Phenomenology Online

A Resource for Phenomenological Inquiry

Paul Ricoeur (1913-)was born and raised in the west of France. He has occupied the position of professor of philosophy at the Universities of Strasbourg and Paris (the Sorbonne, Nanterre) and has been a visiting professor at numerous other universities, the University of Chicago in particular. He is the recipient of over thirty honorary degrees from universities throughout the world.


A younger contemporary of Jean-Paul Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Ricoeur is the best known French representative of phenomenological hermeneutics. A French Protestant, Ricoeur has written extensively on religious and theological issues, although he is best known to the general public for his work in philosophy. The three principal sources of influence on his philosophical thinking in the 1930s and 1940s were existential philosophy (Gabriel Marcel, Karl Jaspers), the tradition of French reflective philosophy, and German phenomenology (Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger). Ricoeur is widely regarded as the foremost living phenomenologist. His work has helped make the term hermeneutics a household word. He has been a very prolific writer and his writings cover a wide range of topics, from the history of philosophy, literary criticism, and aesthetics to metaphysics, ethics, religion, semiotics, linguistic structuralism, the humanistic sciences, psychoanalysis, Marxism, guilt and evil, and conflicts of interpretation.