Paul Ricoeur’s essay “Aesthetic Judgment and Political Judgment According to Hannah Arendt” (The Just 2000 ) was originally published in French in 1994. Here Ricoeur expresses certain reservations about Arendt’s attempt to extrapolate Kant’s ideas in the Critique of Judgment so as to “aestheticize political judgment.” This echoes Ricoeur’s own dissatisfaction with Kant’s agenda in the Third Critique, for which he supplies his own amendments in the same essay. Ricoeur assumes that Arendt is simply following Kant and has similar problems in adapting aesthetic judgment to a framework that sustains political judgment. Although he acknowledges Arendt’s work on judgment was incomplete when she died in 1995, Ricoeur remains troubled on a number of counts. In particular, he would prefer that she include a teleological perspective because he implies her emphasis on plurality and toleration does not hold sufficient weight to sustain a just society – his own teleological ideal. Nor does he want the judgment of a single onlooker or spectator – now of an historical event, rather than of a beautiful work of art – to be hypostasized (2000: 108). Yet Ricoeur was basing his assessment of Arendt’s work on quite sketchy explorations of judgment. These appeared as an Appendix of only eighteen pages at the conclusion of Life of the Mind (1971: 255–72) and equally limited reflections in the closing sections of her Lectures on Kant’s Political Philosophy (1982, 50–85). The latter lectures were originally given at the New School in 1970. Arendt’s sudden death in 1995 halted any further work on judgment. In 2003, however, another series of Arendt’s essays, Responsibility and Judgment (from lectures in 1965 and 1966) appeared – edited by Jerome Kohn. In two essays, “Some Questions of Moral Philosophy,” and “Thinking and Moral Considerations,” Arendt expanded in detail on specific Kantian ideas concerning judgment. These works demonstrate quite clearly that Arendt was not simply blindly following Kant, and so only reiterating his positions – specifically on the topics of universality, commonsense, and communicability – as alleged by Ricoeur. In her work, Hannah Arendt and the Limits of Philosophy (1994), Lisa Jean Disch, who had access to all of Arendt’s work in the Library of Congress archives, provides a substantially different reading of Arendt’s notions of the above three crucial terms. According to Disch, judgment is inherently an intersubjective process for Arendt and not simply confined to the private world. Arendt thus reveals she regards judging in an entirely new way. This involves communicability as a mode of imaginatively entertaining the views of others and exploring many variations, rather than simply imputing one viewpoint to others, as Ricoeur implies. Imagination is key to this development. As a result, Arendt can reject the view of “the spectator” as a solitary thinker. This allows Arendt to demonstrate that exploring such a plurality of views is in keeping with a notion of common sense as referring more to “generally accepted ideas,” and not as something related to the formation of a universal concept. All of these emendations of Kant establish that, although Arendt herself still credited Kant for her insights, in Disch’s view, Arendt had substantially revised Kant’s positions, so that her understanding of political judgment had become an original and constructive contribution to contemporary political thinking. My intention in this paper is to examine both Ricoeur’s and Disch’s arguments, so as to evaluate their respective readings. My further aim is to establish if and how Arendt’s insights could be innovative in appreciating how imagination might contribute to a reading of political judgment that can accommodate freedom in a way that subverts imposed regulations or concepts yet avoids relativism.
Can the attestation of the self be a right to require? On the political implications of a hermeneutical concept Sebastián Kaufmann
Universidad Alberto Hurtado
Ricoeur defines attestation as the “assurance of being oneself acting and suffering” or as the “assurance – the credence and the trust – of existing in the mode of selfhood.” Ricoeur believes that it is possible to have some certainty about the cogito, not an absolute certainty, but a certainty nonetheless that Ricoeur calls “attestation.” This certainty is less than the unshakable certainty Descartes wanted but is more than the skepticism of Nietzsche. Thus, attestation is a concept that appears in the context of the hermeneutic of the self as an alternative to the Cartesian idea of the cogito and to the dissolution of the cogito of the Nietzschean tradition.
However, Ricoeur affirms in The Course of Recognition that “attestation has become a demand, a right to require, under the rubric of the idea of social justice.” Thus, in this statement we find that the concept of attestation, which is first developed in the context of a hermeneutics of the self, is presented here in the context of political philosophy as a demand, as a right to require.
This paper tries to make sense of this statement. In the first part, I present the concept of attestation as appears in Oneself as Another. In the second part, I discuss the social conditions that make possible the attestation of the self. In order to do it, I present how the concept of attestation must be understood in connection with the vulnerability of the self. As a consequence of that vulnerability, I will show that attestation, in order to be possible, needs specific social conditions. These social conditions are related, among others things, to the idea of the recognition of the capacities.
In the third part of my paper, as a conclusion, I will present the following thesis: we can make sense of the idea of attestation as a right if we understand attestation as not only something that can be achieved by the self but also as something that can be frustrated. The self, in this sense, can fail to attest. If that is the case, then society has the responsibility of making possible the attestation of the self.
Created Truth and Remade Reality in Painting:
From Jin Hao (833-917) to Ricoeur (1913-2005) Katia Ho Lenehan
Fu Jen University
This paper compares Jin Hao and Ricoeur on the topic of whether truth and reality is remade in painting. In my study of Ricoeur, I draw on his unpublished Lectures on Imagination. Lecture 17, on “The Pictorial Aspect of Reference,” is especially dedicated to the topic of painting. It seems that Ricoeur approached the topic of painting as a bridge between the poetic imagination and the epistemological imagination. His discourse on painting coincides with his theory of productive imagination, an insight I found akin to Jin Hao.
