I explore the ancient idea that life is some kind of dramatic or artistic perfomance. How seriously and literally ought we to take this idea that life is like a dramatic performance, even that it is one? There are metaphysical and logical questions about whether and how self-creation and self-constitution are possible; and there are normative questions about which norms sensibly govern self-constituting performances. Here I discuss the normative questions associated with the ideas that life is a performance and that the self is something that both emerges in and is constituted by the performance. Three contemporary psychopoetic conceptions of persons—"day-by-day persons," "ironic persons," and "strong poetic persons"—are examined in order to discuss whether there are legitimate normative constraints on "performing oneself," and, if so, what these might be.
Thursday, October 11th, 4:30 p.m.