Autobiography, community and James Boyd White’s Heracles’ Bow


“[James Boyd White’s] interest is not so much in autobiography as in the conditions of existence in a society that can assure a requisite degree of congruence between a citizen’s sense of himself and his sense of his rights and obligations under law in a broader [-p43] community.  Can one conceive of oneself and of one’s community in a fashion to permit one to live without alienation?  He sees the challenge not as simply “establishing,” say, a just order.  The task of living with oneself and within society, he argues, is an exercise in “constructive rhetoric.”  That is to say, the discourse of social life (and, in his central argument, the discourse of the law) is designed not just to settle differences and resolve conflicts, but to constitute or construct realities that each individual can live with in a fashion that does not produce alienation.  There can be no effective self, he argues, unless a person can construct a sense of the world that is congruent with it.” [1]

[1] P42-43  – Pp38 -56 Jerome Bruner  The Autobiographical Process  – in Culture of autobiography?? [reference is to James Boyd White’s book, Heracles’ Bow]


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