This is Lecture Five

Narratives, Casuality and Logic

1. Narratives

The following introduction to narratives uses materials from these sites:
   Narratives as Instruments of Psychological Coherence           
   Introduction to Narratology           

Narrative: a linear ordering of facts, actions and events typical when telling a story.

Narrative theory in cognitive science: the theory that a story-like, narrative organization is fundamental to human cognition
        in various forms and at various levels.
            The narrative teory of consciousness  (Dennett)
            The narrative theory of personal identity    (McIntyre)
            Narratives as sources of psychological coherence
            Narratives as source of coherence about the world.

Features of a narrative:
        unique        single line or thread of events (later we will call this singular causation)
        temporal     the linear order is a temporal order
        coherent     narrative coherence is a linkage between the events that occur in the narrative (later we see that this is not circular)

"The old writers strived to unfold a simple and clear thread of rationalism from the strange, chaotic material of life; in their optic
action is born by a cause which we can grasp by reason, and the act gives rise to a new act. Adventure is nothing but a transparent
causal chain of such deeds.
Milan Kundera: The Art of the Novel

  "Narration refers to the way that a story is told, and so belongs to the level of discourse (although in first-person narration it may be that the narrator also plays a role in the development of the story itself). The different kinds of narration are categorized by each one's primary grammatical stance: either 1) the narrator speaks from within the story and, so, uses "I" to refer to him- or herself (see first-person narration); in other words, the narrator is a character of some sort in the story itself, even if he is only a passive observer; or 2) the narrator speaks from outside the story and never employs the "I" (see third-person narration). See also third-person omniscient narration; third-person-limited narration; and objective shot."

"NARRATOLOGY EXAMINES THE WAYS that narrative structures our perception of both cultural artifacts and the world around us. The study of narrative is particularly important since our ordering of time and space in narrative forms constitutes one of the primary ways we construct meaning in general. As Hayden White puts it, "far from being one code among many that a culture may utilize for endowing experience with meaning, narrative is a meta-code, a human universal on the basis of which transcultural messages about the nature of a shared reality can be transmitted". Given the prevalence and importance of narrative media in our lives (television, film, fiction), narratology is also a useful foundation to have before one begins analyzing popular culture."

"One goal of narratological theory is to figure out how exactly words come to refer at all, how words come to make sense."
It is not true the a narrative consists of words arranged in a certain order - words obtain meaning through their position in
the narrative.
        At the intuitive level, we immediatly see the possible relevance of this concept to Wittgenstein and mechanisms.
        In the following, we will unfold this idea.

<Recalling Wittgenstein's vocabulary, Ricoeur suggests that, "if narrating is a unique 'language-game,' and if a language game 'is part of an activity or a form of life,' then we must ask to which form of life narrative discourse as a whole is bound" (Ricoeur 1981: 274). Ricoeur says that any narrative is endowed with an episodic dimension, the dimension of time, which is expressed in the succession of events; and a non-chronological dimension, which constructs "meaningful totalities out of scattered events." An essential aspect, "the art of narrating, as well as the corresponding art of following a story, ... require that we are able to extract a configuration from a succession" (ibid:278).
Narrative may be considered as the outcome of an act of interpretation which gives meaning to a sequence of actions. >

We will see (or at least suggest) that the actual relationship is the opposite: "language-game" is based on narratnio which is not "a form of life"
but the organizing frame of all possible "forms of life", human and animal.

2. Properties of Narratives

Albrecht Durer: Woodcut to Wie der Würffel auff ist Kumen (Nuremberg: Max Ayrer, 1489).

What do we see on this picture? (copyright as above)
Of course, equipped with the concept we are discussing, we can now say that this is a narrative.

"... the image presents an entire narrative sequence as a single pictorial representation, thus illustrating how a story or fabula can be completely re-presented by discourse or sjuzet. The story goes something like this: 1) The first "frame" of the sequence is the right-hand half of the image, in which a travelling knight is stopped by the devil, who holds up a die to tempt the knight to gamble; 2) the second "frame" is the bottom-left-hand corner of the image, where a quarrel breaks out at the gambling table; 3) the third "frame" is the top-left-hand corner of the image, where the knight is punished by death on the wheel. By having the entire sequence in a single two-dimensional space, the image comments on the fact that narrative, unlike life, is never a gamble but always stacks the deck towards some fulfilling structural closure. (A similar statement is made in the Star Trek episode I analyze under Lesson Plans.) Here, the structural relationship between temptation and punishment is underlined by the fact that the two actions are juxtaposed on the top-right and top-left hand of the image. Temporal action is thus re-presented as a spatial juxtaposition" Introduction to Narratology

