This essay takes up a scattered and fugitive phrase in Paul Ricoeur's later hermeneutical works, “ontological vehemence,” which appears to indicate an intense desire that images we hold of ourselves and others should be verified and realized in reaching out to the world. This anxiety seems to cleave not to the images themselves but to their verification as “true” and “real.” Ricoeur argues that this uniting of image and reality—in metaphor, political action, memory, and forgiveness—augments our capability, by renewal and reanimation, and by extending our horizons of action and projection. The excessive desire implicit in “vehemence” throws language outside of itself (as Ricoeur insists in Time and Narrative); and in his attempt to account for them, in wandering into the language of “nonphilosophy,” Ricoeur suggests the need to place a hermeneutics of desire at the center of any interpretation of being human.

You do not currently have access to this content.