[J L Austin]  

J(ohn) L(angshaw) Austin (1911-1960)  PP  

Austin, J. L. (1962). How to do things with words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP/Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press. This is the posthumously published volume of the 1955 William James Lectures.


Bakhtin, Mikhail Mikhailovich (1895-1975)

Born in 1895 in Orel'--about 100 miles southeast of Moscow--Bakhtin's earliest world coincided with the last era of the Russian autocracy, the Russian Revolution and Civil War, and the final consolidation of power by the new Marxist Soviet goverment. In 1918 B. completed a degree in philology at the University of Petrograd , taught briefly in Nevel, and settled for a few years in Vitebsk in 1920. There he and a group of intellectuals who are commonly refered to as the "Bakhtin Circle" (Pavel Medvedev, Valentin Voloshinov, and others) held vigorous discussions and formulated a set of concepts and theories about the nature of art and literature which remained influential throughout B's life. During his adult years, his health was limited by chronic osteomyelitis which led later to amputation of his right leg. He was arrested in Petrograd (Leningrad) in 1929 under a vague charge of antigovernment activity and sentenced to 10 years in a labor camp. Commuted to 6 years internal exile, Bakhtin's life was spent from the 1930s onward usually in provincial or obscure settings: he taught from time to time in Saransk and the Gorky Institute of World Literature. A thesis written in the 1930s and 40s on Rabelais was not published at the time though he did receive his doctoral degree (discovered in the archives of the Gorky Institute, the thesis was published in 1965 in Russian and in 1968 in English as Rabelais and His World.). Todorov was instrumental in bringing Bakhtin to the attention of the West where he now stands, as Leitch et al. (2001) acknowledge, as one of the canonical literary theorists of the contemporary world. Since the 1980s, Bakhtin has also come increasingly to notice by psychologists and other social scientists who find his understanding of literature congenial and generative of new approaches to a conception of human personhood and its activity, e.g., Hermans in his conception of the dialogical self or Mark Tappan in his research on moral development.

Bakhtin developed the notions of prosaics, dialogism, "dialogized heteroglossia," unfinalizability, novelistic polyphony, chronotope, "creative understanding" and other crucial topics.

"In contrast to deconstruction, which views language and texts as nothing but the free play of signifiers, Bakhtin believes that all individual expression is ultimately the product of various voices that are linked to one another through the socially constituted fabric of language. We learn our language by assimilating the voices of others, and we speak back to our community of peers through re-externalized modes of discourse. This philosophy [is] known as dialogics..." (Introduction, What Hath Bakhtin Wrought: Toward a Unified Theory of Literature and Composition [master's thesis; UNC Charlotte; 1994; online], Lee Honeycutt)

[Tinysubead Icon]Literary Criticism & Hermeneutics: Bibliography: Bakhtin, Mikhail & Bakhtin Circle

Sources: Leitch et al., (2001); Morson & Emerson, 1997.


Bal, Mieke (1946- )

Professor of Comparative Literature and Humanities
University of Amsterdam
Founder, Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis

 [Michael Bamberg]

Bamberg, Michael (1947- )

Professor - Department of Psychology
Clark University / Worcester, MA 01610-1477
Faculty Page:



Barthes, Roland (1915-1980)

  • Barthes links at Contemporary Philosophy, Critical Theory and Postmodern Thought [Martin Ryder; School of Education; U Colorado Denver]
  Bartlett, Frederick Charles, Sir (1886-1969)

Berger, Peter L.

Professor Emeritus of Religion, Sociology, and Theology (Boston University)
Director, Institute for the Study of Economic Culture

  Brooks, Peter

 Jerome S. Bruner (1915- )

 [Kenneth Burke]

Burke, Kenneth D(uva).  (1897-1993)

