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The Place of Language and Text

in Paul Ricoeurs Hermeneutical Anthroplogy

Ricardo Jose E. Gutierrez

The word is my kingdom and I am not ashamed of it.
Paul Ricoeur

Life is no more than a biological phenomenon as long as it has not been interpreted.
Paul Ricoeur

ith a plain glance upon the title, the proverbial passage from the Bible comes
to mind, namely: The word became flesh and dwelt among us,
implying, in
the traditional reading, simply that Gods pre-existence in spiritual form
became human to transmit His preeminent and benevolent mind to his most
beloved creations. Upon a careful hindsight and with a considerable distance
from theological and doctrinal spectacles we can discern from this notable
truism an exemplification of the place of human beings in the world. Humans,
as the incarnation of words, articulates his unique place by understanding
himself through the guidance and inspiration of different texts that dwelt among his life the
various hermeneutical transmissions that made a mark on his life. In such a reading, we come to
realize the unique place, not only of Jesus Christ, but of every human being the dwells in our
world, human beings that have their own gospels and stories to tell, marveling, in turn, upon the
differences, which insinuatingly influence us in our own linguistic-dwelling in the world.
Accordingly, we can single out Paul Ricoeurs pioneering philosophical corpus, which
epitomizes the overarching emphasis on the power of language in the existence of the human
being, discerning the reason as to why language plays the greatest role in relation to the
uniqueness of the human being. Ricoeur upholds that self-understanding presupposes a text, an
incarnated word dwelling in the life of the individual; and, subsequently, with this plain yet
discreet stress on the significance of the text, he was able to bridge the often overlooked
significance of the other in understanding oneself. Ultimately, Ricoeurs conception of the
capable human being educes his relation to the world of text. With his idiosyncratic
characterization of the world as a world of texts, Ricoeur synthesizes his hermeneutical-
anthropology through the power of language, as a firm foundation, accentuating, thereby, the
magnitude of discourse as an elementary and trans-cultural inclination of man in understanding
the world and himself.
From these insights, this paper hopes to inquire into the intricate paradise that Ricoeur
drafted in tempering the living language, the text, and the capable human being. As a spring
board in showing the evident link between this triad, Ricoeur instrumentality delved into the
realm of hermeneutical-anthropology, that is, a paradigm that highlights the discursive interplay

Cf. Paul Ricoeur, La Parole est Mon Royaume in Esprit vol. 23, #2 (1955), 192 in Leovino Garcia,
Interpreting the Story of My Life: Paul Ricoeurs Hermeneutics of Narrative Identity, 1.
Paul Ricoeur, On Paul Ricoeur: Narrative Interpretation ed. David Wood (New York: Routledge, 1991),
John 1:14.
between human beings and the world of text. Following Ricoeurs backdrop of hermeneutical-
anthropology, this paper, in particular, attempts to expound the eminent role of language in
relation to the human being, his life, his encounters, and his own self-understanding an
astonishing, yet simple miracle of life, which Ricoeur unfolded before us.
The Living Language
As aforementioned, Ricoeurs conviction with regard to language is the fundamental
insight that humans are inherently governed by language through its capacity to mold the human
being, for it is intrinsically entwined with the symbolic network of signs, codes, meanings and
texts; but, conversely, human beings also governs language through its capacity to express its
own self to the world of texts and fashioning the symbolic network according to his own
understanding of the world. The creative power of language clearly smudges the place of human
beings in this world. Consequently, due to the rise of Structuralist Linguistics, advanced by
Ferdinand de Saussure, language was reduced to its structural framework, that is, as
straightforward signs that suppresses the semantic and hermeneutic complexity of the linguistic
enterprise. In such conditions, language loses its humanity by excluding the inherent forces that
plays in the symbolic network, such as intentions, symbolisms, stresses, cultural grounding etc.
From this terminal backdrop, which gradually announces the twilight of discourse, Ricoeur
pursued the interrogation of this kind of linguistic model. Although in evident denial, Ricoeur, as
he is known as the philosopher of all dialogues, scrutinizes structuralism in its own terms, and by
not merely discarding its naivet.
Ricoeurs reading of De Saussures linguistic structural system distinguishes two modes
of language: langue or language as code and parole or language as discourse. Langue is the
code or the set of codes on the basis of which a particular speaker produces parole as a
particular message.
Moreover, it is anonymous, nonlibidinal, and unconscious, which
constitutes its universality, finding its affinity on matters relating to scientific investigation.

