The Art of Memory in a Pluralistic Universe: William James’s “Republican Banquet”
The aim of this paper is to conduct an inquiry that would illuminate how a phenomenological account of memory may govern some basic issues of our lives: the meaning of our collectivity and spirituality, the cultural embodiment of our experiences and memories, and their collective status, the question of intimacy and unity in the universe of our experiences. I shall consider this account of memory by focusing on William James’s radically empiricist, pluralist, and pragmatic philosophy. In reading James, my aim is to propose a notion of collective memory as the cash-value of James’s spiritualism. This proposal will inevitably lead us to James’s confrontation with Hegelian Spirit, or Absolute, as an alternative hypothesis in understanding the intimacy, the unity, and the spirituality of the universe. I shall seek to derive some implications from their profound articulations in order to suggest a more pragmatic and releasing conception of collective memory as freeing us from the burden of the past by socially transforming it into prospects for action, and by aesthetically deploying it to symbolic expressions embodied in art and cultural works. The approach that I propose aims to relocate the philosophical concept of memory in a perspective that acknowledges life or becoming in terms of its excessive dynamism.
KeywordsObjective Reference Collective Memory Transcendental Idealism Recollective Experience Conjunctive Relation
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