Ricoeur's narrative development of Gadamer's hermeneutics: Continuity and discontinuity

Keith D'Souza, Marquette University


The dissertation is a demonstration of areas of continuity and discontinuity between the philosophical hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer and the narrative hermeneutics of Paul Ricoeur. In particular, I argue that the triple- mimesis presented in Ricoeur's Time and Narrative , viz., 'prefiguration,' 'configuration' and 'refiguration,' can be understood to be a narrative reappropriation and reformulation of three concepts found in Hans-Georg Gadamer's Truth and Method , viz., 'effective history,' 'mimesis ' and 'application.' While I highlight areas of continuity between Gadamer and Ricoeur, I argue that Ricoeur refines Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics in specific and requisite directions. Ricoeur gives far more importance than Gadamer to the element of 'explanation' in the interpretive process, to the relationship between hermeneutics and practical action, to the role of narrative figuration (the triple-mimesis ) in interpretation, to the role of critical criteria that need to govern communication and interpretation, and to the necessity for moral reflection to guide the development of ethical or practical action. In Chapter One, I highlight key hermeneutical themes and problems, mainly from Ricoeur's hermeneutical Standpoint, and keeping the specific interest of narrative hermeneutics in mind. In Chapter Two, I present a critical overview of important hermeneutical positions in Gadamer's Truth and Method , and especially focus on the concepts of 'effective history,' mimesis and 'application.' In Chapter Three, I provide an overview of narrative hermeneutics, and then present the triple- mimesis that Ricoeur describes in Time and Narrative (Vol.1) as fundamental categories for his general project of narrative hermeneutics. I then relate these categories with the three concepts of Gadamer presented in Chapter Two. In Chapter Four, I present and discuss themes connected with critical, ethical and moral dimensions of narrative hermeneutics. I cover the Gadamer-Habermas debate, and the debate between teleological and deontological positions in ethical theory, followed by Ricoeur's resolution of these debates in terms of his own hermeneutical standpoint.

Recommended Citation

D'Souza, Keith, "Ricoeur's narrative development of Gadamer's hermeneutics: Continuity and discontinuity" (2003). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI3119852.