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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 May, 2005, 03:51 GMT 04:51 UK
French thinker Paul Ricoeur dies
Paul Ricoeur
Ricoeur spent much of the war in a German camp
French philosopher and teacher Paul Ricoeur, whose interests ranged from phenomenology to biblical exegesis, has died, aged 92.

As well as teaching at the Sorbonne in Paris, he spent 15 years at the University of Chicago.

"We lose today more than a philosopher," said French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin.

"The entire European humanist tradition is mourning one of its most talented spokesmen."

President Jacques Chirac also hailed a man who, he said "never stopped proclaiming with determination the need for dialogue and the respect of others".

Anti-war stand

Ricoeur was born in 1913 in the southeastern town of Valence to a Protestant family, making him a member of a religious minority in mainly Roman Catholic France.

After studying at the University of Rennes, he began a career as a schoolteacher, but spent most of the World War II in a German prison camp after the occupation of France.

He later had a long record of opposition to wars from the French campaign in Algeria in the 1950s to the Bosnian war in the 1990s.

In a prestigious university career after the war, he taught at the Sorbonne, Chicago, Yale, Columbia, as well as Geneva, Montreal and Belgium's Louvain University.

He wrote more than 20 books, including "The Rule of Metaphor", "Time and Narrative" and "Freedom and Nature".

'Action that suits'

He became well-known for his work in the field of phenomenology, studying how a person's reality is shaped by their perception of events in the world.

"If I had to lay out my vision of the world ... I would say: given the place where I was born, the culture I received, what I read, what I learned (and) what I thought about, there exists for me a result that constitutes, here and now, the best thing to do," he told French newspaper Le Monde in January 2004.

"I call it the action that suits."

His son Marc said that Ricoeur died of natural causes in his sleep at his home in Chatenay-Malabry, west of Paris.

He had been ill for some months.

He left strict instructions that only friends and family should attend his funeral.


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