Article published in:Dialogue and Ethics
Edited by Ronald C. Arnett and François Cooren
[Language and Dialogue 7:1] 2017
► pp. 120–133
Owning one’s past
From historical knowledge to moral accountability
In this paper, I engage with the question of historical interpretation as a form of dialogue that can face an individual conscience with disturbing choices and decisions made at an earlier time, and the expectations we might have about a proper response. My paper draws on Paul Ricoeur’s philosophical ideas, as well as on a controversial part of his biography – his alleged involvement in the Petain circle in France in the early 1940s – to propose that instead of thinking about historical knowledge as reconstruction of another time, revelation of beliefs, or even exposure of intentions, we should consider it as a form of dialogical remembering that marks two joint features of subjectivity: fallibility and attestation. My paper does articulate a defense of Ricoeur’s philosophical conception of forgiveness, but offers neither an apology for nor an accusation on moral and political grounds.
Keywords: dialogue remembering, historical interpretation, Paul Ricoeur, narrative fallibility, narrative attestation
Published online: 29 June 2017
Bodnar, John E.
Confino, Alon[ p. 133 ]
2008 “Sur la passade petainiste de Paul Ricoeur: un bref episode?” In Sens public http://www.sens-public.org/article537.html?lang=fr.
1994 “Note about Certain ‘Words of Prisoners’," October 17, available at http://www.fondsricoeur.fr/uploads/medias/doc/prisonner-of-war-camp.pdf.