Ricoeur claims that what occurs in painting is the transfiguration of reality through an iconographic device. He adopts François Dagognet’s idea of “iconic augmentation” to elaborate his theory of fiction in painting. Fiction, thanks to its negativity, “discloses new dimensions of reality.”The idea of “iconic augmentation” thus expresses the “power of both condensing and expanding reality.” Dagognet’s argument is carried out by opposing iconic augmentation to the mere reduplicative function of the shadowy image. He criticized the platonic tendency in painting to advocate the principle that the copy is always less than the original, and accordingly “writing and pictures in general impoverish reality, because they are themselves less than real, are mere shadows as compared to real things.” Dagognet’s perspective perfectly echoes Ricoeur’s idea of fiction, since fiction “seems to be non-referential in the sense that it has no object, that a new kind of reference may be opened thanks to the absence of a real referent, of an original. Whereas the reproductive image is marginal as regards reality, it’s the function of productive imagination – of the fictional – to open and change reality.” Painting, when it breaks itself away from the function of copying the already existent object, creates its own original.
Feeling the History of Philosophy:
Applying Ricoeur’s Conception of Feeling to the Analytic and Continental Divide Todd Mei
University of Dundee
The relation between analytic and Continental philosophy has been described in various terms—according to differences in style, methodology, philosophical aims, and cultural roots. Whatever may be the case, the criteria used to assess relation and difference inevitably fall to an interpretation of the history of philosophy—in this case, looking at the shared point of origin or the moment of divergence between the two traditions. In other words, it appears that in order to make sense of the distinction between the two traditions, one must understand how the philosophical and conceptual lineages respective to each tradition have emerged. Michael Dummett’s (1994) study of the competing theories of meaning in Frege and Husserl is perhaps the most well-known in this respect.
Yet no matter how erudite and convincing these analyses may be [see also, Buckle (2004), Critchley (1998) and Glendinning (2006)], there is something troubling about the rigidity of their historical reconstructions. Ricoeur expresses this concern in his early writing in terms of the “contradiction of all historicity” (1965: 73), where interpretation of the history of philosophy is split by the two poles of singularity and unity—that is, respectively, the history of philosophy as a plurality of philosophers in which each philosopher is irreducibly singular and the history of philosophy as a unified whole, directed towards universal questions and answers. Ricoeur briefly explains that the two are derived from two irreconcilable “feelings” (1965: 74). This is an astonishing move given that what Ricoeur seems to be saying is that the philosophical drive to understand the history of philosophy is essentially non-philosophical. However, this identification of historicity with feeling is not developed in any more detail.
If one is to take seriously Ricoeur’s assessment of historicity and feeling, then two questions arise. First, how are we to view attempts to understand the relation between analytic and Continental philosophy when they deliberately make use of a reconstruction of philosophical lineages? Second, can an analysis of feeling be helpful in understanding the relation between analytic and Continental philosophy?
In this paper, I develop Ricoeur’s truncated comments on historicity and feeling in relation to his analysis of emotion in Freedom and Nature (1966). I apply this analysis to respond generally to the first question by showing how each pole can be identified with the emotion of distrust, or what is in Ricoeur’s parlance, a lack of “confidence” in the “stability” of being (cf. 2005: 63 ). To the second question, I argue that we can view the distinction between the analytic and Continental traditions in relation to distrust. As twentieth-century phenomena, the two traditions can be seen to follow distinct trajectories emerging from distrust. I will briefly describe these trajectories in terms of doubt and suspicion, respectively.
Buckle, Stephen (2004). “Analytic Philosophy and Continental Philosophy: The Campbell Thesis Revised,” British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 12:1, 111–150.
Critchley, Simon (1998). “Introduction,” in A Companion to Continental Philosophy, Simon Critchley and William R. Schroeder (eds.). Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 1–17
Glendinning, Simon (2006). The Idea of Continental Philosophy: A Philosophical Chronicle. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Dummett, Michael (1994). The Origins of Analytic Philosophy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Ricoeur, Paul (2005). The Course of Recognition, trans. D. Pellauer. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
---------- (1966). Freedom and Nature: The Voluntary and the Involuntary. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.
---------- (1965). History and Truth, trans. C. Kelbley. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.
Seeing the many in the one: a Ricoeurian reading of the authobiographical writings of the Tibetan Buddhist lama and mediator, Tsewang Norbu. Michael Monhart
Union Theological Seminary
New York, New York
The central aporias of this paper were generated by a couple of notes made by Ricoeur collected in Living Up to Death. There Ricoeur considers “detachment” conceived not as a negativity, but rather as an inner dynamic that opens oneself up to the other. Writing of the Rhineland mystics, he proposes that their “detachment” was not a loss; rather it was a gain that made “themselves available to the essential” and suggests that, in their active lives of teaching and traveling, they were “open to the fundamental through their detachment.” Going further he states that “It is openness to the essential, to the fundamental that motivates the transfer of the love of life to the other.” A few pages later he writes, almost as an aside, that perhaps Buddhism might be of help as attestation can conceal a resistance to such detachment.
