Review: Paul Ricoeur, On translation

Paul Ricoeur, On Translation, trans. Eileen Brennan, Routledge, 2006, 66pp., $17.95 (pbk), ISBN 9780415357784.

Reviewed by David Pellauer, DePaul University


This small book brings together three late essays by Paul Ricoeur along with a brief introduction by Richard Kearney. Translation as an issue was hinted at for a long time in Ricoeur's work on hermeneutics since it so obviously overlaps with questions about the nature of interpretation. These essays represent the first time, however, that he directly addressed this topic. The essays were prepared for different occasions, so there is some overlap among them. Still, one can discern a cumulative effect from their chronological appearance. Let me say immediately that, like all of Ricoeur's work, they are insightful and worth reading as they stand. However, they are important beyond this in that they also point to new questions Ricoeur was addressing in the latter years of his life. These questions are important for anyone seeking to extend Ricoeur's hermeneutical reflections. They also point to questions for philosophy in general insofar as it takes seriously the work done over the past few decades on hermeneutics in relation to language and the impact this must have on philosophy.

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