Paul Ricoeur University of Chicago Press, 2000 Library of Congress B2430.R553J8713 2000 | Dewey Decimal 172.2
The essays in this book contain some of Paul Ricoeur's most fascinating ruminations on the nature of justice and the law. His thoughts ranging across a number of topics and engaging the work of thinkers both classical and contemporary, Ricoeur offers a series of important reflections on the juridical and the philosophical concepts of right and the space between moral theory and politics.
Living Up to Death
Paul Ricoeur University of Chicago Press, 2009 Library of Congress B2430.R553V5813 2009 | Dewey Decimal 236.1
When French philosopher Paul Ricoeur died in 2005, he bequeathed to the world a highly regarded, widely influential body of work which established him as one of the greatest thinkers of our time. He also left behind a number of unfinished projects that are gathered here and translated into English for the first time.
Living Up to Death consists of one major essay and nine fragments. Composed in 1996, the essay is the kernel of an unrealized book on the subject of mortality. Likely inspired by his wife’s approaching death, it examines not one’s own passing but one’s experience of others dying. Ricoeur notes that when thinking about death the imagination is paramount, since we cannot truly experience our own passing. But those we leave behind do, and Ricoeur posits that the idea of life after death originated in the awareness of our own end posthumously resonating with our survivors.
The fragments in this volume were written over the course of the last few months of Ricoeur’s life as his health failed, and they represent his very last work. They cover a range of topics, touching on biblical scholarship, the philosophy of language, and the idea of selfhood he first addressed in Oneself as Another. And while they contain numerous philosophical insights, these fragments are perhaps most significant for providing an invaluable look at Ricoeur’s mind at work.
As poignant as it is perceptive, Living Up to Death is a moving testimony to Ricoeur’s willingness to confront his own mortality with serious questions, a touching insouciance, and hope for the future.
What happens when the meaning of life based on a divine revelation no longer makes sense? Does the quest for transcendence end in the pursuit of material success and self-absorption?
Luc Ferry argues that modernity and the emergence of secular humanism in Europe since the eighteenth century have not killed the search for meaning and the sacred, or even the idea of God, but rather have transformed both through a dual process: the humanization of the divine and the divinization of the human. Ferry sees evidence for the first of these in the Catholic Church's attempts to counter the growing rejection of dogmatism and to translate the religious tradition into contemporary language. The second he traces to the birth of modern love and humanitarianism, both of which demand a concern for others and even self-sacrifice in defense of values that transcend life itself. Ferry concludes with a powerful statement in favor of what he calls "transcendental humanism"—a concept that for the first time in human history gives us access to a genuine spirituality rooted in human beings instead of the divine.
Memory, History, Forgetting
Paul Ricoeur University of Chicago Press, 2004 Library of Congress B2430.R553M4613 2004 | Dewey Decimal 128.3
Why do major historical events such as the Holocaust occupy the forefront of the collective consciousness, while profound moments such as the Armenian genocide, the McCarthy era, and France's role in North Africa stand distantly behind? Is it possible that history "overly remembers" some events at the expense of others? A landmark work in philosophy, Paul Ricoeur's Memory, History, Forgetting examines this reciprocal relationship between remembering and forgetting, showing how it affects both the perception of historical experience and the production of historical narrative.
Memory, History, Forgetting, like its title, is divided into three major sections. Ricoeur first takes a phenomenological approach to memory and mnemonical devices. The underlying question here is how a memory of present can be of something absent, the past. The second section addresses recent work by historians by reopening the question of the nature and truth of historical knowledge. Ricoeur explores whether historians, who can write a history of memory, can truly break with all dependence on memory, including memories that resist representation. The third and final section is a profound meditation on the necessity of forgetting as a condition for the possibility of remembering, and whether there can be something like happy forgetting in parallel to happy memory. Throughout the book there are careful and close readings of the texts of Aristotle and Plato, of Descartes and Kant, and of Halbwachs and Pierre Nora.
A momentous achievement in the career of one of the most significant philosophers of our age, Memory, History, Forgetting provides the crucial link between Ricoeur's Time and Narrative and Oneself as Another and his recent reflections on ethics and the problems of responsibility and representation.
“His success in revealing the internal relations between recalling and forgetting, and how this dynamic becomes problematic in light of events once present but now past, will inspire academic dialogue and response but also holds great appeal to educated general readers in search of both method for and insight from considering the ethical ramifications of modern events. . . . It is indeed a master work, not only in Ricoeur’s own vita but also in contemporary European philosophy.”—Library Journal
“Ricoeur writes the best kind of philosophy—critical, economical, and clear.”— New York Times Book Review
Nietzsche and Music
Georges Liébert University of Chicago Press, 2003 Library of Congress ML423.N56L5413 2004 | Dewey Decimal 780.92
"Without music, life would be an error."—Friedrich Nietzsche
In his youth, Friedrich Nietzsche yearned to become a great composer and wrote many pieces of music. He later claimed to be "the most musical of all philosophers." Yet most books on Nietzsche fail to explore the importance of music for his thought.
