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Philosophy and Life Writing

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Philosophers have long been interested in the nature of the self and in the meaning and narrative structure of human lives. Many philosophers have themselves written autobiographies. Descartes’s Meditations, Augustine’s Confessions and Rousseau’s Confessions are all frequently cited as early influences on the writing of autobiography. Yet there has been very little direct, theoretical and systematic interest from philosophers in the modern boom in autobiographical writing.

The Journal of Life Writing wishes to compile a special themed edition, to be entitled ‘Philosophy and Life Writing’. Possible topics include, but are not limited to the following:

* Classic philosophic life writing (Augustine, Rousseau, Mill, Sartre etc).
* How philosophers fashion their life narratives compared to other disciplines.
* The relationship between subjectivities, truth, and philosophic abstractions.
* The influences of class, gender, race and nation; and the intersections of temporality and life narrative.
* The role of faith in one’s self-understanding (perhaps with a reference to Kierkegaard).
* The limits of narrative in the auto/biographical genre (perhaps with reference to Ricoeur).
* The problem of understanding people in different times and places: historical biographies.
* Can there be a complete secular biography of a devout religious believer?
* To what degree should the biographer judge the subject?
* The balance between luck and self-determination in the biography.
* How the meaning of a person’s life changes over time: different biographies of the same person.
* The relative advantages of writing a biography about a living person and a dead person.
* The place of vanity and humility in autobiography.
* Internalised oppressive self-conceptions and autobiography.
* The right of response from those written about in others’ memoirs/autobiographies.
* Do dying autobiographers have nothing to lose, and therefore are most authentic?
* Autobiography as revenge and punishment.

Submission guidelines:

Abstracts should be between 500 and 750 words and include the author’s institutional affiliation if any. Due date for abstracts: 1 May 2017.

Abstracts should be emailed as a Word document to the journal’s editor at:

Final due date for completed papers if abstract is accepted: 1 January 2018.

For further details about the special themed edition, see the dedicated website:

For further details about the journal, see the website: