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Ricoeur, Paul (1913–2005)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DD058-2
Version: v2,  Published online: 2017
Retrieved March 21, 2018, from

Article Summary

Paul Ricoeur was one of the leading thinkers of the second half of the twentieth century and in the later part of his life was considered by some to be France’s greatest living philosopher. Along with the German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer, Ricoeur was one of the main contemporary exponents of philosophical hermeneutics: that is, of a philosophical orientation that places particular emphasis on the nature and role of interpretation. While his early work was strongly influenced by Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology, he became increasingly concerned with problems of interpretation and developed – partly through detailed inquiries into psychoanalysis and structuralism – a distinctive hermeneutical approach. In some of his subsequent writings Ricoeur explored the role of imagination in metaphor, narrative, and social and political life. In his later work, Ricoeur turned his attention to a philosophical anthropology of the capable human being, which was the context for his explorations into the self’s ethical constitution, the role of memory and forgetting in history, and issues of justice and recognition.

Citing this article:
Thompson, John B. and Roger Savage. Ricoeur, Paul (1913–2005), 2017, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DD058-2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2018 Routledge.

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