Existentialism and Multiplicity

Blog 15 Sept 2016

I am doing a talk on ‘Existentialism and the Dialogical Self’ at the SEA conference at the end of this month, and I was very unsure at first as to how much material I could find on multiplicity in the existential literature. But now I have found a great deal, and have actually bought a book by Nehamas which looks to have a lot of interesting material on Nietzsche – a man with opinions on everything! I had completely forgotten that Mick Cooper (an existentialist if ever there was one) and I had actually edited a book together on this very thing! It was called ‘The Plural Self’ and came out in 1999. Then of course there is Kierkegaard, who not only wrote about such things, but actually went to the length of writing whole books with different authors’ names and different points of view! So now I am much more confident, and hope to show that the theory of the Dialogical Self is well placed to clarify and extend the existential approach to multiplicity within the person.
Earlier this month I went to the Ninth International Conference on the Dialogical Self in Lublin, Poland, and was very encouraged there to see the variety of material being offered. Actually it seems that the biggest conference yet was held in Oxford, with people from about 50 different countries present. It is amazing to me how little known the Dialogical Self Theory is still, even after all the books and conferences and research papers. I have myself contributed to one of these, the Handbook of Dialogical Self theory, which came out in 2012 under the editorship of Hubert Hermans and Thorsten Gieser.
In my Lublin talk I introduced the idea of the carnivalisation of therapy, where one turns everything upside down at times, and mentioned a video which can be found on YouTube under the label ‘Topsy Turvy Day’. Therapy needs continuous fresh thinking, it seems to me, and Dialogical Self Theory can help in this.

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