4 January 2018

Imagining the Word with Ricoeur: Narrative, Action, and the Sacred in Ricoeur's Hermeneutic Phenomenology

This course will focus primarily on two essay collections by Paul Ricoeur: From Text to Action: Essays in Hermeneutics, II, as well as Figuring the Sacred: Religion, Narrative, and Imagination. These collections cover (roughly) a period from the early 1970’s to the early 1990’s. Together, they form an excellent introduction to Ricoeur’s hermeneutical phenomenology, which he developed as an alternative to those theoretical options, such as psychoanalysis and semiotics, with which he struggled throughout the 1960’s.  In addition to exploring Ricoeur’s evolving thoughts on such topics as textual interpretation, action, imagination, revelation, and a religious imaginary, these essays will also serve seminar participants as an effective springboard into Ricoeur’s larger thematic works, such as Rule of Metaphor, Time and Narrative (Vols. I-III), Oneself as Another, or Memory, History, Forgetting. Beginning with From Text to Action, the seminar will explore the general shape of Ricoeur’s heremeneutical phenomenology, including such themes as text, action, explanation, understanding, ideology, and utopia. With this basic grasp of Ricoeur’s hermeneutical phenomenology in hand, we will go on to explore his understanding of the disclosive force of religious texts and uses of language in the anthology Figuring the Sacred. Among other things, Ricoeur there ponders how Christian communities might best face the task of appropriating a textual heritage from which time has distanced them, and concerning which they have lost a certain original naivety. This seminar will explore Ricoeur’s recommendation that Christians risk assuming a “second naivety” as they take up the responsibility of receiving and interpreting their religious tradition for a new generation. Imagining the world with Ricoeur, we will discuss how his recommendations on this score might help or hinder our effort to find meaning and inspiration amidst the crises and fragmentations that run through contemporary life.

ICS 220504 W18
Dr. Ron Kuipers
Thursdays 1:45pm-4:45pm
MA, PhD