Freedom and Forgiveness: In Debate With Paul Ricoeur Philosophy of the Will

  • Guilhem Causse Centre Sèvres, Facultés Jésuites de Paris


The question of forgiveness arose for Paul Ricoeur from the first moment of his phenomenology of the will. Isolating consciousness in order to describe its structure, especially that of its willing dimension (freedom), presupposes a distancing from the world, but also a distancing from evil. The precondition of this distancing is forgiveness. Forgiveness appears when consciousness is ready to reject the finitude that, of necessity, opposes itself to freedom: this ‘face’ of freedom, distinguished from the articulation of phenomenology and hermeneutics, is the admiration carried by Stoic and Orphic myths. Freedom appears next when the suffering endured at the hands of another challenges one’s freedom: this essay will develop what Ricoeur could only sketch regarding the idea of “Franciscan†hope. Forgiveness appears, finally, when Ricoeur explores it in connection with guilt. In conclusion, we will seek to find the unity shared between these three ‘faces’ of forgiveness.

Author Biography

Guilhem Causse, Centre Sèvres, Facultés Jésuites de Paris
Département de philosophie, docteur en philosophie, maitre de conférence en philosophie


[Anonymous 2014]

Ricoeur, P. (1965). History and Truth. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

Ricoeur, P. (1966). Freedom and Nature: The Voluntary and the Involuntary. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

Ricoeur, P. (1967). The Symbolism of Evil. Boston : Beacon Press.

Ricoeur, P. (1992). Oneself as Another. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Ricoeur, P. (2004). Memory, History, Forgetting. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.

Themes and perspectives