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 into account the previous are condemned to copy it.” this present day, the consensus that it truly is ethical to recollect, immoral to disregard, is almost absolute. And but is that this right?

David Rieff, an self sustaining author who has pronounced on bloody conflicts in Africa, the Balkans, and significant Asia, insists that issues usually are not so basic. He poses difficult questions about no matter if remembrance ever really has, or certainly ever may, “inoculate” the current opposed to repeating the crimes of the previous. He argues that rubbing uncooked old wounds—whether self-inflicted or imposed via outdoors forces—neither treatments injustice nor confers reconciliation. If he's correct, then old reminiscence isn't an ethical vital yet really an ethical option—sometimes known as for, occasionally now not. Collective remembrance should be poisonous. occasionally, Rieff concludes, it can be extra ethical to forget.
Ranging largely throughout a few of the defining conflicts of recent times—the Irish issues and the Easter rebellion of 1916, the white payment of Australia, the yank Civil conflict, the Balkan wars, the Holocaust, and 9/11—Rieff offers a pellucid exam of the makes use of and abuses of old reminiscence. His contentious, significant, and stylish essay is an integral paintings of ethical philosophy.

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