Little work has been done placing Ricoeur in dialogue with Buddhist philosophy especially with regard to conflict mediation and the nature of ethical action. In this paper I read through autobiographical writings of the 18th century Tibetan Buddhist lama and diplomat Tsewang Norbu and provide an anthropological (and ultimately ontological) perspective on non-Western based issues of crisis and conflict resolution. Tsewang Norbu was known as a successful mediator of disputes between gods and demons, as well as human communities and governments. I examine the nature of his broad recognition of the other and situate the nature of this recognition in his particular conception of the self as constructed through a life narrative of promises kept, that is, religious vows observed.
Tsewang Norbu’s mediations of conflicts and disagreements are rooted in a specific ontology confirming, yet also complicating, Ricoeur’s rejection of Parfit’s “quasi-Buddhist erasure of identity.” Tsewang Norbu takes the view that ultimately nothing possesses a self-existing nature but nevertheless there are differences to be investigated (as in disagreements and conflicts). He retains the paradox maintained by Ricouer (in “Narrative Identity”) as “I am nothing.” We see, though, in Tsewang Norbu’s autobiographical writings a bridge deeper into this paradox through the authorship of his actions in resolving conflicts. He broadens the horizons of Ricoeur’s hermeneutic of self rooted in attestation and leads us back to a detachment cognizant of the fundamental which is open in wide frame to the other, and motivated, in Tsewang Norbu’s case, towards mediating action.
The Hermeneutics of Re-enactment:
Rethinking Ricoeur’s Criteriology of Symbols John Montani
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, New York
This paper takes as its starting point Ricoeur’s “Criteriology of Symbols” found in section two of the introduction of Symbolism of Evil. Through carefully examining Ricoeur’s intentional analysis of the symbol it is shown how the symbol’s inexhaustible meaning derives from the ineradicable relation between psyche and cosmos. The ‘double expressivity’ of psyche and cosmos, which constitute symbolic discourse, can only be understood through a fuller understanding of the poetic imagination’s active role in ‘sympathetic re-enactment’. With reference to Gaston’s Bachelard’s theory of material and dynamic imagination, as well as Ricoeur’s criteriology of symbols it is argued that the cosmic resonances and inexhaustibility of the symbol can be understood only if the role of the imagination becomes more clarified. In suggesting that reading Bachelard’s theory of imagination next to Ricouer’s criteriology of symbols the ‘re-enactment’ of symbolic expression becomes more robust and helps to amplify the language of confession, thus providing a more productive reading of Symbolism of Evil as a whole.
In drawing from Bachelard’s writings on reverie, childhood, and the “cogito” of the dreamer it is also possible to bring forth a better understanding of the oneric dimensions of the symbol and the possibility of engaging a text through a second naïveté. The ineradicable relation between psyche and cosmos along with the double expressivity of the symbol are seen to be central to following out Ricoeur’s maxim that the symbol give rise to thought. In beginning from the fullness of language, what must be achieved is a clarification of the imagination to help actively engage the believing soul in symbolic expression. The opacity of the symbol may contribute to understanding only if the emotions of the confessional soul are rendered properly through an imaginal participation in the symbol, which come to express us more than our mere reading of its expression. The paper is thus an attempt to reread Ricoeur’s intentional analysis of symbols in light of Bachelard’s writings on imagination, reverie, childhood, and the dream-soul, in hopes to supplement a richer engagement with the primary symbols we find in myth.
P.Ricoeur: “the memory work” question and the hermeneutic truth of history Sergey Panov, National Research Technologic University MISiS
Sergey Ivashkin, Central Library System №3
For P.Ricoeur the philosophy of memory determines a poetics of history. The memory is not only a «mourning work», this is a work on all consequences of a individual and collective traumatism, on a painful experiences, this work is to open an ability to express, which inevitably turns for P.Ricoeur to a «memory work» as a sphere of development of public judgement, of the collective relation to an impossible event in order to share together its substantial moments and to accept our common responsibility for its consequences.
The politics of judgement in the “memory work”, the work of judgement and the self-judgement of individual and collective history`s subjects in the tradition remove a cognitive, intellectual and practical autism which is interfered with an expression of the unity of perception, of thought and of will-to-action in an estimation of existence`s objective conditions. The experience of the intolerable trauma connects with the metaphysics of horror, which is for P.Ricoeur a symmetric negation of the sublime – this concept reflecting a special spiritual mood in its relation to something exceeding imaginative frameworks, to the Idea shown in the dissonance of subject`s cognitive capacities.
The horror of any casual consciousness before the indifferent Absolute forbids a subject to express himself, to speak about his existential experience, to become a witness. This horror ontologizes the event of Holocaust, imitating a nazi ontologization of Jews as «guilty on the fact of a birth». That is why in the politics of judgement it is absolutely necessary for the ethics of witness to divide concepts of person, of person condemned and of criminal: the history is not a linear embodiment of damnation and of compensation in any event violence`s series, it is an experience of self-knowledge, a dialogue and a pardon, that doesn't at all exclude for P.Ricoeur a necessity of historical and legal justice which is to be recognized collectively.