On the example of the Durer woodcut we see several properties of narratives.

role of causation
        this role is made explicit here: actions and events do not just freely "follow"each other but are consequences
narrative as explanation
        see in particular the possiblity of a "backwards" reading": e.g. why does the execution happen?
narratives need not be text
         now it is a picture - typically, a visual narrative is an animation, here it is a static animation;
         in cognitive structures it can be a
time is space
        this is true even for a sequence like a text or a movie - the structure is spatial but the perception is temporal again
        (speech is not a narrative; but speech can have narrative organization or can serve a narrative - as in, well, narration)
order is imposed
        the order is artificial:  it looks natural because it reflects the actual temporal succession of events
        but to see the artificiality, consider this: many other causes and consequences exist, that are not "lifted into" the narrative
        some of them could constitute another narrative (e.g. about the horse, the dice, etc)
        but other events happen also in parallel, and a singular narrative is very special way of representing the entire process
        so we can ask:
                which events consitute a narrative and why?
                 (a) why do they deserve to be arranged in a narrative?    (b) why do they belong to the same narrative?

3. Causality in Narratives
It would be a mistake to think that causation enters narratives because narratives tell stories of human acts and these latter are causal.
(A superficial reading of the Kundera quote would imply this).
It is the opposite: those events will be united in a narrative which have a causal connection - of a special kind.

Remark: narratives need not be stories of human acts, they are series of events in general.

The claim here is that a narrative is not just a sequence of any events
            but a sequence of events that consitute a mechanism.
In the deep, underlying the narrative, there is a mechanism.
The narrative structure is a copy of the mechanism structure
            linear, temporal arrangement, etc etc.
Narratives are possible because there are mechanisms that can be reproduced.
A narrative is a reproducion of a mechanism in the cognitive domain.

The concept of mechamism in this context
            says more: a mechanism is a causal system of a special kind
            fundamental: the animal origin of narratives
The role of repetition
        a mechanism is a causal system that can be repeated
        without this, a narrative is not possible
                (i.e. both mechanisms and narratives support counterfacturals)
                (cf. the metaphoric use of 'iterable' and 'reference' by Derrida vs Searle)

The episodic organization of narratives
        observation from literary theory, film theory etc.:
        narratives consist of smaller meaningful parts, called episodes
        an episode is a unit of meaning
        episodes are treated as entities - e.g. they are subjects of anaphora (i.e. jumps)   
                    Anaphora is coreference of one expression with its antecedent.    
                          The antecedent provides the information necessary for the expression's interpretation.

                          This is often understood as an expression “referring” back to the antecedent.
         episodes probably are elementary mechanisms

Example: the narrative of the Durer picture consists of three episodes (temptation, dice, execution)
The mechanism view of narratives gives episodes an "ontological" interpretation.
At the same time it explains the origin of narrative coherence.

4. Narratives and Cognition

"Narrative imagining is a fundamental feature of thought.
"Narrative imaginging is a literary capacity indispensable to human congition generally.... the everyday mind is essentially literary."
Mark Turner: The Literary Mind, OUP, 1996.

Narratives in psychology
In a typical interpretation of narratives, the narrative organization is a property or a construct of the mind.
    Property of mind - e.g. organization of memory and recall
    Consrtuct of mind - e.g. the mind "likes" to establish coherence by projecting a stucture into things; narrative would be an example
    Anti-associationism (the same role is played in Chomskyan linguistics by grammar)

Historical narratives, folk tales etc (Vladimir Propp)
    Behind the rich world of fantasy there is much control
    Even fairy tales and other seemingly completely unlimited stories are variations of but a few characters, actors, and
        a few functional plots, they are not free and disordered.
    Stories follow well-established lines.

Narratives as imposed order
    linguistic order beyond grammar and sentence
    inernal order which can be a mirror of exernal (temporal) order

Narration as an instrument for coherence
    (1) Temporal order is the basis of the ordering of experience, not just external events.
        The "narrative re-creation of the world" is based on subjective narrative time, as a firm starting point of the subject, a scaffolding or footing.
    (2) A story needs a hero - a proactive agent with goals and a perspective --. the narrative creation of the self as such a hero
        The essential element is the linkage, therefore coherence, of the acts of the hero.

Narratives in language and physical processes
It is usually assumed that narratives are intimately bound to specifically human capacities and to the structure of language.
    In fact it is a tempting assumtion that human thought is linguistic, because it is narrative (or narrative because lingustic).
[But] the causal view of narratives makes narrative cognition quite independent of language.
    Things are turning around: Language is made possible and words can obtain meaning because they can use (animal) narratives.
Language game is a particular (social) human mechanism.