These conditions speaks of a synchronic system that does not require any speaker to function,
that is, it adamantly advocates the goal of a strict utilitarian, not to mention objective, function of
language, to pass a clear and distinct idea that is understandable to all. With this urge to perfect
an objective and disinterested mode of language, the eclipse of discourse was further
encouraged by the tentative extension of the structural model beyond its birthplace in
linguistics implied by the linguistic model as a structural model.
On the other hand, parole,
on the contrary, emphasizes the importance of the underlying forces that govern the inherently
complex system of communication, namely the speaker and everything that belongs to his
irreducible character. Such a linguistic model characterizes the speaker as a carrier of a message
acknowledged, intended, and conscious , and as such, placed within the temporal field of
Corresponding with diachrony, parole as such is an event, an episode within
the temporal ground of existence, stressing, in turn, the contingent conditions that is at play
within the message.

In his study of De Saussure, Ricoeur, with strong reasons in adhering with the importance
of parole over langue, expanded creatively the notion of parole, coining the term discourse that

Paul Ricoeur, Language as Discourse, in Interpretation Theory: Discourse and the Surplus of Meaning
(Forthworth: Texas Christian University, 1976), 3.
Ibid., 4.
Ibid., 3.
assimilates itself more appropriately to semantics: [This] substitution of the term discourse
for that of parole is intended to legitimate the distinction between semiotics and semantics, no
longer corresponding to codes and messages, but more particularly to signs and sentences.
other words, Ricoeur fortifies the distinction between the science of signs, namely semiotics, and
the science of meaning, namely semantics, in order to articulate the colossal difference of the
pragmatic and creative use of language, illustrating more importantly its creative aspect where
the apotheosis of the power of language is attained.
The power of discourse illumines in the event of speaking: something happens when
someone speaks.
The speaker manifests as the very condition that makes the event a unique
moment, where the message becomes living and symbolic; and inevitably and evidently, the link
of the message to the speaker becomes necessary. In this frame of linguistic system, language
becomes human to the extent that it gains full sense in relation to a human speaker. Moreover,
like parole, and as an event, it brings to the fore the importance of temporality and the diachronic
character of the different messages human beings articulate in a particular time. From this aspect,
we come to realize that language can no longer be encapsulated to a set of signs, codes, and
structure that elicits a stagnant and objective set of rules, universally covering the entire network
of meaning; rather it pushes language further to trigger the power of its creativity, mainly
considering the embodiment, origin, and temporality of the words that were articulated that is,
the human being as a concrete and temporal being are inextricably interwoven to the event of
enunciation. We can see how Ricoeur firmly believes in the power of a living language that
contains the dynamisms of its own speaker who, in reality, goes beyond the structural system of
codes and signs. This inherent creativity of language and the human being is a testament to the
fact that the human being is capable of governing the complexity of the linguistic realm.
But discourse, as an event that there someone speaking, is intricately part of the symbolic
network, that is, the event that someone is speaking with someone. By pointing this apparent fact,
which most philosophers before Ricoeur had missed out, Ricoeur was able to accentuate, again,
the simple, yet extremely magical power of language to produce an encounter. An encounter is
made possible by the interlinked network of language games that provides an opportunity for one
to open ones world, and, in turn, see anothers world. Language, in this case, plays as the
suspension bridge fragile, yet tremendously beautiful where human beings can live together,
expressing their most personal sentiments to different people, such as caring, hating, loving,
welcoming, deceiving, converting, violating, inspiring, etc. a whole variety of responses,
interplaying among themselves that opens new horizons, selves, worlds, and so on. Discourse
refers to a world that it claims to describe, express or represent.
From this bridge, which
language creates, human beings are amusingly opening their doors everyday to someone, leaving
them both much fuller and richer than before a miracle of life that we often take for granted as
we ride in the currents of time.
The World of the Text: The Magic of Confluence
If the power of language to bridge two separate worlds and to creatively provide the
opportunity for interpretation does not astonish enough, the world of text adds an extraordinary
feature to this already mystical capacity, namely, the abilities of language to create a narrative
through the combination of sentences; to access the dimensions of time through the meeting of

