Since it has always been the goal of this blog to not disenfranchise my French readers, and this second author is French (and I am reading him in French), I propose to do just a few posts (I'm aiming at three) in both languages on Ricœur and then pick things up again with Lord Jesus Christ.
The title I am referring to is The Conflict of Interpretations, which speaks directly to the sharply differing views to which I have been exposed over the last few years, and in many senses encapsulates the direction taken by the Triune Hub model I have been developing. English citations are my translations (which, since I am still grappling with Ricœur, may not be perfect, apologies). Page numbering is from the 2013 edition of Conflit des Interprétations: Essais d'Herméneutique, by Editions du Seuil, which is virtually unchanged from the original 1969 edition by the same publisher.
Our first citation seems to confirm this conviction that interpretation is integral not only to our acquisition of historical information but also the way in which that was originally composed itself in the past:
No striking interpretation can be drawn without borrowing from the modes of understanding available at a given time: myth, allegory, metaphor, analogy, etc. (p. 24)
Not only can we note that it that interpretative processes are constantly active, both now and the periods in the past that seems so vital to us, but that this leads us to a second observation: because this hermeneutic circle hugely exceeds the lifespan of any given interpreter, we should surely consider a real collective thought, comprehension and interpretation ascribable to the Church. This collective consideration may be close to Chad McIntosh's illustration of "Group Persons" in his exploration of new philosophical possibilities for a tri-personal God (see my 2015 article: "Jésus Sois Le Centre").
In surveying the early 20th century efforts to place Hermeneutics more centrally within the scope of human sciences, Ricœur covers Dilthey and his hermeneutic problem, which is profoundly psychological. This is because interpretation (e.g. of a text) is a small part of an individual's wider field of semantic reference, his "comprehension". To understand another person thus becomes seriously problematic and requires some form of conscious reception mechanism:
"To understand is to transport oneself into the life of another; historical comprehension brings into play the full force of historical inquiry: how can a historical being understand historically his history?... This is the major difficulty that can justify how phenomenological search for a reception mechanism, like grafting it onto a young plant" (p. 26).
The Long Route, on the other hand, will not devoid itself of ontology, but will access it via nuanced semantics, "by degree". That is a good term for my model of the Triune Hub: "semantics", which would seem to be situated within Ricœur's second category of hermeneutic. Why is that? I have a hard time explaining to some seasoned philosophers who reason in more black and white categories what I mean by this "hub". Semantic is a very good word to describe it. I also like "space" - I am referring to the Jewish mindset that, while not yet embracing a vocabulary of monotheism, had some strict semantic parameters in place about what could hitherto be said of Yahweh/[the] LORD via his agents and what could not. I like using the word "hitherto" very much; by it, I am of course referring to the events surrounding the life of Jesus, whose Jewish followers felt obligated to modify and reorganise their own monotheistic semantics and God's place within it.
|Image taken from https://www.centre4innovation.org/|
La Voie Longue, en contre partie, n'abondonnera pas l'ontologie, mais l'accédera par la sémantique, "par degrés" (p. 27). Cela est un mot important pour mon modèle du Noyau Trinitaire: "la sémantique", ce qui correspondrait à la deuxième catégorie de Ricœur. Pourquoi? J'ai du mal des fois à essayer d'expliquer ce que j'entend par ce "noyau" à des philosophes bien rodés qui raisonnent avec des distinctions catégorielles bien plus noir et blanc. La sémantique est une bonne expression pour le décrire. J'aime aussi "l'espace" - je fais allusion à l'esprit Juif qui, même si pas encore doté d'un vocabulaire de "monothéisme", intégrait des paramètres sémantiques strictes de ce qui pouvait être dit des agents de Yahweh/L'Eternel et de ce qui nous pouvait pas être dit d'eux. Cependant, cela était jusqu'à l'arrivée de Christ qui a modifié cette sémantique et la place de Dieu dans cette organisation sémantique.
To inquire about the being of something in general [reference to ontology], we first need to inquire about the being that is the "that" of all being, that is to say, this being that exists in and through its mode of being understood.
This last quote is quite a lot of philosophical mumbo-jumbo and a difficult one to translate (for me), especially Ricœur's use of the preposition "sur" (typically simply "on", which I have rendered "in and through"). But if you get the contrast that Ricœur is driving his readers toward, especially when you are motivated by a key "conflict of interpretation" like I am in the case of fourth-century interpretations of the Trinity, we can maybe start to grasp the distinction in slightly less philosophical lingo. What I am saying is that Ricoeur is right in his drive to help us look at the mode of transmission of important theological information - we cannot strip it down naked so to speak. The bones always have flesh. But here is where we and the church can hit confusion because the very subject at hand is ontology (ousia, divine "substance" or "essence" linking the three Persons as one Godhead, then simply "God")! But we mustn't allow ourselves confusion between the packagin and the contents here, via this double usage of ontology. There is a "mode" at work of transmission of important theological information that has as much ontological importance as the ontology explicitly described.
More tomorrow! A suivre demain!