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Critique and Conviction


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Table of Contents

Note to the Reader.

1. From Valence to Nanterre.

2. France/United States: Two incomparable histories.

3. From psychoanalysis to the question of the self, or thirty years of philosophical work.

4. Politics and totalitarianism.

5. Duty of memory, duty of justice.

6. Education and secularism.

7. Biblical readings and meditations.

8. Aesthetic experience.


About the Author

Paul Ricoeur was a French philosopher best known for combining phenomenological description with hermeneutics. As such, his thought is within the same tradition as other major hermeneutic phenomenologists, Edmund Husserl and Hans-Georg Gadamer.


'Francois Azouvi and Marc de Launay have somehow persuaded Paul Ricoeur to reveal in his responses to their always sensitive but probing question more of himself both as a philosopher and as a man - and the two are evidently very much one and the same - than might have been imagined possible for one who, for all his fame and manifold public commitments, comes through as such a naturally modest and private person. One could ask for no better or clearer introduction to Ricoeur's many and diverse writings and to the preoccupations of his long and endlessly active life than this, his own retrospective account of them. Ricoeur is a thinker of exceptional intellectual openness, who even now in the ninth decade of his life, continues to ponder afresh the great central questions of what it is to be a human being. Even those whose first encounter with him comes as they read this book, can hardly fail to derive from it not only the stimulus to re-engage with these questions for themselves but, at the same time, a deep admiration for a thinker of extraordinary range, and even without knowing him in person, a genuinely affectionate respect for a remarkable man.' Professor Alan Montefiore, Balliol College, Oxford

'Critique and Conviction is a strange genre - an autobiography unfolded in a series of thematically organized conversations. It succeeds brilliantly. The life recounted in these pages - with Ricoeur's breadth of philosophical, theological and political concerns, the positive ecumenical spirit with which he approaches every thinker who engages him, and the openness and directness of the conversational form - make these reflections an inspiration for the aspiring philosopher, and for the seasoned academic, a reminder of what a fully engaged intellectual life looks like. Ricoeur is unsurpassed in bridging the Anglo-American / Continental divide over a vast range of topics: psychoanalysis and the self, time, politics, justice, memory, responsibility, secularism, theology and aesthetic experience. As both a philosopher and a religious thinker, Ricoeur has always, as he says, walked on two legs. As he moves off the world stage on tiptoe, this book gives more than a glimpse of his exemplary achievement in marrying conviction and critique.' Professor David Wood, Department of Philosophy, Vanderbilt University

'It is one of the best introductions to Paul Ricoeur's work in its range, its coherence, its openness and its wise humanity.' Times Literary Supplement

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