CFP: CALL FOR PAPERS / APPEL A PROPOSITIONS : Etudes Ricoeuriennes / Ricoeur Studies (ERRS) / Volume 15, N°1 (2024) : « Ontology and Metaphysics in Ricoeur’s Philosophy »

Submission deadline: March 15, 2024

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Etudes Ricoeuriennes / Ricoeur Studies (ERRS)

Volume 15, N°1 (2024) :

« Ontology and Metaphysics in Ricoeur’s Philosophy »

Ontology and metaphysics are fields of inquiry and disciplines that have structured philosophy since its origins, and have undergone countless developments to the present day. They represent the most general and abstract aims of thinking about being qua being, of systematic knowledge of beings, and of what determines the way in which other fields of philosophical investigation can be elaborated. In the twentieth century, the contributions of phenomenology and analytic philosophy transformed definitions inherited from the tradition, leading to ontology becoming the most general framework for investigating being or, alternatively, to differentiating metaphysics and ontology by ascribing specific regions of being and objects to them according to related analytic or descriptive aims. Whether as a teacher and historian of philosophy or while producing his own work, Ricoeur came back to this diverse heritage. While his approach was derived from the Kantian critique of metaphysics as ontotheology, it has also become more complex by determining itself in relation to a general framework irreducible solely to either the legacy of Kantianism or the post-metaphysical perspectives that result. Here, then, the concern of reformulating ontology based on the phenomenological method or the scientific paradigm is decisive: Ricoeur explicitly sought to maintain the reference to a metaphysical plane and to the legitimacy of this reference as part of his philosophy of human action and hermeneutics of the self.

However, this position needs to be reconsidered in the light of Heidegger’s ontology and post-Heideggerian reformulations of ontology, of a post-metaphysical perspective more specifically derived from a Hegelian lineage, and of an analytic philosophy that affirms anew the connection between ontology and metaphysics as well as their respective purposes. While Heidegger’s idea of destruction of metaphysics and its various legacies rely on a fundamental ontology that precedes all epistemology and ethics, Ricoeur’s philosophy highlights the need to return to the epistemological and ethical plane from the ontological one: here, a well-maintained bond with metaphysics is at play. With regards to a post-metaphysical stance claimed by the critical theory in a Hegelian vein, the relation of Ricoeur’s anthropology to objective spirit, through its self-proclaimed metaphysical connection to human action, necessarily deserves consideration. The way that Ricoeur seeks to escape this reference to a post-metaphysical framework might instead relate to approaches and elaborations stemming from analytic philosophy: hence one finds references to problems in ontology and metaphysics alongside references to analysis in philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. While this reappropriation receives hardly any acknowledgement, and is even strongly criticized, it nonetheless results from the way in which Ricoeur deals with the ties between ontology and metaphysics and then builds up an approach of his own that differentiates itself from usual legacies within the phenomenological vein.

Some of Ricoeur’s work refers to those different legacies, to a greater or lesser degree, while another part continuously develops a hermeneutics of the self from this original affirmation using ontological and metaphysical reflection that claims roots in French reflexive philosophy, phenomenology, and hermeneutics. Although mainly approached within the vein of phenomenology and in the wake of consequences from Heidegger’s philosophy, Ricoeur nevertheless defines ontology and metaphysics as the ultimate, always problematic, and unfinished goal of philosophical discourse. But this seemingly unresolved difficulty within Ricoeur’s philosophy, a result of its Kantian and Heideggerian legacy, would be compensated for by the fact that the issue of human action is precisely linked to a metaphysical aim that necessarily relies on Ricoeur’s own conception of ontology. One must thus consider not only the link between metaphysics and morality or ethics, but also the decision to hold metaphysics and ontology together in a way that, after a confrontation with Levinas’s philosophy, explains its difference with the latter and specifies the framework of its hermeneutics of the self with regards to the meta-category of alterity.

Accordingly, issues of ontology and metaphysics can be considered from these approaches. The first approach relates to legacies of the history of philosophy and the multiple ways in which variations of thought on being qua being construct and attempt to deal with the polysemy of being. The second one relates to Ricoeur’s more personal engagement with various philosophical, theoretical, and even theological currents of his time, linking the issue of human action to issues of identity, ipseity and alterity. These two approaches – one that looks at the history of philosophy as a whole, another that tries to elaborate a more personal path – inevitably overlapped at one point or another, bringing to light the most salient leanings of Ricoeur’s approach to ontology and metaphysics. In this respect, Oneself as Another represents a kind of peak achievement, as it brings together the various contemporary resources of Ricoeur’s thought and philosophy of human action as anticipated since its inception. It is nevertheless noteworthy that, in Réflexion faite, he looks back in a partly critical way at this last section of Oneself as Another, leaving the final reading of the ontology and metaphysics throughout his work open. The Course of Recognition refers again to this project of generating metaphysics anew, by deepening the questions of human action and attestation by starting out from the recognized-being.

This issue of ERRS aims to gather articles that explore these links between legacies of the history of philosophy and the reappropriations or reformulations that characterize Ricoeur’s philosophy specifically

-- by reviewing the significance of Ricoeur’s references to French reflexive philosophy (Marcel, Nabert etc.), his initial approach to human action and the issue of evil, or the phenomenological, ethical and metaphysical issues involved in his relationship with Levinas’s philosophy;

-- by focusing on Ricoeur’s project for a philosophical anthropology linked to an ontology of action and power, engaging in an in-depth reading of Aristotle or even referring to Spinoza, but from the perspective of a critique of substantialism;

-- by confronting Ricoeur’s ontology and metaphysics with the methodological and epistemological discussion inherited from hermeneutics, phenomenology and analytic philosophy, notably in regard to significant developments within the latter vein; or, more polemically, with regard to post-metaphysical perspectives;

-- connections with the fields of theology and the philosophy of religion can also be taken into account, but preferably as far as they shed light on what Ricoeur tries to implement from a philosophical field considered for its own sake;

-- any study that relates Ricoeur to a theme or author dealing with metaphysics or ontology is welcome.

Closing date for the submission of texts: 15 March 2024. 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. Instructions to authors: in order to submit an article, authors need to register on the journal website: There is a quick, five-step procedure to upload articles to the website. As soon as articles are uploaded, authors will receive a confirmation email. All articles will be peer-reviewed by two referees in a ‘double blind’ process.

Guest Editor: Samuel Lelièvre.

Ernst Wolff and Jean-Luc Amalric, co-editors Etudes Ricoeuriennes/Ricoeur Studies Journal -- 

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