Nietzsche and Music provides the first in-depth examination of the fundamental significance of music for Nietzsche's life and work. Nietzsche's views on music are essential for understanding his philosophy as a whole. Part biography and part critical examination, Georges Liébert brilliantly demonstrates that despite failed attempts at a professional career as composer, Nietzsche never fully removed himself from the world of music, but instead, became a composer of philosophy, utilizing the musical form as a template for his own writings and creative thought. Liébert's study surveys Nietzsche's opinions about particular composers and compositions, as well as his more theoretical writings on music and its relation to the other arts. He also explores Nietzsche's listening habits, his playing and style of composition, and his many contacts in the musical world, including his controversial and contentious relationship with Richard Wagner. For Nietzsche, music gave access to a realm of wisdom that transcended thought. Music was Nietzsche's great solace; in his last years, it was his refuge from madness.
A virtuoso exploration of this little-known but crucial aspect of Nietzsche's life and work, this volume will be of enormous value to scholars of philosophy, music, aesthetics, and literature.
Notebooks for an Ethics
Jean-Paul Sartre University of Chicago Press, 1992 Library of Congress B2430.S33C3213 1992 | Dewey Decimal 170
A major event in the history of twentieth-century thought, Notebooks for a Ethics is Jean-Paul Sartre's attempt to develop an ethics consistent with the profound individualism of his existential philosophy.
In the famous conclusion to Being and Nothingness, Sartre announced that he would devote his next philosophical work to moral problems. Although he worked on this project in the late 1940s, Sartre never completed it to his satisfaction, and it remained unpublished until after his death in 1980. Presented here for the first time in English, the Notebooks reveal Sartre at his most productive, crafting a masterpiece of philosophical reflection that can easily stand alongside his other great works.
Sartre grapples anew here with such central issues as "authenticity" and the relation of alienation and freedom to moral values. Exploring fundamental modes of relating to the Other—among them violence, entreaty, demand, appeal, refusal, and revolt—he articulates the necessary transition from individualism to historical consciousness. This work thus forms an important bridge between the early existentialist Sartre and the later Marxist social thinker of the Critique of Dialectical Reason. The Notebooks themselves are complemented here by two additional essays, one on "the good and subjectivity," the other on the oppression of blacks in the United States.
With publication of David Pellauer's lucid translation, English-speaking readers will be able to appreciate this important contribution to moral philosophy and the history of ethics.
Jean-Paul Sartre (1906-1980) was offered, but declined, the Nobel Prize for literature in 1964. His many works of fiction, drama, and philosophy include the monumental study of Flaubert, The Family Idiot, and The Freud Scenario, both published in translation by the University of Chicago Press.
Reflections on the Just
Paul Ricoeur University of Chicago Press, 2007 Library of Congress B2430.R553J8813 2007 | Dewey Decimal 172.2
At the time of his death in 2005, French philosopher Paul Ricoeur was regarded as one of the great thinkers of his generation. In more than half a century of writing about the essential questions of human life, Ricoeur’s thought encompassed a vast range of wisdom and experience, and he made landmark contributions that would go on to influence later scholars in such areas as phenomenology, hermeneutics, structuralism, and theology.
Toward the end of his life, Ricoeur began to focus directly on ethical questions that he feared had been overshadowed by his other work; the result was a two-volume collection of essays on justice and the law. The University of Chicago Press published the English translation of the first volume, The Just, to great acclaim in 2000. Now this translation of the second volume, Reflections on the Just, completes the set and makes available to readers the whole of Ricoeur’s meditations on the concept.
Consisting of fifteen thematically organized essays, Reflections on the Just continues and expands on the work Ricoeur began in with his “little ethics” in Oneself as Another and The Just. In the preface, he considers what revisions he would make were he to start over and how that is reflected in these essays. The opening part brings phenomenology to bear on ethics; the second group of essays comprises shorter, occasional pieces considering the concept of justice in the works of other philosophers, including Max Weber and Charles Taylor. The final part turns to the specific domains of medicine and the law, examining how concepts of right and justice operate in those realms.
Cogent, deeply considered, and fully engaged with the realities of the contemporary world, Reflections on the Just is an essential work for understanding the development of Ricoeur’s thought in his final years.
Unparalled in its poetry, richness, and religious and historical significance, the Hebrew Bible has been the site and center of countless commentaries, perhaps none as unique as Thinking Biblically. This remarkable collaboration sets the words of a distinguished biblical scholar, André LaCocque, and those of a leading philosopher, Paul Ricoeur, in dialogue around six crucial passages from the Old Testament: the story of Adam and Eve; the commandment "thou shalt not kill"; the valley of dry bones passage from Ezekiel; Psalm 22; the Song of Songs; and the naming of God in Exodus 3:14. Commenting on these texts, LaCocque and Ricoeur provide a wealth of new insights into the meaning of the different genres of the Old Testament as these made their way into and were transformed by the New Testament.
