Hans-Georg Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur were two of the most important hermeneutical philosophers of the twentieth century. Gadamer single-handedly revived hermeneutics as a philosophical field with his many essays and his masterpiece, Truth and Method. Ricoeur famously mediated the Gadamer-Habermas debate and advanced his own hermeneutical philosophy through a number of books addressing social theory, religion, psychoanalysis and political philosophy. This book brings Gadamer and Ricoeur into a hermeneutical conversation with each other through some of their most important commentators. Twelve (...) leading scholars deliver contemporary assessments of the history and promise of hermeneutical philosophy, providing focused discussion on the work of these two key hermeneutical thinkers. The book shows how the horizons of their thought at once support and question each other and how, in many ways, the work of these two pioneering philosophers defines the issues and agendas for the new century. (shrink)
In Oneself as Another, Ricœur famously writes of the ethical intention as “aiming at the ‘good life’ with and for others, in just institutions.” This article explores the potential meaning of “just institutions,” a theme underdeveloped in Ricœur’s work. While many have argued that institutions necessarily reify and so cannot aim toward just ends, the article draws on Ricœur’s differentiation between objectification and reification to show why this need not be the case. While reification destroys human value and meaning because (...) it reduces human activity to a thing, objectification characterizes the positive externalization of ourselves in objects—in words, deeds, structures, and institutions. Institutions such as the law are structures that can positively objectify our just aspirations, even if we must continually guard against these structures’ reified reduction. Ricœur shows us how objectification, including objectification of values in institutions, can be something not only positive but necessary in order for values to flourish. (shrink)
This is the first collection of essays examining Paul Ricoeur's writings on law, bringing together eminent Ricoeur scholars from around the world to demonstrate the importance of Ricoeur's philosophy for the juridical field while offering new paths to extend and build on his work.
It is a common metaphor that the text is a window onto the world that it depicts. I want to explore this metaphor and the insights it may offer us for better understanding legal interpretation. As in the opening epigraph from James Boyd White, I shall develop the metaphor of the text as window in three ways: the text may be transparent, opaque, or translucent. My goal will be to argue that the best way to understand legal interpretation is to (...) conceive of the legal text as translucent, but along the way I will compare the merits also of considering the legal text as either transparent or opaque. (shrink)
This article attempts to show the continuing practical relevance of hermeneutics through the example of legal interpretation. The article begins with the very concrete nature of legal hermeneutics that forms everyday legal practice – the interrelation of meaning and application – and expands at a more theoretical to show how legal hermeneutics, and hermeneutics more generally, offers what Ricoeur calls an interpretive “choice in favor of meaning.” The choice in favour of meaning underscores the restorative character of hermeneutics that legal (...) hermeneutics can epitomize. The article concludes with some of the challenges facing contemporary legal hermeneutics. (shrink)
As Ricœur scholars know, the literature by and on Ricœur is vast. Material written by Ricœur that is not collected in published volumes is often difficult to locate, and even in the published volumes it is frequently a challenge to locate where Ricœur discusses a particular topic. Given the amount of his work it can be a challenge too to determine changes in his analyses over the life of his corpus. And locating secondary literature on Ricœur can be equally problematic. (...) In response, we have been working to establish a model for how Ricœur’s corpus might be digitized so that the issues of access, keyword location, and pattern might all be addressed. To develop the model, we are starting with Ricœur’s primary texts in English and plan to expand over time to other languages and to the secondary literature on Ricœur. In the present article we discuss our model and its five steps: digital access; copyright; text preparation for digital searches and analysis; examples of digital searches and analyses; and an archive portal interface that allows users to query based on an extensible set of search variables without needing to know or access the underlying search logic. We also invite interested researchers to help assist the development of this digitization project. (shrink)
Hermeneutics encounters three current challenges: by more quantitative orientations, by stances that reject pluralism, and by criticism that the hermeneutic field is elitist and esoteric. The article offers a response through Ricœur. The hermeneutic “choice in favor of meaning” insists upon the ontological value of the human condition. It shows the insufficiency of the quantitative approach, the remaining value of pluralistic consideration of what human meaning entails, and the real world consequences of interpretation. Examples in Ricœur show how a hermeneutic (...) choice in favor of meaning is not passive but instead reads texts with a particular orientation even when the text seems engaged in another project. The article’s final part undertakes an internal critique, raising the adequacy of Ricœur’s emphasis on meaning as an affirmation of “being.” The example of Buddhist insistence on “emptiness” is offered as one counterexample. The article concludes by arguing that in our contentious times hermeneutics confirms its contemporary vitality through its choice in favor of meaning even as it retains pluralistic consideration of what that meaning entails. (shrink)
This article elaborates the continuing significance of Ricoeur’s development of utopia. Ricoeur develops two not necessarily exclusive aspects of the utopia in its positive sense. First, it acts as an imaginative variation on existing reality, and second, it can act to ‘shatter’ and hence recast existing reality. While Ricoeur himself did not tend to distinguish rigorously between these two senses of the utopia, the article seeks to provide that delineation. Imaginative variation opens the sphere of human possibility but remains hypothetical, (...) while the utopia as that which shatters can introduce a new reality into social existence. In the utopia that shatters, the social imagination can be constitutive of social life. The article situates Ricoeur’s discussion of utopia in his Lectures on Ideology and Utopia in relation to other relevant texts in his corpus, principally The Rule of Metaphor and the forthcoming Lectures on Imagination. The argument locates Ricoeur’s treatment of utopia within the broader field of his work on the symbolic structure of action and social imagination. (shrink)