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Memory, History, Forgetting Paperback – August 16, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0226713427 ISBN-10: 0226713423 Edition: New edition
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Editorial Reviews


"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 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.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; New edition edition (August 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226713423
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226713427
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,662 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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127 of 129 people found the following review helpful By Rev. Cherrycoke on 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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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By barryb on March 15, 2014
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This singular book is actually an inclusive three-volume set of Ricoeur's entire phenomenology. I will review the volumes in order:

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.
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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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