MAN AS INTERMEDIATE: AN EXAMINATION OF PAUL RICOEUR'S PHILOSOPHICAL ANTHROPOLOGY AND ITS IMPLICATIONS WITH RESPECT TO PHILOSOPHICAL METHODOLOGY

SEAN P O'CONNELL, Fordham University

Abstract

Paul Ricoeur's career has been marked by a fundamental interest in the development of a comprehensive philosophical anthropology. His starting-point for undertaking this development was a prephilosophical insight into the human condition as intermediate, finite, bound to its situation, but capable of transcending that situation through desire, most pointedly, through the desire to know. This starting-point has led him to a complex vision of human inquiry. Briefly, Ricoeur maintains that such inquiry must begin as listening, as receptivity. Man is dependent upon the speaking of being, the speaking of the Wholly Other which makes it cease to be such, if he is to gain knowledge. Further, because this listening is always a listening within being, it cannot culminate in a grasp of being as an object of inquiry. Rather, it results in the establishment of a relation to being. The central question of inquiry, then, is, "What can the meaning of being be for me?" In answering this, I at the same time discover who I am as a being in relation to being. Truth as the object of inquiry cannot be the adequation of mind to reality but instead must take the form of the manifestation of the relation of man to being. This manifestation occurs in human works, works which at the same time constitute the relation. In such works, there is the creation of a world which refers to the reality of the possibility of the world and there is the transformation of that possibility into reality for living. Finally, it is through these works that man's relation to being is made available to thought. This view requires that one live in hope that one's relation to being and one's intellectual grasp of that relation will move in the direction of the full realization of the relation's potential.^ In my dissertation, I trace Ricoeur's development of his philosophical anthropology in order to determine how successful he is in sustaining his initial vision of man as intermediate and whether or not his position indeed makes room for the hope which he claims must dwell at the heart of all inquiry. I contend that Ricoeur's treatment of man as intermediate ultimately becomes a vision of him as belonging to the realm of finitude and hence in some sense separated from all other being. This vision of man, together with the recognition that Ricoeur's stance must maintain that being at times refuses to manifest itself, jeopardizes the decision to undertake inquiry in hope. I suggest that a more appropriate vision of the human condition is offered by G. W. F. Hegel when he argues that the meaning of being comes to itself through human consciousness. ^

Subject Area

Philosophy

Recommended Citation

O'CONNELL, SEAN P, "MAN AS INTERMEDIATE: AN EXAMINATION OF PAUL RICOEUR'S PHILOSOPHICAL ANTHROPOLOGY AND ITS IMPLICATIONS WITH RESPECT TO PHILOSOPHICAL METHODOLOGY" (1987). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8714589.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8714589

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