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Collective Memory and the Historical Past$
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Jeffrey Andrew Barash

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226399157

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226399294.001.0001

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Critical Reflections: The Contemporary Theories of Ricoeur, Edelman, and Nora

Critical Reflections: The Contemporary Theories of Ricoeur, Edelman, and Nora

Chapter:
(p.60) (p.71) Excursus Critical Reflections: The Contemporary Theories of Ricoeur, Edelman, and Nora
Source:
Collective Memory and the Historical Past
Author(s):

Jeffrey Andrew Barash

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226399294.003.0005

As a means of clarifying the conception of collective memory that has been elaborated in the previous four chapters, this excursus subjects to critical scrutiny a number of contemporary theories which, from very different perspectives, have played a significant role in defining contemporary concepts of collective memory. Three theoretical orientations, above all, have served as matrices for the study of collective memory in the contemporary human, natural, and cultural sciences, encompassing hermeneutics, the neuro-cognitive, and socio-historical disciplines. In this excursus, critical analysis of the conception of collective memory in the hermeneutic philosophy of Paul Ricœur is followed by a critical appraisal of applications by Gerald Edelman of neuro-biological and evolutionary theory to the domain of collective experience and collective memory and by an analysis of the concept of collective memory in the historical writings of Pierre Nora. If each of these methodologies presents an approach to collective memory which is difficult to reconcile with the others, critical engagement with them is necessary to elaborate the distinction of the specific realm of collective memory if it is not to be confused with that of psychology, natural evolution, history or tradition.

Keywords:   Paul Ricœur, Pierre Nora, Gerard Edelman, natural evolution, Donald Davidson, memory abuse, cognitive memory, Christiane Taubira, tradition, Wilfred Quine

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