But what bases a hermeneutics of this historical memory? It is an unconditional impulse to search a self`s truth, an authenticity which should be incarnated always and equally in any experience, it expresses always the same desire of the modern subject – the desire of moral self-control in a magic appeal of a self(mis)understanding in any thought. The hermeneutic magic of self-understanding proceeding from the pure immediate fact of understanding is based on the Judaic magic of a creating word which produces both a context reality and conditions of its perception proceeding from the unique fact of pronouncing which transforms any individual or collective life into the judgement, that is necessarily subordinated to the logics of the common blind consent.
A Pragmatic Ricoeur? Robert Piercey
Campion College at the University of Regina
Much has been written about the links between classical American pragmatism and recent French philosophy. This work, however, has largely ignored Ricoeur. This is not surprising, since Ricoeur says little about the pragmatists, and what he does say deals with aspects of their work other than their pragmatism. But this lack of attention might lead us to overlook some striking affinities between Ricoeur and the pragmatists. This essay explores these affinities, and tries to determine the precise sense in which Ricoeur is, and is not, sympathetic to pragmatism.
I focus on three affinities between Ricoeur and the classical pragmatists. The first is a belief that hope is an important epistemological concept. Ricoeur expresses this belief in essays such as “Hope and the Structure of Philosophical Systems,” claiming that “[h]ope may concern philosophy not so much by proposing an object… but by requiring a change in the organization of philosophical systems.”0 This echoes a claim made by Peirce, who clarifies his conception of truth as the projected end of inquiry in terms of “a hope that [a] conclusion may be substantially reached concerning the particular questions with which our inquiries are busied.”0 Second, Ricoeur attaches great importance to the mediating functions of philosophy. He approaches problems dialectically, trying to overcome dualisms by thinking their poles dynamically. A similar impulse animates the work of William James, who calls pragmatism “a mediator and reconciler [that] ‘unstiffens’ our theories,”0 bridging the gulfs between rationalism and empiricism or idealism and materialism. Third, Ricoeur’s metaphilosophy is strikingly similar to that of the pragmatists. He insists that some problems that cannot be solved by armchair theorizing do admit of a sort of resolution in the practical sphere. (Oneself as Another cites tragic conflict as an example.) Ricoeur’s view echoes Peirce’s attempts to adjudicate theories of force and transubstantiation by looking to their practical effects alone.
Having explored these affinities, I ask whether they entitle us to call Ricoeur a pragmatic thinker. I argue that Ricoeur could not accept the most common form of pragmatism: namely, meaning pragmatism. He does not think differences in meaning just are differences in practice, such that our conception of an object’s practical effects “is the whole of our conception of the object.”0 Nevertheless, Ricoeur shares something important with pragmatism: his philosophical impulses are usually prospective rather than retrospective. Retrospective thinking, as I use the term, evaluates positions by tracing them back to something prior: first principles, constituting acts of consciousness, and so on. Retrospection, in Ricoeur’s words, “reabsorbs all rationality in the already happened meaning.”0 Prospective thinking evaluates positions by looking forward to something that arises out of them. Pragmatism is a prospective philosophy in that it evaluates positions by looking ahead to their practical consequences. Ricoeur’s thought is prospective in its privileging of “emerging meanings”0 over completed ones. To Ricoeur, what justifies a position is its ability to give rise to thought: not its retrieval of a “sunken Atlantis,” buts its promise of a “re-creation of language.”0
The Evolution of Recognition: A Research Proposal Kenneth A. Reynhout
The College of New Jersey
Ewing Township, New Jersey
In this paper I outline the contours of an interdisciplinary research program seeking to connect Ricoeur’s anthropology of recognition with the evolutionary sciences. Some of the most interesting and provocative theories in paleoanthropology concern the evolution of human morality and religion. Such theories are typically intellectualist (focusing on epistemic tendencies, i.e. belief formation), reductionist (questioning the veracity of moral and religious beliefs), and individualistic (methodologically prioritizing the individual over the social). To counter these trends I am proposing to apply the concept of recognition to human evolution. My working hypothesis is that developing capacities for recognition—of things, self, others, the good, the sacred, etc.—were key milestones in evolutionary history, ultimately allowing humans to be a specific kind of social, moral, and religious animal. This hypothesis is inspired in part by the structure of Ricoeur’s last complete monograph, The Course of Recognition, which traces a path from recognition as identification to recognizing oneself and finally to mutual recognition. It is doubtful Ricoeur understood this sequence in evolutionary or even developmental terms, but I am making the hermeneutical wager that human evolution followed a similar course of recognition. My wager is informed by the fact that recognition already appears in numerous places in evolutionary science, including animal cognition, mirror recognition in primatology, kin recognition, and theories of speciation. In this research project I hope to demonstrate that an emphasis on the evolutionary dynamics of recognition promises to better capture the interpersonal, social, ethical, and political aspects of the capable human.
Paul Ricoeur and Marjorie Suchocki: The Individual Act of Violence Stephanie Riley
In “Violence and Language,” Paul Ricoeur claims, “that the philosopher's task…is to take the largest view of the realm of violence, from its exterior nature against which we fight, through the nature within that overwhelms us, to, finally, the will to murder that, it is said, is nourished by each consciousness in its encounter with another.”0 This paper will take as its aim recognizing the root of violence in the individual and, thus, reinforcing the individual’s responsibility in attending to the potential for violent acts.
