Ricoeur in South Africa. Some remarks on his impact beyond philosophy

  • Bernard Lategan Stellenbosch University
Keywords: Ricoeur, South Africa, discourse analysis, the transformative power of texts, selfhood, identity, history, the future potential of memory


The work of Paul Ricoeur is of much wider significance than just for the field of philosophy. This contribution discusses the impact of his ideas on developments in South Africa in three areas beyond philosophy: discourse analysis, concepts of selfhood, and the role of memory in social transformation. His dynamic understanding of communication helped to liberate discourse analysis in South Africa from an a-historical approach by focusing on the role of the reader, the context of reception and the transformative power of the text. His innovative work on the relationship between the self and the other has the potential to lead to a more inclusive understanding of being human together and to an enriched and expanded concept of identity. His extensive work on memory, history and forgetting can provide the basis to unlock the future potential of memory and for a memory liberated from being defined and held ransom by the past.
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