A hermeneutical sketch of memory and the immemorial

Jon Nielsen

pp. 401-416

In one of his more recent works, Paul Ricoeur attempts to re-instate the philosophical discussion of memory at the very center of a more general discourse on human existence. In his exposition, Ricoeur relies upon what he himself characterizes as a phenomenology of memory. It is the aim of the present article to supplement the phenomenological account of memory discussed by Ricoeur with a hermeneutics of memory conscious of its own limitations. Such a hermeneutical supplement would not only be of complementary value but also provoke a rethinking of the relation between key concepts in the western discourse on memory, such as image, imprint, and trace. In this regard, the proposed hermeneutical reconfiguration of memory exceeds its own limitations and overflows into an investigation of the primordial passive and past ground, which motivates and allows the hermeneutical activity in the first place. Following the analyses of Emmanuel Lévinas, I will argue that this immemorial past must be conceived in terms of a responsibility that cannot be fulfilled.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s11007-011-9198-1

Full citation:

Nielsen, J. (2011). A hermeneutical sketch of memory and the immemorial. Continental Philosophy Review 44 (4), pp. 401-416.

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