Narrative and ethics in the literary hermeneutics of Paul Ricoeur – an exploration within the context of professional health care education.
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In the recent interest expressed in exploring the intricacies between narrative and ethics (Charon 1994; Frank 1995; Downie and Macnaughton 2007), few people have addressed the philosophical issues underpinning this relationship with such depth and originality as the French literary philosopher Paul Ricoeur (1913-2005). In works such as Time and Narrative (1984-1988), From Text to Action (1991a) and One Self as Another (1992), Ricoeur explores these issues via an understanding of the person in terms of self-identity as revealed primarily through acting with others and, secondarily, through the construction of narrative. In this chapter, I seek to address five distinct aims: 1. to present Ricoeur’s broad understanding of narrative as outlined in his threefold mimesis model 2. to explore Ricoeur’s understanding of self and the “ethical aim” 3. to explore the relationship between the self and narrative identity as found in One Self as Another (1992) 4. to consider dimensions of reading as a distinct action 5. to consider the application of examples of Ricoeur’s work within the context of professional health care education where literary narratives may “confess,” as well as “confound,” perceptions and understanding of an ethic of the “good life.”