Paul Ricœur

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Paul Ricœur (born February 27, 1913 in Valence , † May 20, 2005 in Châtenay-Malabry ) was a French philosopher .

Ricœur was primarily concerned with human volition from a phenomenological and psychoanalytical perspective, in ever new movements of hermeneutic inference ; with the symbols in which it is expressed; with the linguistic production in poetry and narration and finally with the basic concepts of the science of history . His thinking was strongly influenced by Gabriel Marcel , Edmund Husserl , Karl Jaspers , Martin Heidegger and Sigmund Freud , but also took up the suggestions of various varieties of structuralism and Anglo-Saxon language- analytical philosophy .

life and work

Ricœur, born as the son of Protestant parents, grew up as an orphan with his grandparents in Brittany : his mother died after his birth and his father died at the front in the First World War in 1915. Paul Ricœur studied philosophy in Rennes and in 1934/35 at the Sorbonne , where he met Gabriel Marcel and Husserl's phenomenology . After successful agrégation (admission to teaching), he married Simone Lejas and had five children. He initially taught philosophy in Colmar and Lorient . In 1939 he was drafted and was quickly taken prisoner of war, which he spent in Pomerania . In an intellectually stimulating environment, he studied Karl Jaspers ' philosophy and translated Edmund Husserl's ideas I here .

After the end of World War II taught Ricoeur first in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon , where he also systematic part of his Thèse ( dissertation prepared): Le volontaire et l'involontaire , a phenomenological description of volition . (The historical part formed the extensively commented Husserl translation). From 1948 to 1957 he taught the history of philosophy in Strasbourg . In 1950 he received his doctorate at the Sorbonne, in 1957 he was given the chair of general philosophy. He published regularly in Esprit magazine , which he had felt close to since its founding in 1932, and in other Christian-oriented periodicals .

In 1960 Ricœur continued his philosophy of volition with two volumes on Finitude et culpabilité (published in German as the phenomenology of guilt ). In the second, he analyzes the symbols of evil , the narratives of the fall of man in different cultures. Afterwards he devoted himself to a comprehensive reading of the works of Sigmund Freud in his lectures and also attended the seminars of Jacques Lacan . That he still did this in his extensive presentation from 1965, The Interpretation. An attempt on Freud , if left untreated, earned him the resentment of Lacan himself and a lot of criticism from his students.

In his book from 1969, Le conflit des interpretations (German hermeneutics and structuralism and hermeneutics and psychoanalysis ) he deals in numerous essays with psychoanalysis , with structuralism and finally with philosophical ( Heidegger ) and theological ( Bultmann ) hermeneutics . As a universal explanatory model, he rejects structuralism, but insists on the intrinsic value of structural analyzes as part of the hermeneutic development of a problem.

In 1966 Ricoeur came to the newly founded University of Paris- Nanterre and in 1969 became its rector. He resigned from this office in 1970 when the state massively intervened in the university's autonomy as a result of student protests . Ricoeur stood in this conflict between the fronts, because at the same time he was attacked by students. After a short teaching position at the Catholic University of Leuven , he succeeded Paul Tillich's chair at the University of Chicago , although he continued to teach in Paris with interruptions.

The examination of the English and American philosophy of language analysis , to which he devoted himself in his Chicago years, was first reflected in the work The Living Metaphor , published in 1975 , in which he described the "poetic" (in the sense of: creating new meanings) function of language treated. In 1983, following on from Aristotle's poetics, the three-volume opus Time and Story followed , in which he worked out similarities in the temporality of historiography and poetry .

In 1990, he presented the results of his numerous “detours of interpretation” for a philosophical view of man in the large study The Self as Another .

Even after his retirement in 1987 (Paris) and 1990 (Chicago), Ricœur continued to devote himself to historical-philosophical investigations in the linguistic and phenomenological context . He enriched the debate about “ memory ” and the culture of memory with his book Gedächtnis, Geschichte, Vergessen , published in 2000 . From a historical , epistemological and phenomenological point of view, he examines the problem of remembering and the connection with (cultural) memory.

Finally, in the year before his death, he published ways of recognition about recognition as the basis of social relationships .

Paul Ricœur, along with the historians Reinhart Koselleck and Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, was one of the first to take on the task of examining basic concepts of historical science in connection with the culture of remembrance and to work out the lack of self-reflection in historiography . He always tried to act as a mediator between the cultures and traditions of thought in the Anglo-Saxon, German and French-speaking areas.

