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Lee Roy Beach: Blog, Art, and Publications about The Psychology of Narrative Thought

New Book Coming

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 A. Wise 

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 thought.

            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.        

            Chapter 6: Narrative Errors

                                    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 corrective action.

            Chapter 9: Public Narratives

                                    The origin of shared narratives and their psychological and social significance.

            Chapter 10: Narrative Tyranny

                                    Dealing with the profusion of narratives that occupy our thoughts.

Part IV: Mind Revisited

            Chapter 11: A New Theory of Mind

                                                A recap of the Theory of Narrative Thinking.





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