Memory, History, Justice in Hegel

Angelica Nuzzo offers a thoroughly new, engaging perspective on Hegel's idea of history by turning Hegel into a participant in the current discussion among historians and philosophers on the relation between history and memory. The fundamental question regards the guiding principle of history and the structure of historical processes. Does memory play a role in shaping developmental processes as historical? In order to answer this question the concept of "dialectical memory" is introduced. The thesis is that Hegel offers two alternative models for thinking history. The first, developed in the early Phenomenology of Spirit, sees in "collective memory" the moving principle of history; the second, developed on the basis of the Logic, indicates the principle of "justice" as the foundation of history, and assigns to the works of art, religion, and philosophy the function of conveying the "absolute memory" of spirit. The book ends with a Hegelian interpretation of the idea of memory mobilized in Toni Morrison's and Primo Levi's literary works—examples of spirit's "absolute memory."