The Hermeneutic Phenomenology of Paul Ricoeur

Langdridge, Darren
July 2004
Existential Analysis: Journal of the Society for Existential Ana;Jul2004, Vol. 15 Issue 2, p243
Academic Journal
Paul Ricoeur is one of the leading living hermeneutic phenomenological philosophers and yet his work has barely been considered in existential-phenomenological theory and practice. This is all the more surprising when one examines his early work and the way in which it bridges the focus on embodied experience emphasised in existentialism and the turn to language fundamental to post-modernism. This paper seeks to introduce a limited number of ideas from Ricoeur's early work and highlight some of the problems and possibilities that these have for existential-phenomenological psychotherapeutic theory and practice. In particular, I introduce the distinction between discourse and text, arguments for hermeneutics of empathy and suspicion and the need for a critique of the illusions of the subject. These ideas are introduced through a discussion of Ricoeur's intervention in the debate between Gadamer and Habermas, which focused on tradition versus critique in understanding.


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