Ricœur and the Philosophy of Technology

Ernst Wolff

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/szhf.2020.025


Although technology is not a major theme in Paul Ricœur’s philosophy, there are a number of texts in which he explicitly examines aspects of the relation between humans and their technical environment. The first aim of this article is to provide an overview of the main themes on which Ricœur touches in these texts, as well as a number of less direct contributions to the philosophy of technology. Accordingly, Ricœur’s early reflection on technology as part of human culture is examined, underscoring the ambiguity of technology, as Ricœur sees it. This ambiguity is then demonstrated with reference to technology-related issues, notably work and urbanization. Ricœur’s understanding of the impact of (new) technology on ethical dilemmas is explored – this time in relation to his later philosophy. Finally, the technical dimension of the human capability to act is presented as a line of enquiry spanning almost his whole work. The second aim of this article is to give an overview of the reception of Ricœur’s thought in fields of philosophy related to technology, focusing on the nature of technology, information technology, medical ethics, the environment, the heuristics of technological change, work and city life.


Paul Ricœur; hermeneutics; technology; capabilities; responsibility; work; urbanization; modernity

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