Talk:Paul Ricœur

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Paul Ricoeur also made significant contributions to theology. This article, while giving a good basic introduction to his life and his work as it relates to philosophy does not at all touch on his theological contributions. Unfortunately, I am not qualified to add information regarding his theological contributions to the article.Bob em 09:30, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

To displace a quote from Ricoeur's student, Derrida, when we talk about philosophy, "we are already talking about theology". Ricoeur's influence on theology isn't really separable from his philosophy. In fact, Ricoeur only infrequently explicitly writes on theology as such — despite being a life-long Christian and even holding a chair in theology. Even then, by and large, his impact on theology is really not to be found in his explicitly theological writings, but in his concepts of hermeneutics and ethics. That said, even here we encounter an implicit theology (one can recall that modern philosophical hermeneutics traces itself back to Schleiermacher, and, of course, Ricoeur's development of hermeneutics always gives a nod towards his interpretation of the bible). However, it is interesting to note that most of what theologians have garnered from Ricoeur is not so much his ideas about the meanings of particular passages, but the philosophical notions behind them — that is the hermeneutic arc, the interplay of symbols, the surplus of meaning, etc. Particularly telling in this regard is one commentator in a paper I read recently who called Ricoeur's biblical exegeis a turn in his later life (or something like that), which rather ignores some of his earlier writings on the subject. That said, it is precisely these underlying concepts which are sorely lacking in development in this article (or, indeed, to the best of my knowledge, on Wikipedia as a whole). If I get a chance, I will try to add something, but for now, I've got a bit too much on my plate. Ig0774 10:52, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

Unpromising Start[edit]

This is pure hagiography indeed, a success story without a trace of criticism. I would rather say that Ricoeur's oeuvre is an eclectic mix lacking any originality. He started as a religious existentialist, in the 60s flirted with structuralism and freudism, during his stay in the USA assimilated something of analytic philosophy and lastly found himself to be a hermeneutical thinker. He was never influential but came to prominance in the 90s just because he outlived everybody else. The french page (a stub) outlines something of his unpleasant political profile. The story which lead to his fleeing from France deserves perhaps to be told. Or at least Sartre's view of him (as reported by M.Richir): 'ce curé qui fait de la phénoménologie'.al 15:45, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

Mean-spirited attacks have no place on Wikipedia. Keep your mean comments to yourself.--Agnaramasi 17:13, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

The reason why he is not immediately influential is because it takes time to absorb his ideas. I think that he will be influential in later years. Apart from other things, his ideas on ideology and utopia (with a superb grasp of both Gadamer and Habermas), plus his ideas on time and narrative, I think, are outstanding. The first comment above is totally unfair.(User computatioi) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Computatioi (talkcontribs) 10:40, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

The sketch at the beginning of this section is informative while the article is just laudative - it does not say much except 'he was great'. I understand that it is difficult to write something about his ideas because none of them was really his own. Admittedly they boil down to a "continuing cross-cutting of national intellectual traditions". One can learn from the article about "Ricoeur's emergence as one of France's most prominent philosophers" in 1956, and his "return to France in 1985 as an intellectual superstar". It would be a generous understatement to call such things right wing POV. My suggestion would be to see him just as we see the 'great' XIXth century French philosophers, e.g. Victor (talk) 09:15, 8 March 2008 (UTC)

Ricoeur is indeed an important philosopher. What I don't understand is all the POV bashing of him happening on this talk page. He certainly wasn't "right-wing". If you have something to say, please make sure it is verifiable.--Agnaramasi (talk) 09:25, 8 March 2008 (UTC)
It is not a bashing of Ricoeur but of the article. If you read French, please take a look at the French page, its section 'Polémique' and its talk page. There you have a quote from an article (with a reference) in which he praised Hitler's language and denounced democracies. Later he denied his past but got the dates (talk) 19:23, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
After reading the French page, it is obvious to me that the quotation in question is not an unequivocal endorsement of Hitler, but rather a critique of France's hypocritical pursuit of its own narrow, national interests in the name of universal and democratic "rights." While in hindsight his specific language (e.g., seeing a "beautiful purity" in Hitler's prose) is unfortunate, one can hardly take this early text as reflecting some kind of covert fascist intentions in Ricoeur's career. It is clear from the talk page that the individual who is digging up this obscure passage from Ricoeur's youth is doing so for their own bizarre POV reasons. Unless there are reliable and notable secondary sources which discuss the passage in question and seriously accuse Ricoeur of a covertly right-wing position, I do not think that the mere inclusion of the passage in question is appropriate.--Agnaramasi (talk) 01:00, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Richard Wolin discusses the passage & the topic in Paul Ricoeur as Another: how a great philospher wrested with his younger self, The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 14, 2005 [1] (7pages pdf in English). David Kaplan defends him in Paul Ricoeur and the Nazis, Research in Phenomenology, Vol. 37, Number 2 / April, 2007 [2](needs subscription).
Btw Wolin quotes some interview in which Ricoeur "admitted that he did not possess a philosophy per se". He also mentions Sartre's view but gives a charitable translation as 'phenomenological priest'.al (talk) 22:56, 22 March 2008 (UTC)


I think it might be misleading for people outside professional philosophy to see "psychoanaysis, christian theology, analytic philosophy" etc, in the "school/tradition" field. We know Ricoeur is fond of multidisciplinarity, but it will be more informative if the field is left with just "hermeneutics", the rest can be read in the article. Nekrorider 22:41, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

