Hermeneutics of Contemplative Silence
Paul Ricoeur, Edith Stein, and the Heart of Meaning
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A Hermeneutics of Contemplative Silence: Paul Ricoeur, Edith Stein, and the Heart of Meaning brings together the work of Paul Ricoeur and Edith Stein and locates the role of silence in the creation of meaning. Michele Kueter Petersen argues that human being is language and silence. Contemplative silence manifests a mode of capable human being whereby a shared world of meaning is constituted and created. The analysis culminates with the claim that a hermeneutics of contemplative silence manifests a deeper level of awareness as a poetics of presencing a shared humanity. The term “awareness” refers to five crucial levels of meaning-creating consciousness that are ingredients in the practice of contemplative silence. Contemplative awareness includes both the experience and the understanding of the proper ordering of relational realities. The practice of contemplative silence is a spiritual and ethical activity that aims at transforming reflexive consciousness. Inasmuch as it leads to openness to new motivation and intention for acting in relation to others, contemplative awareness elicits movement through the ongoing exercise of rethinking those relational realities in and for the world. The texts of Ricoeur and Stein reveal a contemplative discourse of praise and beauty for capable human beings whose actions and suffering respond to word and silence.