At the Threshold of Ricoeur’s Concerns in La Métaphore Vive: A Spatial Discourse of Diametric and Concentric Structures of Relation Building on Lévi-Strauss

Paul Downes


In La Métaphore Vive, spatial understandings pervade much of Ricoeur’s discussion of metaphor in terms of proximity and distance, tension, substitution, displacement, change of location, image, the ‘open’ structure of words, closure, transparency and opaqueness. Yet this is usually where space is discussed within metaphor, and as a metaphor itself, rather than as a precondition or prior system of relations to language interacting with language. Based on reinterpretation of an aspect of Lévi-Strauss’ structuralist anthropology, diametric and concentric spaces are argued to be such a prior system of relations to language, actively framing metaphor. This article examines the relevance of this prelinguistic spatial discourse to Ricoeur’s framework of metaphor and interrogation of the copula, influenced centrally by Heidegger . Concentric spatial assumed connection and diametric spatial assumed separation offer a framework for understanding, in Ricoeur’s words, the “conflict between identity and difference” in metaphor and early Heidegger’s existential spatiality.


Diametric Space, Concentric Space, Ricœur, Heidegger, Lévi-Straus

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2017 Paul Downes

License URL:

This journal is published by the University Library System, University of Pittsburgh as part of its D-Scribe Digital Publishing Program and is cosponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Press.

ISSN 2156-7808 (online)