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From 'suspicion' to 'affirmation' : a study of the role of the imagination and prose rhythm, drawing upon the hermeneutical philosophy of Paul Ricoeur, in which there may be movement from suspicion to affirmation of reasonable hope

By Raymond T. Shorthouse


The aim of this thesis is to show that a familiar hermeneutical movement from suspicion to\ud affirmation of rational meaning, as a reader reflects on a narrative, is, in part, grounded in the\ud narrative's rhythmic structure which mediates a sonorous condition of being appropriated by the\ud reader.\ud This hermeneutical process involves the reader in appropriating the temporal perspective (or the\ud 'implied author's' or Other's viewpoint) which creates a 'space' for reflection in which a\ud provisional conceptual unity is made possible, but subject to continuing movement from\ud suspicion to affirmation. It is shown that this relationship between Self and Other is dialectical,\ud and mediated by the textual modes of metaphor and narrative. Particular examples of poetry and\ud prose are examined, and the story of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac in the 'Authorised Version' of\ud the Bible is analyzed in detail in an attempt to show how the reader, imaginatively inhabiting the\ud world of the text, is involved in a process in which there is an 'instant' of letting go Self\ud reflection; and there is affirmation of reasonable hope that the narrative may be rationally\ud understood. In an attempt to address the critical issue of validation of rational meaning to show\ud that affirmation may be given reasonable hope, the analogy of juridical legality is examined,\ud particularly with respect to Aristotle's notion of phronesis.\ud The analysis draws upon the hermeneutical philosophy of Paul Ricoeur with particular regard to\ud his theories of metaphor and narrative, and the role of the creative imagination. It also makes use\ud of Maurice Merleau-Ponty's understanding of the lived body in terms of a dialectical relationship\ud between its material objectivity and its phenomenological aspects, especially, with respect to\ud sonorous being and corporeal intentionality. From the discipline of literary criticism, Northrop\ud Frye's notion of prose rhythm in his Anatomy of Criticism is employed to identity this key\ud mediatory characteristic

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