‘No One Is the Author of His Life’: Philosophy, Biography, and Autobiography

  • Christopher HamiltonEmail author


This chapter explores the kind of truth an (auto)biography can offer concerning the subject’s life. Any truth such a text offers will necessarily be problematic: it can never be more than a reconstruction from the point of view of the moment of writing, in various ways stylised. The chapter then turns to consider some work of Arendt on the concept of agency and argues, first, that our agency is decentred, that is, depends on social, political, and other forces the individual agent cannot fully know or control and, second, that (auto)biographical writing needs to take this into account. The chapter goes on to argue that there is nothing in an (auto)biography that could count as telling the truth of a life.


Arendt Agency Life Truth Reconstruction 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.King’s College LondonLondonUK

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