On May 27, 2010, a Paul Ricœur Foundation was created in Paris. The then President Nicolas Sarkozy honored the bearer of its name by giving the founding address and emphasizing the honored's will to resist, also by referring to his temporary residence in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon , a well-known place of Jewish rescuers and thus also the Resistance .

Emmanuel Macron , French President from 2017, was his research assistant from 1999 to 2001. At the opening of the Frankfurt Book Fair he said about Ricœur:

“... there is a French philosopher to whom I owe a great deal, who taught, supported and trusted me: Paul Ricœur. And Ricœur, dear Chancellor, had an unusual relationship with Germany. He lost his father during the First World War, so he became an orphan very early. And during the Second World War he was taken prisoner of war. But even during the war Paul Ricœur did not stop teaching. He taught his comrades philosophy, and he had a book by Edmund Husserl in German with him, which he translated, with a pencil on the edges of the book, throughout the war. If I'm not mistaken, Husserl's first French translation was published two years after the end of the war. And it was from Paul Ricœur. At that time he would have had every reason to give in to the abyss that separates our two countries. But he had learned the other's language. He had had teachers who built this bridge for him, he had read German poets who touched him, and discovered German and Austrian philosophers who moved and convinced him. Ricœur never tired of defending translation between our two languages ​​and countries, in books and through books. And by being here today, I want to give a little back to Paul Ricœur. Of course, I owe him a lot more, I don't want to belittle that today. This also applies to all those who write in French. And that is why our two countries are inseparable. All those here in this room who write, translate, publish or publish, bear an enormous responsibility. "

- Macron, opening speech October 2017, excerpt :

Prizes and awards

Fonts (selection)


  • Karl Jaspers et la philosophie de l'existence. Together with Mikel Dufrenne . Le Seuil, Montrouge 1947
  • Le volontaire et l'involontaire. Aubier, Paris 1950
    • German edition: The willful and the unwilling. Translated and given an introduction by Daniel Creutz. Fink, Paderborn 2016, ISBN 978-3-7705-5513-0
  • Histoire et verite. Le Seuil, Montrouge 1955
    • German edition: history and truth. Translation u. Introduction by Romain Leick. List, Munich 1974, ISBN 3-471-66549-8 .
  • The fallibility of man. Phenomenology of guilt. Vol. 1 (1960), Alber, Freiburg / Munich 2002, ISBN 3-495-48073-0 .
  • Symbolism of evil. Phenomenology of guilt. Vol. 2 (1960), Alber, Freiburg / Munich 2002. ISBN 3-495-48074-9 .
  • The interpretation. An experiment about Freud. (1965), Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1974. ISBN 3-518-27676-X .
  • Hermeneutics and Structuralism. (1969), Kösel, Munich 1973, ISBN 3-466-20159-4 .
  • Hermeneutics and Psychoanalysis. (1969), Munich 1974
  • The Conflict of Interpretations: Selected Articles (1960–1969). Alber, Freiburg im Breisgau 2009, ISBN 978-3-495-48367-1 .
  • La metaphore vive. 1975
  • Different. A reading of "Beyond being and different from being happens" by Emmanuel Levinas (1977), Turia + Kant , Vienna 2015, ISBN 978-3-85132-786-1
  • Temps et récit. Tome I: L'intrigue et le récit historique. Le Seuil, Montrouge 1983
    • German edition: time and story, vol. 1: time and historical story. Fink, Munich 1988, ISBN 3-7705-2467-5 .
  • Temps et récit. Tome II: La configuration dans le récit de fiction. Le Seuil, Montrouge 1984 a. 1985
    • German edition: Time and story, Vol. 2: Time and literary story. Fink, Munich 1989, ISBN 3-7705-2468-3 .
  • Temps et récit. Tome III: Le temps raconté. Le Seuil, Montrouge 1985
    • German edition: Time and narration, Vol. 3: The told time. Fink, Munich 1991, ISBN 3-7705-2608-2 .
  • Soi-même comme un autre. Le Seuil, Montrouge 1990
    • German edition: The Self as Another. Translated from the French by Jean Greisch in collaboration with Thomas Bedorf, Birgit Schaaff. Fink, Paderborn 2005, ISBN 3-7705-2904-9
  • From text to person: hermeneutic essays (1970–1999) . Hamburg 2005, ISBN 3-7873-1722-8
  • Memory, History, Forgetting (2000), Paderborn 2004, ISBN 3-7705-3706-8
  • Ways of recognition. Recognize, recognize, be recognized. (2004) Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 3-518-29262-5
  • At the limits of hermeneutics. Philosophical reflections on religion. Alber, Freiburg im Breisgau 2008, ISBN 978-3-495-48298-8
  • Criticism and belief. A conversation with François Azouvi and Marc de Launay. Alber, Freiburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-495-48245-2
  • Alive until death. Fragments from the estate. Meiner, Hamburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-7873-1984-8


