Questioning Ethics: Contemporary Debates in Philosophy

By Mark Dooley; Richard Kearney | Go to book overview

4

THE POLITICS OF MEMORY

Reflections on practical wisdom and political identity

Jeffrey Barash

I take as the starting-point for my reflection, in the pages that follow, the ethico-political thought of Paul Ricoeur, as elaborated both in and following the work Oneself as Another. I will focus on Ricoeur’s notion of practical wisdom—la sagesse pratique—in its application to the theme of political identity. My analysis will concern primarily a difficulty to which the phenomenon of identity, in its political and therefore plural dimension, gives rise: that of comprehending the precise contours of this phenomenon as it extends beyond oneself and the other as individual persons to encompass identity in its ‘collective’ dimension. It is to the task of analyzing this politically charged notion of ‘collective’ identity that, in what follows, I will apply the concept of practical wisdom that Paul Ricoeur has placed at the center of his most recent philosophical investigations. Before examining the specific manner in which I will delimit this task, however, I will recall, by way of introduction, Ricoeur’s interpretation of the phenomenon of ‘collective’ or plural identity in the work Oneself as Another.

In Oneself as Another, the phenomenon of plural identity is brought to light in relation to what Ricoeur terms the ‘cohesion of life in common’. In its optimal sense, this cohesion of life in common assumes an intermediary configuration between two extremes: between the attempt, on the one hand, to construct life in common in terms of atomized individuals, after the fashion of classic liberalism as exemplified in the philosophy of John Locke; and the assumption, on the other hand, that life in common might be welded together in terms of the spirit of peoples, invoking the existence of an autonomous socio-political entity above and beyond the individuals constituting it. Ricoeur traces this assumption back to the philosophy of Hegel. The question thus arises concerning the way of formulating a principle of cohesion of plural existence—of the res publica in its original sense—capable of avoiding the two opposing tendencies which have continually haunted ethico-political theory in the modern world: at

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Questioning Ethics: Contemporary Debates in Philosophy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Hermeneutics 3
  • 1 - Memory and Forgetting 5
  • 2 - Imagination, Testimony and Trust 12
  • 3 - Narrative and the Ethics of Remembrance 18
  • References 32
  • 4 - The Politics of Memory 33
  • 5 - Ethics and Lifeworlds 44
  • Part II - Deconstruction 63
  • 6 - Hospitality, Justice and Responsibility 65
  • Notes 83
  • 7 - Reason, History, and a Little Madness 84
  • 8 - The Experience of the Ethical 105
  • 9 - The Ethics of Exclusion 120
  • Notes 130
  • Part III - Critical Theory 133
  • 10 - Three Normative Models of Democracy 135
  • 11 - The Problem of Justice in a Multicultural Society 145
  • Notes 161
  • 12 - Enlightenment and the Idea of Public Reason 164
  • 13 - Paradigms of Public Reason 181
  • Part IV - Psychoanalysis 199
  • 14 - In the Name-Of-The-Father 201
  • 15 - Revolt Today? 220
  • 16 - The Original Traumatism 230
  • Part V - Applications 243
  • 17 - Some Enlightenment Projects Reconsidered 245
  • 18 - Questioning Autonomy 258
  • 19 - From Ethics to Bioethics 283
  • Index 294
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