Ibid., 7.
Paul Ricoeur, The Hermeneutical Function of Distanciation, From Text to Action: Essays in
Hermeneutics, II (Evanston III: Northwestern University Press, 1991), 77.
Ibid., 78.
worlds in the event of reading; and to instantaneously refigure a particular character, inspiring
him to act, to model his own self according to the image of the characters that lived before him,
which, in turn, refigures the text according to the blood of the reader as well.
Discourse, as more appropriately understood, is the dialogue of two people in a
particular time. On the other hand, strictly speaking, the world of text is understood as a written
text is the very locus of encounter of two obviously different worlds, a discourse between
different timelines. A text is a series of different sentence constructions devoid of an objective
tone, from which a text and the reader of the text encounters each other. This encounter opens up
new meanings for both the reader and the text through the simple process of reading, for,
nonetheless writing renders autonomous with respect to the intention of the author, what the text
signifies is not necessarily confined to this intention,
that is, Ricoeur distinguishes the reader
from the author by freeing the former from the frame of mind, time, and culture of the latter, not
for the reason of violence even with a stronger sentiment, Ricoeur sustains the prominent role
of mediation , but in order to create new and singular meanings from the text, which can change
the reader and the text through this numinous confluence. However, we must put to mind that a
written text presupposes, just like discourse, a human being that authored the work, which, again,
Ricoeur emphasizes the inherent dynamisms within it.
The Living Text
A text, just like language, does not write itself. It is a product of the synthesis of a living
language conjured by a human being that exists. Evidently, a text is the signature left behind by
an author, that is, the author, as an artisan of language smudges his understanding of the world,
his experiences, and everything that is a part of him in the text, which acts, in turn, as a living
relic of his own image. This understanding of the text presupposes the uniqueness of the text, for,
following Ricoeur, every individual are singularities that creatively hones their lives according to
their imagination and physiology. As the source of the text, the human being, who carries his
own subjectivity and subjective purview, writes the text with his own blood,
expressing his
own selfhood in the process.
The lifeless text becomes living through understanding the inherent intricacies found
therein, namely, the authors blood and the dynamic and microscopic cells within it. This blood
itself creates the world of the text that contains the interwoven cells or experiences, dreams,
possibilities, and the unique, yet related human condition that shaped the author. A text,
understood in this sense, is the synthesis of a human beings lifes work, carrying with it the
impenetrable subjectivity that can open up itself in variety to and in the world. These subjective
conditions hidden within every page of the text presents itself differently to every reader that
sincerely delves into a new world. An author desiring to remain objective about what he has
written should not bother publishing his work, for the inevitable process of reading stumbles
upon every written text. And the process of reading is the process of incorporating ones blood
within the pages of the living text, thereby admitting new series of reading that can go beyond
the authors mind.
The Process of Reading
The inevitable event of reading is an encounter of worlds. Language, in this event, has to
play again a preeminent role in bridging the two worlds. Unlike in discourse, language plays a
more creative role in the process of reading. Reading does not simply presuppose a readers
reading of the text, but the intrinsic complexity that follows within the event of reading, namely

Ibid., 83.
Ibid., 82.
the psycho-social and temporal conditions of the reader and of the text, which produces
unlimited series of readings depending on the reader, his disposition, his beliefs, etc. The reader,
without knowing it, presents his own world with the world of the text, believing that he is
reading it objectively, but, in reality, he spills his own blood on the blood of the text. While the
text carries the subjectivity and selfhood of the author, reading inescapably pulls this subjectivity
to encounter the selfhood of the reader. This event gives way to the unavoidable process of
configuration and refiguration a reciprocal exchange between the reader and the text. That the
event of reading follows a certain destiny, namely, the desinty of a prefigured time that
becomes a refigured time through the mediation of a configured time.
It is here where we can
understand how Ricoeur radically gave a twist in the process of interpretation, enabling him to
go beyond his predecessors.

