Forgiveness, future and past: history as collective self inquiry in Arendt, Jankélévitch and Améry

Funding source

Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ)

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2009
Funding: 1445000 SEK


The project’s overall aim is to discuss forgiveness and memory in relation to conceptions of guilt and responsibility in Western Europe since the post war period.The study focuses on the writings of Hannah Arendt (1912-1975), Vladimir Jankélévitch (1903-1985) and Jean Améry (1912-1978), which in different ways treat issues of the possibility and impossibility of forgiveness, in the light of World War II and the Shoah.Through a comparative text analysis of the three authors view on the relation between forgiveness, guilt and responsibility, I discuss their use of history as collective self inquiry.At the centre of attention is their understanding of the ethical relation between past, present and future, and the role they ascribe to history in the light of this relation. The interest for such a study has its origin in an expanding contemporary European culture of memory and forgiveness, which has created a need of analysis of the issues of present concern in this culture.By reading the historical texts against the two current notions historical consciousness and use of history, I also let my analysis constitute an entrance to a contemporary discussion about how history is used as a common space to express and work through the failures of one’s own society.

Last updated on 2017-29-03 at 17:13