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Chronoi Talks: “The Uses of Memory (and Forgetting): Ethical and Personal Perspectives” (Hybrid)

Dr. Peter N. Singer

April 27, 2023

3 - 4 pm (CET)

Dr. Peter N. Singer

The paper takes as its starting point the exhortation, found in some Stoic texts as well as in certain contemporary therapeutic practices, to 'live in the moment' – to focus on the now without allowing either past or future to impinge upon one's present well-being. I place such an approach in opposition to views which foreground the role of memory (and sometimes crucially also of forgetting) both in the formation of desired ethical and emotional outlooks and in the construction of the self. I investigate this opposition on the basis of Stoic texts and texts of Plato and the Platonic tradition, while also considering some of the literary and dramatic texts – especially of Greek tragedy – which stand in their background. On the basis of these discussions and narratives I explore how selective memories of the past may be seen as crucial both for present emotional states and for the understanding of personal identity.

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