LaCocque's commentaries employ a historical-critical method that takes into account archaeological, philological, and historical research. LaCocque includes in his essays historical information about the dynamic tradition of reading scripture, opening his exegesis to developments and enrichments subsequent to the production of the original literary text. Ricoeur also takes into account the relation between the texts and the historical communities that read and interpreted them, but he broadens his scope to include philosophical speculation. His commentaries highlight the metaphorical structure of the passages and how they have served as catalysts for philosophical thinking from the Greeks to the modern age.
This extraordinary literary and historical venture reads the Bible through two different but complementary lenses, revealing the familiar texts as vibrant, philosophically consequential, and unceasingly absorbing.
Time and Narrative builds on Paul Ricoeur's earlier analysis, in The Rule of Metaphor, of semantic innovation at the level of the sentence. Ricoeur here examines the creation of meaning at the textual level, with narrative rather than metaphor as the ruling concern.
Ricoeur finds a "healthy circle" between time and narrative: time is humanized to the extent that it portrays temporal experience. Ricoeur proposes a theoretical model of this circle using Augustine's theory of time and Aristotle's theory of plot and, further, develops an original thesis of the mimetic function of narrative. He concludes with a comprehensive survey and critique of modern discussions of historical knowledge, understanding, and writing from Aron and Mandelbaum in the late 1930s to the work of the Annales school and that of Anglophone philosophers of history of the 1960s and 1970s.
"This work, in my view, puts the whole problem of narrative, not to mention philosophy of history, on a new and higher plane of discussion."—Hayden White, History and Theory
"Superb. . . . A fine point of entrance into the work of one of the eminent thinkers of the present intellectual age."—Joseph R. Gusfield, Contemporary Sociology
In volume 1 of this three-volume work, Paul Ricoeur examined the relations between time and narrative in historical writing. Now, in volume 2, he examines these relations in fiction and theories of literature.
Ricoeur treats the question of just how far the Aristotelian concept of "plot" in narrative fiction can be expanded and whether there is a point at which narrative fiction as a literary form not only blurs at the edges but ceases to exist at all. Though some semiotic theorists have proposed all fiction can be reduced to an atemporal structure, Ricoeur argues that fiction depends on the reader's understanding of narrative traditions, which do evolve but necessarily include a temporal dimension. He looks at how time is actually expressed in narrative fiction, particularly through use of tenses, point of view, and voice. He applies this approach to three books that are, in a sense, tales about time: Virgina Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway; Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain; and Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past.
"Ricoeur writes the best kind of philosophy—critical, economical, and clear."—Eugen Weber, New York Times Book Review
"A major work of literary theory and criticism under the aegis of philosophical hermenutics. I believe that . . . it will come to have an impact greater than that of Gadamer's Truth and Method—a work it both supplements and transcends in its contribution to our understanding of the meaning of texts and their relationship to the world."—Robert Detweiler, Religion and Literature
"One cannot fail to be impressed by Ricoeur's encyclopedic knowledge of the subject under consideration. . . . To students of rhetoric, the importance of Time and Narrative . . . is all too evident to require extensive elaboration."—Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar, Quarterly Journal of Speech
In the first two volumes of this work, Paul Ricoeur examined the relations between time and narrative in historical writing, fiction, and theories of literature. This final volume, a comprehensive reexamination and synthesis of the ideas developed in volumes 1 and 2, stands as Ricoeur's most complete and satisfying presentation of his own philosophy.
Ricoeur's aim here is to explicate as fully as possible the hypothesis that has governed his inquiry, namely, that the effort of thinking at work in every narrative configuration is completed in a refiguration of temporal experience. To this end, he sets himself the central task of determing how far a poetics of narrative can be said to resolve the "aporias"—the doubtful or problematic elements—of time. Chief among these aporias are the conflicts between the phenomenological sense of time (that experienced or lived by the individual) and the cosmological sense (that described by history and physics) on the one hand and the oneness or unitary nature of time on the other. In conclusion, Ricoeur reflects upon the inscrutability of time itself and attempts to discern the limits of his own examination of narrative discourse.
"As in his previous works, Ricoeur labors as an imcomparable mediator of often estranged philosophical approaches, always in a manner that compromises neither rigor nor creativity."—Mark Kline Taylor, Christian Century
"In the midst of two opposing contemporary options—either to flee into ever more precious readings . . . or to retreat into ever more safe readings . . . —Ricoeur's work offers an alternative option that is critical, wide-ranging, and conducive to new applications."—Mary Gerhart, Journal of Religion