Suspecting Suspicion

What Ricoeur called “les hermeneutiques du soupçon” cannot of course be dismissed simply of an assortment of extreme, radical theoretical positions, unfounded speculations, ideological (in the non-Marxist or partly non-Marxist sense) strategies, or as some kind of conspiracy theory. In revealing hidden motivations, forces, and interests of various kinds behind the surface of articulated ideas, philosophies, figures of thought, they have sometimes added considerably to our historical understanding. This is one of the reasons why I am against the tendency of some historians to simply reject theory.

What has always been obvious to many scholars, however, is the extent to which the advocates and practitioners of the hermeneutics of suspicion are themselves unaware of or deliberately hide the motivations, forces and interests behind the hermeneutics of suspicion. The hermeneutics of suspicion as they were understood by Ricoeur – the Marxist, the Nietzschean, the Freudian – need to be applied to Marxism, Nietzscheanism and Freudianism themselves. But beyond that, what is also needed is further versions of such hermeneutics; other theoretical – or philosophical – as well as historical perspectives and dimensions must be applied in order for us to be able to understand their hidden dimensions.

The motives, forces, and interests behind the demasking of motives, forces and interests as it has long been practiced in academia, with much support of the media, need to be demasked. It is, as it were, absurdly, grotesquely evident to many who are not Marxists, Nietzscheans and Freudians that there are such motives, forces and interests at work also in Marx, Nietzsche and Freud, as well as in the countless variations, combinations, and further developments of their work. And that, unbelievable as it may seem after over a century, it is still a vital scholarly interest to unveil them, or rather, to make their unveiling better known.

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