Study Guide

Paul Ricouer Biography

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Basic Information


Paul Ricoeur


When I taught at the University of Chicago, one peculiar graduate student dubbed me the Hermenator and Metaphor Man, but these names never caught on.



Home town

I was born in 1913 in Valence, France. I taught at the University of Paris at Nanterre and elsewhere, including in the United States. I've been on a few detours in my days.

Work & Education


Professor of Philosophy. I taught at many places, including the University of Strasbourg, the University of Paris at Nanterre, Haverford, Yale, Columbia, and the University of Chicago.


I studied philosophy at the University of Rennes and then at the Sorbonne.


Political views

Christian socialist, French-style. The Scriptures informed my understanding of the human person, both as an individual and as a social being. This made me well suited to Esprit, a magazine I contributed to that known for its articles against materialism, individualism, collectivism, the condition of the working class, the priority of capital over labor, and other evils of industrialized mass society.

Religious views

Protestant—which is important, since there's something sort of Protestant in my hermeneutics, even when I'm not offering an interpretation of Scripture. For me, Protestantism was all about getting to the heart of Scripture, so I tended to treat my analysis of all texts as if there were a clear meaning in them that needed to be teased out. I like seeking out new meanings, going where text and context take me.

Activities & Interests


Getting philosophers to talk
Political and cultural paradoxes
Hermeneutic detours with a stop at Starbucks
Conflicting interpretations
History of Philosophy LEGO sets


Trolls (Internet or otherwise)
Polemicists who think they've written the perennial philosophy
Reality TV shows that leave no room for interpretation
Oneself without another
Twitter Blockers


Interpretation (duh!)
Narratology (my fancy way of saying "stories")
Anthropology (I like people)
Phenomenological hermeneutics (it's phenomenal!)
Religious discourse (no joke—I don't joke about religion)
Narratology (my fancy way of saying "stories")


Philosophical Anthropologists
House Ravenclaw
Hermes's Minions

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