Paul Ricœur and Clifford Geertz: The Harmonic Dialogue between Philosophical Hermeneutics and Cultural Anthropology


  • Maria Cristina Clorinda Vendra Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague (Oddělení Současné Kontinentální Filosofie,Filosofický Ustav AV ČR, Praha)



Symbolic Action, Culture, Ideology, Hermeneutics, Anthropology


Human experience has a symbolic structure. By focusing on the symbolism of human action, this essay considers the reciprocal influences and the essential differences between Paul Ricœur’s hermeneutics and Clifford Geertz’s cultural anthropology. Through reference to Ricœur’s Lectures on Ideology and Utopia, the section on “Ideology, Utopia, and Politics” in From Text to Action, and Geertz’s 1973 book The Interpretation of Cultures, this paper aims at reconstructing the dialogue between these thinkers. I begin with a broad framing of the encounter between Ricœur and Geertz, and then turn to the notion of the symbolic mediation of action, considering it as the shared key concept between these authors. These reflections will lead to an examination of the semiotic conception of culture, opening up the discussion of a nonpejorative dimension of ideology.

Author Biography

Maria Cristina Clorinda Vendra, Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague (Oddělení Současné Kontinentální Filosofie,Filosofický Ustav AV ČR, Praha)

Maria Cristina Clorinda Vendra currently works as a Post-Doctoral researcher at the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS) in Prague. She obtained her PhD in Philosophy at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris (France). Her dissertation discusses a critical reconstruction of Paul Ricoeur’ social thought. She is an active member of the Society for Ricoeur Studies and the Fonds Ricoeur. She is the author of articles on Ricoeur’s thought and she has participated in numerous international conferences and seminars in Europe (Paris, Lisbon, Barcelona, Krakow, Antwerp), in the USA (Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago), and in Canada (Montreal).


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