Philosophising The Meaning Of Narratives In Life

In Philosophy’s undying pursuit of meaning, another variable in need of evaluation and probing is placed forward, and this is in the form of the question as to what the narrative is and its significant relation to life. While there is no singular definition of what life truly is, at best one is able to provide peculiar details of what it connotes: a personal compilation of acting and suffering, an existence that may hold meaning toward death, an unembellished identity, or perhaps a condensation of a multitude of happenstances that lead toward a beginning or an end.

Whether it is one of which, one can not be certain, for life -at its very core- remains inexplicable. But through the power of the narrative, it is demarcated by an understanding configured without much difficulty. Which is why, conceivably, it is most appropriate to employ a narrative in the quest of affirming its resilient ties with the aforementioned. And this will be done in this successive examination regarding the narrative in relation to meaning and language, the narrative as a story that mirrors life, the narrative in accordance to identity, and life without the narrative.

To begin, one is then advised to recount the narrative of Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by one of the renowned authors, Jane Austen. Simply by reading the text, one is confronted with an initial point of verity, a fact that is not in need of an acknowledgment for the reason of its being inherent to humans – the syntax of language. Austen writes, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Because of this given proficiency, one can easily determine the meaning imbued within a particular text, and in this case, one understands that the text serves as an introduction to a story that has romantic and societal implications. Capturing the words of Gadamer in his essay, Man and Language: “In truth, we are always already at home with language, just as much as we are in the world.” This arrangement of syntax and meaning that continuously takes shape is indicative of an intrinsic understanding, hard-wired into the composition of man that allows for thoughts and ideas to be molded and received. With this realization of language, combined with a temporal quality as it happens in time, and man to man exchange (discourse), a narrative is created.

Following this progression, a narrative is – simply put – a narration or a story. The author recounts events that would influence her characters’ actions and interactions as she endorses the supremacy of rational faculty in the narrative by telling the background of the featured characters and the instances that impel them. Austen manages this in the fictive world yet the text itself has been made into a reality – a new world. And this world opens many interpretations that promote ideas and further discussion to seep through in the non-fictive life.

One of these interpretations would be how the narrative reinforces traditional cause and established norms as Elizabeth Bennet examines humanity and its state in an amusing manner instead of highlighting the capacity of nature to kindle mankind into improving the existing order of things. And while doing so, it reveals the truth set in Austen’s time, unadorned with romantic tendencies specifically through a discourse on what transpires within the highly stratified social classes. By understanding narratives, one is more likely to understand life for the reason that an important aspect of the narrative is verisimilitude.

For example, most passages in the novel allow an inside look on what comprises society and how the social efficacy works in relation to the way people live their lives, furthermore, it inspires a comprehensive revelation of the prerequisites to befit a particular social class. This idea may re-interpret one’s notion of a social system which changes the very self of a reader. The nuances are augmented through the telling of the stories of the Bennets, Bingleys, and Darcys and these depictions of the society in the texts produce the texture of verisimilitude that inundates the entirety of the narrative and gives great emphasis on the battle of individualism and the compliance to hierarchy and social structure –matters that can re-contextualize and refigure life.

Unto the subject of identity, the narrative plays a big role in answering the question, “Who am I?” And what better way to respond than to divulge a life that encapsulates one’s totality as a human person. One is only able to enlighten one’s identity by re-telling and recapturing the moments that articulate very well the core of a person and by the examination of settings in which one can construct who one is or is not. If asked whom Mr. Darcy is, one would only have to narrate the reason he decides to visit the town, how he acts and describes the places and the people surrounding him, or possibly an event that happened at some point in his life that is deemed significant enough to affect who he is at present.

Extraordinarily, one is able to produce an identity simply by narrating because of the way one contemplates what is possible and its limitations. And while yes, there are many chances of miscalculation that may cause one to misinterpret one’s own identity, there is still something telling in one’s synthetic detailing and imperfection – harmony and unity; two qualities that set life in motion. And life in motion allows for the rumination of what it means to be a person, to have an identity.

Therefore, what is life without the narrative and why are we unable to understand life without it? Primarily because the narrative is the very backbone of life itself as it has the elements that make the human life possible – in its ability to communicate a story, construct an identity, determine the past, present, and the future, create change, and offer knowledge and ideas that require discourse in order to proliferate.

Consequently, a narrative speaks of this personal compilation of acting and suffering as it responds to the humanistic quality of thrown-ness and conditioned-ness, of an existence that may hold meaning towards death as it refrains from trivializing seemingly inconsequential instances, of an unembellished identity as it brings coherence to the countless moments and points of substance that may generate an authentic version of who one is, or of this condensation of a multitude of happenstances that lead toward a beginning or an end as it does not fail to include and concede to the inevitability of the weight of timing, fate and chance – all of which pertain to the grand scheme which is life.

One is only able to make sense of the cacophony of life by applying melodiousness and harmony through a story. And this, in itself, is why we one remains incapable of making sense of life without the assistance of the narrative and its meanings.

By: Meggy Garcia