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The Enigma of the Past: Ricoeur’s Theory of Narrative as a Response to Heidegger

  • Pol VandeveldeEmail author
Chapter
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Part of the Contributions to Hermeneutics book series (CONT HERMEN, volume 2)

Abstract

This chapter examines how Ricoeur has used two Heideggerean distinctions in order to circumscribe the “enigma of the past”: first, the distinction between the past that is no longer (Vergangenheit) and the past that is still relevant and meaningful to us (das Gewesene) and, second, the distinction between an event (Ereignis), as what makes history possible, and a historical fact, as what falls into historical times and can be recorded. In order to situate the problem I appeal to Nietzsche’s second “Untimely Consideration” about the “uses and disadvantages of history for life,” which both Ricoeur and Heidegger use and in which Nietzsche speaks of the “power of the present,” when it comes to retelling the past. Both Heidegger and Ricoeur acknowledge this power. However, against Heidegger’s view that there is a rupture between Historie and Geschichte or between event and historical facts, Ricoeur sees narratives as guaranteeing a continuity between these two poles. In order to test the plausibility and fruitfulness of Ricoeur’s and Heidegger’s distinctions, the chapter examines some “events” at the end of WWII that belong to “German suffering” and examine the nature of the delay that took place between the “happening” of these events and their recognition several decades later as “historical facts.”

Keywords

History Narrative Event Attestation German suffering 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyMarquette UniversityMilwaukeeUSA

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