As one of the giants of his field Ricoeur once again sets us thinking in his deep and mystical fashion which is so characteristic of his continental philosophy.
His major works include masterpieces on existentialism, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, politics, religion and the theory of language. In Figuring the Sacred, Paul Ricoeur offers a "hermeneutic critique of different responses to evil,lament and blame,myth wisdom and theodicy."3
"Lament and blame ..Differentiates between evil as suffering and evil as wrongdoing if lament sees us as victims blame makes culprits of us Ricoeur observes that infact these two categories are always intertwined .We can feel guilty for committing an evil act while simultaneously experiencing seduction or invasion by an over whelming force outside us".4
Ricoeur's work discusses the entire intellectual and religious history of the west. In his essay "Evil, a Challenge to Philosophy and Theology" (1985) Ricoeur discusses how evil is symbolised and the problems behind such symbolisation. He has pointed out how the concept of "theodicy" becomes inadequate during such an analysis.
Ricoeur deals with the haunting human dilemmas like guilt and lament and goes to profound depths making conclusions which are often subtle yet familiar to the seasoned critic who is almost always left speechless by his understanding of realms not yet explored in religious psychology and theology.
The book forms along with its essays a very thoughtful reading for religious people as well as the common lay people .Ricoeur reminds us of many things which we ignore like to the role of God in everyday philosophy and thought.
With Ricoeur the title speaks for itself when life becomes the very tumultuous path to "figuring the sacred". The book constantly invokes a subtle awareness in the minds of the reader, reminding us to shield our thoughts from negativity and trivialization while we "figure the sacred" who actually lives within our hearts and minds.
1. Book review by Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary,Decatur, GA available at http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/apr1996/v53-1-bookreview4.htm
2. Figuring the Sacred: Religion, Narrative, and Imagination ,By Paul Ricoeur,Minneapolis, Fortress, 1995.
3. On Paul Ricoeur: The Owl of Minerva By Richard F. Kearney,pp