Read The Ethics of Memory by Avishai Margalit Online


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 relMuch 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 relations, he argues, are those that we have with family and friends, lovers and neighbors, our tribe and our nation--and they are all dependent on shared memories. But we also have "thin" relations with total strangers, people with whom we have nothing in common except our common humanity. A central idea of the ethics of memory is that when radical evil attacks our shared humanity, we ought as human beings to remember the victims.Margalit's work offers a philosophy for our time, when, in the wake of overwhelming atrocities, memory can seem more crippling than liberating, a force more for revenge than for reconciliation. Morally powerful, deeply learned, and elegantly written, The Ethics of Memory draws on the resources of millennia of Western philosophy and religion to provide us with healing ideas that will engage all of us who care about the nature of our relations to others....

Title : The Ethics of Memory
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780674013780
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 240 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Ethics of Memory Reviews

  • Catherine Roehl
    2019-02-15 13:17

    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 universalized because it is contingent on the notion of caring. Caring, as Margalit exemplifies, is too susceptible to “collective egoism” (meaning a group may care about those within their specific group, but not outsiders). In forming a universal moral (as opposed to ethical) community, humanity, at large, becomes capable of remembering moral atrocities (such as the radical evils and crimes committed by the Nazis). The text explicates the important difference between ethics and morality: ethics are concerned with caring and loyalty towards those we are closest to (an optional good); where as morality is concerned with respect toward the whole of humanity (a required good). Some topics that I found of particular value were: shared memory, collective memory and myth, how democracy relies on memory (for ex. the constitution), forgetting and forgiveness, and the moral witness. Margalit draws from the writings of Plato, Freud (specifically his theory of memory as a guarded prison), Immanuel Kant, Milton, Ecclesiastes (and his theories on forgetting), and David Hume.

  • Bryan Kibbe
    2019-01-31 15:12

    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 my thinking about the practice and explication of philosophical insight as well as illumination into the fascinating topic of memory. In particular, as the title alludes, the book is focused on the ethics of memory and centers on the questions: Is there an ethics of memory, and if so what does it consist in? Do we have obligations to remember certain things? Do we have an obligation to forget certain things? There is much to glean from Margalit's treatment of these questions, owing especially to Margalit's direct and precise writing style which yields a delicious collection of helpful distinctions. At times, I found Margalit's choice of sub-topics to be a little scattershot, and might have benefitted from some tighter transitions, but nonetheless I found the book enjoyable and thought provoking. While Margalit is certainly writing from the vantage point of a philosopher, this book is very accessible to a more general audience, and has much to interest all those that are sometimes reflective about the past and its import for the present and future.

  • Katie Stafford
    2019-02-11 20:05

    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 blotting out.

  • Tim and Popie Stafford
    2019-01-26 21:00

    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.

  • CM
    2019-02-06 21:22

    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 forgiveness). The remaining three chapters may seem either niche for a special audience or less structured. Sometimes ideas are underdeveloped but this right mix of intellectual rigour and cultural references can be enough to keep a curious reader going. Please be noted that Mr Margalit often makes use of biblical references.

  • Taka
    2019-02-14 16:17

    Amazing--I have NO clue why this book has only NINE reviews on Amazon. That alone tells me there's no justice at all to this business of book popularity. Lucidly written, accessible, yet erudite, fascinating, and so convincingly argued deserves a much, much wider audience than the Amazon reviews indicate. It's a rich philosophical work that's actually relevant to all of us—in the way John Gray's books are—and I've learned so much about forgiveness, ethics vs. morality, remembering vs. forgetting, testimony, and much more. Very, very happy I came across this book—and right on the tail of my discovery of John Gray at that! Will be reading the rest of Margalit's works for sure. Highly, highly recommended for anyone who's interested in contemporary philosophy at its best.

  • Casey Smith
    2019-02-13 18:24

    Great book!

  • Ed
    2019-02-17 13:24

    very thought-provoking short book.

  • Matthew
    2019-02-17 18:02

    I enjoyed it. Well written, and something new to think about.

  • Meryll Levine Page
    2019-02-06 17:07

    This book is rich and thoughtful but needs to be read in small bursts of concentration.

  • Dave Peticolas
    2019-01-24 17:22

    A philosopher explores our obligation to remember the past.