Ricoeur’s Early Approaches to the Ontological Question

  • Marc-Antoine ValléeEmail author
Part of the Contributions to Hermeneutics book series (CONT HERMEN, volume 2)


In The Conflict of Interpretations (1969), Ricoeur makes an important distinction between two different ways to approach the ontological question: a short route (represented by Heidegger) and a long route (Ricoeur’s path). Since then, this well-known distinction has always played a central role in understanding the ontological question in Ricoeur. But the aim of this chapter is to show that, before the Conflict of Interpretations, Ricoeur was considering the ontological question from a different point of view, by using a distinction between unifocal and bifocal approaches. This distinction appears in Ricoeur’s early work, first and foremost, in order to shed light on the difference between an ontology focusing on human existence (Heidegger and Sartre) and another approach insisting on the tension between human finitude and Transcendence (Jaspers and Marcel). But the project of the Philosophy of the Will (1950–1960) was also based on this idea of a bifocal ontology. Directly inspired by the philosophies of Jaspers and Marcel, Ricoeur developed a paradoxical ontology of fallibility, of disproportion or non-coincidence with oneself, but still animated by the sight of a reconciled ontology.


Ontology Being Existence Transcendence Finitude 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Collège Édouard-MontpetitLongueuilCanada

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