Memory, History, Forgetting

Paperback | August 15, 2006

byPaul Ricoeur

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Why do major historical events such as the Holocaust occupy the forefront of the collective consciousness, while profound moments such as the Armenian genocide, the McCarthy era, and France's role in North Africa stand distantly behind? Is it possible that history "overly remembers" some events at the expense of others? A landmark work in philosophy, Paul Ricoeur's Memory, History, Forgetting examines this reciprocal relationship between remembering and forgetting, showing how it affects both the perception of historical experience and the production of historical narrative.

Memory, History, Forgetting, like its title, is divided into three major sections. Ricoeur first takes a phenomenological approach to memory and mnemonical devices. The underlying question here is how a memory of present can be of something absent, the past. The second section addresses recent work by historians by reopening the question of the nature and truth of historical knowledge. Ricoeur explores whether historians, who can write a history of memory, can truly break with all dependence on memory, including memories that resist representation. The third and final section is a profound meditation on the necessity of forgetting as a condition for the possibility of remembering, and whether there can be something like happy forgetting in parallel to happy memory. Throughout the book there are careful and close readings of the texts of Aristotle and Plato, of Descartes and Kant, and of Halbwachs and Pierre Nora.

A momentous achievement in the career of one of the most significant philosophers of our age, Memory, History, Forgetting provides the crucial link between Ricoeur's Time and Narrative and Oneself as Another and his recent reflections on ethics and the problems of responsibility and representation.

“His success in revealing the internal relations between recalling and forgetting, and how this dynamic becomes problematic in light of events once present but now past, will inspire academic dialogue and response but also holds great appeal to educated general readers in search of both method for and insight from considering the ethical ramifications of modern events. . . . It is indeed a master work, not only in Ricoeur’s own vita but also in contemporary European philosophy.”—Library Journal 

“Ricoeur writes the best kind of philosophy—critical, economical, and clear.”— New York Times Book Review

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Why do major historical events such as the Holocaust occupy the forefront of the collective consciousness, while profound moments such as the Armenian genocide, the McCarthy era, and France's role in North Africa stand distantly behind? Is it possible that history "overly remembers" some events at the expense of others? A landmark work...

From the Jacket

Why do major historical events such as the Holocaust occupy the forefront of the collective consciousness, while profound moments such as the Armenian genocide, the McCarthy era, and France's role in North Africa stand distantly behind? Is it possible that history "overly remembers" some events at the expense of others? A landmark work...

Paul Ricoeur (1913–2005) was the John Nuveen Professor in the Divinity School, the Department of Philosophy, and the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. His books include Oneself as Another, the three-volume Time and Narrative, and The Just, all published by the University of Chicago Press. Kathleen Blamey teaches...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:624 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.6 inPublished:August 15, 2006Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226713423

ISBN - 13:9780226713427

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Table of Contents

Preface
Part I - On Memory and Recollection
Chapter 1. Memory and Imagination
Reading Guidelines
The Greek Heritage
Plato: The Present Representation of an Absent Thing
Aristotle: "Memory Is of the Past"
A Phenomenological Sketch of Memory
Memories and Images
Chapter 2. The Exercise of Memory: Uses and Abuses
Reading Guidelines
The Abuses of Artificial Memory: The Feats of Memorization
The Abuses of Natural Memory: Blocked Memory, Manipulated Memory, Abusively Controlled Memory
The Pathological-Therapeutic Level: Blocked Memory
The Practical Level: Manipulated Memory
The Ethico-Political Level: Obligated Memory
Chapter 3. Personal Memory, Collective Memory
Reading Guidelines
The Tradition of Inwardness
Augustine
Locke
Husserl
The External Gaze: Maurice Halbwachs
Three Subjects of the Attribution of Memories: Ego, Collectives, Close Relations
Part II - History, Epistemology
Prelude History: Remedy or Poison?
Chapter 1. The Documentary Phase: Archived Memory
Reading Guidelines
Inhabited Space
Historical Time
Testimony
The Archive
Documentary Proof
Chapter 2. Explanation/Understanding
Reading Guidelines
Promoting the History of Mentalities
Some Advocates of Rigor: Michel Foucault, Michel de Certeau, Norbert Elias
Variations in Scale
From the Idea of Mentality to That of Representation
The Scale of Efficacy or of Coerciveness
The Scale of Degrees of Legitimation
The Scale of Nonquantitative Aspects of Social Times
The Dialectic of Representation
Chapter 3. The Historian's Representation
Reading Guidelines
Representation and Narration
Representation and Rhetoric
The Historian's Representation and the Prestige of the Image
Standing For
Part III - The Historical Condition
Prelude: The Burden of History and the Nonhistorical
Chapter 1. The Critical Philosophy of History
Reading Guidelines
"Die Geschichte Selber," "History Itself"
"Our" Modernity
The Historian and the Judge
Interpretation in History
Chapter 2. History and Time
Reading Guidelines
Temporality
Being-toward-Death
Death in History
Historicity
The Trajectory of the Term Geschichtlichkeit
Historicity and Historiography
Within-Timeness: Being-"in"-Time
Along the Path of the Inauthentic
Within-Timeness and the Dialectic of Memory and History
Memory, Just a Province of History?
Memory, in Charge of History?
The Uncanniness of History
Maurice Halbwachs: Memory Fractured by History
Yerushalmi: "Historiography and Its Discontents"
Pierre Nora: Strange Places of Memory
Chapter 3. Forgetting
Reading Guidelines
Forgetting and the Effacing of Traces
Forgetting and the Persistence of Traces
The Forgetting of Recollection: Uses and Abuses
Forgetting and Blocked Memory
Forgetting and Manipulated Memory
Commanded Forgetting: Amnesty
Epilogue: Difficult Forgiveness
The Forgiveness Equation
Depth: The Fault
Height: Forgiveness
The Odyssey of the Spirit of Forgiveness: The Passage through Institutions
Criminal Guilt and the Imprescriptible
Political Guilt
Moral Guilt
The Odyssey of the Spirit of Forgiveness: The Stage of Exchange
The Economy of the Gift
Gift and Forgiveness
The Return to the Self
Forgiving and Promising
Unbinding the Agent from the Act
Looking Back over an Itinerary: Recapitulation
Happy Memory
Unhappy History?
Forgiveness and Forgetting
Notes
Works Cited
Index