Narrative Gravity explores the anti-foundationalist, anti-essentialist idea that our stories make us up, rather than we make up our stories.
The cognitive scientist Daniel C. Dennett has suggested that human beings tell stories as compulsively as beavers build dams or birds nests. Our basic identities are conferred on us by the myriad takes we hear and narrate throughout our lifetimes. All "selves" are "centres of narrative gravity."
But even if it is true that we are born to weave stories, why is it that we are so "programmed?" Narrative Gravity attempts to answer this question by carrying the important but embryonic notion that stories are obsessive self-constructions, to its logical conclusion. The book argues that narrative - a universal form found in every known human culture - functions as a "species of natural theory."
This is a foundational text for students of linguistics, philosophy and literary theory. It will also appeal to the general reader interested in the psychology and sociology of language and cultural cognition.