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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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The Province of Collective Memory and Its Theoretical Promise

The Province of Collective Memory and Its Theoretical Promise

(p.211) Conclusion The Province of Collective Memory and Its Theoretical Promise
Collective Memory and the Historical Past

Jeffrey Andrew Barash

University of Chicago Press

The different chapters of this book traverse an extensive territory encompassing a number of areas of investigation. Each of them aims to contribute to the elaboration of a philosophical basis for the concept of collective memory and to delimit the scope of this concept in relation to the historical past. The concluding section of this work presents an overview of the concept of collective memory in view of the broader aim that a theory of collective memory entails. This theory depends on the fundamental distinction elaborated between the temporal horizons of collective memory and the historical past. Where skepticism in the reality of this distinction is entertained and the hope of finding meaning in a real past is abandoned, this concluding section argues that the only remaining criterion is that of the timely standard of the present. Where the past in its essential alterity no longer provides a backdrop for critical evaluation of the present and current attitudes provide the sole measure for reality, it is above all the present that risks growing opaque to itself.

Keywords:   historical time, alterity of the past, collective memory, historical judgment, historical sense

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