I currently am dickering with a publisher for a new book that I've written with two colleagues, Byron Bissell and Jim Wise.
The dickering is about the format, which consists of chapters about narrative theory followed by a short commentary written
by Jim. We'll hold out for doing it this way, but it may take time to find someone who will agree. Here is what the book contains
(sorry about the different type faces):
A New Theory of Mind:
The Theory of Narrative Thought
Lee Roy Beach, Byron Bissell, and James
Narratives are the stuff of
ongoing conscious experience, of moment-to-moment thinking, of the richness of mental life, and they are the foundations for
informed guesses about the future. They are a mixture of memories, of visual, auditory, and other imagery, and the accompanying
emotions. Their elements are symbols that stand for real or imagined events and actors (including oneself), where the actors
are animate beings or inanimate forces. The events and actors are linked by causality and implied purpose. That is, a narrative
consists of a temporal arrangement of events that are purposefully caused by animate beings (including oneself) or are the
result of inanimate forces. The narrative’s storyline is its meaning, which is created by a coherent arrangement of
the events and actors; where coherence is provided by causality and an underlying timeline.
Causality is the structural backbone of narratives,
in large part because it implies temporality, which is a defining characteristic of narratives. This temporal aspect of causality
works both retrospectively (reasoning from effect to cause, which allows one to account for what is happening now as a result
of what has happened in the past) and prospectively (reasoning from cause to effect, which allows one to set expectations
for what will happen in the future as a result of what is happening now and what came before). A good narrative is plausible
if its actors’ actions contribute to the story line and are not uncharacteristic, i.e., are reasonably consistent across
narratives. A good narrative is coherent if the actions of the actors and the effects of those actions conform to the narrator’s
causal rules. In short, a good narrative makes sense.
Part I: Fundamentals
Chapter 1: Mind
A brief history of the concept of mind and the evolution
of modern Cognitive Science.
Chapter 2: Cognitive Abilities
The foundations of narrative thought: memory, perception,
reason, imagination and language.
Part II: Narrative Thought
Chapter 3: Narrative Urge
The physiological and developmental origins of narrative
Chapter 4: Narrative Thought
The nature and structure of cognitive narratives; using memories
of the past and perceptions of the present to derive expectations
about the future. Plausibility and coherence as standards
of narrative “goodness”.
Chapter 5: Narrator
The neurological and narrative origins of self, of “I.
Sources of incorrect information that corrupt narratives and
lead to flawed expectations about the future.
Part III: Narrative and Action
Chapter 7: Managing the Future
Appraising the desirability of the expected future and taking
action if it falls short.
Chapter 8: Narrative-based Decisions
The mechanism for appraising the expected future and selecting
Chapter 9: Public Narratives
The origin of shared narratives and their psychological and
Chapter 10: Narrative Tyranny
Dealing with the profusion of narratives that occupy our thoughts.
IV: Mind Revisited
Chapter 11: A New Theory of Mind
A recap of the Theory of Narrative Thinking.