Husserl and Ricoeur: The Influence of Phenomenology on the Formation of Ricoeur’s Hermeneutics of the ‘Capable Human’


  • Dermot Moran University College Dublin



phenomenology, hermeneutics, reflection


The phenomenology of Edmund Husserl had a permanent and profound impact on the philosophical formation of Paul Ricoeur. One could truly say, paraphrasing Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s brilliant 1959 essay ‘The Philosopher and his Shadow’,that Husserl is the philosopher in whose shadow Ricoeur, like Merleau-Ponty, also stands, the thinker to whom he constantly returns. Husserl is Ricoeur’s philosopher of reflection, par excellence. Indeed, Ricoeur always invokes Husserl when he is discussing a paradigmatic instance of contemporary philosophy of ‘reflection’ and also of  descriptive, ‘eidetic’ phenomenology. Indeed, I shall argue in this chapter that Husserl’s influence on Ricoeur was decisive and provided an eidetic, descriptive methodology which is permanently in play, even when it has to be concretized and mediated by hermeneutics, as Ricoeur proposes after 1960.