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"Ricœur Studies" (ERRS) Volume 7, N°2 (2016). Ricoeur and the Arts

Portrait de Paul Ricoeur

"Etudes Ricœuriennes / Ricœur Studies" Vol. 7, No. 2 (2016) will be dedicated to the issues of art and aesthetics in Ricœur’s philosophy.Even if Paul Ricœur does not place this question concerning art and aesthetics at the center of his philosophy, as he is able to do in the case of the questions of ethics and politics, it is still a question that he often raises and one that plays an important role in his work, something that really needs to be acknowledged. This is particularly apparent in the period that covers The Rule of the Metaphor and Time and Narrative. What place should one accord, then, to aesthetics and the arts in the dynamics of Ricœur’s anthropology and the ontology of action and power that underpins it?In Critique and Conviction (1998), Ricœur suggests that his main contribution to these areas undoubtedly lies in his work on narrative, but there he also develops analyses whose scope extends to aesthetic experience in general. This text, originally published in French in 1995, certainly encourages us to go back to the route travelled by Ricœur in order to examine the emergence, in that work, of elements or principles which can inform a philosophical way of thinking about art. Ricœur lays claim to a Kantian legacy in philosophical aesthetics, whilst grafting elements from the phenomenological, hermeneutic, and reflexive traditions onto it. Among other things, he aims to reflect on the singularity of the artwork, its possible universality and, following Hannah Arendt, the contribution that this art work makes to the constitution of a common world.However, before this orientation could be given due recognition, it had to confront some serious misunderstandings and a very critical reception or even strong opposition. The contributors to Temps et récit de Paul Ricœur en débat (1990) are a case in point. They tend to read Time and Narrative as a dogged search for continuity and even talk about the possibility that concordance has been given primacy over discordance there, in line with the Aristotelian primacy of tragic muthos. From this they infer that the philosopher has difficulty – or is incapable of – properly understanding the fundamental ruptures of modern and contemporary art, the openness to radical novelty, the connections with political utopias and the perpetuum mobile of avant-gardes. An equally critical reading appeared on another level. This time the concern was the epistemic relation to symbolic functioning and the cognitive value of the arts. These critics were largely Francophone specialists in analytic aesthetics or analytic philosophy of art. Ironically, Ricœur had carried out pioneering work in this area by including references to the works of Beardsley, Goodman and Danto in his own analyses. Whether or not one takes up a position in the fields of literature or the visual arts, in the tradition of critical theory or in that of analytic philosophy, Ricœur’s contribution to the philosophy of art and aesthetics has undoubtedly not received the recognition that it deserves.In all likelihood, the criticisms display a misunderstanding and a lack of knowledge of Ricœur’s thought. Some concepts developed in the paired texts, The Rule of the Metaphor and Time and Narrative, may have obscured and limited the scope of the analyses as a consequence of not being recaptured in the dynamics of the whole of Ricœur’s hermeneutics. Can we really speak, in hermeneutics, about a primacy of concordance over discordance? Things prove to be a lot more complex at the level of the entire Ricœurian corpus. So, it is necessary to take up a position that has two light sources: a philosophy of imagination and a critical hermeneutics, whose central place in Ricœur’s thought we are better able to recognize today.Ricœur's philosophy of imagination involves us in relationships with creativity, a collective imaginary and a dialectic of being and action through which a relationship with the non-philosophical also comes into play. The notion of critical hermeneutics refers to reflexive work, carried out on the hermeneutic tradition, and work that involves re-appropriating or assimilating items from other traditions, including those that are sometimes strongly hostile to hermeneutics (e.g. the critique of ideology). That being the case, we will try to examine the relationship between Ricœur’s thought and the field of the arts and aesthetics, separating out three areas of study in particular: (a) Ricœur’s problematization of the poetic and the aesthetic, (b) the relationships that Ricœur’s thought maintains with the artistic object, aesthetic experience, and the world of the text or the work, (c) the links between this reflexive hermeneutics and a philosophical conception of art.

  • (a) With regard to Ricœur’s problematization of poetics and aesthetics, one could try to highlight those elements that have the capacity to contribute to a careful working out of a philosophy of art and a philosophy of creation as they emerge within the framework of the gradual formation of his poetics and philosophy of imagination. In this context, it is a matter of clarifying, in a new way, the nature of the poetic, thought about the symbol, and the analysis of metaphor and narrative, as well as, more generally, Ricœurian contributions to a philosophy of fiction.
  • (b) With regard to the relationship with the artistic object, the aesthetic experience and the world of the text or work, one could consider in more precise detail the links between Ricœurian philosophy and various works of art, artistic expressions and aesthetic conduct. It is, then, appropriate to reconsider Ricoeur’s constant and very important connection with the great works of literature and literary studies or literary theories, but also to thoroughly examine his relationship with the fields of the visual arts, cinema, architecture or music.
  • (c) Finally, with regard to the level of reflexive hermeneutics and a philosophical conception of art, one could try to see how Ricœur links a phenomenological approach, an analytical approach and a critical procedure in the framework of a reflexive hermeneutics, noting the sustained effort to integrate these various methods. At this level, Ricœur’s thought enters into dialogue not only with critical theory (Benjamin, Habermas, Rochlitz), the hermeneutic tradition (represented largely by Gadamer) and analytic philosophy (Beardsley, Goodman, etc.), but it is also interested in reception theories, the Freudian conception of art, and pragmatism as well as other theoretical perspectives on art (Langer, Valery, Arendt, Dufrenne, and Genette) and history of art.

While the volume has a preference for contributions that discover a Ricœurian philosophy of art and aesthetics, it remains open to contributions that are interested in what could seem like blind spots in Ricœur’s thinking in this area. For example, one might think of a type of privilege afforded to the link between aesthetics and poetics and ethics at the expense of the link between aesthetics and politics, something which lies at the heart of the discourse of the avant-gardes, or alternatively, one might think of the relation to the question of perception, which is of interest to Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology, Deleuze's transcendental empiricism, but also to every approach that maintains to a greater or lesser degree a link to cognitivism.

  • Closing date for the submission of texts: 15th of September 2016.
  • Length: 10,000 words maximum (50,000 characters). This includes text and endnotes. Articles may be written either in English or in French.
  • Format and style: The journal follows the Chicago Manual of Style.
  • See the rubric ‘Author Guidelines’ on the journal’s website: The editors cannot consider articles that do not follow these guidelines.
  • Instructions to authors: In order to submit an article, authors need to register on the journal website. There is a quick, five-step procedure to upload articles to the website. As soon as articles are uploaded, authors will receive a confirmation email. All articles will be peer-reviewed by two referees in a ‘double blind’ process.

Guest editors: Yvon Inizan and Samuel Lelievre