"With this general backdrop of Ricoeur’s approach to humans as thoroughly interpretive or hermeneutical beings, we can see the significance of Ricoeur's understanding both history and fiction in Time and Narrative as imaginative enterprises, both as acts of creative configuration and 'emplotment'. Rather than facing each other across a continental divide, the one representing positivistic fact and the other the flight of the imagination into the unreal, history and fiction are both fundamentally alike in being 'mimetic' of reality. They are both fundamentally hermeneutical projects. His first move, therefore, was to join together what modernity had cast asunder, which especially involved a transformation of the nature of historiography. It is now much more readily recognized that it was a century ago that historiography is itself a work of the productive imagination, representing a particular cast on a time and place. The surplus of meaning that Ricoeur emphasizes with respect to fiction is also at play in historiography, to which any dispute between historians attests. Ricoeur's hermeneutical 'principle of plenitude' applies to historiography — namely, a text or an event means all that it can mean!
Fiction and historiography both unfold, he believes, in terms of what he calls a threefold mimesis. Mimesis1 represents the prefigured way of being-in-the-world that we bring to any text. Mimesis2 is the creative configuration of a text. Mimesis3 is the appropriative refiguration of a text that involves what Gadamer calls a 'fusion of horizons'. Ricoeur's 'narrative arc', like his earlier hermeneutical arc, challenges the traditional hermeneutic conception that application is an optional third step beyond understanding and explanation. Rather, it is an integral aspect of any hermeneutical act. As he says, 'We are not allowed to exclude the final act of personal commitment from the whole of objective and explanatory procedures which mediate it.'
Ricoeur earlier distinguished the world of the text as the sense of the text and the application as the reference of the text. Although in Time and Narrative he has become uncomfortable with this language borrowed from quite a different domain, he retained the idea that the text has an inherent referential dimension. Regarding his preoccupation with structuralism in the 1970s, which he characteristically both affirmed and rejected, he argued that structural analysis has a place as a critical methodology, but its insistence on remaining within the field of meaning of the text itself means that 'it would be reduced to a sterile game, a divisive algebra'. Ricoeur's point may be understood utilizing Gadamer's notion of a fusion of horizons. Gadamer argued that it is not possible to distinguish wholly between our horizon and the horizon of the text. In the parlance of biblical studies, he rejected the sharp distinction between what a text meant and what it means. Rather, any act of understanding involves a creative fusion of horizons, whether we agree with the text or not. 'It is not enough,' Gadamer says, 'to say that we understand in a different way, if we understand at all.' Even the understanding necessary to reject vehemently the meaning of a text involves a fusion of horizons. An aspect of bringing our horizon to the text is some nascent sense of what it might mean to appropriate the text in our horizon. We can of course distinguish relatively between the meaning of a text and our appropriation of it, but some sense of its significance is inherent in our understanding of it in the first place. Ricoeur thus posits a dynamic interrelationship between the world of the text and the world in front of the text — that is, the latter as the meaning of the text as I have appropriated it" (Stiver, 2001 p. 57-59).
Stiver, Dan R. Ricoeur (2001). Ricoeur, speech-act theory, and the gospels as history. In Bartholomew, C. G., Greene, C. J. D., & Möller, K. (Eds.), After Pentecost: Language and biblical interpretation. Carlisle, Cumbria: Paternoster Press.
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