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Ricoeur's Critical Theory
Ricoeur's Critical Theory
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David M. Kaplan - Author
SUNY series in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences
Price: $68.50 
Hardcover - 236 pages
Release Date: February 2003
ISBN10: 0-7914-5695-1
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5695-8

Price: $33.95 
Paperback - 236 pages
Release Date: February 2003
ISBN10: 0-7914-5696-X
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5696-5

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The first book-length treatment of Paul Ricoeur's conception of philosophy as critical theory.

In Ricoeur's Critical Theory, David M. Kaplan revisits the Habermas-Gadamer debates to show how Paul Ricoeur's narrative-hermeneutics and moral-political philosophy provide a superior interpretive, normative, and critical framework. Arguing that Ricoeur's unique version of critical theory surpasses the hermeneutic philosophy of Gadamer, Kaplan adds a theory of argumentation necessary to criticize false consciousness and distorted communication. He also argues that Ricoeur develops Habermas's critical theory, adding an imaginative, creative dimension and a concern for community values and ideas of the Good Life. He then shows how Ricoeur's political philosophy steers a delicate path between liberalism, communitarianism, and socialism. Ricoeur's version of critical theory not only identifies and criticizes social pathologies, posits Kaplan, but also projects utopian alternatives for personal and social transformation that would counter and heal the effects of unjust societies. The author concludes by applying Ricoeur's critical theory to three related problems—the politics of identity and recognition, technology, and globalization and democracy—to show how his works add depth, complexity, and practical solutions to these problems.

"This book reflects a comprehensive grasp and articulation of Paul Ricoeur. Kaplan's work stands out as creative, original, and mature. It advances philosophical thought on the two fronts of hermeneutics and critical theory, bringing them together in a creative way that follows Ricoeur's lead." — Patrick L. Bourgeois, author of Philosophy at the Boundary of Reason: Ethics and Postmodernity

"A refreshing, insightful, and well-informed look at the interplay of phenomenology, hermeneutics, and critical theory in the philosophy of Paul Ricoeur, this book is a pleasure to read. ...Kaplan's book may be considered a solid review of Ricoeur's philosophy in general ... Kaplan shows clearly that as a philosopher, Ricoeur is ...among the most important of the twentieth century...Highly recommended." — American Library Association

David M. Kaplan is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Texas.

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Table of Contents


Reference Key to Frequently Cited Texts of Paul Ricoeur


1. Hermeneutics

Phenomenology and Hermeneutics
Discourse and Distanciation
Hermeneutics and Ideology Critique

2. Narrative

Metaphor and Narrative
Narrative and History
Interpretation and Argumentation

3. Selfhood

Freedom and Nature
Speaking and Acting
Narrative Identity and Selfhood

4. Practical Wisdom

Ethical Aim and Moral Norm
Moral Norm and Practical Wisdom
Practical Wisdom and Discourse Ethics

5. Politics

Ethics and Politics
Critique and Conviction
Politics and the Law

6. Critical Theory

Identity and Recognition
Technology and Politics
Globalization and Democracy




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