I think "hermeneutician" on its own would be overly reductive, as much of his work is not actually explicitly about hermeneutics at all. Ricoeur's philosophy directly appropriates from and participates in all the traditions listed in the info box. To suggest he engages with hermeneutics more fundamentally than these other traditions is original research and, I would suggest, inaccurate. I say its better to respect the plurality of his work than reduce it to a single category.
Maybe though 'psychoanalysis' is a bit misleading and shouldn't be there.--Agnaramasi 01:18, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

What about analytic philosophy? I'm by no means an expert on Ricoeur, but I don't think he actually wrote analytic philosophy but rather engaged in a series of arguments with analytic philosophers. Would it be appropiate to remove, or move to "interests" if they're not there, analytic philosophy and psychoanalysis? Also, "continental" is a bit redundant, as phenomenology and hermeneutics imply that he follows the continental tradition. Nekrorider 15:47, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

Ricoeur is one of the few French philosophers who actually lived and worked extensively in the United States and has seriously engaged with the analytic tradition. Analytic philosophy and philosophers constitute one of Ricoeur's central and enduring focuses. Also, I don't think continental is redundant as Ricoeur's work, in my estimation, cannot be reduced to phenomenology or hermeneutics. For instance, he is a serious interpreter of both Hegel and (especially) Kant. If anything I think we should also add "Ancient philosophy" to his list of interests given his extensive work on Aristotle and teleological ethics.--Agnaramasi 22:00, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

In non english speaking countries we're confused when people talk about "continental" philosophy as if it were a real area or a unified philosphical tradition. If anything, continental is just a word for non-analytic philosophy. If phenomenology and hermeneutics don't express the plurality of his interests then some aereas should be added. However, by being obssesed with conveying the perfect picture of Ricouer we will no longer be writing an encyclopedia. Perhaps all that stuff would be nice for a divulgation article, but an encyclopedia should merely state the most relevant. I don't think that table is informative for a layman because it contians an excess of information. 07:02, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

Ricoeur Sanitized (no stains to recall or recognize)[edit] quote: " Après la guerre, il enseigne trois ans au Collège Cévenol du Chambon où il achève sa thèse sur la volonté. ' What is missing is why the minister sent him there. That is now well-known in France (and remember, he had already been teaching philosophy when he began pamphleteering for collaboration in the camp - this was not some young student.)

The book "Paul Ricoeur: His Life and His Work" By Charles E. Reagan has pg 16 giving an account of Ricoeur which has no mention - a lack in two major encyclo's - of where he was first assigned to teach after the war - and of course no mention of his written advocacy of collaboration with the Nazis during his time in camp.

Reagan glosses over Ricoeur going to Munich in the summer of 1939. He is presented as utterly naive - and harmlessly so.

The place I now begin is with the likely first lies concerning when he and Dufrenne worked on the Jaspers book. When it came out in 1947, Jaspers was also releasing his monumental "Von Der Wahrheit". In their book they lament his treatment of truth in "Philosphie" and after - but although their book ends with a polemical opposition of Jaspers to Heidegger, after 1948 neither ever return to Jaspers (Ricoeur wrote those last chapters - Reagan is wrong - they deserve to be translated and read.)

By 1953, the Dufrenne dissertation has adopted Heidegger and has no sign of Jaspers.

As a student I moved very quickly from Jaspers over to Ricoeur; I now find this embarrassing - especially in going back to the Ricoeur essay on Jaspers in the Schlipp volume.

I recall no treatment of Jaspers in "Histoire et Verité".

I now consider the section on Jaspers versus Heidegger in that 1947 volume to be despicable - and knowing what we now know aboout Jean Beaufret and the cult of Heidegger, the Ricoeur career takes on a whole new aspect.

For a philosopher who dances around Heidegger in a similar manner, there is Canada's great Charles Taylor (in many ways the Catholic version of Protestant Ricoeur.)

To defeat if not remove bias, I keep reading Alasdair MacIntyre along with Michael Martin.

When Ricoeur returned to Paris, he says the first thing he did was visit Marcel. But Mounier was still living (the article at on Emmanuel Mounier presents the clearest possible contrast to Ricoeur, who was occupied with making a career as a Protestant philosopher (how Heidegger would have mocked that!)

If you have doubts about the career consideration, I suggest reading Dallas Willard's embarrassing but candid account of how he went from translator to Baptist philosopher at a "secular" university (he did not even have to apply for the job, he claims.)

It was not until 1987 that France began to look at itself somewhat more closely - think of the philosophers chased from Germany after '33 who, given Mounier's 1948 plan, could have had jobs in France (but then read what Raymond Aron recounts in his bio).

I think that once Jaspers withdrew to Basel, the theists knew they were going to be more comfortable with Heidegger: Jaspers was given to plain speech in disagreements, no matter how obscure much to the work he wrote as a philosopher. For a taste of that, read his reply to Ricoeur in that Schlipp volume "Jaspers" in the Living Philosophers series.

Dufrenne's career went as far as Nantes, he is largely forgotten. His major work is sadly bloated and flawed. Ricoeur just kept blossoming. Did someone mention Chuck Taylor? (now also at Chicago and a voluminous Harvard U Press author and also generally ignored by philosophers as was Ricoeur and for much the same good reasons.)

At the French article comments repeatedly on the politics of careers in French universities. For quite a different view, read Ricoeur contribution to the public meetings in 1967 where he is at pains to urge protecting their positions. G. Robert Shiplett 06:22, 25 March 2010 (UTC)