Morals and Humanness in Storytelling to Achieve a Goal

“History, [Aristotle] says, narrates things that have happened, while tragedy relates to events or incidents that may happen.  And this . . . is the reason why tragic poetry is more philosophical than history; it speaks of universals, while history is an account of particulars.”

– Jan Solbakk (Bioethics Professor at University of Oslo and Bergen)

If considered in relation to a story told, the combination of these two realms of description-history and tragedy-are the basis of what we take to believe and define our own understandings of an event or phenomenon.  An unembellished description of an event may be true and easier in ways to comprehend but without the addition of tragedy-details, emotion, humanness-the story lacks the deeper potential to become real for the listener.  According to Bioethics Professor Jan Solbakk, things as simple as names of characters define the way that a story can appeal to us.  Outside of simple fact and data, a story needs to be tied to our own emotional reality to have the power for it to be accepted and integrated into our understanding of something.  Tragedy is the necessity for creating a deeper connection through story that provides a more capable avenue through which to share information in a way that is accessible to more people.

“Telling authentic personal stories . . . can help us get in touch with what really matters to us. These stories tap into the values of our “bigger selves”. They demand that we act from a more human and humane view of the world and they support us in doing so.”

-Geoff Mead (Managing Director of Narrative Leadership Associates, a group that focuses “use of story and narrative techniques to help develop ethical and sustainable leadership.”)

1.Geoff Mead. “How Storytelling Can Open Up the Moral Dimensions of Business Decisions.” 6 Dec. 2011. Web. Feb. 5 2013.

2. Jan Helge Solbakk. “The Moral Poetics of Storytelling.” University of Central Lancashire, Lancashire, UK. Feb. 5 2013.


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One Response to Morals and Humanness in Storytelling to Achieve a Goal

  1. Megan Saks says:

    Stories have the ability to expose aspects of our environment and ourselves that may be surprising and seemingly unfamiliar. A storyteller’s ability to guide an audience through an array of emotions appeals to a feeling or section of one’s humanity that is often repressed or ignored. Emotional appeal ventilates mental pressure through a sincere interaction between the giver and receiver of a story. Storytelling could almost be used therapeutically, and could grow and adapt to new communities, once again rising in value for its entrancing blend of the mystical and communicative.

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