Episodicity in Personal Indentity and in Empirical Research

Daniel Krchňák


The article presents the concept of episodic persons developed in the work of Galen Strawson. This concept presents people who don´t experience their life in the unity of life story. The concept of episodic personality is in this way alternative to widespread narrative theory of personal identity claiming, that our identity is based on our life story.

In the first part of the paper Strawson’s argumentation against the psychological narrativity thesis is presented, where we can already see some basic psychological features of an episodic person. It is shown how the episodic person differs in the self-experience (episodic does not experience himself in the past as the same self), resp. in their convictions concerning their own identity. As a central conviction fatalism is identified (meaning that fate is considered the author of one’s own identity). It is argued that self-constitution, which is a crucial point in narrative view, is in contradiction to fatalism.

The main aim of this paper is to base the concept of episodic identity on empirical data, which is done in the second part of the paper. The theory of time orientation from Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd is presented. It introduces the three major time orientations – past orientation, present orientation and future orientation. In more detailed way, the psychological profile of the present oriented person is described.. Fatalism and sensuality are identified as the basic common features of a present oriented person and episodic person. It is demonstrated that present orientation (unlike the other time orientations, which are in compliance with the narrative view of one’s own life), undermines narrative experience of one’s life, which is another connection between episodicity and present orientation. It is discussed how fatalism differs in the conception of a present-fatalistic and fatalism of an episodic person.


osobní identita, epizodická osoba, narativní identita, časová orientace, Galen Strawson, Philip Zimbardo


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Published by the Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic.
ISSN: 1212-9097