From narrative to action: Paul Ricoeur's reflections on history

This paper attempts to engage critically with Ricoeur's multifaceted and multilayered approach to history. Drawing on a vast number of philosophical, historical and sociological works, Ricoeur's hermeneutics develops as an invaluable corpus of writings on virtually all the aspects of history and historicity alike. This paper focuses primarily on Ricoeur's attempt to enrich further the interpretation of human historicity provided by the phenomenological-hermeneutic tradition and his consequent attempt to identify and indicate the liberating potential inherent in human action. Specific emphasis is placed in the role of body and of habitus in the very shaping of socio-historical worlds, while the place of birth (natality), death (finitude) and murder is also considered both in regard of their factual and ethical implications for human life. Correlative are the problems of self-identity, subjective and collective memory, subjective temporality and co-temporality, which are also in the centre of Ricoeur's meditations on history and thus of great importance for the purposes of the present work. At the same time, this paper touches on epistemological issues, as it examines the intricate ties that bind together understanding and explanation, structure and event, fiction and historical narrative, reality and imagination, history and truth. Finally, history is always addressed from the perspective of action as responsibility and utopian promise.