Kenneth Burke, the American literary theorist, philosopher, and writer was born in Pittsburgh, PA on May 5, 1897. He moved to New York City in 1919 after a brief stay at The Ohio State University. He soon dropped out of Columbia University and settled in Greenwich Village. There he worked as an editor and writer while making the acquaintance of the growing literary community of that neighborhood. In pursuing his own literary career, Burke drew upon a deep and extensive reading of European and American novelists, dramatists, and poets who had enriched his imagination from his earliest adolescence. In 1922 he moved to a farm in Andover, New Jersey from which he commuted to New York City and to which he would return from farther venues for the rest of his life. During the late 1920s and early 1930s, Burke produced a range of literary works including his only novel, Towards a Better Life, which was poorly received. His writing shifted toward more philosophical and critical concerns in the 1930s--a period in which he also became acquainted more deeply with Marxist theory and other forms of social criticism. Though he was not a Marxist himself, his critical theory always remained sensitive to the influence of social situations and the impact of literature upon social life. He taught at the New School for Social Research in 1937, at the University of Chicago in 1938 and 1949-50, and at Bennington College (VT) from 1943 to 1961. During his teaching career, Burke served as a visiting professor at multiple institutions including Harvard, Princeton, and Rutgers University. He died November 15, 1993 in Andover, NJ.

Most writers offering a synthesis of Burke's thinking begin in similar fashion: his was not a simple theory, nor can the range of his thinking and writing be accommodated in compact fashion. Nonetheless, for narrative social scientists, Burke's contributions can be briefly noted with the caveat that further research and reading is required.

For Burke, language is "symbolic action" and human beings are creatures who employ language to influence or move others (and themselves as well). Thus, the stance he adopts is a rhetorical one which seeks to describe the ways in which language influences its audience, its author, and the social world. The system of analysis which Burke gradually developed to do this is termed dramatism -- a notion some commentators would claim is grounded in his belief that life itself is theater and all utterances performances. Persons, Burke notes, bring to their lives and rhetorical acts a set of frames (also called "ideologies" or "orientations") derived from the social world as well as more personal forms of experience. These frames which may be binary opposites in direct conflict serve as interpretive structures to give meaning to actions and motives. Experience for Burke is not self-evident and always occasions interpretative activity.

Human persons find themselves and their lives in the midst of the vaunted Burkean Pentad of act/action (what happens/happened or is/was done), agent/actor (the one who does/did the act), scene (the setting in which an act takes/took place), agency (the means by which the act is/was carried out), and purpose (the goal or objective of the act). Later Burke suggested that a sixth element, attitude, ought to be added to the mix.

For Burke and many narrativists, the Pentad serves as an analytic system by which to understand human motives--their goal-directed actions--rhetorically. In Burke's approach, change in motive takes place when some element of the Pentad is disturbed so that the elements no longer maintain their balance. Thus, Burke suggests that critical analysis should usually be directed at the dyadic tension between pairs of elements in the Pentad. For example, an actor may find the scene changes or a new action has been initiated. Narrative advances as the elements seek a new balance or, in the process of change, are destroyed. Some commentators suggest that a systematic use of each possible pairing of the Pentad's elements would define the full range of literary critical forms.

In his Grammar of Motives (1969/1945) Burke also associates various traditions in Western philosophy with heightened or exclusive concern with one or the other of the elements of the Pentad. Thus, the agent/actor becomes the focus of Idealists such as Berkeley, Kant, and Hegel, agency engages the Pragmatists (James, Dewey), the scene is examined by "materialists" like Hobbs or the Stoics, and the act hold primacy of place for philosophical Realists like Aristotle and Aquinas.

[Tinysubhead Icon]  Literary Criticism & Hermeneutics: Bibliography: Kenneth Burke

Jay, P. (1994). Burke, Kenneth. In M. Groden, & M. Kreiswirth (Eds.), The Johns Hopkins guide to literary theory & criticism. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. [Online version 1997]

Sources: Jay, P. (1988). Kenneth Burke. In G. S. Jay (Ed.), Dictionary of literary biography. Vol 63. Modern American critics, 1920-1955 (pp. 67-86). Detroit, MI: Gale.; Jay (1994/1997); Leitch, V. B. (Ed.). (2001). Kenneth Burke. Norton anthology of theory and criticism (pp. 1269-1271). New York: W. W. Norton; Lyons, R. D. (1993, November 21). Kenneth Burke, Philosopher, 96, and new criticism founder, dies. New York Times, p. 48; Terry, C. S. (1997). Kenneth Burke. Cyclopedia of world authors (3rd ed. rev.). Salem Press [Online]

