Between Philosophical Anthropology and Phenomenology: on Paul Ricoeur’s Philosophy of Work

Revue Internationale de Philosophie 2 (278):513-534 (2016)

Authors
Nicholas H Smith
University of Connecticut
Abstract
The paper is a critical analysis of Paul Ricoeur’s philosophy of work as it is formulated in a number of essays from the 1950s and 60s. It begins with a reconstruction of the central theses advanced in ‘Travail et parole’ (1953) and related texts, where Ricoeur sought to outline a philosophical anthropology in which work is given its due. To give work its due, from an anthropological standpoint, is to see it as limited by counter-concept of language, according to Ricoeur. The paper then argues that this way of understanding the anthropological significance of work is not only internally problematic, but at odds with phenomenological insights to be found elsewhere in Ricoeur’s oeuvre, particularly Le Volontaire et l’involontaire (1950). The final section of the paper makes some suggestions for how the phenomenological and anthropological poles of a philosophy of work might be better integrated, and the ‘nexus between speech and work’ better described.
Keywords Ricoeur  philosophical anthropology  phenomenology  work
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