Memory and History: Some considerations on antinomies and paradoxes

Cover Page

Cite item


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.

About the authors

J Šubrt

Charles University in Prague

Author for correspondence.

Faculty of Humanities


  1. Alexander J.C., Eyerman R., Giesen B., Smelser N.J., Sztompka P. Cultural Trauma and Collec-tive Identity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.
  2. Assmann A., Assmann J. Das Gestern im Heute: Medien und soziales Gedächtnis // Merten K., Schmidt S.J., Weischenberg S. (eds.). Die Wirklichkeit der Medien: Eine Einführung in die Kom-munikations-wissenschaft. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1994. P. 114—140.
  3. Assmann J. Kultura a paměť: Písmo, vzpomínky a politická identita v rozvinutých kulturách starověku. Praha: Prostor, 2001. [4] Atkinson R.L. Psychologie. Praha: Portál, 2003.
  4. Bergmann W. Das Problem der Zeit in der Soziologie // Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie. 1983. Vol. 35. No 3. P. 462—504.
  5. Bergson H. Hmota a paměť. Praha: OIKOYMENH, 2003.
  6. Coser L.A. Theorie sozialer Konflikte. Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1965.
  7. Draaisma D. Metafory paměti. Praha: Mladá fronta, 2003. [9] Esposito E. Soziales Vergessen: Formen und Medien des Gedächtnisses der Gesellschaft. Frank-furt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2002.
  8. Giesen B. Triumph and Trauma. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
  9. Giesen B. The Trauma of Perpetrators: The Holocaust as the Traumatic Reference of German National Identity // Alexander J.C. (ed.). Cultural trauma and collective identity. Berkeley: Uni-versity of California Press, 2004. P.112—154.
  10. Halbwachs M. Les cadres sociaux de la mémoire. Paris: Albin Michel, 1994.
  11. Halbwachs M. Kolektivní paměť. Praha: Sociologické nakladatelství, 2009. [14] Hervieu-Léger D. La Religion pour Mémoire. Paris: Le Cerf, 1993.
  12. Hroch M. Historické vědomí a potíže s jeho výzkumem dříve i nyní // Šubrt J. (ed.). Historickévědomí jako předmět předmět badatelského zájmu: Teorie a výzkum. Kolín: Nezávislé centrum pro stadium politiky, 2010. P. 31—46.
  13. Kassin S. Psychologie. Brno: Computer Press, 2007.
  14. Koukolík F. Lidský mozek. Praha: Portál, 2000.
  15. Kvasničková A. Náboženstvo ako kolektívna pamäť: prípad Slovenska a Čiech. Bratislava: Univerzita Komenského, 2005. [19] Le Goff J. Paměť a dějiny. Praha: Argo, 2007.
  16. Luhmann N. Soziale Systeme: Grundriß einer allgemeinen Theorie. Frankfurt am Main: Suhr-kamp, 1984.
  17. Luhmann N. Soziologische Aufklärung. Bd. 2. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 2008.
  18. Maurel M.-C. Le passé en héritage // Maurel M.-C., Mayer F. (eds.). L’Europe et ses représen-tations du passé. Les tourments de la mémoire. Paris: L’Harmattan, 2008. P. 11—18.
  19. Mead G.H. Movements of Thought in the Nineteenth Century / Ed. by M.H. Moore. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1936.
  20. Mead G.H. The Philosophy of the Present / Ed. by A.E. Murphy. La Salle — Ill.: Open Court, 1959.

Copyright (c) 2015 J Šubrt

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This website uses cookies

You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website.

About Cookies