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Memory, History, Forgetting [Hardcover]

Paul Ricoeur , Kathleen Blamey , David Pellauer
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 16, 2004 0226713415 978-0226713410 0
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



Editorial Reviews

Review

 
"This Ricoeur masterpiece is really three independent, closely related books: a phenomenology of memory, an epistemology of the historical sciences, and a hermeneutics of forgetting."

(Choice)

"There is always something more to be discovered in a text by Paul Ricoeur."

(Journal of Literature and Theology)

"Ricoeur writes the best kind of philosophy—critical, economical, and clear."
(New York Times Book Review)

"Ricoeur labors as an incomparable mediator of often estranged philosophical approaches, always in a manner that compromises neither rigor nor creativity."

(Christian Century)

"Ricoeur unpacks and explores the theoretical junctions and disjunctions through which both philosophers and the public have moved as they contemplate and re-experience major ethical events that shape the individual's self-perception and form the evolving identity of culture. Ricoeur's style here is both leisurely and comprehensive, opening up each new avenue of theory by explaining which philosophic tenets and texts inform his narrative. 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. The epilog turns to the subject of forgiveness, that "horizon common to memory, history and forgetting," and thus out from the self to the world again. Originally published in France in 2000, this work has won various literary and scholarly prizes. It is indeed a master work, not only in Ricoeur's own vita but also in contemporary European philosophy."
(Francisca Goldsmith Library Journal 2004-11-01)

"Paul Ricoeur's book Memory, History, Forgetting, is without a doubt a vital contribution albeit one that fits into a particular mould, namely that of a heavyweight Gallic intellectual in the time honoured tradition of Jean-Paul Sartre, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida. . . . This is one of the most thought-provoking books I have read for some time. . . . From the outset Ricoeur displays a breathtaking array of learning with careful and close readings of Saint Augustine, Aristotle, Plato, Descartes, and Kant. . . . [This book] ranks as a momentous achievement which deserves a wide audience in the English speaking world."

(Martin Evans History Today 2005-05-01)

"Memory, History, Forgetting is an exceedingly serious study: serious in the . . . sense of being thoughtful, thorough, with a good sense of what is important.”--Times Literary Supplement
 
 

 
(Avishai Margalit Times Literary Supplement 2005-09-30)

Memory, History, Forgetting is not an easygoing work, and many will doubt its direct relevance to the working practices of historians and social sciences, viewing it rather as an esoteric discussion for philosophers. This would be to neglect an important piece of reflective thinking on the nature of historiographical problems.”

(Paul Jackson Totalitarian Movements and Politcal Religions)

"Moving. . . . it provides strong ethical advice for today as official commemoration brings the memory of some European genocides to the fore while maintaining a persistent silence on others. Ricoeur's closing words on the link between amnesty and amnesia are the legacy we can take from this book. The boundary between the two can be preserved, he writes, through the work of memory, complemented by the work of mourning, invoking a type of forgetting understood not as silence but as a statement in a pacified mood, without anger -- an enunciation to be understood not as a commandment, but as a wish."
(Luisa Passerini The Times Higher Education Supplmenet 2005-10-21)

From the Inside Flap

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.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (August 16, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226713415
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226713410
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,974,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
124 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on history so far this century July 17, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This, the last book written by the great French philosopher Paul Ricoeur, is an amazing achievement. Readers be warned: this is no easy romp through historiography or memory studies. It is a deeply philosophical meditation on the meaning of history and historicism as an act of remembering, an act of inscribing time, a way of participating in Being, and a way of negotiating competing claims for justice and acts of witnessing. Typical of Ricoeur's argumentation, the book sets out competing definitions (representation vs. recollection, explanation vs. understanding, phantasm and eikon, mneme vs. anamnesis, habit vs. memory, evocation vs. search, retention or primary memory vs. reproduction or secondary memory, reflexivity vs. worldliness, etc.). It does not resolve these oppositions, but painstakingly shows the aporias centralized in the opposition of terms and posits a tentative ethical response. Ricoeur is too smart to posit easy solutions to some of the most profound questions of human existence--mainly, what is history and how can it provide any foundations for knowledge and ethical action in the world? The erudition of this text is massive; Ricoeur references hundreds of theorists and philosophers from Plato to Foucault, from ontology to cognitive science. Predictably for those of us who have grown to respect the humanity of Ricoeur's position, the writing is never arrogant, never one-sided, always on the side of humane negotiation, life, human flourishing. In contrast to politicized polemics of academic historicist theory, this book recognizes, articulates, and teaches one about the almost overwhelming complexity of history as an idea, as a form of memory, and as evidence for witnessing and justice. Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars RICOEUR'S SYSTEMATIC PHENOMENOLOGY: IN 3 VOLUMES: March 15, 2014
By barryb
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
RICOEUR'S SYSTEMATIC PHENOMENOLOGY: IN 3 VOLUMES:
This singular book is actually an inclusive three-volume set of Ricoeur's entire phenomenology. I will review the volumes in order:

VOLUME ONE: MEMORY:
In this volume Ricoeur takes the reader through a second journey through his phenomenology, after its first presentation in the 1976 volume by TCU PRESS on "interpretation theory". Therefore we are dealing with the "remembered" on this second journey. And that is why volume three addresses "forgetting".
Beginning in the unconscious, Ricoeur tells us that we are initially engaged in "PATHEMA", OR ENDURING THE SENSATE LIFE AND ITS PRESENTATIONS. Our goal is to eventually form a tupos-model of ideation that can be imprinted within the self and actualized through praxis-based positing. We get a little assistance from counter-blow (Hegel's term) of returning influence from previous phenomenological and semantic experience. Ricoeur calls this the body-state "iconicity". The "EIKON" is rarely let loose of by Ricoeur; and as a body-state, that is experientially the case.
We next move on to "GRAPHE", which is the inscribing of the self with the "pathe-enduring" as a "thought-picture", as a "PHANTASMA" founded on the influence of "EIKON". But it represents a singular kinetic-event.

Up we go to the communal influence next, to the "dokounta-threshold", where the encounter of a succession of kinetic-events is considered. There is the "arising" of a deeper encoded descriptive-model as a result.

Entering into the realm of "volition" and true-subjectivity; we first reach the actual "imprinting of the "TUPOS", as "virtual-ideal-notion". In other words, signs have been named.
Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Deep and interesting July 21, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Love the manner in which he is so complex, yet understandable. He brings many disciplines to bear for all that read this book to reflect in meaningful ways.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice book! April 26, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Fast shipment and nice book! This is a classic by a renown French scholar. It's theoretically dense but for those who are interested in issues related to memory and history in academia, it's a must read.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A master of thought September 20, 2012
Format:Paperback
Ricoeur was not only a great thinker, but a master that taught generations how to think. He touched so many fields: history, sociology, philosophy, humanities at large. This is one of his finest books.
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