Carlson, Rae S. (1926-2003)
Born February 16, 1926, Rae Stahl grew up in South Dakota and received her bachelor's degree in 1947 from the University of Nebraska. Following marriage to fellow graduate student Earl Carlson (her first husband) and some years of child rearing, she completed her doctorate from the University of Michigan in 1958. She was briefly married to a CSU Fullerton colleague and collaborator, Nissim Levy, in the late 1960s.
She taught at a range of schools: CSU Fullerton in the early 1960s, SUNY Brockport briefly in the early 1970s, and, beginning in 1974 at Livingston College of Rutgers University from which she retired in 1996. She also held an important fellowship in 1968-69 at the Educational Testing Service where she undertook research on personality and, then, worked for the National Institute of Menal Health where she became acting chief of the Social Science Section. She was a principal founder of the Society for Personology in 1982 which held its first meeting the following year. Her seminal article for Psychological Bulletin, "Where is the Person in Personality Psychology?" (Carlson, 1971), underscored how little about the whole person was explored by most personality researchers. She was a collaborator at Rutgers with Silvan Tomkins whose script theory she "translated" into a form which generated a renewed intererst in integrative personality research.

Source: Helson, R. (2003). Rae Carlson (1926-2003). American Psychologist, 58(10), 808.

[Rita Charon] 
© V. Hevern

Charon, Rita A. M. (1949- )

Professor of Clinical Medicine & Director, Program in Narrative Medicine
College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York

Rita Charon was raised in Providence, RI where her father, Dr. George Charon, practiced general medicine among a predominantly French-Canadian polpulation. She attended the experimental Ben Salem College at Fordham University (graduated in 1970) and worked in various locales as an elementary school teacher, school bus driver, and activist in the peace movement engendered by the conflict in Vietnam. Deciding to become a doctor, Charon completed her medical studies at Harvard Medical School in 1978. Trained in internal medicine, she held a 1981-82 fellowship at the College of Physicians and Surgeons where she has continued to practice medicine for more than 20 years. She received her master's degree in 1990 and a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University in 1999. Her dissertation, "The Great Beheld Sum of Things": Intersubjective Studies of Henry James, Literary Studies of Medicine, examined three works of James as juxtaposed with three texts in modern medicine by means of successive themes: psychoanalytic criticism, ethical analysis, and autobiography.

Charon decribes herself as a pupil of Elliot Mishler, the famed medical anthropologist and narrativist at the Harvard Medical School, who has been influential within the Boston academic and health communities for many decades. At Columbia, Charon founded the program in Narrative Medicine in 1996 and coordinated the pathbreaking Narrative Medicine Colloquium in 2003. As a teacher and physician, Charon is concerned with "teaching the narrative skills of clinical imagination, empathy, and ethical discernment to doctors and medical students." Her research has focused upon the implications of narrative for medical ethics as well as for the relationship between physician and patient. Charon currently serves as editor-in-chief of the journal, Literature and Medicine.

  • Biography at The Changing Face of Medicine Exhibition, National Institutes of Health
    [Radio Icon]  Stories in Medicine. Morning Edition, National Public Radio, Oct. 28, 2003.

[Tinysubead Icon]Selected Bibliography

Charon, R. (1986). To render the lives of patients. Literature and Medicine, 5, 58-74

Charon, R. (1989). Doctor-patient/reader-writer: Learning to read the text. Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 72, 1101-1116.

Charon, R. (1993). Medical interpretation: Implications of literary theory of narrative for clinical work. Journal of Narrative and Life History, 3, 79-97.

Charon, R. (1996). The narrative road to empathy. In H. M. Spiro, M. G. M. Cumen, E. Peschel, & D. St. James (Eds.), Empathy and the practice of medicine: Beyond pills and the scalpel (pp. 147-159). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Charon, R. (2001). Narrative medicine: Form, function, and ethics. Annals of Internal Medicine, 135(10), 929-930.

Charon, R. (2001, October 17). The patient-physician relationship: Narrative medicine: A model for empathy, reflection, profession, and trust. JAMA, 286(15), 1897-1902. (Follow up comments & discussion of this article in JAMA [2002, Jan 23-30] vol. 287 (issue 4), pp. 447-448.)

