French philosopher Paul Ricoeur dies at 92

Studied how people overcome doubts by drawing on spiritual heritage
French philosopher Paul Ricoeur, an influential thinker on both sides of the Atlantic, died May 20 at home in Chatenay-Malabry near Paris after a months-long illness. Ricoeur was 92.

Raised in a devoutly Protestant home after he was orphaned in World War I, Ricoeur survived years of German imprisonment during World War II to complete studies and to teach at the University of Strasbourg and the Sorbonne as well as hold faculty positions at the University of Chicago, Columbia and Yale, among other posts.

Known for his work in phenomenology—the study of how perceptions of events shape a person’s reality—Ricoeur sought to examine how people could overcome weaknesses and doubts by drawing on their spiritual heritage. “Not only did he write explicitly on Christian themes,” noted Bruce Ellis Benson of Wheaton College, “but his faith was an underlying influence on his writings.”


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