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Narrative:The beginning of Moral Discourse

By Edited Nov 18, 2016 1 2

Narrative: The beginning of Moral Discourse

Stories or narratives, apart from the entertaining function, help us to experience our lives and interpret our experiences. Narrative forms inform our values, our character, and how we see the world. They are central to our identity. Narratives include other genres like, parables, poems, rituals, artwork, and even life story (bio data) of a person.

The moral significance of narrative is the power of telling that it has impact on people than tightly argued ethical theory. Some people argued that narrative is the medium of moral communication. Jesus uses this medium by using a lot of parables in his preaching and teaching.

Good stories, apart from shaping the ethos of a community, and by participating in the community, shape and direct the vision and character of community members. The clear moral in the story "If Not Higher" is service to others. Such service is related to be with God. "If Not Higher" also shows two characteristics of good story. The first is the magnetic appeal which the listener or reader is drawn into the story and s/he participates in the story. It invites the reader or listener to share the insights, the revelation and transform the character in the story. It too shapes some thoughts of the reader.

The second is narrative as a form of moral discourse prioritizes the moral question of 'being' over the question of 'doing.' The two basic question of moral life are: "Who am I to be?" and what am I to do or pose communally? "Who are we to be?" and what are we to do?" The first question focuses on the sort of person one is. Narratives can influence the character of the listener or reader. The second question centres on the power of the narrative that it calls on the subjectivity of the person. Narratives "serve to illuminate 'what is at stake and what conduct is most appropriate.'" In doing so it puts readers and listeners into a frame of mind or shapes them to ask: What am I to do in such scenario?

The obvious problem is that there are too many of them, no judgment is adequate for one to be a good narrative of moral value. Narrative is sometimes contextually based and a few narrative can transcends these particularities. For a common ground to be established there is need for translation of one's position of narrative to an extent where a shared language must come about.

Narratives themselves rarely help us to adjudicate between competing claims. We must seek external sources or standards outside the narrative but related them to the narratives. Outside standard like 'truth' is an interesting one to consider when relating to stories. A story may not be true, but it may illustrate some truth.

Narrative initiates thinking about morality. It is true for people in oral culture like the Pacific. The stories of the Bible basically have this quality of timeless relevance to many people. The value of community narrative serves depends on context, but some narratives are unilateral like the narrative of the scripture that different schools of ethic are developed from.

An ethical/theological method of dialogue/interpretation must involves threes spheres of position, the two parties or persons, and the third positionality, that either sides must recognize the commonality of humanity that they both share for a real or genuine ethic of social justice to take place.
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Comments

Jun 8, 2010 2:28am
askformore
Great article! It inspired me to reflect over the differences (and yet similarities too) between the oral and written tradition.
Jun 8, 2010 4:05am
Jak2010
Askformore, Thanks again. This is what it is in my culture.
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