Paul Ricœur

French philosopher

Paul Ricœur (1913 – 2005) was a French philosopher best known for combining phenomenological description with hermeneutics.

Paul Ricœur (1999)


  • If we go back to the intention [Marx, Nietzsche and Freud] had in common, we find in it the decision to look upon the whole of consciousness primarily as "false" consciousness.
    • Freud and Philosophy (1970), p. 33

Lectures on Ideology and Utopia (1975)Edit

Lectures delivered at University of Chicago in 1975, published by Columbia University Press in 1986
  • The possibility of noncongruence, of discrepancy, in many ways already presupposes that individuals as well as collective entities are related to their own lives and to social reality not only in the mode of participation without distance but precisely in the mode of noncongruence. ... The presupposition here is precisely that of a social imagination, operating in both constructive and destructive ways, as both confirmation and contestation of the present situation.
    • p. 3
  • People do things, and then they imagine what they are doing in a kind of cloudy realm. Thus we say first there is a social reality in which people fight to earn their living, and so on, and this is real reality, as praxis. This reality is then represented in the heaven of ideas, but it is falsely represented as having a meaning autonomous to this realm, as making sense on the basis of things which can be thought and not done or lived. The claim against ideology therefore comes from a kind of realism of life, a realism of practical life for which praxis is the alternative concept to ideology. Marx's system is materialist precisely in its insistence that the materiality of praxis precedes the ideality of ideas.
    • p. 5

Quotes about Paul RicoeurEdit

  • Paul Ricœur speaks of the theologian as a hermeneut, whose task is to interpret the multivalent, rich metaphors arising from the symbolic bases of tradition so that the symbols may 'speak' once again to our existential situation.
    • Anne Hunt Overzee, "The body divine: the symbol of the body in the works of Teilhard de Chardin and Rāmānuja," Cambridge Studies in Religious Traditions, Cambridge University Press, p. 4.
  • The "hermeneutics of suspicion" is a phrase coined by Paul Ricoeur to capture a common spirit that pervades the writings of Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche. In spite of their obvious differences, he argued, these thinkers jointly constitute a "school of suspicion." That is to say, they share a commitment to unmasking "the lies and illusions of consciousness;" they are the architects of a distinctively modern style of interpretation that circumvents obvious or self-evident meanings in order to draw out less visible and less flattering truths (Ricoeur 356). Ricoeur’s term has sustained an energetic after-life within religious studies, as well as in philosophy, intellectual history, and related fields[.]

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