See also


  • Pierre Bourdieu : Homo academicus . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1988, ISBN 3-518-28602-1 , pp. 161ff.
  • Andris Breitling: Poetry of Possibilities - Sense of Reality. Paul Ricoeur's hermeneutical thinking of history. Fink, Munich 2007
  • Margit Eckholt : Hermeneutics and Theology with Paul Ricoeur. Food for thought for a theology in the pluralism of cultures. Benediktbeurer Hochschulschriften 19, Munich 2002
  • Burkhard Liebsch (Ed.): Testified Past or Reconciling Forgetting. Theory of history according to Paul Ricœur. De Gruyter, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-05-004490-3 .
  • Jens Mattern: Ricoeur for an introduction. Junius, Hamburg 1996, ISBN 3-88506-919-9 .
  • Jens Mattern: Between cultural symbolism and general truth: Paul Ricoeur read interculturally. Bautz, Nordhausen 2008
  • Peter Noss:  Ricoeur, Paul. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 8, Bautz, Herzberg 1994, ISBN 3-88309-053-0 , Sp. 261-299.
  • Stefan Orth , Peter Reifenberg (ed.): Multifaceted anthropology. Paul Ricoeur's reflections on man . Alber, Freiburg im Breisgau a. a. 2004 ISBN 3-495-48105-2
  • Régine Robin: Autour de la notion de "représentance" chez Paul Ricoeur, in Témoignage et écriture de l'histoire. Décade de Cerisy 21-31 juillet 2001. Proceedings. L'Harmattan, Paris 2003, pp. 89-116
  • Dieter Teichert : remembered imaginations and imagined memories. Memory and Imagination from an Epistemological Perspective. In: A. Breitling, S. Orth Ed .: Memory work. On Paul Ricoeur's philosophy of memory, history and forgetting. BWV, Berlin 2004, pp. 89-100
    • dsb .: From the establishment of identity to the explication of personality. Ricoeur's criticism of Derek Parfit . In: A. Breitling ed .: The challenged self. Perspectives on Paul Ricoeur's Ethics. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 1999, pp. 131–142
    • dsb .: Self and self - image with Hans-Georg Gadamer and Ricoeur. In: A. Breitling, S. Orth Hgg .: Before the text - Hermeneutics and phenomenology in Paul Ricoeur's thinking. TU Berlin 2002, pp. 139-164
  • Bernhard Waldenfels : Paul Ricoeur: detours of the interpretation. In dsb., Phenomenology in France. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 1983, ISBN 3-518-57635-6 pp. 266-335
  • Peter Welsen: Paul Ricœur . In: Julian Nida-Rümelin (ed.): Philosophy of the Present in Individual Representations. From Adorno to v. Wright ( Kröner's pocket edition , 423). Kröner, Stuttgart 1991, ISBN 3-520-42301-4 pp. 499-503
  • Knut Wenzel : Faith in mediation. Theological hermeneutics according to Paul Ricoeur. Herder, Freiburg 2008, ISBN 3-451-29796-5
  • Andrzej Wierciński (Ed.): Between Suspicion and Sympathy: Paul Ricoeur's Unstable Equilibrium. The Hermeneutic Press, Toronto 2003
Relation to Emmanuel Macron
  • Antoine Flandrin: Emmanuel Macron a placé Paul Ricœur au pouvoir, Le Monde , October 18, 2017 online (a review by François Dosse : Le Philosophe et le Président: Ricœur et Macron. Stock, Paris 2017)
  • Présidentielle 2017. Aux sources des idées d'Emmanuel Macron, France Culture , May 7, 2017 Text and audio
  • Paul Ricœur, l'intégrale en cinq entretiens. France Culture, 1993 short text , with four links to the France Culture archive on Ricœur, broadcasts 2016–2017
  • Sperantu Dumitru: The Conversation France: Emmanuel Macron, président philosophe? Le Point , online May 6, 2017

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Bernhard Waldenfels: Phenomenology in France, p. 266
  2. in French  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  3. Macron is wrong. In 1931 a translation of Husserl's Cartesian Meditations , among others by Emmanuel Levinas , had already appeared
  4. International Balzan Prize Foundation
  5. Since Bourdieu questioned and examined Parisian professors in this study from the late 1960s to the early 1980s, Ricoeur is also listed and classified with his training, research and doctoral supervision activities.