• Ricoeur and the hermeneutics of suspicion

      Scott-Baumann, Alison; University of Derby (Continuum Bloomsbury, 2009)
      Paul Ricoeur (1913-2005) was one of the most prolific and influential French philosophers of the Twentieth Century. In his enormous corpus of work he engaged with literature, history, historiography, politics, theology and ethics, while debating ‘truth’ and ethical solutions to life in the face of widespread and growing suspicion about whether such a search is either possible or worthwhile. In Ricoeur and the Hermeneutics of Suspicion, Alison Scott-Baumann takes a thematic approach that explores Ricoeur’s lifelong struggle to be both iconoclastic and yet hopeful, and avoid the slippery slope to relativism. Through an examination of the ‘hermeneutics of suspicion’, the book reveals strong continuities throughout his work, as well as significant discontinuities, such as the marked way in which he later distanced himself from the ‘hermeneutics of suspicion’ and his development of new devices in its place, while seeking a hermeneutics of recovery. Scott-Baumann offers a highly original analysis of the hermeneutics of suspicion that will be useful to the fields of philosophy, literature, theology and postmodern social theory.
    • Ricoeur and the negation of happiness

      Scott-Baumann, Alison; University of Derby (Continuum Bloomsbury, 2013-10)
      Ricoeur lectured and wrote for over twenty years on negation ('Do I understand something better if I know what it is not, and what is not-ness?') and never published his extensive writings on this subject. Ricoeur concluded that there are multiple forms of negation; it can, for example, be the other person (Plato), the not knowable nature of our world (Kant), the included opposite (Hegel), apophatic spirituality (Plotinus on not being able to know God) and existential nothingness (Sartre). Ricoeur, working on Kant, Hegel and Sartre, decided that all these forms of negation are incompatible and also fatally flawed because they fail to resolve false binaries of negative: positive. Alison Scott-Baumann demonstrates how Ricoeur subsequently incorporated negation into his linguistic turn, using dialectics, metaphor, narrative, parable and translation in order to show how negation is in us, not outside us: language both creates and clarifies false binaries. He bestows upon negation a strong and central role in the human condition, and its inevitability is reflected in his writings, if we look carefully. Ricoeur and the Negation of Happiness draws on Ricoeur's published works, previously unavailable archival material and many other sources. Alison Scott-Baumann argues that thinking positively is necessary but not sufficient for aspiring to happiness - what is also required is affirmation of negative impulses: we know we are split by contradictions and still try to overcome them. She also demonstrates the urgency of analysing current socio-cultural debates about wellbeing, education and equality, which rest insecurely upon our loose use of the negative as a category mistake.