In Praise of Forgetting: Historical Memory and Its Ironies by David Rieff

By David Rieff

The traditional knowledge approximately historic reminiscence is summed up in George Santayana’s celebrated word, “Those who can't take note the previous are condemned to copy it.” this present day, the consensus that it truly is ethical to recollect, immoral to disregard, is sort of absolute. And but is that this right?

David Rieff, an self reliant author who has mentioned on bloody conflicts in Africa, the Balkans, and relevant Asia, insists that issues usually are not so easy. He poses not easy questions about no matter if remembrance ever actually has, or certainly ever may well, “inoculate” the current opposed to repeating the crimes of the previous. He argues that rubbing uncooked historic wounds—whether self-inflicted or imposed via outdoors forces—neither treatments injustice nor confers reconciliation. If he's correct, then old reminiscence isn't really an ethical significant yet really an ethical option—sometimes referred to as for, occasionally now not. Collective remembrance could be poisonous. occasionally, Rieff concludes, it can be extra ethical to forget.
Ranging broadly throughout a few of the defining conflicts of contemporary times—the Irish problems and the Easter rebellion of 1916, the white cost of Australia, the yankee Civil battle, the Balkan wars, the Holocaust, and 9/11—Rieff provides a pellucid exam of the makes use of and abuses of old reminiscence. His contentious, very good, and chic essay is an critical paintings of ethical philosophy.

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