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Paul Ricoeur: Thinker of the Margins?

À la frontière de la pensée de Paul Ricoeur

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Published on Thursday, February 27, 2014


Paul Ricoeur est bien connu comme philosophe du dialogue. L’originalité de sa pensée consistait non pas à rechercher l’impossible ou à faire communiquer les extrêmes, mais bien plutôt à rendre possible une médiation dans l’opposition conflictuelle entre les penseurs ou entre les systèmes de pensée. Là où les autres parlent de rupture ou de dichotomie, Ricoeur essaie d’établir un rapport. C’est pourquoi il est possible de qualifier sa pensée de dialectique. Or, cette approche dialectique ne risque-t-elle pas d’aboutir à une harmonisation des points de vue irréductibles ? Cette conférence veut questionner l’approche herméneutique de Ricoeur tout en la confrontant avec ses limites. À cet effet, elle veut engager le point de vue de Ricoeur sur des questions philosophiques, sociopolitiques et religieuses de première importance à l’heure actuelle dans un échange avec d’autres penseurs plus « radicaux ».



Ricoeur can be called the philosopher of all dialogues. He engaged virtually all the great movements of thought, entered into debate with scientists, and voices his concerns in the public debate. He never sought to engage in polemics but tried to engage seemingly unbridgeable positions or thinkers in a fruitful dialogue. Ricoeur was not a radical thinker in search of extremes, but rather committed to mediate between conflicting philosophers and streams of thought, therein lies part of his originality and creativity. Where others sees dichotomy, he sees dialectic. In this regard one cannot but note how often Ricoeur uses the word ‘between’ (entre) in the titles of his articles, always in search of connections, confrontations, and unexpected syntheses between thinkers who have preceded him. He really is a thinker of the between.

But does Ricoeur’s ‘dialogical approach’ not result in a harmonization of often diverging positions? Is Ricoeur able to hear the radicalness of certain insights? Is it possible that his hermeneutical philosophy takes away the sharpness of certain problems in current religious, political and philosophical debates? Might it even be the case that he did not hear certain voices, precisely because they resist synthesis? This conference inquires what happens to Ricoeur’s hermeneutical approach if we confront it with its limits.

The conference will address topical philosophical, socio-political and religious issues, from a Ricoeurian perspective, but in conversation with other, more ‘radical’ thinkers.

The organizing committee welcomes submissions that address any aspects of Ricoeur’s work, but especially invites proposals on the conference theme Ricoeur: Thinker of the Margins. Possible topics include:

  • Justice and the Struggle for Recognition. Justice is an important concept in Ricoeur’s work, first of all, as an ethical concept. For Ricoeur, justice is a way of establishing peace, both in concrete relations to others, as on the level of institutions. In The Course of Recognition, Ricoeur however shifts the focus on political philosophy, and, in so doing  creates a tension in his understanding of justice. On the one hand, he agrees with Hegel and Honneth that justice is a justification for violence that is part of ’the struggle for recognition’. On the other hand, Ricoeur points again to the role of justice for peace. As he argues with Marcel Hénaff, in the exchange of gifts for instance, the parties involved proof their recognition to one another, and, in this sense, maintain a peaceful relationship. The question arises therefore whether (and how) conflict and the possibility of violence are inherent to the relation between justice and recognition. For this topic we invite speakers who aim at investigating the tension between justice and recognition in Ricoeur’s work, and especially in The Course of Recognition.
  • Ricoeur, the Religious Other and Interreligious Dialogue. In the vast collection of his writings Ricoeur only sporadically raised the issue of interreligious dialogue. Though Ricoeur was sensitive to issues of religious diversity, interreligious violence and the encounter between religions, he did not engage into a systematic debate on these issues. However, Ricoeur’s hermeneutical philosophy may offer a framework enabling a thorough reflection on the challenges presented by the encounter between religions.
  • Discourse, Normativity and Power.  Ricoeur’s thinking is not often mentioned in the context of feminist, queer and race theory, perhaps because of his consideration of discourse as a “laboratory of thought experiments”, rather than as excluding and normative. On the other hand, his hermeneutics of suspicion, notions of critique and distanciation, and his ideas about the narrative and ethical self do seem interesting for thinking about alterity and difference. We invite papers that reflect upon Ricoeur’s notion of discourse, and address the question of normativity and power.
  • Literature, Identity, Politics. Literary fiction plays an important role in Ricoeur’s hermeneutics of subjectivity, especially with regard to his concept of narrative identity, which enables him to synthesize different aspects of personal identity. Ricoeur is less explicit about the relation between literary fiction and politics. This relation entails, however, vital issues, like for instance the role of fiction in the constitution of a political entity, the (legitimizing, critical or anarchic) function of narratives in political discourse, the power dependency (and transformation) of the narrative imagination, the possibility of politic pluralism, etc. We intend to critically examine the contribution of Ricoeur’s hermeneutics to these issues.

Please submit your abstract of approximately 500 words (including the paper's title, the author's name, institutional affiliation, mailing address, and email address). Abstracts and papers may be in English or French. 

Deadline for submission is March 15th,, 2014. Notification of acceptance will be given before the 15th of April, 2014.

Please send your abstract to geoffrey.dierckxsens@uantwerpen.be. Further information about the conference will be available on the site: https://sites.google.com/site/ricoeurantwerp2014

  • Participation fee : 60 € (includes reception, cafe or tea during breaks, and two lunches)
  • Student fee : 30 €
  • Closing Diner : 40 €

Organizing committee 

  • Prof. Dr. Arthur Cools (University of Antwerp)
  • drs. Geoffrey Dierckxsens (University of Antwerp)
  • Dr. Annemie Halsema (VU-University Amsterdam)
  • Prof. Dr. Marianne Moyaert (VU-University Amsterdam).

Center for Philosophy of Culture (University of Antwerp)

Amsterdam Centre for the Study of Cultural and Religious Diversity & Historical Philosophy (VU-University Amsterdam)    

Scientific committee

  • Prof. Dr. Arthur Cools (University of Antwerp)
  • drs. Geoffrey Dierckxsens (University of Antwerp)
  • Dr. Annemie Halsema (VU-University Amsterdam)
  • Prof. Dr. Marianne Moyaert (VU-University Amsterdam)
  • Prof. Dr. Roger Savage (Society for Ricoeur Studies, UCLA)
  • Prof. Dr. Georges Taylor (Society for Ricoeur Studies, University of Pittsburgh)
  • Prof Dr. Johann Michel (Fonds Ricœur, EHESS, Université de Poitiers)
  • Gilbert Vincent (Fonds Ricœur, Université de Strasbourg)

The International Conference will take places on September, 18-20, 2014, at Antwerp.


  • Antwerp, Belgium


  • Saturday, March 15, 2014


  • Ricoeur, hermeneutique, dialectique, justice, reconnaissance, dialogue interreligieux, identité narrative, fiction, pouvoir, normativité


  • Geoffrey Dierckxsens
    courriel : geoffrey [dot] dierckxsen [at] uantwerpen [dot] be

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Geoffrey Dierckxsens
    courriel : geoffrey [dot] dierckxsen [at] uantwerpen [dot] be


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Paul Ricoeur: Thinker of the Margins? », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, February 27, 2014, https://calenda.org/278034

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