Paul Ricoeur

Paul Ricoeur

Infobox Philosopher
region = Western Philosophy
era = 20th-century philosophy
color = #B0C4DE

name = Paul Ricoeur
birth = February 27, 1913 Valence, France
death = May 20, 2005 Chatenay Malabry, France
school_tradition = Continental philosophy Phenomenology· Hermeneutics Psychoanalysis· Christian theology
main_interests = Phenomenology Moral philosophy Political philosophy Philosophy of language Personal identity· Historiography Literary criticism Ancient philosophy
notable_ideas = Hermeneutics· Philosophy of action Narrative identity
influences = Heidegger· Jaspers· Gadamer Kant· Husserl· Arendt· Lévinas
influenced = Jacques Derrida· Richard Kearney John Caputo

Paul Ricœur (born February 27, 1913 in Valence France; died May 20, 2005 in Chatenay Malabry, France) was a French philosopher best known for combining phenomenological description with hermeneutic interpretation. As such, he is connected to two other major hermeneutic phenomenologists, Martin Heidegger and Hans-Georg Gadamer.


Ricœur was born in a devout Protestant family, making him a member of a religious minority in Catholic France.

Ricœur's father died in a 1915 World War I battle when Ricœur was only two years old. He was raised by his paternal grandparents and an aunt in Rennes with a small stipend afforded to him as a war orphan. Ricœur, whose penchant for study was fueled by his family's Protestant emphasis on Bible study, was bookish and intellectually precocious. Ricœur received his "license" in 1933 from the University of Rennes and began studying philosophy at the Sorbonne in 1934, where he was influenced by Gabriel Marcel. In 1935, he was awarded the second-highest agrégation mark in the nation for philosophy, presaging a bright future.

World War II interrupted Ricœur's career, and he was drafted to serve in the French army in 1939. His unit was captured during the German invasion of France in 1940 and he spent the next five years as a prisoner of war. His detention camp was filled with other intellectuals such as Mikel Dufrenne who organized readings and classes sufficiently rigorous that the camp was accredited as a degree-granting institution by the Vichy government. During this time he read Karl Jaspers, who was to have a great influence on him. He also began a translation of Edmund Husserl's "Ideas I".

Ricœur taught at the University of Strasbourg between 1948 and 1956, the only French university with a Protestant faculty of theology. In 1950, he received his doctorate submitting (as is customary in France) two theses: a "minor" thesis translating Husserl's "Ideas I" into French for the first time, with commentary, and a "major" thesis that he would later publish as "Le Volontaire et l'Involontaire". Ricœur soon acquired a reputation as an expert on phenomenology, then the ascendent philosophy in France.

In 1956, Ricœur took up a position at the Sorbonne as the Chair of General Philosophy. This appointment signaled Ricœur's emergence as one of France's most prominent philosophers. While at the Sorbonne, he wrote "Fallible Man" and "The Symbolism of Evil" published in 1960, and "Freud and Philosophy: An Essay on Interpretation" published in 1965. These works cemented his reputation. Jacques Derrida was an assistant to Ricœur during this time.

From 1965 to 1970, Ricœur was an administrator at the newly founded University of Nanterre in suburban Paris. Nanterre was intended an experiment in progressive education, and Ricœur hoped that here he could create a university in accordance with his vision, free of the stifling atmosphere of the tradition-bound Sorbonne and its overcrowded classes. Nevertheless, Nanterre became a hotbed of protest during the student uprisings of May 1968. Ricœur was assaulted by a student mob and derided as an "old clown" and tool of the French government.

Disenchanted with French academic life, Ricœur taught briefly at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, before taking a position at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago, where he taught from 1970 to 1985. His study culminated in "The Rule of Metaphor: Multi-disciplinary Studies of the Creation of Meaning of Language" published in 1975 and the three-volume "Time and Narrative" published in 1984, 1985, and 1988. Ricoeur gave the Gifford Lectures in 1985/86, published in 1992 as "Oneself as Another". This work built on his discussion of narrative identity and his continuing interest in the self.

"Time and Narrative" secured Ricœur's returned to France in 1985 as an intellectual superstar. His late work was characterised by a continuing cross-cutting of national intellectual traditions; for example, some of his latest writing engaged the thought of the American political philosopher John Rawls.

On November 29, 2004, he was awarded with the second John W. Kluge Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Human Sciences (shared with Jaroslav Pelikan).

Paul Ricœur died in his house of natural causes. French Prime Minister Jean Pierre Raffarin declared that "the humanist European tradition is in mourning for one of its most talented exponents".


