Volume 9, Issue 1, Fall 2004
Across the Tradition of Philosophy
History, Memory, and Forgetting in Nietzsche and Derrida
In this article I begin to explore Friedrich Nietzsche’s and Jacques Derrida’s philosophies of history in terms of the persistence of forgetting within (non-subjective) memory. In section I, I shall outline the totalizing production of history understood as an unsuccessful attempt to erase the indifference of animality and the difference of madness. The following two sections are concerned with the particular kinds of non-subjective memories—memorials—that arise in the aftermath of this erasure and include writing and the archive (section II), as well as the ghostly and genealogical confusions (section III). Throughout these sections I shall argue that each of the externalizations of memory in non-subjective memorials is contaminated by forgetting, both shaping and shaking up the foundations of history. Finally, section IV revisits the memorials and states of forgetting discussed in the previous sections in light of the (im)possibility of justice.