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In praise of forgetting: historical memory and its ironies

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Yale University Press
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English
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A leading contrarian thinker explores the ethical paradox at the heart of history's wounds
The conventional wisdom about historical memory is summed up in George Santayana's celebrated phrase, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Today, the consensus that it is moral to remember, immoral to forget, is nearly absolute. And yet is this right?
David Rieff, an independent writer who has reported on bloody conflicts in Africa, the Balkans, and Central Asia, insists that things are not so simple. He poses hard questions about whether remembrance ever truly has, or indeed ever could, "inoculate" the present against repeating the crimes of the past. He argues that rubbing raw historical wounds—whether self-inflicted or imposed by outside forces—neither remedies injustice nor confers reconciliation. If he is right, then historical memory is not a moral imperative but rather a moral option—sometimes called for, sometimes not. Collective remembrance can be toxic. Sometimes, Rieff concludes, it may be more moral to forget.

Ranging widely across some of the defining conflicts of modern times—the Irish Troubles and the Easter Uprising of 1916, the white settlement of Australia, the American Civil War, the Balkan wars, the Holocaust, and 9/11—Rieff presents a pellucid examination of the uses and abuses of historical memory. His contentious, brilliant, and elegant essay is an indispensable work of moral philosophy.

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9780300182798
9780300186666
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Grouping Information

Grouped Work ID6e51ee8e-6aa0-3bc9-9d0a-028df36eea93
Grouping Titlein praise of forgetting historical memory and its ironies
Grouping Authordavid rieff
Grouping Categorybook
Grouping LanguageEnglish (eng)
Last Grouping Update2024-02-26 02:34:39AM
Last Indexed2024-02-26 03:04:59AM

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Pocket-Greenhaven
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display_description

A leading contrarian thinker explores the ethical paradox at the heart of history's wounds
The conventional wisdom about historical memory is summed up in George Santayana's celebrated phrase, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Today, the consensus that it is moral to remember, immoral to forget, is nearly absolute. And yet is this right?
David Rieff, an independent writer who has reported on bloody conflicts in Africa, the Balkans, and Central Asia, insists that things are not so simple. He poses hard questions about whether remembrance ever truly has, or indeed ever could, "inoculate" the present against repeating the crimes of the past. He argues that rubbing raw historical wounds—whether self-inflicted or imposed by outside forces—neither remedies injustice nor confers reconciliation. If he is right, then historical memory is not a moral imperative but rather a moral option—sometimes called for, sometimes not. Collective remembrance can be toxic. Sometimes, Rieff concludes, it may be more moral to forget.

Ranging widely across some of the defining conflicts of modern times—the Irish Troubles and the Easter Uprising of 1916, the white settlement of Australia, the American Civil War, the Balkan wars, the Holocaust, and 9/11—Rieff presents a pellucid examination of the uses and abuses of historical memory. His contentious, brilliant, and elegant essay is an indispensable work of moral philosophy.

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Book
eBook
format_category_catalog
Books
eBook
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6e51ee8e-6aa0-3bc9-9d0a-028df36eea93
isbn
9780300182798
9780300186666
itype_catalog
Adult Book Non-Fiction
last_indexed
2024-02-26T11:04:59.016Z
lexile_score
-1
literary_form
Non Fiction
literary_form_full
Essays
Non Fiction
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153.12 R553 2016
owning_library_catalog
Sacramento Public Library
owning_location_catalog
Arden-Dimick
Pocket-Greenhaven
primary_isbn
9780300182798
publishDate
2016
publisher
Yale University Press
recordtype
grouped_work
subject_facet
Collective memory -- Philosophy
Ethics
History -- Philosophy
title_display
In praise of forgetting : historical memory and its ironies
title_full
In Praise of Forgetting Historical Memory and Its Ironies
In praise of forgetting : historical memory and its ironies / David Rieff
title_short
In praise of forgetting
title_sub
historical memory and its ironies
topic_facet
Collective memory
Essays
Ethics
History
Nonfiction
Philosophy
Sociology

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