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Is There a Gap Between the Hermeneutical and the Ethical? A Discussion on Paul Ricoeur’s Moral Attestation of Here I am


Paul Ricoeur is a philosopher of wide ranging interests whose main concern is hermeneutics. His hermeneutics is self-reflexive, an existential appropriation that eventually gives way to self-understanding. Questions pertaining to self-identity, the problem of the other and intersubjectivity are presented by him in a tensive style, keeping the scope of interpretations wide open. While discussing the question of self-identity, he moves towards intersubjectivity which is centred on self-esteem. It provides a context for self-constancy which gives to a moral identity, an attestation of Here I am. Here arises the basic issue, how the narrative identity which is hermeneutical give rise to an ethical relation. If so, Ricoeur must be ready to see that there is an asymmetric relation between the same and the other which can be termed ethical. Though he says that conscience contains an injunction to attest ourselves to say, Here I am, it is a statement of “said” and not one of “saying”. Only a statement of “saying” can interrupt ontology and enact the movement from the same to the other which is ethical. Hence, Ricoeur stands at the hemeneutical level which cannot abandon ontology. But the polysemic nature of alterity posed by him never closes the possibilities of an ethical interpretation.

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I, RL, the author: (1) made substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis or interpretation of data; or the creation of new software used in the work; (2) drafted the work or revised it critically for important intellectual content; (3) approved the version to be published; and (4) agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

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Lekshmi, R. Is There a Gap Between the Hermeneutical and the Ethical? A Discussion on Paul Ricoeur’s Moral Attestation of Here I am. J. Indian Counc. Philos. Res. 40, 65–79 (2023).

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