Paul Ricoeur’s Concept of Subjectivity and the Postmodern Claim of the Death of the Subject

Małgorzata Hołda

The irreplaceable role of narrative in generating meaning inspires Ricoeur to develop an ingenious concept of narrative identity. The inclusion of issues such as mutuality of vulnerability and indebtedness demonstrates that Ricoeur’s hermeneutics of the self is not an illusory theory in the vein of the postmodern vacillating or dissolving contours of subjectivity, but a philosophy rooted in praxis, extensively drawing on the tradition of phronetic wisdom. Dr. Holda juxtaposes the consequential interconnection between memory, history, and subjectivity in postmodernity with Ricoeur’s reflection on the interweaving aspects of memory, history, recognition, and reconciliation. She successfully enters into a conversation on the death of the subject in postmodern philosophy and effectively addresses the issues of narrative identity, which seem to be crucial for multiple philosophical discourses on the understanding of the human being in the world.   

Prof. Dr. Dr. Andrzej Wierciński, University of Warsaw


The second chapter “The Postmodern Predicament: An Absence of the Self,” offers an impressively ambitious attempt to weave the principle threads of postmodern critique of the subject into a single, cohesive narrative that is as attentive to the historical origins of the modern conceptions of the cogito as it is to the details and nuances that differentiate contemporary efforts to undo and rework that traditional conception. (…)

One of the virtues of Holda’s book has to do with the angle or perspective from which she approaches Ricoeur, drawing him into dialogue with a current of twentieth-century French thought that is at once immediately related to his own intellectual development and yet all too often neglected in the secondary literature on Ricoeur’s work.

Prof. Dr. Adam J. Graves, Metropolitan State University of Denver


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