In “Violence and Language” Ricoeur mentions that some might argue that he stretches the notion of violence too far. The same criticism is made of Process Theologian’s Marjorie Suchocki’s conception of sin as violence in The Fall to Violence: Original Sin in a Relational Theology. Both Ricoeur and Suchocki locate violence within the individual’s capacity to act. For Ricoeur, violence emerges in individual speech, even in (and perhaps especially in) the speech-act of identity claiming. For Suchocki, violence is sin or “participation through intent or act in unnecessary violence that contributes to the ill-being of any aspect of earth or its inhabitants.”0 Both scholars recognize that violence begins with some sense of division between one and another.
The dialectic approach, putting Ricoeur in conversation with Suchocki, allows a textured exploration of how violence profoundly affects relationships, relationships with one’s self as well as relationships with others. Although the main theme will be violence, the assertion of violence as sin by Suchocki ushers in a consideration of Ricoeur’s analysis of sin, especially as expressed in The Symbolism of Evil, as an experience of being oneself, alienated from oneself. A sense of alienation characterizes Suchocki’s notion of sin as well, of sin perpetuated by violence. The assertion in this paper that all forms of violence start as internal, individual acts is supported by both Ricoeur’s notion of violence as originating in language and by Suchocki’s conception of sin as violence against creation. This conception of violence as sin, manifests in evil, which Ricoeur claims in The Symbolism of Evil obliterates the good, eradicates virtue, and systematically takes possession of an individual.
A possible resolution to the critical problem of violence that inhibits agency and relationality, for both Ricoeur and Suchocki, is forgiveness. For Ricoeur, forgiveness should unbind the agent from its act, originating in language, and thus, help him or her recognize plurality. For Suchocki, forgiveness equally lies in a transformation of the violence act itself. The paper will conclude by asserting that both the cause and the probable solution of violence rest within individual agency.
A Comparison of the Hermeneutic Strategies of Ricoeur and Rawls on Global Justice Rajesh Sampath
My paper will explore the hermeneutical strategies in Ricoeur’s The Just (1995) while comparing and contrasting it with the philosophical conceptions of Rawls’ influential corpus. Among other major Anglo-American moral and political philosophers, Ricoeur treats Rawls in particular detail in his own fascinating work on justice. However, at the time of Ricoeur’s publication, Rawls had yet to publish his statement on international justice, namely TheLaw of Peoples (1999), which is a compilation of previous lectures that spans the time-frame of A Theory of Justice (1971) to Political Liberalism (1993) and beyond. In particular I want to examine the modes of logic and argumentation in Ricoeur’s work to see if some of the concepts in The Law of Peoples can respond in kind to the challenges Ricoeur poses. In chapters three and four of The Just, namely “Is a Purely Procedural Theory of Justice Possible?” and “After Rawls’ A Theory of Justice,” Ricoeur analyzes two of Rawls’ major works prior to the publication of The Law of Peoples. Ricoeur’s critical analysis of Rawls’ first and second principles of justice will be evaluated while attempting responses to Ricoeur by way of reformulations of those principles within the broader international context that Rawls’ The Law of Peoples affords. It is obvious that Rawls’ A Theory of Justice points to the domestic case of a constitutional legal-procedural democracy and in particular the United States and its reliance on Anglo-American moral and legal philosophy. Ricoeur however comes out of a 20th century European context, which itself is the culmination of a long, broad history of Western philosophy. This indicates the underlying variance in hermeneutical strategies of perhaps an ‘American’ political philosophical mindset in Rawls (who readily admits distant European forbearers such as Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hume, Kant, Hegel and Mills) and Ricoeur’s more contemporary continental European philosophical context spanning the 1940s to the time of his death. I believe the paper falls under one of the sub-themes of the meeting, namely “Politics, History and the Hermeneutics of Historical Consciousness.’ It compares and contrasts the hermeneutic contexts of two different socio-cultural-political-economic structures—American and continental European—which has yielded two different types of philosophical expression. Technically speaking I will focus on Ricoeur’s questioning of the second principle in Rawls’ A Theory of Justice, namely the ‘difference principle.’ Here Rawls tries to justify income inequalities—first part of the second principle—in terms of fairness for the least advantaged and ‘authority and responsibility’—as Ricoeur puts it in The Just—in the second part of the second principle on ‘offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity.’ (A Theory of Justice)0 How can the import of Ricoeur’s hermeneutic strategies on a theory of global economic distributive justice be met by proposals that Rawls offers on the topic of economic fairness and international justice in The Law of Peoples? I hope to show that a comparison of the hermeneutic mechanisms that underlie the philosophical-historical consciousness of Rawls’ theories of justice (from A Theory of Justice to The Law of Peoples) and Ricoeur’s critical analysis of Rawls in The Just can help advance a new philosophical theory of international justice, particular on the issue of resolving global economic inequalities. Ultimately, I will attempt a synthesis of Ricoeur’s ‘hermeneutic reason’ with Rawls’ idea of ‘public reason.’
Religious Aesthetics and the “Glory of the Infinite” Roger W. H. Savage
University of California, Los Angeles
Johann Sebastian Bach’s declaration that the sole purpose of music was to be for the glory of God alone (Soli Deo Gloria) tasked music with a sublime vocation. In Bach’s music, the feeling of height that Paul Ricoeur pairs with the avowal of the feeling of absolute dependence thus acquires an inimitable form of expression. For Ricoeur, the avowal of this feeling of absolute dependence lies at the root of all religious attitudes. Religious feelings thus incline the
heart toward the object of its ultimate concern. Bach’s music, Ricoeur claims, marks out the threshold of religious aesthetics. For the “glory of the infinite”0—the name for height in philosophies of testimony—appears in Bach’s music without injunction or constraint.
