Memory and History: Some considerations on antinomies and paradoxes

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Abstract


Collective memory does not retain the memories of the past as historical events really happened, but as they are remembered in the present. Memory includes only elements of the past, not the past as a whole. Theoretical thinking about memory has been shaped by opinions often arising from very different starting points. This article outlines ten antinomies characterised by the following terms: individual and collective memory, spirit and matter, saving and deleting, irrevocable and revocable history, spontaneous and purposeful memory, myth and science, rationality and irrationality. The text explains that memory works in a selective way and the contents which are stored in it have no permanent form, but change over time according to the needs of the specific present. Human memory does not work as a rational machine, but rather is prone to distortions and errors. An important role in shaping collective memory is played by ideological influence and deep-rooted historical myths.


J Šubrt

Charles University in Prague

Author for correspondence.
Email: jiri.subrt@ff.cuni.cz

Faculty of Humanities

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