Symbolic and structural evil

17 Jul

It being clear that it is not a question of the struggle between good and evil, but the absence of good or the banality of evil, there is then a night in the West that cannot be unveiled if we remain superficial or “frivolous” as some authors point out, good is fragile, but not frivolous.

To understand the problem of “symbolic evil” addressed by Paul Ricoeur, one must look at its bases in Husserl’s eidetic phenomenology and in Gabriel Marcel’s existentialist philosophy, his search is what gives meaning to freedom (the modern view of free will ) and the reciprocal relationship between human voluntary and involuntary experience, this is essential to understand symbolic evil.

The original appearance of the question of consciousness (of something) comes from the connection that Franz Brentano makes when he returns to the subcategory intentionality, which broke the Cartesian identification between conscience and self-awareness, where intentionality reveals itself to be turned towards the outside and is thus projected outwardly with objective guidelines ranging from perception and imagination to will, affectivity and the apprehension of values ​​(empathy stands out).

What is voluntary and involuntary depends on this “great thesis”, while Husserl operated in conscience to the analysis of perception and “representative” acts,  Ricoeur extended to the spheres of affection and will .

So what is voluntary is the alternation between the vibrant impulse of emotion and the point of view of habit, while the involuntary “absolute” (symbolic or structural) is under what he called character (not in the moral sense, but in the sense of “ feature”).

The point of support that he has in Gabriel Marcel’s existentialist philosophy, without abandoning “eidetic analysis” is the problem of a subject capable of distancing himself from desires and powers, owner of his (and thus voluntary) actions and servant of the needs of the unconscious, character, an area not revealed in real consciousness and in life, although it seems to be outside the powers of the concrete, the historical, or what he calls the occasion, is the empirical realm of the will, seen in three moments.

The first is the human decision resulting from a project for the world (what Heidegger will change to a world view), the action includes both the dimension of a project with others in the world, as well as personal or subjective, however it does not separate and calls them -the body, and the body is seen as both voluntary and involuntary, but there is a “consent”.

Thus Ricoeur shows the exaggerations of idealism, and makes the “habit” in such a way as to inhabit it and make it habitable, and what the author points out that man can fail (his work O fallible man, from the 60s) , and the constituted guilt and the conscience of it are expressed in the symbols of culture.

Affirms the importance of mythical language to treat this symbolic, as well as the parable of the chaff and the wheat (Mt 13,24-29), which states that the “good” seed of the wheat blooms with the chaff (which must later be discarded), there are three situations: the seed that grows, the one that is suffocated by the chaff (symbolism of evil) and the one that falls between stones and has no roots (Ricoeur’s character would be this).

Paul Ricoeur (1967). The symbolic of evil. Beacon Press (Original published in 1960).




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