Ricoeurs Creative Twist: and so the Magic Begins
Ricoeur acquired his eminent place in the circle of the great hermeneutical philosophers
by assessing the creative manipulation that radically endeavors to transcend the frame of the text,
that is, the authors condition and mode of production, opening, in the process, an unlimited
series of readings of the text.
To rephrase the strong statement of Derrida - to truly make a
biography of an author, one does not limit himself with the actual facts that occurred in the
authors life, but to interpret his writings, even a single line from his text, critically.
Such is the
imperative of Ricoeurean hermeneutics, which goes above the Romantic hermeneutist that
maintains the need to psychologize the author in order to attain the real meaning of the text.
Ricoeurs hermeneutics, on the contrary, does not limit itself on the text; rather it tries to push
the frontiers of creativity and interpretation, majorly involving the mind of the reader in the
process of interpretation. He firmly claims that the de-psychologizing of interpretation does not
imply that the notion of authorial meaning has lost significance all significance
, for he
maintains the need for a non-violent mediation, which preserves the significance of the authors
mark, and, at the same time, induces a new creative interpretation on the part of the reader. This
dialogue happens in the process of reading, that is, the magical, yet dying moment of the reader
and the text, inveigling them to be reborn anew a larger and fuller text and self , which is best
illustrated by Ricoeurs notion of a three-fold mimesis: mimesis
, pertaining to the realm of
lived-experiences of the author;
, pertaining to the text as the locus of exchange;
, pertaining to the transmission of the wisdom of the text.
As an imperative in modern hermeneutics, including Ricoeurs, before the rigorous
process of interpretation takes place, the interpreter takes note of the historic-temporal conditions

Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative: Threefold Mimesis, in Time and Narrative, I trans. Kathleen
Mclaughlin and David Pellauer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984), 54.
Paul Ricoeur, The Task of Hermeneutics, in From Text to Action: Essays in Hermeneutics, II, 54-72.
Ibid., 56, 83.
See The documentary film Derrida directed by Kirby Dick (2002)
Paul Ricoeur, Language as Discourse, in Interpretation Theory: Discourse and the Surplus of Meaning
(Forthworth: Texas Christian University, 1976), 30.
Peter Emmanuel Mara, The Capable Human Being and the Role of Language in Paul Ricoeurs
Hermeneutical Philosophical Anthropology, Kritike, volume 5, #1, (June 2011), 56.
Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative: Threefold Mimesis, in Time and Narrative, I, 53. Also see Leovino
Garcia, Interpreting the Story of My Life: Paul Ricoeurs Hermeneutics of Narrative Identity, 5.
of the text, which follows an obligatory examination of the authors lived experiences. Mimesis

takes its cue in the pre-understanding of the authors contextual purview, wherein, one acquaints
oneself to both the cultural and trans-cultural understanding of the world of action, which,
subsequently, is tied with the symbolic order and temporal field.
With this competence
namely, the recognition of the structural, symbolic, and temporal aspects of action , one
proceeds to the event of configuration, which resides in mimesis
. Mimesis
, as the confluent
locus between the two other mimeses, acts as the mediator of the reader and the author that
unfurls two different worlds at the same time. Due to the event of reading, the reader opens up
the text, which contains the very being of the author, apprehending and interpreting every fiber
of it. The text, as a configured reality, having its own configured time, through the process of
reading, educes from the text a triple mediation: a first mediation between individual events and
the story taken as a whole; a second mediation between different factors like agents, ends,
means, circumstances, chance or planned encounters, and unintended results; and a third
mediation between an episodic chronological dimension and a configuring non-chronological
This mediation is directly anchored to mimesis
, that is, the rigorous investigation
of the authors life. But to understand a text is not to find a lifeless sense that is contained
therein, but to unfold the possibility of being indicated by the text.
In short, reading does not
only presuppose a meeting of two worlds, through the grace of language; but the refiguring of
both worlds through the process of interpretation. This is elicited by what Ricoeur calls
. Mimesis
marks the intersection of the world of the text and the world of the hearer
or reader; the intersection, therefore of the world configured by the poem and the world wherein
real action occurs and unfolds its specific temporality.
This fold sprinkles the magical moment
in the meeting of the reader and the text, where the title of Ricoeurs book, namely, From Text to
Action, literally transpires. As the proverbial saying goes: May you lose yourself in the pages of
a good book; and such is the fate of reading, where we come to love and despise different texts
that we encounter in the world. In reading, as aforementioned, we present ourselves in front of
the text, colliding our own lives with the life of the author and the configured life of the text,
producing a big bang that creates a universe of meaning, and, thus, inspires the reader to take the
text as a model of his life. Mimesis
does not only allow the creation of new meanings and
readings from and of the text, but also the conversion and education the reader acquires through
his own refiguration and of the text. Through the confluence of the world of the text and the
world of the reader, the magic of learning from the text, which can no longer be unlearned,
endows the reader with wider and more far-seeing spectacles in viewing and dealing with life,
convincing him to take action according to the texts that largely influenced his own life.
With such a conception in understanding the selfhood of a human being, namely as a
reader of different texts that surrounds him in his everyday life, we can see that a human being is
but an embodied words and stories, waiting to be recounted in order to understand himself.
Following Ricoeurs contention that if life can be understood only through stories that we tell
about it, then an examined life is a life recounted,
we can be able to see how the capable
human being forms and understands himself through the creativity of language.

