lds-herm blog

Discussion of hermeneutics, esp. as it pertains to LDS scripture

Starting Part II of Ricoeur’s Memory, History, Forgetting

Posted by joespencer on April 10, 2008

I’ve read up through the end of chapter 1 of part II of Memory, History, Forgetting, and this book gets only more exciting! The difficulty is that there is so much to talk about here that I’m not sure what should be said, really. (Nor have I had an abundance of time lately to sort out my thoughts.)

I think I would like, therefore, to open the discussion by saying basically nothing, by simply opening the forum for whatever points of the text anyone wants to discuss. What strikes you?

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Chapter 3: “Personal Memory, Collective Memory”

Posted by joespencer on March 22, 2008

Sickness set me back quite a bit this week, and I wasn’t able even to look at this chapter until today (a day after my usual posting). So I’ve done a rather quick job of reading this week and have only a comment or two I’d like to get on the table. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chapter 2: “The Exercise of Memory: Uses and Abuses”

Posted by joespencer on March 14, 2008

The curious movement of this chapter intrigues me. Though there is clearly a well-devised order to it, it is riddled with what appear (in the moment, merely?) to be gratuitous strolls down side alleys. Riddled, indeed: the chapter ends up something like a riddle, something I wish Ricoeur would have been a bit more forthcoming about. What follows, as a result, is perhaps little more than a collection of musings—all written, though, with the intent of sorting out what Ricoeur intends to accomplish overall in this chapter. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chapter 1, Part 2: “A Phenomenological Sketch of Memory” and “Memories and Images”

Posted by joespencer on February 29, 2008

All through the process of reading this section of the text, I found it vital to keep quite in mind what Ricoeur’s declared purpose is in this first chapter: to think about the what of memory, on the way toward the task of thinking about the how of memory. The real “meaning” of this passage from the what to the how is made clear only in the last paragraph of the chapter. There Ricoeur draws to a point all that he has accomplished in this first chapter: “This is the question of the reliability of memory and, in this sense, of its truth.” (p. 54) Thus, “At the end of our investigation, and in spite of the traps that imagination lays for memory, it can be affirmed that a specific search for truth is implied in the intending of the past ‘thing,’ of what was formerly seen, heard, experienced, learned.” (pp. 54-5) To walk the same trecherous road I wandered down last week (that of lumping the thought of different thinkers together… perhaps a bit too facilely), I might point out the remarkable extent to which Ricoeur here sounds like Badiou. Inasmuch, that is, as the “what” to which Ricoeur refers can be connected with the thematized “event” in Badiou. Indeed, Badiouian subjectivity might be read into Ricoeur’s “More precisely, in the moment of recognition, in which the effort of recollection is completed, this search for truth declares itself”; and Ricoeur almost employs Badiou’s technical language in this: “Let us call this search for truth, faithfulness.” But let me not get too carried away here. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chapter 1, Part 1: “Reading Guidelines” and “The Greek Heritage”

Posted by joespencer on February 22, 2008

Ricoeur opens part I of his book with a two-page introduction of sorts, nicely summarized in its final two sentences: “This will be our path: from ‘What?’ to ‘Who?’ passing by way of ‘How?’ From memories to reflective memory, passing by way of recollection.” (p. 4) The “reading guidelines” that then opens the first chapter of the book doubles this projection with a problematic that might ultimately be said to be somewhat Lacanian: “The constant danger of confusing remembering and imagining, resulting from memories becoming images in this way, affects the goal of fiathfulness corresponding to the truth claim of memory. And yet . . . [sic] And yet, we have nothing better than memory to guarantee that something has taken place before we call to mind a memory of it.” (p. 5) Two problematics, then, to get this book started: the distinction (Aristotle’s) between memory as an almost passive experience (I happen to remember something) and the intentional act of recollection; and the knot of memory and imagination. Ricoeur’s take on “the Greek heritage” shows that these two problematics are interconnected. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ricoeur’s Memory, History, Forgetting: Introductory

Posted by joespencer on February 15, 2008

My purpose in this introductory post is to provide a bit of background to Ricoeur’s work generally, but, rather than redoing the well-done work of others, I’ll just point to two very helpful sources on the subject. First, Wikipedia has a decent biographical sketch of Ricoeur, though it says almost nothing about his philosophical work. Second, for the latter, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has a marvelous summary of Ricoeur’s philosophy. These two sources should give us a good starting point for approaching Ricoeur’s work. I will, as I have time over the next day or two, try to add some of my own comments about how I think these sources help us take up Ricoeur. Read the rest of this entry »

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Finishing Off–Or Starting–Girard’s The Scapegoat

Posted by joespencer on January 22, 2008

I took the time, over the weekend, to finish Girard’s The Scapegoat, and I’d like to wrap things up with a final post, though, as my title above I hope makes clear, the second half of this book has convinced me to read a great deal more of Girard and to incorporate his ideas into my own work. What follows below, then, is less a commentary on or discussion of the last few chapters of The Scapegoat as it is a summary of Girard’s overall position, an analysis of its strongest points, and a kind of invitation to discuss his work at further length. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Scapegoat, chapter 11: Of John’s Beheading… Sorta

Posted by joespencer on January 10, 2008

Chapter 11 is, so far as Girard goes, rather long, and most of it is detailed work at the level of the (NT) text. In a sense, I wish Girard had dropped the remainder of the book (everything before as much as everything after) just to flesh out the insights of this single chapter at great length (the ten preceding chapters could be shortened to a ten- or twenty-page introduction, and then he could have worked out two hundred pages of commentary on this one, brief story in Mark). In a word: it is here, in this eleventh chapter, that Girard’s project begins to sell itself to me, because it is here, in this eleventh chapter, that he finally shows me (1) how committed he is to the text, (2) how much better he is at reading it than other scholars, and (3) how interested he really is developing what I would call (though likely he would not) a textual theology. That said, I’m not really going to deal with Girard’s chapter in any real direct way in this post: rather, I want to think about something that Girard opens up here that he is not entirely cognizant of… I think. I’ll have to leave the great majority of this chapter’s rich insights to be discovered by those committed enough to read it! Read the rest of this entry »

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The Scapegoat, chapter 10

Posted by joespencer on December 15, 2007

I’ve finally gotten around to reading another chapter of Girard. And I’d like first to mention three very interesting R-words in the first part of the chapter: revelation, revolution, and radicalism. Read the rest of this entry »

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“The Key Words of the Gospel Passion” – The Scapegoat, Chapter 9

Posted by joespencer on December 2, 2007

I had a bit of time this morning to read further in Girard, and I find I am really wrestling with this now. After the brilliance of chapters 6-8, which provided me with a way to “appropriate” Girard’s work as a whole—with a way to make some sense of what Girard is doing with this massive project of his—I was a bit more prepared to tackle the thick substance provided in chapter 9. Some thoughts—evidence of a massive wrestle, I hope—follow. Read the rest of this entry »

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