On Ricœur’s Shift from a Hermeneutics of Culture to a Cultural Hermeneutics

Suzi Adams


The essay’s argument is twofold: First, it contends that Ricœur’s articulation of the social imaginary in the Lectures on Ideology and Utopia (and other essays of that period), reveals a turn to a general theory of culture, which is best understood as a shift from a hermeneutics of culture to a cultural hermeneutics. This move forms part of his philosophical anthropology of “real social life.” The essay proposes it is epitomized in Ricœur’s changing reception of Cassirer. Second, the essay hermeneutically reconstructs the emergence of this turn in Ricœur’s intellectual trajectory, and, in so doing, contends that it is connected to a rearticulation of both the phenomenological reduction and the symbolic function that took place in the mid- to late 1960s. Ricœur’s developing response to the phenomenological problematic of the world horizon underlies these further phenomenological-hermeneutic considerations. The essay concludes with a brief sketch of Ricœur’s understanding of the symbolic mediation of action (in the Geertz lecture) as a reconfiguration of the hermeneutical actualization of phenomenological preconditions of the symbolic.


Paul Ricœur, Cultural Hermeneutics, Phenomenology, Social Imaginary, World Horizon, the Symbolic, the Human Condition

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/errs.2015.312

Copyright (c) 2016 Suzi Adams

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