Charon, R., & Montello, M. (Eds.). (2002). Stories matter: The role of narrative in medical ethics. New York: Routledge.

Sources: [Short biographical statement]. [Unpublished]. Narrative Medicine Colloquium, May, 2003. Columbia University: College of Physicians and Surgeons. Biosketch: Dr. Rita Charon (2002, Oct.). Office of Medical Infomantics. University of Florida. Downloaded 3/2/04 from the University of Florida website: Biography of Rita Charon. The Changing Face of Medicine. National Institutes of Health. Downloaded 3/2/04 from the NIH website:

  Chomsky, Noam Avram (1928- )   PP    
  Cole, Michael (1938- )
  Crossley, Michelle
  Cushman, Philip
 [Kurt Danziger]
8/02 APA
© V. Hevern

Danziger, Kurt (1926- )

Professor Emeritus, Psychology, York University, Ontario, Canada.

Danziger was born in Breslau, Germany and educated in both South Africa and the United Kingdom. He received his D. Phil from Oxford University in 1952. Before coming to York University in 1965, Danziger had taught at the University of Melbourne, Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia, and the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

His professional interests as a scholar have focused on the historiography of psychology and the historical development of research in psychology, particularly in the 20th century. In broad measure, the thrust of Danziger's work has involved what he calls "discursive objects," that is, those conceptual notions and categories which psychology claims to describe and explain, e.g., instinct, intelligence, cognition, etc. He notes that "[t]alk about discursive objects is part of an anti-Cartesian trend whose influence in the history of the human sciences has been quite noticeable in recent years. This trend rejects the traditional dualism that insisted on maintaining a strict separation between the subjective and the objective" (Danziger, 2001).

His work has specifically detailed the ways in which the experimental laboratory in psychology developed at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century by "constructing" a new kind of "subject" -- the research participant who is kept separate from the experimenter and required to respond to experimental situations in ways fashioned by that same experimenter (Danziger, 1990). Similarly, psychologists employ what Danziger notes as a kind of "collective" or "aggregated" subject -- research participants whose identity is not natural (such as male, female, old or young) but derived from a classificatory scheme as part of the experiment itself, such as, individuals who are "highly intelligent" based on IQ score ranges or "low in self esteem" shown by responses to a questionnaire. He also offers detailed descriptions of the paths by which many of the most important psychological constructs of the mid-20th century were similarly constructed rather than discovered: "intelligence, behavior, learning, motivation, personality, etc" (Danziger, 1997).

Danziger regularly examines the cultural and social contexts within which the scientific enterprise of psychology has been pursued. His findings serve to undermine ahistorical or naive viewpoints, still prevalent among some psychologists, that experiments in psychology are congruent with experiments of the natural sciences as they describe, predict, and control (the behavior of) natural objects.

[Tinysubhead Icon] See Emergence of the Social Sciences: Bibliography: Danziger

Danziger, K. (2001, August). Whither the golden oldies of ESHHS: The historiography of psychological objects. Paper presented at the meeting of the European Society for the History of the Human Sciences, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Downloaded July 6, 2003 from the ESHHS web site:

Sources:  Contemporary Authors Online. The Gale Group, 2001.

 [John D'Emilio]
7/2/03 Nightline

D'Emilio, John  (1948- )

U. S. historian, gay theorist, and political activist. Currently, he is Director of the Gender and Women's Studies Program and Professor of History and Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

D'Emilio was born in New York City, grew up in the Bronx, and was educated at Columbia University from which he received his B.A. (1970), M.A. (1972), and Ph.D. (1982). While at Columbia as a graduate student, he was a founder of the Gay Academic Union. His doctoral research lead to the publication in 1983 of Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: the Making of a Homosexual Minority in the United States, 1940-1970 (University of Chicago Press). This was among the very first works of professional history to detail the experience of gay men and women in the "pre-Stonewall" (1969) era. In 1988, he teamed with UC Berkeley historian, Estelle Freedman, to publish Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America (Harper & Row), a pathbreaking and widely-praised survey of the changing nature of sexual understandings from the colonial era to the present day. Indeed, Justice Kennedy cited D'Emilio & Freedman among the references in the majority opinion overturning the Texas sodomy case, Lawrence et al. v. Texas, in 2003. For narrative social scientists interested in issues of sexual identity, D'Emilio represents a pioneer group of historians who have provided a careful reading of the cultural and social contexts which affected the lives of gay persons. They have also employed a research methodology which is open to the voices of those who do not traditionally have access to the public media.

