Paul Ricœur and the Hermeneutics of Suspicion

Ricœur and the Hermeneutics of False Consciousness

Paul Ricœur begins to draw attention to three critical intellectual figures’ hermeneutics of suspicion of the twentieth century. For him, they seek to unmask the realities of those seen in his work entitled Freud and Philosophy, written in 1970. He cites Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud as exclusive figures who dominate the school of suspicion. Into the bargain, Ricœur insisted that it would be wrong to view the three figures as experts on skepticism. While it’s true, people know them for always destroying established ideas. Apart from destroying established ideas, they also clear horizons and discover the art of interpretation. To sum up, each master systematically opens false consciousness so that it is easier to trace and relate an expression to a real situation. For Ricœur, he represents three overlapping demystification procedures.

The Truth and Method

According to Gadamer, in Truth and Method, he offers the most systematic hermeneutical survey to show his dialogue between a claim on the one hand and a process on the other. In other words, the hermeneutics of suspicion decides between one and the other. Paul Ricœur introduces the hermeneutics arc in which he begins to unite suspicion and understanding so as not to ignore the scientific method. The applied interpretation is not only on linguistic expressions. But, it is also in terms of historical action in general. Similarly, people must understand the text with an overall scope that concerns the author’s intent in a particular context.

The Analysis of Masters of Suspicion

When the three masters of suspicion gave rise to a paradigm for Ricœur’s hermeneutics itself, David Stewart showed how each master tried to find the true meaning of the false meaning.

  • First, Marx’s analysis of the false meaning relates to the sublime issues of transcendence in providing an escape from the reality of inhumane working conditions as the opium of society.
  • Second, Nietzsche’s analysis of the false meaning seeks to unmask as protection for the weak.
  • Third, Freud’s analysis of the false meaning distinguishes the real from the obvious, where the reality is an illusion of human will alone.

Ricœur recognizes the suspicion of the false meaning and tries to apply the same principle to the act of communication under the hermeneutic rubric.

The Natural Sciences

The natural sciences provide causal explanations, while the cultural sciences are tasked with understanding meaning. On the other hand, Dilthey emphasizes the method of comparison as a means of obtaining truth in a broader generality. Rather than just using the intuitive process, Dilthey’s ambition is to put the human sciences on a par with the natural sciences. Through hermeneutic theory, it means that although hermeneutics emphasizes subjectivity, the understanding obtained also has objectivity. Thus, the flow of objectivist hermeneutics still maintains the relationship between subject and object.

The Alethic Hermeneutics

Because objectivist hermeneutics began to base a theory on the polarity of subject and object, hermeneutics as an epistemological problem seeks to achieve truth in an ontological issue; alethic hermeneutics began to fuse the contradiction between subject and object into a more primordial understanding situation. There are at least three schools of alethic hermeneutics with different stresses:

  • Heidegger’s existential hermeneutics explains that the original structure with its dimensions hidden in the roots of existence is forgotten.
  • Heidegger’s poetic hermeneutics explains that metaphorical patterns reveal the hidden.
  • The hermeneutics of suspicion from Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche explains that suspicion exists when people do not quickly believe what is revealed behind an expression.

The Linguistic Event

Ricœur’s position rejects Dilthey’s separation between understanding as a critical concept in the human sciences and explanation as a crucial concept in the natural sciences. Both are necessary steps in interpreting activities in addition to being dialectically related. A new view of the relationship between the two allows Ricœur to view the actual linguistic nature as a linguistic event. In general, he utilizes various methodologies in his hermeneutics, in the first place, by taking structuralist theories from three masters of suspicion.

Ricœur and Habermas

In measuring how the hermeneutics of suspicion shows the limits of understanding, Ricœur tries to agree with Habermas’s critique. For Habermas, depth-hermeneutics and communicative competence must diagnose systematically distorted communication to analyze the condition of communicative activities that do not experience repression. Ricœur agrees with Habermas’ concern that it needs to be integrated into the interpretation model. Therefore, his explanatory phase is not limited to structuralist or linguistic analysis. However, it also includes the method of suspicion put forward by the three masters of suspicion.

The Method of Interpretation

The main problem of this hermeneutics of suspicion is no single theory or method of interpretation. There is a conflict between various interpretations of the manifestation of existence in cultural texts, arts, beliefs, symbols, rites, and others. Paul Ricœur argues that each hermeneutics of suspicion reveals certain aspects of the same truth. Humans can come to a more profound knowledge of the object discussed in the dialectical relationship between various interpretations. Regardless of his method of expressing truth’s vision, in the end, truth is a future that must be traversed.

In an initial starting point of interpretation, Ricœur says that all meanings of any kind have a hermeneutic aspect. He stated that knowledge is always mediated through interpretation. Philosophical reflection must start from the most primary language of life: narrative, metaphor, and symbol. It is they who provide the feed for a review. After all, he considers that classical texts catch humans first before humans themselves interpret them. However, do humans interpret it because the text has spoken to humans themselves first? It is not enough if the initial moment of understanding is as critical as the first, second, third, and so on, about the meaning of a text.

The Endpoint

In the end, interpretation has an endpoint. However, is it the other way around? Ricœur replied that interpretation is always open-ended. If humans get the endpoint of an understanding, this is a “rape” of interpretation. In addition, hermeneutics must place the situational events and their horizons in the proper context. It is to separate what should be included in the way of understanding and which should be removed from popular concepts or which are only imaginary. Otherwise stated, the interpreter must be aware of various kinds of prejudice against reason and mind.

Bibliography

About the author

Salman Al Farisi is the owner of Calxylian and is an elitist who has enjoyed and studied various mediums. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in 2020 from the Haluoleo University, Indonesia, where he studied English Literature, Film Criticism, Cultural Studies, Literary Theory, and Literary Criticism. He lives in Kendari in his mom's basement, now unemployed and ghostwriter, life with his cats, and is looking for the future.

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