Non-Europeans and their Presence to History. Universality, Modernity and Decolonization in Ricœur’s Political Philosophy

Alina Achenbach


This article reconsiders Paul Ricœur’s political philosophical writings on the task of decolonization and European responsibility in light of a horizon of intercultural dialogue. Departing from the exchange between Ricœur and his former student Enrique Dussel, it discusses the Ricœurian critique of modernity. After giving some background on Ricœur’s reflections on decolonization, it will clarify what Ricœur calls the “crisis of the concrete universal in the thinking and in the historical experience of Western Europe,” and what role cultural difference has in this crisis. Considering Ricœur’s explicitly European perspective, this will lead us to a critical discussion on the envisioned possibility of a world-historical subject. Finally, I will discuss the role of European self-reflection in relation to a horizon of intercultural dialogue and narration from a post-/decolonial perspective.


Ricœur; Dussel; Interculturality; Coloniality; Modernity.

Full Text:



Alia Al-Saji, “Too Late: Racialized Time and the Closure of the Past,” Insights, vol. 6/5 (2013), 1-13

Ryan Coyne, “The Wound of Hegelianism: Hermeneutics and Eschatology in Paul Ricœur,” The Journal of Religion, vol. 96/1 (2016), 53-76, online: doi:10.1086/683804

Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Epistemologies of The South: Justice Against Epistemicide (London: Routledge/Taylor&Francis, 2017)

Enrique Dussel and Eduardo Mendieta, The Underside of Modernity - Apel, Ricœur, Rorty, Taylor, and the Philosophy of Liberation (New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1996)

Enrique Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1985)

———, “Transmodernity and Interculturality,” Transmodernity: Journal of Peripheral Cultural Production of the Luso-Hispanic World, vol. 1/3 (2012), 28-59

Johannes Fabian, Time and the Other: How Anthropology makes its Object (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014)

Lewis R. Gordon, “Black Aesthetics, Black Value,” Public Culture, vol. 30/1 (2018), 19-34

Ramón Grosfoguel, “Decolonizing Post-colonial Studies and Paradigms of Political-economy: Transmodernity, Decolonial Thinking, and Global Coloniality,” Transmodernity: Journal of Peripheral Cultural Production of the Luso-Hispanic World, vol. 1 (2011), online:

———, “Epistemic Racism/Sexism, westernized Universities and the four Genocides/Epistemicides of the long Sixteenth Century,” in Marta Araújo and Silvia R. Maeso (eds), Eurocentrism, Racism and Knowledge (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 23-46

Fernanda Henriques and Teresa Toldy, “The Contribution of Ricœur’s Hermeneutics to a Feminist Perspective on Postcolonial Theology,” in Feminist Explorations of Paul Ricœur’s Philosophy (London: Lexington Books, 2016), 239-58

John Kraniauskas, “Difference Against Development: Spiritual Accumulation and the Politics of Freedom,” Boundary, vol. 2/32(2005), 53-80

Alain Loute, “Enrique Dussel y Paul Ricœur: pensar la creatividad normativa,” Analytic Teaching and Philosophical Praxis, vol. 33/2 (2012), 61-8

Goncalo Marcelo, “The Conflict Between the Fundamental, the Universal, and the Historical: Ricœur on Justice and Plurality,” Philosophy Today, vol. 58/4 (2014), 645-64.

Angelos Mouzakitis, “From Narrative to Action: Paul Ricœur’s Reflections on History,” Rethinking History, vol. 19/3 (2015), 393-408

Sebastian Purcell, “Space and Narrative. Enrique Dussel and Paul Ricœur: The Missed Encounter,” Philosophy Today, vol. 54/3 (2010), 289-98, online: doi: 10.5840/philtoday201054316

Aníbal Quijano, “Coloniality and Modernity/Rationality,” Cultural Studies, vol. 21/2-3 (2007), 168-78.

Paul Ricœur, “La question coloniale,” Réforme, vol. 3/131(1947), 2-5

———, “Civilisation universelle et cultures nationales,” Esprit, vol. 299/10 (1961), 439-53

———, “Work and the Word,” in History and Truth (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1965), 197-222

———, “Universal Civilization, National Cultures,” in History and Truth (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1965), 271-86

———, “The Task of the Political Educator,” Philosophy Today, vol. 17/2 (1973), 142-52

———, “Introduction,” in Cultures and Time (Paris: The Unesco Press, 1976), 13-33

———, “Towards a Hermeneutics of Historical Consciousness,” in Time and Narrative 3, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), 207-40

———, Time and Narrative, Volume 3, trans. Kathleen Blamey and David Pellauer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990).

———, Oneself as Another, trans. Kathleen Blamey (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992).

———, “Response by Paul Ricœur: Philosophy and Liberation,” in Enrique Dussel and Eduardo Mendieta (eds), The Underside of Modernity (New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1996), 205-12

———, “Is the Present Crisis a Specifically Modern Phenomenon?,” in The Ancients and The Moderns (Bloomington/Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1996)

———, “Vraie et fausse paix,” Autres temps. Cahiers d’éthique sociale et politique, vol. 76/1 (2003), 51-65

———, “The Paradox of Authority,” in Reflections on the Just, 2007, 91-105.

———, From Text to Action: Essays in Hermeneutics, II (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2008)

Madina Vladimirovna Tlostanova and Walter Mignolo, Learning to Unlearn: Decolonial Reflections from Eurasia and the Americas (Columbus: The Ohio State University Press, 2012)


Copyright (c) 2021 Alina Achenbach

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)