Ibid., 54, 64.
Leovino Garcia, Interpreting the Story of My Life: Paul Ricoeurs Hermeneutics of Narrative Identity, 6.
Paul Ricoeur, The Task of Hermeneutics, in From Text to Action: Essays in Hermeneutics, II, 66.
Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative: Threefold Mimesis, in Time and Narrative, I trans. Kathleen
Mclaughlin and David Pellauer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984), 71.
Paul Ricoeur, On Paul Ricoeur: Narrative Interpretation, 31.

The Capable Human Being as Word Incarnate
The subject is never given from the start. [Rather] in place of an ego, enamored of itself
arises a self-instructed by cultural symbols, the first among which are the narratives
handed down in our literary tradition. And these narratives give us a unity which is not
substantial, but narrative.

To understand is to understand oneself in front of the text. It is not imposing upon the text
our finite capacity for understanding, but exposing ourselves to the text and receiving
from it an enlarged self In this respect, it would be more correct to say that the self is
constituted by the matter of the text.

Starting from Ricoeur himself, we can understand how the subject spontaneously creates
himself through his encounter with the world of texts. Our life appears to us as the field of a
constructive activity, borrowed from narrative understanding, by which we attempt to discover
and not simply to impose from outside the narrative identity which constitutes us,
for it must
be said that we understand ourselves only by the detour of the signs of humanity deposited in the
cultural work.
What Ricoeur points out in such a conception of a human being is that our
ability to be capable springs from our receptive capacity to learn, which openly and
unknowingly, as it were, brings to light our a priori knowledge of interpretation. From the very
start of our lives, we are confronted by a deluge of symbols, forces, texts, and so on, that
surrounds us, gradually accessing it one by own as we come to know the world. While knowing
the world, we, in turn, come to know ourselves by our very own actions and interpretations of the
world of the text in its most general sense
, that is to invoke Karol Wojtylas dictum action
reveals the person. It reveals us in so far as we take time to recount the stories in relation to

