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Volume 34 Issue 4 (July 2003), Pages 387-538

Ricoeur versus Taylor on Language and Narrative (pages 425-446)

Abstract: Although Ricoeur and Taylor are often grouped together, their conceptions of language, literature, and practical reason are very different. The first half of this essay focuses on Ricoeur's theory of triple mimesis and narrative, showing how his attempt to synthesize Kant, Husserl, and structuralism results in a formalism that blocks out the ontological, hermeneutical, and historical dimensions of literature and practical reason. The second half of the essay develops Taylor's ontological conception of public imagination and illustrates the dynamics of this conception of language and interpretation by showing how literary works debate with each other over language, subjectivity, and reference. Narrative does not just order; it argues.

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