By relating the “glory of the infinite” as figured in Bach’s music to the hermeneutics of testimony, I intend to draw out the distinctions and intersections between religious aesthetics and the ethico-moral power of exemplary acts. The irruption of the religious meaning of the term in the hermeneutics of testimony invites this complementary reading. The new dimensions that this religious meaning opens up witness to the absolute. The hermeneutics of testimony is inseparable from a project of liberation, in this respect. Here the originary affirmation that Ricoeur opposes to the claim to absolute knowledge opens the way to the feeling of exteriority of height via the testimony of exemplary acts and lives, from which the injunction to follow after issues.
The hermeneutics of testimony thus provides a critical corrective to the aesthetic gnosticism that dominated Romantic sensibilities. Jaroslav Pelikan argues that the Romanticism with which Pietism displayed so many affinities “believed in the redemptive power of tears.”0 Religious aesthetics invariably runs the risk of confusing poetic expressions of anguish and joy with the confession of faith. (Augustine’s acknowledgement of the difficulty of assigning music its proper devotional place attests to this risk.) Music’s power to redescribe affective dimensions of experience through sublimating the difference between being and our part in it prepares the heart for its conversion. In this regard, the aesthetic experience of exteriority and height stands in a complex relation to the call to consciousness that enjoins us to live according to the testimony of the absolute.
The Religious Sisters of the LCWR: Prophets of an Age of Hermeneutical Reason Joél Z. Schmidt
Salve Regina University
Newport, Rhode Island
On April 18, 2012, the Roman Catholic Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) released a document ordering the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in the United States to reform its statutes, programs and affiliations to conform more closely to “the teachings and discipline of the Church.” In this document the CDF drew particular attention to several issues including a policy of corporate dissent by the LCWR with respect to the church’s teaching that homosexuality is sinful, and that women should not be ordained priests. Undergirding these particular positions, the CDF averred, lay a mistaken understanding of the dynamic of prophecy in the church, which justifies dissent by positing the possibility of divergence between a legitimate theological intuition by some of the faithful, and the official teaching of the church’s magisterium. In contrast to such a view the CDF suggested that the magisterium acts as “the guarantor of the authentic interpretation of the Church’s faith.”
Ricoeur’s philosophical and religious writings can help us to analyze this situation, and discover how at its heart lies a respective embrace (LCWR) and substantial rejection (CDF) of an age of hermeneutical reason; operating within their own particular tradition the religious sisters of the LCWR prophetically model what it might mean for each of us to live a deeply committed life, inflected by an awareness of hermeneutical concerns. The aspects of Ricoeur’s work that help to illuminate this situation are multiple: i. the apparent appeal for “recognition” by the sisters of their “capacity” to interpret the church’s faith in relation to their context; ii. a contrast between an approach that begins with a self-founding Archimedean point (the magisterium’s assured correctness of interpretation), versus the vulnerable wager of a hermeneutical approach incorporating not only belonging/recollection but also self-critique; iii. the recognition that without critique hermeneutics becomes ideological, in the sense of a self-serving legitimation of authority; iv. the need for any tradition to integrate in the sense of a healthy ideology, and uproot in the sense of a healthy utopia, projecting toward the future in the mode of a “creative repetition” of the past; and v. the congruence between this pattern and Ricoeur’s analysis of a three-step dialectic of prophecy in the Hebrew Bible. What we find at the end of this itinerary, pace the negative judgment of the hierarchy on this issue, is that it is in fact precisely the sisters who are acting prophetically in this situation: beginning from a position of deep “belonging” to their tradition they are not afraid to submit their tradition to “critique,” and in so doing they project toward the future in the mode of a creative repetition of the past that is the mark of the Israelite “prophets of salvation.” Moreover, in this they are also prophets for all of us of what it means to embrace an age of hermeneutical reason, without shying away from necessary, risky wager of particular commitments.
Appartenance et distanciation: Lire ensemble Gadamer et Ricoeur Mathieu Scraire
Dans sa conférence au Congrès de la Society for Ricoeur Studies à Montréal, en 2010, Jean Grondin assignait à l’herméneutique la tâche de lire ensemble Gadamer et Ricoeur. Ma communication veut répondre à cette injonction, en ceci qu’elle va essayer de décrire les deux herméneutiques en fonction de leur appropriation, usage et critique des deux concept-clés que sont l’appartenance et la distanciation.
