Paul Ricœur: Symbols of Good and Evil in History, the Bible and in our Time.


  • Marieke Maes Fontys University of Theology and Religious Studies, Utrecht, The Netherlands



In his The Symbolism of Evil Ricœur explores the dynamics of human consciousness of evil in different cultures and times. Consciousness of evil is examined by looking at the different prevailing symbols wherein human beings confess their experience with evil. Although appeared in 1960, this study is still cited in recent publications in psychology, cultural anthropology and religion. In this article I describe the context of The Symbolism of Evil as the last part of Ricœur’s study of the will and give a summary of its relevant content.


Anderson, Gary A. 2009. Sin: A history. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

Kant, Immanuel. 1793. Die Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der bloßen Vernunft. Königsberg: F. Nicolovius.

Kierkegaard, Søren. 2015. The Concept of Anxiety. New York, NY: Norton & Co.

Pattison, Stephen. 2000. Shame: Theory, Therapy, Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.

Ricœur, Paul. 1950. Philosophie de la volonté. Paris: Aubier Montaigne.

—. 1960. La symbolique du mal. Paris: Aubier Montagne.

—. 1967. The Symbolism of Evil. New York, NY: Harper & Row.

Spinoza. 2002. Ethica. Amsterdam: Bert Bakker.



How to Cite

Maes, Marieke. 2020. “ the Bible and in Our Time”. European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 12 (4):161-74.



How Discernment between Good and Evil shapes the Dynamics of the Human Journey