Between the Prose of Justice and the Poetics of Love? Reading Ricœur on Mutual Recognition in the Light of Harmful Strategies of “Othering”

Robert Vosloo


Against the backdrop of the challenges posed by xenophobia and other social phenomena that operated with harmful strategies of “othering,” this article considers the promise that the notion of “mutual recognition” as exemplified in the later work of Paul Ricœur holds for discourse on these matters. Can the hermeneutical and mediating approach of Ricœur provide an adequate framework in order to respond to these radical challenges? In light of this question, this article discusses and ultimately affirms Ricœur’s view that places mutual recognition between what he calls the prose of justice and the poetics of agápē. In addition this article draws attention to the value of symbolic gestures and an ethic of linguistic hospitality to give further texture to the plea for mutual recognition amidst experience of exclusion, conflict and violence.


Recognition, Ricœur, Xenophobia, Agape, Linguistic Hospitality

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Copyright (c) 2016 Robert Vosloo

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ISSN 2156-7808 (online)