Collective Identity and Collective Memory in the Philosophy of Paul Ricoeur

David J. Leichter


Collective memory has been a notoriously difficult concept to define. I appeal to Paul Ricoeur and argue that his account of the relationship of the self and her community can clarify the meaning of collective memory. While memory properly understood belongs, in each case, to individuals, such memory exists and is shaped by a relationship with others. Furthermore, because individuals are constituted over a span of time and through intersubjective associations, the notion of collective memory ought to be understood in terms of the way that memory enacts and reenacts networks of relations among individuals and the communities to which they belong, rather than in terms of a model that reifies either individuals or groups. Ricoeur’s account can show sources of oppression and offers ways to respond to them.


Ricoeur, Hermeneutics, Collective memory, Intersubjectivity, Narrative identity

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2012 David J. Leichter

License URL:

This journal is published by the University Library System, University of Pittsburgh as part of its D-Scribe Digital Publishing Program and is cosponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Press.

ISSN 2156-7808 (online)