[Tinysubead Icon]See Gay and Lesbian Identity: Bibliography

  Denzin, Norman K.

Derrida, Jacques (1930 - )   PP   

  • Biographical note [Ron Turner]
  • Derrida links at Contemporary Philosophy, Critical Theory and Postmodern Thought [Martin Ryder; School of Education; U Colorado Denver]
 [Wilhelm Dilthey]

Dilthey, Wilhelm (1833-1911)   MIA   PP 

  • Introduction to the Human Sciences (1883; excerpts): Preface; Chs. 1-6
  • Lee, Richard E. (1996). Between Wert and Wissen: A future for the three cultures? Presentation for "Which Science for Tomorrow? A Dialogue on the Gulbenkian Commission Report: Open the Social Sciences. Stanford University, June 2-3, 1996. Prof. Richard E. Lee, Fernand Braudel Center of Binghamton University (SUNY), examines the German historical school and offers an assessment of Dilthey's approach.
  • Bakker, J. I. (1999). Wilhelm Dilthey: Classical sociological theorist. Quarterly Journal of Ideology, 22(1-2), 43-82. [Online]. Downloaded 3/19/04 from the Univesity of Guelph website: Prof. Hans Bakker provides a broad introduction to Dilthey's thought and how it contributed to the development of modern sociology.
  • Mallery, J. C., Hurwitz, R., & Duffy, G. (1986). Hermeneutics: From textual explication to computer understanding? A.I. Memory No. 871. Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (Online). Downloaded 7/1/03 from the MIT website:

Wilhelm Dilthey was born in Bierbrich, near Wiesbaden, Germany on November 19, 1833. His father was a theologian in the Reformed Church and Dilthey initially studied theology as well--first at the University of Heidelberg and subsequently at Berlin. However, he switched to philosophy and eventually received his doctorate from Berlin in 1864. Before finishing his degree, he served as a secondary school teacher in schools near Berlin, a role he then gave up to devote himself completely to scholarly work. His first university chair came at the University of Basel (1866) and was followed by appointments at Kiel (1868) and Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland; 1871). He succeed to the senior chair in philosophy at the University of Berlin in 1882 and remained there for the remainder of his life. He retired from the classroom in 1905 and died in Seis am Shlern (South Tirol, Austria-Hungary) on October 1, 1911.

Dilthey was a scholar of immense intellectual curiosity and ambition. Throughout his long academic career, he published dozens of volumes in fields such as philosophy, aesthetics, psychology, law, and politics. He crafted intellectual biographies of influential thinkers such as Schleiermacher, Hegel, Goethe, and Hölderlin among others (Hawthorne, 1990). He was influenced by the work of Kant as were so many other philosophers. However, he found particularly important the thought of Schleiermacher on philosophical hermeneutics and Hegel on historical change and the understanding of human meaning.

In the 19th century, the various kinds of science or knowledge (= Wissenshaft in German) could be divided between (1) those like physics, chemistry, and physiology which sought to describe, predict , and even control the behavior of entities in the natural world (what Dilthey termed Naturwissenschaften) and (2) those like history, psychology, anthropology, or political science which sought to understand the behavior of human beings (what Dilthey termed Geisteswissenshaften [= "scientific study of the complete human person" or, simply, the "human sciences"]. Dilthey's importance to narrative arises from his efforts to establish those social sciences as primarily concerned with a deep appreciation or understanding [= Verstehen] of the actual lived experience [Erlebnis] of individual persons. The division of the sciences in this fashion stemmed from Dilthey's argument that the object of study of the Geisteswissenshaften were human behaviors whose meaning could not be separated from the intentionality of their authors in the way that actions or activities studied by the Naturwissenshaften could. For example, I might shoot a gun. The natural sciences would have little difficulty in describing why and how the pressure of my finger on the gun's trigger would initiate a set of mechanical and chemical events which would lead to a rapidly-moving bullet erupting from the gun's barrel. Indeed, if the gun were pointed at the head or heart of a living creature, those same sciences could provide a highly valid prediction of the outcome of firing the weapon. However, from the vantage of the human sciences, it would make a difference whether the gun were fired upon an attacking dog, a soldier from an opposing army in time of war, or myself in a suicide attempt. Understanding the behavior in each of these cases requires that the meaning of the act -- my intentionality in so acting -- be ascertained. Describing human behavior, then, is fundamentally an act of interpretation. Dilthey argued that the interpreter could come to understand "from inside" the meaning of an act of another person by means of "a psychological reenactment (Nacherleben) or imaginative reconstruction of the experience of human actors" (Schwandt, 2001, p. 273).

