Paul Ricoeur

1999 Balzan Prize for Philosophy

For his capacity in bringing together all the most important themes and indications of 20th century philosophy, and re-elaborating them into an original synthesis which turns language - in particular, that which is poetic and metaphoric - into a chosen place revealing a reality that we cannot manipulate, but interpret in diverse ways, and yet all coherent. Through the use of metaphor, language draws upon that truth which makes of us that what we are, deep in the profundity of our own essence.

Paul Ricoeur, born in Valence on 27 February, 1913 [†2005], is a French citizen.

He is Professor Emeritus of the Univeristy of Paris-X (Nanterre), and of the University of Chicago.
He obtained his degree in Philosophy in 1933 in Rennes, and his doctoral thesis in 1935 from the Sorbonne. He then taught in different French lycées, and, in particular, at the collège Cévenol.
After three years of collaboration with CNRS, he taught from 1948 to 1957 as a Professor of the History of Philosophy at the University of Strasbourg, and from 1957 to 1967 as a Professor of General Philosophy at the University of Paris Sorbonne.
From 1967 to 1987, he taught at the Faculty of Letters at the University of Paris Nanterre, of which he was the Dean for 1969-1970.
In 1970, he was called to take the Chair of theologian Paul Tillich at the University of Chicago.

He is a member of many academies, and his honours include the Hegel Award (Stuttgart), the Karl Jaspers Award (Heidelberg), the Leopold Lucas Award (Tübingen) and the Grand Prix de l’Académie française.

Among his editorial activities, we recall that he was a Member of the Board of the magazines Esprit and Christianisme social, and Director of the Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale; that, in collaboration with François Wahl, he edited the collection L’Ordre philosophique (éditions du Seuil); and that he was in charge of the headings regarding philosophy for the Encyclopaedia Universalis.

He has published numerous books which have been translated into different languages. Among his most important publications, we mention:

  • Philosophie de la volonté. I. Le volontaire et l’involontaire (Philosophie de l’esprit). Paris, Aubier 1950, 464 p.;
  • Philosophie de la volonté. Finitude et Culpabilité. I. L’homme faillable (Philosophie de l’esprit). Paris, Aubier 1960, 164 p.;
  • Philosophie de la volonté. Finitude et Culpabilité. II. La symbolique du mal (Philosophie de l’esprit). Paris, Aubier 1960, 335 p.;
  • Histoire et vérité (Esprit). Paris, Seuil 1955 (first edition), 1964 (second edition, with minor revisions), 336 p.; 1990 (third edition, with minor revisions), 364 p.; American edition Northwestern University Press 1966; De l’interprétation. Essai sur Freud (L’Ordre philosophique). Paris, Seuil 1965; (Points Essais) 1995, 434 p.;
  • Le conflit des interprétations. Essais d’herméneutique. (L’Ordre philosophique). Paris, Seuil 1969, 506 p.; American edition Northwestern University Press 1974; English edition Athlone; Interpretation Theory: Discourse and the Surplus of Meaning. Preface by T. Klein. Fort Worth (Texas): The Texas Christian University Press 1976, 107 p.; The Contribution of French Historiography to the Theory of History (The Zaharoff Lecture for 1978-1979). Oxford, Clarendon Press (New York, Oxford University Press) 1980, 65 p.;
  • La métaphore vive (L’Ordre philosophique). Paris, Seuil 1975, 414 p.; (Points Essais), 1997; Canadian edition University of Toronto Press;
  • Temps et récit. Tome I (L’Ordre philosophique). Paris, Seuil 1983, 322 p.; (Points Essais), 1991; American edition Chicago University Press; 
  • Temps et récit. Tome II. La configuration dans le récit de fiction (L’Ordre philosophique). Paris, Seuil 1984, 237 p.; (Points Essais), 1991; American edition Chicago University Press;
  • Temps et récit. Tome III. Temps raconté. (L’Ordre philosophique). Paris, Seuil 1985, 426 p.; (Points Essais), 1991; American edition Chicago University Press; Réflexion faite. Autobiographie intellectuelle, Paris, Editions Esprit 1995, 115 p.;
  • Le Juste, Paris, Editions Esprit 1995, 221 p.;
  • La critique et la convinction, Entretiens avec François Azouvi et Marc de Launay, Paris, Calmann-Lévy 1995, 288 p.;
  • L’idéologie et l’utopie (La couleur des idées), Paris, Seuil 1997, 412 p.; Autrement. Lecture d’Autrement qu’être ou au-delà de l’essence d’Emmanuel Levinas, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France 1997, 39 p.;
  • La nature et la règle, with J.-P. Changeux, O. Jacob, 1998;
  • Penser la Bible, with André Lacocque, 1998.

(October 1999)

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