Call for Papers: ERRS Volume 13, N°1 (2022)


Call for Papers: Études Ricœuriennes / Ricœur Studies (ERRS)

ERRS Volume 13, N°1 (2022):
«  Ricœur on Conflict»


Guest Editor: Gonçalo Marcelo (CECH, Université de Coimbra) 

The concept of conflict has a long philosophical history from Heraclitus to Hegel and Marx and to contemporary social and political philosophy. In this history, Paul Ricœur’s philosophy is seldom cited, and in fact it is rarely identified as a philosophy of conflict. However, conflict was always decisive in the context of his work. This applies both to conflict’s epistemological dimension, as the expression of the hermeneutic method of Ricœurian philosophy (i.e., the “conflict of interpretations”) and to its practical dimension, as a challenge that the complexity of human action addresses to philosophical reflection. In these two domains, theoretical and practical, it thus a matter of thinking conflicts and thinking through conflicts, even if sometimes Ricœur’s explicit goal is to “arbitrate the conflict between rival interpretations” (see “Existence and Hermeneutics”) or to find “mediations that are always fragile and provisional” in the domain of human action (Love and Justice).

One of the originalities of Ricœur’s work among the philosophies centering on conflict is without doubt the notion of the conflict of interpretations, the title of his 1969 collection of essays. The problem that gives rise to this method was stated already in Freud and Philosophy: “there is no general hermeneutics, no universal canon for exegesis, but only disparate and opposed theories concerning the rules of interpretation. The hermeneutic field (…) is internally at variance with itself”. In “Existence and Hermeneutics” (the opening chapter of The conflict of Interpretations) the principles guiding Ricœur’s “long route” of hermeneutics are made explicit, with self-understanding coming to be defined as a task necessarily mediated by the conflictual deciphering of signs and symbols.

It can be argued that both in this first hermeneutical phase of Ricœur’s philosophy, centered in a micro-hermeneutics of the double-meaning of symbols, and in the macro-hermeneutics of the 1970s and 1980s, revolving around the hermeneutics of texts and action, what is at stake is a creative, dynamic process whereby new light is shed on the phenomena analyzed, therefore producing new and better interpretations. This can be seen  as a “weak” type of dialectic, without totalizing pretentions (e.g. a “broken Hegelianism” as Johann Michel has put it), for instance in the dialectic between explaining and understanding (“to explain more is to understand better”) but one whose result is an enlarged perspective distinguishing between better or worse interpretations.

What remains to be discussed is the often unacknowledged relevance and timeliness of Ricœur’s model of a conflict today. Indeed, it can be argued that this model offers an alternative both to naïve (often reductionist and naturalist) realism and to relativism and it is well suited to capture the forms of rationality that are specific to the social and human sciences. Enriched with his investigations on semantic innovation (through metaphor and narrative) and his philosophy of imagination both in its individual and social dimensions, it helps us unveil the symbolic texture of reality and to contextualize first-person perspectives within it.
Agains this backdrop, this issue aims to rethink conflict both by further analyzing its significance within Ricœur’s work, and by showing how it can illuminate contemporary phenomena.

Some potential topics for reflection include:

1)    The significance of the Conflict of Interpretations within Ricœur’s hermeneutic turn, and the contributions of Ricœur’s phenomenological hermeneutics in the debates with structuralism, psychoanalysis and the philosophy of religion, as well as its implications for a hermeneutics of selfhood. Here, contributions might for instance address the importance of this collection of essays from the standpoint of a dyachronic understanding of Ricœur’s work, or they can re-read the claims of this book in light of later developments within these fields. From this standpoint, an investigation on the link of the “broken cogito”, already stated in the Philosophy of the Will and the ricœurian description of the hermeneutical field as being internally at variance with itself would be welcome. Another topic worthy of investigation is the meaning of the ricœurian distinction between hermeneutics of suspicion and hermeneutics as recollection of meaning.

2)    The usefulness of the conflict of interpretations, in a broad sense, as an epistemological tool to make sense of later philosophical movements and controversies, including the possible relation between Hermeneutics and Poststructuralism, Postphenomenology, later generations of Critical Theory, or neo-Hegelianism, among other possibilities;

3)    Conflicts in the domain of human action, and particularly in social and political terms. Here, contributions might address the specificity of Ricœur’s vision of conflict (alongside its mediating and arbitrating procedures) and its relation (if any) with other agonistic accounts of social and political phenomena, such as, to name only a few, Chantal Mouffe’s agonistics, Honneth’s and other depictions of the struggle for recognition, or other philosophical conceptions of conflict, from Post-Marxist accounts to Lyotard’s differend or Rancière’s mésentente. They might also address, through the mediation of Ricœur’s narrative theory or philosophy of imagination, examples of narrative conflicts, or ideological conflicts in today’s fractured public sphere. In this context, important questions arise, such as: can Ricœur’s hermeneutics provide criteria to arbitrate between conflicting political narratives? Is a rigorous hermeneutics able to avoid the pitfalls both of reified narratives that admit of no alternative, and to tackle the “manipulated” narratives that abound in this “post-truth” era?

4)    Beyond conflict. While it is true that in Ricœur’s philosophy we find an agonistic depiction of the interpretive process and that in his works a wide array of conflicts, including in the practical domain – from the early conflict between the voluntary and the involuntary in Philosophy of the Will to “the tragic of action” and the conflict of duties in Oneself as Another as well as the struggle for recognition in Course of Recognition – are analyzed, we can also not forget that Ricœur always aims to somehow respond to these conflicts; this means to “think them more” or “to think them better” by advancing practical mediations. Examples of these attempts, in the practical domain, include the conceptualization of practical wisdom (Oneself as Another) and the “clearings of recognition” (Course of Recognition). Recently, others have taken inspiration in Ricœur to devise practical interventions aiming at going beyond conflict, such as Richard Kearney’s attempt of overcoming hostility and fostering hospitality through narrative exchange in the context of the Guestbook Project. Contributions dealing with Ricœur’s ways of going beyond (theoretical and practical) conflicts are especially relevant for this issue.

This is a non-exhaustive list. Paper proposals can cover other topics, as long as they are relevant for the topic of conflict of interpretations and Ricœur studies.

Closing date for the submission of texts: 15th of march 2022


Maximum number of characters (including spaces and notes): 50,000. Articles can be written either in English or in French.Format and style: The journal follows the Chicago Manual of Style. See the rubric ‘Author Guidelines’ on the journal’s website:

The editors cannot consider articles that do not follow these guidelines.

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Jean-Luc Amalric et Ernst Wolff, co-éditeurs des
 Études Ricoeuriennes/Ricoeur Studies