THE SYMBOLISM OF EVIL by Paul Ricoeur

THE SYMBOLISM OF EVIL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

One of the foremost French Protestant thinkers of today undertakes in this learned book to recover the serviceability of myth--especially Biblical myth--for the understanding of man in his human and finite situation. He does so by examining the motif of evil in man, through what he calls a ""phenomenology of confession."" The forms of this confession may be ""speculative""-- understanding reached by abstracting elementary, verbal symbols, from the totality of what is experienced (e.g., ""Original Sin""), or ""spontaneous,"" in which the totality is expressed in a way that conserves the fullness of the experience, as a myth does. The first half of the book treats of Defilement, Sin and Guilt, which form the ""cycle of infection""; in doing so, it draws upon and interprets the symbolism and mythology of the Old Testament, and St. Paul's use of that resource in his attempts to interpret the Gospel. The second part of the volume analyzes more incisively the nature of the symbolic function of myths, pointing out how the ""demythologizing"" process permanently severs myth from fealistic history, but also re-establishes it with a new dimension of meaning as symbol. This is an immensely erudite book, thoroughly informed but lively with a sense of the relevance of the argument to current religious thought. It is the second volume of the author's three-volume work on ""Finitude and Guilt."" The first was published as ""Fallible Man.

Pub Date: May 24th, 1967
ISBN: 0807015679
Publisher: Harper & Row