Le thème de la relation entre appartenance et distanciation est un thème récurrent dans Du texte à l’action, notamment. Il provient, comme on sait, de Heidegger, mais Ricoeur le reconduit surtout à Gadamer. Dans « La tâche de l'herméneutique », Ricoeur reconnaît que le concept d’appartenance traverse tout Vérité et méthode ; je dirais, à un point tel que, si l’on voulait décrire l’herméneutique de Gadamer en un mot, ce pourrait être « appartenance » (Zugehörigkeit). Cela, même si le concept de distanciation apparaît aussi dans son œuvre (ce que Ricoeur reconnaît par ailleurs), peut-être de façon moins marquée. Le concept d'appartenance peut en effet à bon droit être considéré comme l’idée maîtresse du « tournant ontologique de l'herméneutique », que Ricoeur s'approprie en le décrivant comme « ce déplacement de la problématique herméneutique, qui met désormais l'accent sur l'être-au-monde et sur l'appartenance participative qui précède toute relation d'un sujet à un objet qui lui fait face »0. De fait, Gadamer caractérise principalement l’appartenance comme l’ « insertion de la connaissance dans l'être »0, ce qui l’amènera à résister à la scission moderne entre le sujet et son objet, pôles hernéneutiques qu’il pense plutôt en termes d’appartenance mutuelle du subjectif et de l'objectif, appartenance qui précède toute distanciation et la rend possible: c'est en raison du lien qui m'unit à la chose (dans le langage) que je peux notamment confronter mes préjugés et les réviser au besoin, à la lumière de la chose même.
Or selon Ricoeur il faut donc penser ensemble appartenance et distanciation. Non pas répudier mais assumer la distanciation, ce qui est un peu une critique de Gadamer. Ainsi, par exemple, John Arthos rappelait, toujours au congrès de 2010, que le moment gadamérien, qui insiste sur l'appartenance, est nécessaire pour décentrer le sujet absolu, mais il faut maintenant retrouver ce sujet à l'intérieur de l'appartenance. C'est dans cette perspective que Ricoeur reprend le thème de la dialectique de la participation et de la distanciation, qui trouve un équivalent pratique dans la dialectique entre appartenance historique, ou l’être-affecté par l’histoire, et initiative, soit la capacité d’agir et d’initier soi-même un cours historique.
Je vais essayer ici de rendre ce couple de concepts le plus évident possible, de manière à montrer que si l’herméneutique de Gadamer insiste sur l’appartenance participative, celle de Ricoeur insiste plus sur le moment de distanciation à l’intérieur de l’appartenance, sans répudier celle-ci. C’est pourquoi, s’il est certes possible de « résumer », en un sens, l’herméneutique de Gadamer sous le titre appartenance, celle de Ricoeur pourrait l’être sous le titre appartenance et distanciation. À mon avis, cette dialectique est la raison même pour lire ensemble Gadamer et Ricoeur : nous nous retrouvons par là au cœur même de l’herméneutique.
Oneself as Another,Narcissism, and the Redemption of Empathy Jim Sisson
Macon State College
In his seventh study in Oneself as Another, Ricoeur states, “It is in connection with the notions of capacity and realization—that is, finally of power and act—that a place is make for lack and, through the mediation of lack, for others. The famous aporia, consisting in determining whether one must love oneself in order to love someone else, must not blind us. In fact, this aporia leads directly to the heart of the problematic of the self and the other than self” (OA 182). To me, the elucidation of this “blindness” of self-love points to the problem of narcissism, namely an excessive, yet shallow, preoccupation with the self at the expense of others. The answer to a narcissistic self-love must come in the form of empathy with the other. To examine this relationship between the self, narcissism, and empathy, I will place Ricoeur’s Oneself as Another in dialogue with Paul Tillich’s The Courage to Be (1952). One specific point of consideration to bring into conversation is Tillich’s discussion of neurotic “unrealistic self-affirmation” (CB 68ff). The “courage to be” is Tillich’s answer to a pathological self-absorption or preoccupation. In a phrase very suggestive of Ricoeur’s “oneself as another,” Tillich stipulates that his “courage to be” “is not the courage to be as oneself” (131), but instead opens to the other, a larger scheme of things beyond the self: “an embracing whole,” “the heavenly realm,” etc (131). Ricoeur briefly couches his idea of “oneself as another” in theological terms (despite his preference to remain philosophical and “agnostic” [OA 24]): “the idea of myself appears profoundly transformed, due solely to my recognizing this Other, who causes the presence in me of its own representation” (OA 9). Tillich’s “courage to be” “transcends . . . the courage to be as oneself” (131) and anticipates Ricoeur who promotes empathy with the other: “the other is not condemned to remain a stranger but can become my counterpart, that is, someone who, like me, says ‘I.’ The resemblance based on the pairing of flesh with flesh works to reduce a distance, to bridge a gap, in the very place where it creates a dissymmetry. That is what is signified by the adverb ‘like’: like me, the other thinks, desires, enjoys, suffers” (OA 335). In the pathological, narcissistic personality, this empathy is subverted by unrealistic self-love. A “dissymmetry” of the other must be recognized and empathized with to overcome a narcissistic self-preoccupation. Ricoeur illuminates how the other opens us to a fuller, healthier self.
