Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 1-1-2017


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

James Swindal

Committee Member

Charles Keyes

Committee Member

John Conley


agency; Badiou; forgiveness; hermeneutics; phenomenology; Ricoeur


This dissertation focuses on the relationship of selfhood and ethics from the competing philosophical frameworks developed by Paul Ricoeur and Alain Badiou. Seeking “nothing short of a full victory” on the “battlefield” of history, Badiou argues that Ricoeur deceives his readers by hiding the relationship of the self to history. The purpose of this deception is to defend a definition of history that allows for a Providential sense of history whereby the past could be actively forgotten whereby crimes could be forgiven. In this work I examine Ricoeur’s hermeneutics of the self as developed in Oneself as Another (Soi-même comme un autre, 1990) as well as its relationship to his positions regarding memory, history, forgetting, and forgiveness developed in Memory, History, Forgetting (La Mémoir, l’histoir, l’oubi, 2002). Thematically, I focus on the experience of forgiveness for three reasons. First, it is a non-physical experience within a reflective consciousness that connects to our experience of freedom. Secondly, forgiveness is a sufficiently rich experience of ethical evil. Third, forgiveness has a temporal dimension (like that of promising) that informs our understanding of memory as well as human self-identity. Ricoeur’s conceptions of selfhood, history, evil, ethics, and truth will be examined from the critical perspective offered by Badiou. Over the course of this dissertation I demonstrate that Ricoeur provides conceptions of selfhood and history that disarm Badiou’s criticism of Ricoeur by means of a critical analysis of his theory of subjectivity, as well as his conception of ethics.