In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviewed by:
  • Ricœur and the Hermeneutics of Suspicion
  • John McKeane
Ricœur and the Hermeneutics of Suspicion. By Alison Scott-Baumann. (Continuum Studies in Continental Philosophy). London: Continuum, 2009. x + 237 pp. Hb £65.00.

The first stage of Scott-Baumann's account of Ricœur's approach to suspicion can be glimpsed in her alignment of it as 'a manifestation of supreme confidence' (p. 67). She demonstrates in great depth the various stages of Ricœur's account, where it is seen as a necessary but not sufficient liberator from false consciousness. This entails an account of the 'masters of suspicion' Freud, Marx, and Nietzsche in Ricœur's work, of wide-ranging debates concerning scepticism, and of the 'hermeneutics of suspicion'. Archival material is successfully integrated into the book, perhaps more so than the fruits of the author's conversations with a Middle-East war correspondent in Chapter 9. A particularly rich account is given of Ricœur's movement between philosophical consciousness (in the form of phenomenology) and the unconscious (in the form of Freud's theories): 'Whereas Husserl's phenomenology is the reduction to consciousness, Freudian psychoanalysis is the reduction of consciousness' (p. 45). The author seeks to question the prevalence of 'the hermeneutics of suspicion' in other secondary work on Ricœur, for instance by demonstrating the existence of a hermeneutics of faith, belief, or recovery (passim). It is strange that these alternative models are not given the space they seem to require within the author's thinking: if a 'hermeneutics of retrieval' is indeed 'the chief aim of Ricœur's work' (p. 214), then we could have been told so elsewhere than in a footnote. What is more, the book could have benefited from more stringent editing: amongst other things, it overuses the passive voice, repeats text (pp. 32, 138), and produces reductive vignettes of too many thinkers. There is complete omission of Levinas's work on the 'visage', which could have been an important element of the debate on the Hijab that is repeatedly promised but never satisfactorily delivered. Indeed, the tendency to see the relation to alterity as a recognition of the same in the other sails rather close to a normative definition of humanity. In this vein, and in one of several worrying passages, the author appears to call Levinas's attention to unassimilated alterity '"morally pernicious"', via a third-party quotation, reproduced without the comment it surely requires (p. 16). In spite of these shortcomings, one can certainly see what the rewards of a move beyond suspicion as a reassuringly self-righteous practice could be. One might recognize the responsibility inherent in language, if one could doubt that one doubts.

John McKeane
St Anne's College, Oxford


Additional Information

Print ISSN
p. 517
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.