[Tinysubhead Icon] Selected Bibliography

Bambach, C. R. (1995). Heidegger, Dilthey and the crisis of historicism. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.

Bollnow, O. F. (2004). Wilhelm Dilthey. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved March 19, 2004, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online:

Dilthey: Selected Works

Dilthey, W. (1977). Descriptive psychology and historical understanding (R. M. Zaner, & K. L. Heiges, Transl.). The Hague, Netherlands: Nijhoff. (Translation of the author's Ideen über eine beschreibende und zergliedernde Psychologie and Das Verstehen anderer Personen und ihrer Lebensäusserungen, originally published in his Gesammelte Schriften, 1924-1927)

* Dilthey, W. (1996). Hermeneutics and the study of history (R. A. Makkreel, & F. Rodi, Eds.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. [Selected Works. Vol. IV]

Dilthey, W. (1988). Introduction to the human sciences: An atempt to lay a foundation for the study of society and history (R. J. Betanzos, Transl.). Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press. (Translation of Einleitung in die Geisteswissenschaften, originally published in 1883)

* Dilthey, W. (1989). Introduction to the human sciences (R. A. Makkreel, & F. Rodi, Eds.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univesity Press. (Originally published in 1883) [Selected Works. Vol. I]

* Dilthey, W. (1985). Poetry and experience (R. A. Makkreel, & F. Rodi, Eds.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. [Selected Works. Vol. V]

* Dilthey, W. (2002). The formation of the historical world in the human sciences (R. A. Makkreel & F. Rodi, Eds.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Includes the author's Aufbau der geschichtlichen Welt in den Geisteswissenschaften and other works.) [Selected Works. Vol. III]

* These are four of a projected six-volume series from Princeton University Press of the Selected Works of Dilthey, newly translated and edited by Rudolf A. Makkreel and Frithjof Rodi.

Hawthorn, G. (1990, October 1). [Get Real. Review of Dilthey's Introduction to the Human Sciences]. New Republic, 203(14), 35-37.

This incisive review provides both a biographical overview and situates this first major volume of Dilthey's work within the intellectual context of German philosophy. While reasonably positive toward Dilthey, Hawthorn points out the unrealized goal of a synthesis of the Geisteswissenshaften which D's ambition could never quite achieve. In fact, the reviewer claims that such an overarching synthesis is an impossible goal.

Hodges, H. A. (1949). William Dilthey: An introduction. London, UK: Routledge & Kegan Paul. (Originally published in 1944; republished in 1969 by H. Fertig [New York]).

Hodges, H. A. (1952). The philosophy of Wilhelm Dilthey. London, UK: Routledge & Kegan Paul. (Republished in 1974 by Greenwood Press [Westport, CT]).

Iggers, G. (1968). The German conception of history. Middletown, CT.: Wesleyan University Press.

Makkreel, R. A. (1992). Dilthey: Philosopher of the human studies. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Owensby, J. (1994). Dilthey and the narrative of history. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Richman, H. P. (1979). Wilhelm Dilthey: Pioneer of the human studies. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Schwandt, T. A. (2001). Dictionary of qualitative inquiry (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Sources: Bakker, 1999. Bollnow, 2004. Hawthorn, 1990, Schwandt, 2001.


When citing this document, you may wish to consider this form for the reference (derived from APA Style [5th ed.])

Hevern, V. W. (2004, April). Theorists and key figures: A-B-D-D. Narrative psychology: Internet and resource guide. Retrieved [enter date] from the Le Moyne College Web site:

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is copyright © 1996-2004 by Vincent W. Hevern, SJ, all rights reserved.

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