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Ricoeur's Critical Theory

David M. Kaplan

Publication Year: 2003

In Ricoeur’s Critical Theory, David M. Kaplan revisits the Habermas-Gadamer debates to show how Paul Ricoeur’s narrative-hermeneutics and moral-political philosophy provide a superior interpretive, normative, and critical framework. Arguing that Ricoeur’s unique version of critical theory surpasses the hermeneutic philosophy of Gadamer, Kaplan adds a theory of argumentation necessary to criticize false consciousness and distorted communication. He also argues that Ricoeur develops Habermas’s critical theory, adding an imaginative, creative dimension and a concern for community values and ideas of the Good Life. He then shows how Ricoeur’s political philosophy steers a delicate path between liberalism, communitarianism, and socialism. Ricoeur’s version of critical theory not only identifies and criticizes social pathologies, posits Kaplan, but also projects utopian alternatives for personal and social transformation that would counter and heal the effects of unjust societies. The author concludes by applying Ricoeur’s critical theory to three related problems—the politics of identity and recognition, technology, and globalization and democracy—to show how his works add depth, complexity, and practical solutions to these problems.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix

I would not have been able to complete this book were it not for the help of several individuals, two public pools, and Roberta. I am grateful to my friends and family for their understanding, loyalty, warmth, and affection. I am grateful to Jim Marsh and Pat Bourgeois, both of whom encouraged and supported me...

Reference Key to Frequently Cited Texts of Paul Ricoeur

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. 1- 15

Paul Ricoeur is widely regarded as among the most important philosophers of the twentieth century. His ability over the last fifty years to enter into dialogue with a wide range of philosophers and philosophies and to offer even-handed, balanced judgments on the most important debates of the day is nothing less than...

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Chapter 1. Hermeneutics

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pp. 17-45

For Ricoeur, hermeneutics is a version of phenomenology. It is less of a break from phenomenology than an extension and transformation of it. He argues that phenomenology and hermeneutics are dialectically related: hermeneutics is grounded on phenomenological presuppositions, while phenomenology...

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Chapter 2. Narrative

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pp. 47-74

One of the central themes in Ricoeur’s hermeneutic philosophy is the creative capacity of language, especially metaphoric and narrative language. Creative language expresses aspects of reality that would otherwise remain hidden from ordinary language. By describing the world in new...

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Chapter 3. Selfhood

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pp. 75-99

Ricoeur’s works can be described as a philosophical anthropology of human action. From his first major work, Freedom and Nature, where the subject is human freedom, to his last major work, Oneself as Another, where the subject is human acting and suffering, Ricoeur maintains an...

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Chapter 4. Practical Wisdom

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pp. 101-124

The fourth set of studies in Oneself as Another (following the studies on speaking, acting, and narrating) asks the question “who is the subject of moral imputation?” They form what Ricoeur ironically calls his “little ethics,” an ambitious attempt to mediate between an Aristotlian, teleological...

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Chapter 5. Politics

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pp. 125-151

Ricoeur’s main contribution to political philosophy is his notion of the “political paradox.” On the one hand, political authority is legitimate if it comes from the rational consent of the governed; on the other hand, political practice is often coercive, even violent, which is something, in principle, to...

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Chapter 6. Critical Theory

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pp. 153-187

For a social theory to be considered a critical theory it must not only analyze and explain social phenomenon but also criticize and judge domination and oppression informed by a theory of liberation. Critical theory overlaps considerably with traditional or mainstream social and political theory. ...


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pp. 189-203


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pp. 205-215


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pp. 217-223

E-ISBN-13: 9780791486986
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791456958
Print-ISBN-10: 0791456951

Page Count: 236
Publication Year: 2003