Drieledig personalisme: Ricoeur als personalist après-la-lettre

Translated title of the contribution: Three-Fold Personalism: Ricoeur as a Personalist Après-la-Lettre

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    The (continued) success of personalist philosophy in moral theology and politics is in stark contrast with the response within the field of philosophy itself. After a period of intense flowering between 1930-1950, a deafening silence soon descended. In this article, I will use Paul Ricoeur to guide me in my search for a form in which this type of thought can still be useful in philosophy today, a form that will lead to a greater recognition of the political as a unique factor than before. During his early years, Ricoeur had close ties to personalism, but as time moved on, he became more and more critical. A fact that is usually ignored however, is that the later Ricoeur seems to have tried to translate the personalist approach into a rather more efficient form within the context of contemporary philosophy. In this article, I will try to show that Ricoeur’s late, but important work Soi-même comme un autre (1990) should be regarded as the result of this attempt. Firstly, his ‘small ethics’ is very close to the personalist ethics of solidarity. Ricoeur’s reflections on the ethical pursuit of the good life with and for others in just institutions, offer a philosophical elaboration of the correction of personalism he wrote over thirty years earlier with regard to moral theology, using the same distinction between neighbour and fellow human being. Thus, he combined personalist intuitions with a greater recognition of the uniqueness of the political sphere in which we are connected to each other anonymously. Secondly, his hermeneutical phenomenology offers a solid anthropological base for those ethics, by connecting the three-foldedness of ethical aspiration with the implications of the analysis of language, action and narrativity in contemporary philosophy. I would suggest we interpret Ricoeur’s philosophy as a personalism après-la-lettre, not just because he elaborates on personalism in a way that is better able to resist the hostile context of contemporary philosophy, but mainly also because he succeeds better in integrating the uniqueness of the political sphere and of the personal political responsibility of citizens than the original French personalist did. Ricoeur’s three-fold personalism – the personalism of the person in relation to the first, the second and the third person – offers some outlines for a contemporary personalist philosophy.
    Translated title of the contributionThree-Fold Personalism: Ricoeur as a Personalist Après-la-Lettre
    Original languageDutch
    Pages (from-to)152-168
    JournalTijdschrift voor Theologie
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


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