“The experience of fault is given essentially in a feeling. This is the first difficulty, inasmuch as philosophy, and more specifically moral philosophy, has given little consideration to feelings as specific affections, distinct from emotions and passions. The notion of self-affection stemming from Kant remains a difficult one in this regard. Jean Nabert, the rationalist philosopher who has ventured farthest in this direction, places the experience of fault, along with those of failure and of solitude, among the ‘givens of reflection.’ He thus joins Karl Jaspers, less dependent on the Kantian tradition, who situates culpability, another name for fault, among the ‘boundary situations.’ that is to say, those nonfortuitous determinations of existence that we always find already there, such as death, suffering, struggle. In this sense, culpability, guilt, like the other ‘boundary situations,’ is implied in every contingent situation and belongs to what we ourselves have designated by the phrase our ‘historical condition’ on the level of an ontological hermeneutics.
The experience of fault offers itself as a given to reflection. It gives rise to thought. What is first offered to reflection is the designation of the fundamental structure in which this experience comes to be inscribed. This is the structure of the imputability of our actions. There can, in fact, be forgiveness only where we can accuse someone of something, presume him to be or declare him guilty. And one can indict only those acts that are imputable to an agent who holds himself to be their genuine author. In other words, imputability is that capacity, that aptitude, by virtue of which actions can be held to someone’s account. This metaphor of an accounts constitutes an excellent framework for the concept of imputability, one that finds another fitting expression in the syntax common to languages that employ the modal verb ‘can’: I can speak, act, recount, hold myself accountable for my actions-they can be imputed to me. Imputability constitutes in this respect an integral dimension of what I am calling the capable human being. It is in the region of imputability that fault, guilt, is to be sought. This is the region of articulation between the act and the agent, between the ‘what’ of the actions and the ‘who’ of the power to act-of agency. And this articulation, in the experience of fault, is in a sense affected, wounded by a painful affection” (Ricoeur 2006:460).
2006 Memory, History, Forgetting. Kathleen Blamey & David Pellauer, trans. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
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