Paul Ricoeur's Concept of Mans Fallibility as a Way of Hoping in Mans Innate Goodness

Topics: Human, Meaning of life, Good and evil Pages: 30 (10175 words) Published: March 3, 2013
Concept of Man’s Fallibility
As a way of Hoping in Man’s
Innate Goodness


A Research Study Submitted to

Sacred Heart Seminary-Bacolod


In Partial Fulfillment

to the Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy


Sem. Rommel Falc G. Palivino

February 22, 2013



From the beginning humans have tried to transcend the condition of fallibility. One of the oldest stories in the bible tells us how Adam and eve attempted to overcome their fallibility by eating forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge. According to the bible Adam and Eve tempted by the serpent to eat the forbidden fruit that God did not allow them to do so, but because they are given freedom and free will they had a choice whether to do it or to overcome the temptation. Human beings make mistakes, commit errors, and perform tasks imperfectly. They are fallible, they can never be certain that their ideas are true or that their actions are correct. Human life is imperfect; there is inequality or “disproportion” in us and community. Human experience is a chronic disproportion in which one cannot succeed in reconciling paradoxes within himself. Thus, through the imagery of disproportion the pathetic conveys something of the human totality as paradox. No matter how perfect we want ourselves to be, we find we are short of ideals of communion. There is always disunity. The finitude of man is a simple act of introspection, looking that the given object presents only one side of itself. The basis of this is that we realize that we see things from a specific limited point of view because we are finite. This perspectival view can cloud our judgments that sometimes it makes us choose the things we do not want to do and thereby we commit faults. This pre conditions us to fallibility. The idea that man is by nature liable to err is, according to the working hypothesis of Ricouer, an idea wholly accessible to pure reflection; it designates a characteristic of man's being. As Descartes says at the beginning of the fourth meditation Man's being is such that "I find myself subject to infinity of imperfections, so that I should not be surprised if I err." How man finds himself subject to err is what the concept of fallibility tries to make understood.

For Descartes human has its own capability of doing such goodness, but we need to remember that human also has this inherent fallibility which according to him is infinite. Meaning, we cannot avoid erring not only because of temptations but because of being a man who is fallible.

But, Ricoeur tries to counter this idea of explaining how thus man being fallible in a hermeneutical manner. With the concept of fallibility, the doctrine of man approaches a threshold of intelligibility wherein it is understandable that evil extends to the whole creation, to angels, to man, to material things. Man’s disproportion, is that the polarity within him of the finite and the infinite, had this activity of intermediation or mediation. Man’s specific weakness and his essential fallibility are ultimately sought within this structure of mediation between the pole of his finitude and infinitude. Why is this disproportion had? How do we understand this disproportion? His finite pole being bodily and his infinite pole being spiritual make this disproportion great. It is quite possible that man is not radical source of evil, that he is not absolute evil doer. But even if evil were contemporary with the root of origin of things, it would be still true that it is manifest only in the way it affects human existence. This simply means that mans fallibility, although not directly the source of evil but it is main factor of man’s fault, even though evil has another external source coming into man. But Ricoeur also affirms that evil manifest itself through man’s humanity which is prone to evil. Evil inheres in...
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