* Gabriel Marcel and Karl Jaspers. "Philosophie du mystère et philosophie du paradoxe". Paris: Temps Présent, 1948.
* "Entretiens sur l'Art et la Psychanalyse (sous la direction de Andre Berge, Anne Clancier, Paul Ricoeur et Lothar-Henry Rubinstein)" (1964), Mouton, Paris, La Haye 1968.
* "Freedom and Nature: The Voluntary and the Involuntary", trans. Erazim Kohak. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1966 (1950).
* "History and Truth", trans. Charles A. Kelbley. Evanston: Northwestern University press. 1965 (1955).
* "Fallible Man", trans. with an introduction by Walter J. Lowe, New York: Fordham University Press, 1986 (1960).
* "The Symbolism of Evil", trans. Emerson Buchanan. New York: Harper and Row, 1967 (1960).
* "Freud and Philosophy: An Essay on Interpretation", trans. Denis Savage. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1970 (1965).
* "The Conflict of Interpretations: Essays in Hermeneutics", ed. Don Ihde, trans. Willis Domingo et al. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1974 (1969).
* "Political and Social Essays", ed. David Stewart and Joseph Bien, trans. Donald Stewart et al. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1974.
* "The Rule of Metaphor: Multi-Disciplinary Studies in the Creation of Meaning in Language", trans. Robert Czerny with Kathleen McLaughlin and John Costello, S. J., London: Routledge and Kegan Paul 1978 (1975).
* "Interpretation Theory: Discourse and the Surplus of Meaning". Fort Worth: Texas Christian Press, 1976.
* "The Philosophy of Paul Ricœur: An Anthology of his Work", ed. Charles E. Reagan and David Stewart. Boston: Beacon Press, 1978.
* "Theology after Ricœur", Dan Stiver, Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000.
* "Essays on Biblical Interpretation" (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1980)
* "Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences: Essays on Language, Action and Interpretation", ed., trans. John B. Thompson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981.
* "Time and Narrative" ("Temps et Récit"), 3 vols. trans. Kathleen McLaughlin and David Pellauer. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984, 1985, 1988 (1983, 1984, 1985).
* "Lectures on Ideology and Utopia", ed., trans. George H. Taylor. New York: Columbia University Press, 1985.
* "From Text to Action: Essays in Hermeneutics II", trans. Kathleen Blamey and John B. Thompson. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1991 (1986).
* "À l'école de la philosophie". Paris: J. Vrin, 1986.
* "Le mal: Un défi à la philosophie et à la théologie". Geneva: Labor et Fides, 1986.
* "Oneself as Another" ("Soi-même comme un autre"), trans. Kathleen Blamey. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992 (1990).
* "A Ricœur Reader: Reflection and Imagination", ed. Mario J. Valdes. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991.
* "Lectures I: Autour du politique." Paris: Seuil, 1991.
* "Lectures II: La Contrée des philosophes." Paris: Seuil, 1992.
* "Lectures III: Aux frontières de la philosophie." Paris: Seuil, 1994.
* "The Philosophy of Paul Ricœur", ed. Lewis E. Hahn (The Library of Living Philosophers 22) (Chicago; La Salle: Open Court, 1995)
* "The Just", trans. David Pellauer. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000 (1995).
* "Critique and Conviction", trans. Kathleen Blamey. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998 (1995).
* "Thinking Biblically", (with André LaCocque). University of Chicago Press, 1998.
* "La mémoire, l'histoire, l'oubli". Paris: Seuil, 2000.
* "Le Juste II". Paris: Esprit, 2001.

Further reading

* Pamela Sue Anderson, 1993. "Ricœur and Kant: philosophy of the will". Atlanta: Scholars Press.
* Bernard P. Dauenhauer, 1998. "Paul Ricœur: The Promise and Risk of Politics". Boulder: Rowman and Littlefield.
* François Dosse, 1997. "Paul Ricœur: Les Sens d'une Vie". Paris: La Découverte.
* W. David Hall, 2007. "Paul Ricoeur and the Poetic Imperative". Albany: SUNY Press.
* Don Idhe, 1971. "Hermeneutic Phenomenology: The Philosophy of Paul Ricœur". Evanston: Northwestern University Press.
* David M. Kaplan, 2003. "Ricœur's Critical Theory". Albany, SUNY Press.
* Richard Kearney, 2004. "On Paul Ricœur: The Owl of Minerva". Hants, England: Ashgate.
* David E. Klemm, 1983. "The Hermeneutical Theory of Paul Ricoeur: A Constructive Analysis". Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press.
* Gregory J. Laughery, 2002. "Living Hermeneutics in Motion: An Analysis and Evaluation of Paul Ricoeur's Contribution to Biblical Hermeneutics". Lanham: University Press of America.
* Charles E. Reagan, 1996. "Paul Ricœur: His Life and Work". Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
* Karl Simms, 2002. "Paul Ricœur", Routledge Critical Thinkers. New York: Routledge.
*Henry Isaac Venema, 2000. "Identifying Selfhood: Imagination, Narrative, and Hermeneutics in the Thought of Paul Ricoeur" (Mcgill Studies in the History of Religions), SUNY Press.

ee also

* Continental philosophy
* Postmodern Christianity
* Theopoetics
* "Esprit"

External links

* Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: [ Paul Ricoeur] -- by Bernard Dauenhauer.
* Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: [ Paul Ricoeur] -- by Kim Atkins.
* [ Irish Theological Association]
* [ Fonds Ricoeur - Paris]

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