Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
In this dissertation, I explore the significance of remembering, especially in its communal form, and its relationship to narrative identity by examining the practices that make possible the formation and transmission of a heritage. To explore this issue I use Martin Heidegger and Paul Ricoeur, who have dedicated several of their major works to remembrance and forgetting. In comparing Heidegger and Ricoeur, I suggest that Ricoeur's formulation of the identity of a subject and a community offers an alternative to Heidegger's account. For, if Heidegger's critique of subjectivity offers the possibility of a new relationship to history and community, it nevertheless overlooks the possibility of a humanism that is not tied to a metaphysical account of subjectivity. By contrast, the positive work of remembrance can recover heretofore concealed possibilities through our being faithful to the past, and saving it from the destructive forces of time.
To show how the fragility of memory preserves the past against the destructive work of time and brings with it the hope of a better future, I emphasize one specific theme--namely, the debt we owe to the dead, which dissertations the possibility for ethical consideration of an historical community. In this regard, this dissertation pursues two goals. The first task is to elucidate how Heidegger's and Ricoeur's phenomenological projects understand the intimate connection between remembrance and the creation of a community. The second goal of this dissertation is to show how Ricoeur is able to respond to the problems that Heidegger's ontological account of memory raises. The completion of these two tasks will contribute to a phenomenological hermeneutics of memory and forgetting.