Hermeneutics and Philosophy of Religion: The Legacy of Paul Ricoeur

2013 Conference Program
Volume: Hermeneutics and Philosophy of Religion

Paul Ricoeur (Feb. 27, 1913 to May 20, 2005) was one of the most distinguished and prolific philosophers of religion in the second half of the 20th century. From his early studies on philosophical anthropology – Freedom and Nature and Fallible Man – to his latest books – Thinking Biblically; Memory, History, Forgetting; Figuring the Sacred: Religion, Narrative, and Imagination; Reflections on the Just; and Living up to Death – Ricoeur focused on the reality of human life and culture and the phenomenological and hermeneutical elucidation of the complex human creations of meaning in symbols, metaphors, narratives and other cultural phenomena. Through his wide-ranging writings, a self-reflective and critical approach to hermeneutics became an indispensable tool for the philosophical interpretation of the complex text worlds of religious traditions and the critical reflection of cultural phenomena. His philosophical hermeneutics was sensitive to the lack of transparency of the human self and the corresponding intricacies of direct and indirect communication in religion and culture. It was open to the analytic and phenomenological traditions but, by combining phenomenological description with hermeneutic interpretation, also decisively different from other contemporary approaches such as Gadamer, Blumenberg, Lonergan, Foucault, Levinas, or Derrida.

On the occasion of what would be his 100th birthday this conference seeks to provide an occasion for exploring and evaluating Ricoeur’s contributions to the hermeneutic turn in the philosophy of religion. What can we learn from Ricoeur’s hermeneutic phenomenology that may help to enrich and reorient the contemporary practice of philosophy of religion? Where and how does it point beyond the standard ways of doing philosophy of religion in the analytic and post-analytic traditions with their seemingly barren varieties of metaphysical theism? Where and how do we have to go beyond Ricoeur in our attempts to clarify, explore, and critically elucidate the complex reality of religious orientations in our global world today? These and related questions we will explore at the 34th Philosophy of Religion Conference at Claremont, California, on Feb. 8–9, 2013.

Speakers will include: Pamela Anderson (Oxford), Pierre Bühler (Zurich), Crina Gschwandtner (Scranton), Anselm Min (Claremont), Walter Schweidler (Eichstätt), Nicola Stricker (Paris), and David Tracy (Chicago).