Evil, a Challenge to Philosophy and Theology

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Paul Ricoeur is a European intellectual. As far as his religious orientation is concerned he is a French Huguenot and a Barthian Christian.1Currently an Emeritus at the Divinity School, University of Chicago, he has produced many renowned books on religion and theology…

Introduction

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.
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