Philosophy at the Boundary of Reason

Ethics and Postmodernity

By Patrick L. Bourgeois

Subjects: Continental Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791448229, 320 pages, November 2000
Hardcover : 9780791448212, 320 pages, December 2000

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Table of contents



PART I. Philosophy at the Boundary of Reason

1. Ethics as the Limit of Reason

2. Death, End, and Limit of Philosophy

3. Limit, Critique, and Reason

4. Limit and Ground in Practical Reason

PART II. Imagination at the Boundary of Reason

5. Imagination at the Boundary

6. Imagination: Postmodern Deconstruction and Ricoeur

7. Sign, Time, and Trace: Semiotics and the Deconstruction of Presence

PART III. Ethics and Postmodernity

8. Ricoeur and Levinas

9. Ethics and Postmodernity

10. The Ethics of Good, and the Morality of Obligation

11. Judging in Concrete Situations: The Equitable



Using Ricoeur's ethicomoral position, advances an alternative, more viable ethics than that of deconstruction.


In Philosophy at the Boundary of Reason, Patrick Bourgeois clarifies that, although deconstruction has much to offer contemporary thinking, it has gone to some philosophical extremes. Taking a cue from this thinking, Bourgeois develops an alternative direction of thought, turning to the position of Paul Ricoeur.

Ricoeur, in the context of recent postmodern deconstruction, has taken into account its positive aspects, but has provided a viable alternative. Ricoeur is one of the best voices within this context today, but accepts an entirely different view of the basic interpretations of meaning, expressing, language, and the living present. In his own critical move beyond Husserlian phenomenology and Heideggerian hermeneutics, and in his efforts to complete the philosophy of Kant on essential points, he has not lost their gains, but, rather, has transformed them within a more appropriate ethicomoral philosophy. This investigation puts Ricoeur in his rightful place in the center of contemporary philosophical thinking.

Patrick L. Bourgeois is the William and Audrey Hutchinson Distinguished Professor at Loyola University. He is the author of several books, including Traces of Understanding: A Profile of Heidegger's and Ricoeur's Hermeneutics (coauthored with Frank Schalow) and, most recently, Mead and Merleau-Ponty: Toward a Common Vision (coauthored with Sandra B. Rosenthal), published by SUNY Press.


"For the first time Ricoeur's ethics is developed as it relates to the problematic modern/postmodern context and is presented as an alternative to the current skeptical challenges in postmodern ethics floating around on the likes of Caputo, Derrida, and Levinas. A brilliant critique of Derrida is included. " — James L. Marsh, author of Critique, Action, and Liberation and Process, Praxis, and Transcendence

"Bourgeois is one of the most insightful interpreters of Ricoeur in America today. Few possess an understanding and appreciation of Ricoeur's entire corpus the way he does. His reading of Ricoeur as a philosopher of limit is original, as is his attempt to show that there are resources within Ricoeur's thought to answer not only the Levinasian critique of ontology and ethics, but also the deconstructive critique of philosophy. No one has contrasted the thought of Ricoeur and postmodern philosophy as rigorously as Bourgeois has done in this work. " — David M. Kaplan, Polytechnic University