Op cit., 33.
Paul Ricoeur, The Hermeneutical Function of Distanciation, From Text to Action, 88.
Paul Ricoeur, On Paul Ricoeur: Narrative Interpretation, 20.
Op cit., 87.
Ricoeur writes: The world is an ensemble of references opened up by every kind of text, descriptive, or
poetic, that I have read, understood and loved. And to understand a text is to interpolate among the predicates of our
situation all the significations that make a Welt [World] out of our Umwelt [Environment]. Paul Ricoeur,
Language as Discourse, in Interpretation Theory: Discourse and the Surplus of Meaning, 37. We can also take
note of some of the well-known scholars and their remarks regarding the world as a text or as a book. Rabbi Eliezer
said: If all the seas were of ink, and all ponds planted with reeds, if the sky and the earth were parchments and if all
human beings practised the art of writingthey would not exhaust the Torah I have learned, just as the Torah itself
would not be diminished anymore than is the sea by the water removed by a paint brush dipped in it. 7 Galileo: It
[the book of Nature] is written in a mathematical language. Descartes: . . . to read in the great book of Nature ...
Demea, in the name of natural religion, in the Dialogues, . . . of Hume: And this volume of nature contains a great
and inexplicable riddle, more than any intelligible discourse or reasoning. Bonnet: It would seem more
philosophical to me to presume that our earth is a book that God has given to intelligences far superior to ours to
read, and where they study in depth the infinitely multiplied and varied characters of His adorable wisdom.G. H.
von Schubert: This language made of images and hieroglyphs, which supreme Wisdom uses in all its revelations to
humanitywhich is found in the inferior language of poetryand which, in the most inferior and imperfect way is
more like the metaphorical expression of the dream than the prose of wakefulness, .. . we may wonder if this
language is not the true and wakeful language of the superior regions. If, when we consider ourselves awakened, we
are not plunged in a millennial slumber, or at least in the echo of its dreams, where we only perceive a few isolated
and obscure words of Gods language, as a sleeper perceives the conversation of the people around him. Jaspers:
The world is the manuscript of an other, inaccessible to a universal reading, which only existence deciphers. See
Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology, 16.
the very root of our inspirations to act and the actions in relation to ourselves we come to
know and we come to take, for it represents, no longer something external to us, but it is the very
fibers the constitute our selves.
The eminent role of language to open the possibility of understanding ourselves testifies,
once again, with the inimitable power of language that is strongly disseminated in Ricoeurean
philosophy. For what else is a human being but a constellation of the living languages that he has
interpreted, known, and loved? Language does not only bridge the different timelines and
different personalities through discourse, through reading, but it also provide us with the
opportunity to reflect, to recollect, to recount, to meet our own selves face-to-face, that is, the
opportunity of not only the interpreting meanings, texts, but also of ourselves. And to interpret
is to explicate the type of being-in-the-world unfolded in the text.
Moreover, we can push the argument further by seeing language, in its most elementary,
as a medium, not only of communication, but of commitment. We come to express ourselves
outward with others, but at the same time, we come to express our commitment towards them
we are what we speak. The capable human being does not simply use language to interpret
things, to encounter people, but also to commit himself to them. When we encounter people, we
engage in discourse that puts to the fore our own vulnerable selves. It gives a realization that we
are indeed in a world with others; and that we are always-already affecting and is affected by
others that the necessity to commune with them is inevitable. According to Ricoeur, that a
capable human being desires to be ethical, that there is a desire from the human being to be, an
aim for the good life, and a desire to help others to be, that is to say, a desire to care for the
triad of the I the self, the other, and the institutions. And his inevitable enchainment to his
word is one path towards this fulfillment, for Ricoeur is always a believer of the power of
language to change the person in front of you.
Conclusion: The Astonishing Powers of Language
We can claim that language is but external signs, outside of ourselves, that is, as
expressions of the human being, socially constructed for human interaction. However, in such a
condition, we are ignoring the mystical power of language that resides in the fusing of letters,
words, sentences, and paragraphs, not to mention the speaker and time, and the complex and
dynamic forces that goes with them, which, when transmitted, can fabricate various meanings
that can miraculously inspire, convert, and change the human being who receives and
understands the message. Language is not totally external to human beings, in the sense that it is
out there and we can either choose to learn it or not; but rather, human beings lives inside the
palace of language as Heidegger would reckon, language is the house of being , that is,
language is truly human to the extent that it makes possible consciousness, thinking, interaction,
suffering, living, affirmation, institution, etc it is through language that we come to know
ourselves as humans. Moreover, the externality of language to human beings is absurd in the
sense that language, taken in itself, cannot speak, and therefore, will not be able to produce
meaning. Language can only be understood in relation to a human being, precisely because only
human beings speak, create, and absorb meaning and this makes possible affirmation,
recognition, and interaction , that is, only human beings can make language living, and this
living language is what makes us human.
With the overarching discussion of the power language throughout the paper, we can sum
it up into five main ramifications: 1.) Language as the fragile, yet delightful bridge for human
beings; 2.) Language as the genesis of meaning and creativity; 3.) Language as an instigator of
refiguration; 4.) Language as a synthesizer of human lives; 5.) Language as a medium of
commitment. In his powerful discourse about the human being, Ricoeur also provided an
illuminating tract in the course of language. That to penetratingly engage in the examination of a
human being, one is compelled not only to examine the human being and his relation to the
world, but also his relation to the world of the text not only philosophical anthropology, but a
hermeneutical-anthropology. For language does not simply function as a mode of
communication for human beings, but it creates meaningful worlds which human beings could
ever have imagined, as mere participants in the symbolic network. We are constituted through
the reciprocal exchange of language and understanding. Human beings, in its strictly literal
sense, his own word, a word that has become living, that has been fleshed out through the human
beings incarnation and life. Ricoeur does not only use language to create meaning, to interact,
and to understand oneself, what Ricoeur pushes to uphold is our inevitable disposition to express
our uniqueness to the world through language that through language, we come to know that
every human being carries with himself his own selfhood his own subjectivity, mainly being the
source of his own uniqueness and wisdom, which we ought to respect and understand. The
numinous encounter that magically executes the miracle of life elevates the often ignored, yet
inimitable role of language into the pinnacle of our lives, that is, as a sine qua non of living itself.
Such is the astonishing power of language that we can never really grasp in its entirety, but only
be fascinated by its miraculous grace to invoke the title of Julia Kristevas book: Language:
The Unknown.