Instead of mental coherence, narratives are based on physical coherence.
We should not be misled by the words.
We are not duscussing literary theory, or not even psychology.
We are discussing mental processes and physical processes from the point of view of naturalism.

5. Causality, Narratives and Counterfactuals

Narratives and Logic
Many people think there is a connection, but exactly what is this connection?
For instance, a narrative (a coherent story) is "logical", or "rational".
But is it rational because it follows an independent standard of rationality in the mind?
Or is it rationl because it serves as a basis of what we will acknowledge as rational?
In other words: is is a consequence or a source of logic and rationalism?

Modus Ponens and the Origin of Formal Consequence
It is often believed that there exist built-in domain-independent logical forms.
Modus ponens is an example.
Modus ponens, definition:        {if A then B  & A }----> B
"Nothing is simpler" - but that is misleading.
            the if.... then connective by itself would generate "wrong" cases
            it does not allow for deduction so we need some tool
            and even with the introduction of modus ponens there is the famous problem of regress
            a solution is to use it on no particular logical ground --- perhaps a psychological rather than logical rule
Justification of the psychological view
            empirical tests on natural deduction show that modus ponens always works
            modus tollens and other forms may or may not work

A mechanism (a narrative) is a sequence of modus ponens instances built into the connective.
The reason is that a mechanism (a narrative) is based on one type of case - the positive case - only.
The connective has no negative cases and so it is used by itself as a deduction rule.
The various roles (propositional and deductive) are mixed in a narrative.

To think in/about mechanisms is to think in such a way which in logic is called modus ponens.
But mechanisms are very simple and fundamental, biologically prior to language and logic.
Therefore, mechanisms (narratives) are the probable origin of modus ponens.
If this picture is corect, it is not modus ponens which is introduced to connectives but
        probably, modus ponens is there and connectives are introduced when negation occurs.
Modus ponens appears to be prior to language.

The Origin of Negation
Again, these remarks are going to be very rudimentary.

Negation is a famous problem in logic and formal thinking.
        To intriduce this difficulty is not the subject of these lectures.
         Help: imagine "no food" - what does it mean? Compare this with "no unicorn".
         (e.g. why food is what is not - if no food, why food?)
Natural numbers, objects etc are all "positive instances"
Mechanisms are also positive instances.
In short, negation is not a natural concept, humans (possibly animals?) are bad in
        negative thinking (e.g. modus tollens, e.g. the Wason test etc.)
There is no effortless processing - one needs to "think" indeed (timing experiments show that this is the case).

(1) Why is that so? Why is an effort required? (2) How does negation appear at all?

Ad (1) A negative sentence is not a mixed proposition  + deduction scheme as we are familiar in narratives.
    A negative sentence is purely propositional. To have deduction (if the suggestion is correct) one
    needs modus ponens; to this, one needs positive cases. So there is extra work for constructing a model
    of the situation which is based on positive cases.

Ad (2) Narratives (mechanisms) support negation; they do this by means of their organized form.
    We recall that a narrative is not an association between events but is e.g. repeatable.
    Repeatability exists because of causality (as we discussed).
    Mechanisms support counterfactuals and negation because thinking about a mechanism can reveal
        what happens in the mechanism when "we do something else".
    This is positive action so it is free from the problem of negation.

How does it work?
    The basic form of mechanism is     if A .. then B
    now we have this                          if C..  then ...  (operating the mechanism will reveal the outcome)
                                                        if D..  then...   (operating the mechanism will reveal the outcome)
    But if a mechanism is causal, this (in modern logical language) typically means: if not A then not B.
    so                                                 if C..  then ...E
                                                        if D..  then...  F
    contrasting these positive cases it is perhaps tempting (i.e. a small evolutionary step) to introduce
                                                        {C,D} = not A
                                                        {E,F} = not B
Obviously, nergation in this form is based on the missing of the positive case - where the word "miss"
        has a very concrete meaning (we operate mechanisms because we want B; now only A can do it)

6. To Summarize:
Narratives are (based on) mechanisms
Narratives are fundamental for cognition because mechanisms are fundamental for embodiment (and e. is fundamental for c.)
If text was the basic building stone of the Cartesian mind (and the Cartesian world view)       --- the speculative
    then mechanism-like action-event complexes are the basis for the biological mind              --- the material

When studying the human mental states, we need a substrate that can support a dynamic mind of narratives.
(Mental models will be tools that are able to reproduce mechanisms in that way).