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The Ethics of Memory
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The Ethics of Memory

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  87 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
Much of the intense current interest in collective memory concerns the politics of memory. In a book that asks, "Is there an ethics of memory?" Avishai Margalit addresses a separate, perhaps more pressing, set of concerns.

The idea he pursues is that the past, connecting people to each other, makes possible the kinds of "thick" relations we can call truly ethical. Thick rel
Paperback, 240 pages
Published March 15th 2004 by Harvard University Press (first published 2000)
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Catherine Roehl
Feb 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The book's main idea is that human beings have an ethical obligation to remember past persons and events. Margalit maintains that the source of this obligation to remember comes from the effort of radical evil forces to undermine morality by rewriting the past and controlling collective memory. Margalit argues that it is necessary for community to have collective memories in order to achieve a level of repentance and reconciliation. The text suggest that this ethical communal memory can not be u ...more
Bryan Kibbe
Aug 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recently I visited Powell's bookstore in Portland, Oregon. Like the Merchant Mart in Chicago, Powell's Bookstore occupies an entire city block. Succinctly put, Powell's is a book lovers paradise. Part of what make it so interesting and wonderful is the endless opportunities for serendipitous discoveries of new books. The Ethics of Memory was one such serendipitous discovery as I trawled through the expansive philosophy section. I am glad I found this little book as it has added clarity to both m ...more
Katie Stafford
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book very much. If you are looking for a modern book of moral philosophy that is relevant, clear, engaging and well written this book is for you. Margalit differentiates morality from ethics by connecting ethics with "thick relations" and morality with "thin relations." I especially appreciated Margalit's analysis of judeo-christian and biblical memory and their connection to humanism. Ultimately, the book leads to the importance of human forgiveness as covering up rather than blo ...more
Tim and Popie Stafford
I like his writing.... but it is philosophy, which means for me there are all sorts of fascinating points made that I can't remember or apply at the end. He's respectful of religion, and uses many religious (scriptural) examples, but it's an attempt at a purely humanistic ethics. I'm not sure how successful that is.
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: philosophy
As stated in the preface, this small book is a collection of lectures (a format I always have problem with) with an approach stressed on examples and light on principles (a bit like Zizek, not really my favorite). A reader more in tune with this style may give it a higher rating.

I would recommend chapter 1 (on remembering a name and the role of memory in caring), chapter 2 (on collective memory and the social obligation to remember) and chapter 6 (on the relationship between forgetting and forg
Casey Smith
Jul 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Great book!
May 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
very thought-provoking short book.
Jan 13, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
I enjoyed it. Well written, and something new to think about.
Meryll Levine Page
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is rich and thoughtful but needs to be read in small bursts of concentration.
Dave Peticolas
May 10, 2014 rated it liked it

A philosopher explores our obligation to remember the past.

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“The horror of falling into utter oblivion is not necessarily the fear of what will happen to us after death but of what it says about our relationships now. It is the fear of not amounting to much in our present relations with others.” 0 likes
“Communities must make decisions and establish institutions that foster forgetting as much as remembering. Shredding the personal files of old Stasi (the former Fast Germany secret services) is an example of a communal decision to forget.” 0 likes
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