Paul Ricœur and the Hermeneutics of Christian Tradition Michael Sohn
The University of Chicago
While there are already a number of excellent studies that rightly detect the rich import and relevance of Paul Ricœur’s thought for understanding the nature and task of theology, they are often restricted to an analysis of his philosophical writings, and so confined that contribution to his philosophy. Ricœur’s work was first appropriated in theology by his colleagues at Chicago, such as Langdon Gilkey and David Tracy, who found in his thought a general philosophical hermeneutical foundation on which to ground and apply regional biblical hermeneutics. Propelled by the pioneering work of Mark Wallace and pursued more recently by Dan Stiver and Boyd Blundell, current scholarship argues that Ricœur’s thought, especially on narrative, holds an affinity with postliberal theology. The terms of this debate, however, have been largely defined by and restricted to Ricœur’s philosophical contribution to the task of theology. Yet in the 1960s, precisely at a time when he was reflecting on and formulating his philosophical hermeneutics, he devoted a number of articles to theology and theological hermeneutics. Wilhelm Dilthey, Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, but also Karl Barth, Rudolf Bultmann, Gerhard Ebeling, and Jurgen Moltmann are frequently cited in his writings during this period of intellectual ferment. By focusing on these untranslated and less well-known articles, I argue that Ricœur’s understanding of the nature and task of theology most closely aligns with what Gerhard Ebeling called Wortgeschehen or as Ricœur translates into French, le procès de la parole. The ‘process of the Word,’ understood by Ricœur, offers a hermeneutics of Christian tradition that affirms the priority of the Word of God, acknowledges its embeddedness in language and narrative, recognizes the necessity for hermeneutics in interpreting Christian symbols and narratives, and re-interprets them in light of Christian praxis. This paper aims to present not only a broader and deeper appreciation of Ricœur’s distinct contribution to theology, but also suggests that his contribution uniquely offers an understanding of the nature and task of theology that is sensitive to the ‘linguistic’ and ‘cultural turn’ that characterizes much contemporary thought and is responsive to a ‘post-secular age’ that is enjoying the so-called return of religion.
Human Time and The Unreality of Time: Ricoeur and McTaggert in Conversation Joseph Spencer
Bridgewater State University
J.M.E. McTaggart’s 1908 essay, The Unreality of Time, develops the theory that time, and the assumptions one typically makes about time, are mere illusions. According to McTaggart, time is not a thing in which someone exists or events occur; what we call time is merely a series of events in relation to one another, where you can say that something happened before or after, or you can talk about some event as past, present, or future. The series of positions “in time,” then, are the only ways we can accurately speak about events happening at one “time” or another. From these preliminary claims, McTaggart is able to argue that “time” cannot be some all-encompassing entity, and is, instead, merely these sets of relations as positions along a timeline.
Now, in his three volume work, Time and Narrative, Paul Ricoeur develops and explains ideas of time that come into contact with some of McTaggart’s arguments and may, in fact, have much in common with McTaggart’s ideas. Ricoeur writes about three sense of time: cosmological time, which is the sequence of daily events that we observe, phenomenological time, which is the progression past, present, and future, and human time, which Ricoeur claims is a composite of the other two. Ricoeur’s idea that human time is how we all see events and time, namely, the ability to view both cosmological passing of “time,” as well as the phenomenological experience of time moving from past to present, is one where we can find room for dialogue between Ricoeur and McTaggart on our perceptions of time. Ricoeur’s ideas, in fact, may even allow room for McTaggart’s claim that time is not real.
In this paper, I set both of these great thinkers in dialogue on the issue of the unreality of time, so as to shed light on how the work of each compliments the other in a way that may, at first, be missed by the average reader. Both Ricoeur and McTaggart stand as giants of their respective eras, and they should both be given their due when it comes to discussions about time. In the end, I hope that it may be clear how important a question this is, as well as how both these great men may assist us in our search for an understanding of time.
Ricoeur, Aristotle, God, & Being in 1953-1954 John Starkey
Oklahoma City University
In 1953-4 academic year Paul Ricoeur delivered a course of lectures entitled Être, Essence, et Substance chez Platon et Aristote, thereafter circulated in several mimeographed and printed forms before its recent and definitive French edition in 2011, soon to be followed by the work’s first English translation. The work is significant for the philosopher of religion and the philosopher of God for at least three reasons. One, it presents how Ricoeur interpreted several successive notions of “the divine” and allied topics as they developed in pre-Socratic, Platonic, and Aristotelian thought (with side glances at the later neo-Platonic tradition). Two, it offers intriguing contrasts and comparisons with regard to Ricoeur’s interpretations of Marcel and Jaspers on related issues in two books in the preceding seven years. Three, it offers a suggestive lead-in to his own constructive approaches to related ideas in the 1950s and 1960s, first in the articles collected in History and Truth and then more thoroughly in his separate but thematically connected studies in Fallible Man, The Symbolism of Evil, Freud and Philosophy, as well as several contemporary but shorter publications.
My overall thesis is that in these lectures Ricoeur was beginning to combine his vision of mystery as an inherent feature of any Reality worthy of the name of ‘God’ with a strictly limited but nonetheless affirmative approach to the tradition of God as Being-Itself. In this paper I propose to develop the second half of that thesis by analyses of the lectures’ presentation of both the advances and the aporias in Aristotle’s developing reflections as Ricoeur understood them in 1953-1954. My more particular position, particularly in view of the conference focus on “Paul Ricoeur and the Age of Hermeneutical Reason” will be that appropriate enthusiasm for Ricoeur’s insistence on hermeneutics in philosophy of religion ought to be balanced by his abiding concern for constructive rational thought. My more specific insistence will be that Ricoeur presents the internal development of Aristotle’s thought about Being as not only a cautionary tale with respect to the excesses of reason but also as a signal instance of the propriety and indeed necessity of rational and even systematic inquiry if philosophy is to accept its obligation to think perennial questions in depth and in as coherent a form as possible.