Ricoeur has written about translation as an ethical paradigm. Translation from one language to another, and within one’s own language, provides both a metaphor and a real mechanism for explaining oneself to the other. Attempting and failing to achieve symmetry between two languages is a manifestation of the asymmetry inherent in human relationships. If actively pursued, translation can show us how to forgive other people for being different from us and thus serves as a paradigm for tolerance. In full acceptance (...) that this will be impossible, Ricoeur uses the model of translation as a way of understanding European integration, with three aspects: translation, shared narrative and shared forgiveness of Europe’s history. These models provide a strong statement about tolerance and become even more significant through their conversation with the negativity that suffuses them. He draws on his knowledge of psychoanalysis to explain that the translator suffers through remembering and through mourning the loss of perfection; there must be acknowledgement of deficiency. This acceptance of imperfection and of limits to success is a key element in Ricoeur’s philosophy and is explored from the 1950s onwards in his study of negativity; denied by phenomenology and explored by Hegel. Negation is vital for understanding the world, but it can preclude us from access to meaning when it becomes negativity. Translation can provide the bridge to span the tension between the pathology of denial and different interpretations, and projection of evil into others, which I believe is at the heart of the perceived incompatibilities between Islam and the West. There is a political urgency to this enterprise, given the ‘othering’ of the Muslim world that has replaced the Cold War dichotomies between Communist as ‘other’ and the capitalist world. References to the Muslim as the current ‘other’ will be part of my discussion. As well as seeking to understand Ricoeur’s model of translation, we will examine whether his model works in a world where many speak no Arabic, Urdu or Farsi, or indeed whether it has any relevance for people who do not translate from one language to another. (shrink)
Making meaning out of life requires effort, sustained thought and action. It can be difficult to reassert our responsibility for solving real life problems from within social science research or current trends, such as extremely deconstructivist text, and postmodernism in its cheerfully nihilistic guise. Hermeneutical philosophy, of the Ricoeurian reconstructive mode, rehabilitates text as a powerful device for influencing others and offers us courage to proceed with the human project by developing a way of writing, thinking and behaving that is (...) provisional, affirmative and conciliatory, yet constantly questioning. Ricoeur invites the person, both reflective subject and empiricist object of research, to combine these elements and use written text and action as text for an active mode of living. Within philosophy he attempts to achieve a rapprochement between hermeneutical and rational thought. Understanding oneself, through better understanding of the other, derives benefit from crossing disciplinary boundaries between, in this study, philosophy and the social sciences (education and psychology), in order to attempt to move from the particular, individual issues to the general, holistic view and return to ones own situation to act for oneself and others. Ricoeur offers us the opportunity to repossess language, to be ethical and practical, and to challenge the hegemony of Explaining, going beyond method and methodology into epistemology and beyond fact into Understanding: an ontology of hope that makes sense of plurality, without the damage of relativism. This text attempts a narrative ethics, illustrating how Ricoeurs work transformed my thinking from that of a method-bound psychologist to that of, perhaps, a philosopher in the making. Key Words: critical realism hermeneutics holism Hollis individualism Norris rational analytic Ricoeur self text. (shrink)
The writing of Iris Murdoch has long been of interest to both literature enthusiasts and students of philosophy. The years Murdoch spent studying philosophy at Oxford and Cambridge left an indelible imprint on her work. The essays in this book address both Murdoch’s philosophy and writing in the context of Continental philosophy and postmodern fiction. Many of the twelve essays resist the prevailing critical orthodoxies, introducing instead new theories with which to approach one of Britain’s most revered authors.
Ricœur lectured and wrote for over twenty years on negation (‘Do I understand something better if I know what it is not, and what is not-ness?') and never published his extensive writings on this subject. Ricœur concluded that there are multiple forms of negation; it can, for example, be the other person (Plato), the not knowable nature of our world (Kant), the included opposite (Hegel), apophatic spirituality (Plotinus on not being able to know God) and existential nothingness (Sartre). Ricœur, working (...) on Kant, Hegel and Sartre, decided that all these forms of negation are incompatible and also fatally flawed because they fail to resolve false binaries of negative: positive. Alison Scott-Baumann demonstrates how Ricœur subsequently incorporated negation into his linguistic turn, using dialectics, metaphor, narrative, parable and translation in order to show how negation is in us, not outside us: language both creates and clarifies false binaries. He bestows upon negation a strong and central role in the human condition, and its inevitability is reflected in his writings, if we look carefully. Ricœur and the Negation of Happiness draws on Ricœur's published works, previously unavailable archival material and many other sources. Alison Scott-Baumann argues that thinking positively is necessary but not sufficient for aspiring to happiness - what is also required is affirmation of negative impulses: we know we are split by contradictions and still try to overcome them. She also demonstrates the urgency of analysing current socio-cultural debates about wellbeing, education and equality, which rest insecurely upon our loose use of the negative as a category mistake. (shrink)
We distinguish between citizens of a state and strangers in a categorical way that seems clear and has the force of law behind it. In fact nationality is a highly contested phenomenon and one that is desired by many who are considered to be aliens or strangers. They range from guest-workers, to immigrants, to asylum seekers and they are often viewed with deep suspicion, even fear. The Kantian injunction to be hospitable to others is not being heeded, but should be (...) the major consideration in any new legislation. It may now be necessary to consider a new law of asylum, as many Western states seek to bar such people from entry even if they are fleeing persecution. Moreover, we will only be able to resolve this persecutory, exclusionist tendency if we develop a strong, secure sense of self. (shrink)
Ricoeur placed a great deal of importance upon text and the interpretation of text. Bell accepts this by virtue of his extended analysis of the story of Babel, and I hope to offer ways of extending and developing Bell’s arguments to incorporate the ethical demands that Ricoeur placed upon text, upon our interpretation of text and upon action as a form of readable text. This will not include a commentary on discourse analysis, which I am not qualified to give. Ricoeur (...) differed from the structuralist tradition in that he saw the relationship between language and life as taking a dialectical form: debate that presumes the possibility of altering one’s position by grappling with different views, and often taking inspiration from Hegelian dialectics, with their contrasting polarized views and the eventual attempt at affirmative common ground. The term λoƔoσ was first used in a philosophical way by Heraclitus to give us the principle of order and knowledge, and yet for Heraclitus the world was dominated by conflict and change. Ricoeur studied this tension within logos between order and disorder, partly by his writing about language and his work on signs and symbols, partly through metaphor and narrative and also through his insights on translation. For him, all these are facets of the need for both Explaining and Understanding as forms of interpretation of language, ethics and action. Ricoeur’s work on logos provides us with an approach that asks whether ethics controls language or vice versa or both and how this fits in with structuralism and later movements. For Ricoeur, signs are not the centres of our perceptual experience. At the heart of our perception are our motivations and our actions, for which we must take responsibility in a sort of provisional affirmation that we will keep trying. In so doing we must doubt our own motives just as much as those of others, and see action as a form of readable text. (shrink)